There’s a growing shift towards freelancing options and hourly shifts in the workforce today, especially amongst the millenial set. This burgeoning pool of workers who want flexible jobs combined with employers that need to staff quickly based on need has created an opportunity for a marketplace that connects the two parties. Hyr does exactly that – connect traditional businesses with workers through its employment platform and app. Featuring a portable 1099 form, the platform manages the process of paperwork for the employers and workers and gives both businesses and workers on demand flexibility like never before in this new era of work. The company has focused on the hospitality and retail verticals and is presently operating in New York and Toronto with plans to expand.
AlleyWatch chatted with cofounder and CMO Erika Mozes about the company, its future plans, the state of the workforce, and the company’s newest round of funding fresh out of its graduation from NVP Labs.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
In January we closed our seed round led by Flybridge Capital Partners with follow on from Newark Venture Partners and XFactor Ventures. This brings our total funding to $2.3M.
Tell us about Hyr.
Hyr (pronounced “hire” or “higher”) connects hourly paid workers to businesses to fill shifts, on demand. The platform is a solution for both workers and businesses; workers earn extra income when they have time in their schedules, and businesses can now access workers, when they need them. Hyr attracts quality workers, and provides a form of portable benefits for 1099 workers. For businesses, Hyr is shift insurance when there is an unexpected spike in business, they need vacation coverage, or there is a no show or a cancellation. Businesses can also use Hyr as a recruitment tool, by testing out workers prior to making a more permanent commitment.
We founded Hyr after experiencing first-hand the gap between hourly paid workers and businesses that need them. First, my cofounder (CEO, Joshua Karam) and I were hourly paid workers and know all too well the pain of too much month at the end of the money. Years later, we both recognized the shallow labor pool was making it increasingly difficult for businesses to find great people. More, a swath of legislative changes were handcuffing business – like minimum wage increases and restrictions to scheduling practices. These were the issues we – a lobbyist and a human resource executive – were talking about over a drink when our server told us the patio was not supposed to be open so it would take super long to get to us. That was the original trigger – why couldn’t that traditional businesses access someone then and there?
How is Hyr different?
Hyr is not a staffing agency with an app, much like Airbnb is not a property management company. Like Airbnb, we offer choice for our marketplace. Pro’s apply to shifts based on location, skill, and pay rate. And businesses choose to post shifts – by setting rate of pay, skill, and shift length – and importantly, they choose from applicants. Even more distinctive, we have created benefits for both sides of the market.
What market does Hyr target and how big is it?
In New York and Toronto there are over 600 million shifts scheduled each year in hospitality and retail. More than 6M of those shifts go unfilled because the businesses that need help can’t find workers that are willing and available to do the work. New York and Toronto are just our first markets, so you can get a sense of the market we are targeting.
What’s your business model?
We have a per transaction fee-based model. Pros do not pay to use the platform.
How do you foresee the regulatory environment regarding independent workers affecting your business?
We believe in leading the conversation on the future of work. Over the next number of years, governments will catch up to the way people want to earn. That said government does not need to find a solution on their own. Businesses can solve gaps; particularly how independent workers can earn traditional workplace benefits while choosing to work with more flexibility.
What was the funding process like?
Like going on lots and lots of first dates. But then when you find the right fit – which is a combination of hard work, luck and timing – everything just feels right.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
Understanding what traction means to your audience and knowing when people are meeting with you for research purposes vs being truly interested in your business.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Understand your business economics. Investors are looking for a business, which will give them 10x return on their investment. That means you need to prove not only a path to profitability, but also a business, which can earn them a return on their investment.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
Over the next year, we are focused growing Hyr by attracting quality talent; and great businesses that are looking for access to talent, when they need them, at the best possible price.
Where is your favorite bar in the city for an after work drink?
Tough call, since we work with hospitality businesses, but more that it is a rare occasion that I get to make it out for an after work drink… that said, the Crown (at 50 Bowery) has an unbelievable view of the city and I adore Eataly’s Biergarden.