Boston Startup: HoursForEquity An Alternative Jobs Social Network INTERVIEW

Let’s face it, in the earliest stage of a startup many founders are looking for co-founders, and other team members that will work for equity rather than an actual paycheck. It’s a gamble for the employee, if the startup doesn’t get off the ground, all that hard work may not have paid off. On the other hand, if the startup catches on fire like say, Instagram, you may have just earned seven figures for six months of coding.

Finding workers, co-founders, designers,engineers etc, that are willing to work for equity is a challenge in itself. Some workers feel that working for equity is like volunteering, and with the statistics for startup success as low as they are it’s definitely a gamble.  Some founders don’t like to advertise that they are looking for equity workers, and they don’t necessarily know how to find them.

That’s where Boston startup HoursForEquity comes in. HoursForEquity is exactly what the name suggests, it’s a web portal connecting folks that are willing to work for equity, to those willing to give up equity for their work.

Bill Lott, co-founder of HoursForEquity tells us that their platform allows employers and founders to search a database of local, national and global people willing to work for equity. This way you can find the perfect team with the skills you need to succeed.

We got a chance to interview Lott about HoursForEquity. Check out the interview below:

What is HoursForEquity?

HoursForEquity is a social network that helps job seekers find work for alternative compensation.  What kind?  Equity in a growing startup.  Free meals at your favorite restaurant.  One on one yoga lessons with the best local instructors.  The possibilities are endless.

Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?

HoursForEquity was founded by longtime friends, Matt Flynn and Bill Lott.  Matt has a Master’s Degree in Architecture and Bill has a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering.  We have also received a tremendous amount of help from our web guru and first Partner, Steve Chaloner.

Where are you based?

We are based in Boston, however, our site features job seekers, startups, and established businesses from across the globe.

What’s the startup scene/culture like where you’re based?

In our opinion, Boston is one of the most exciting places in the world to start a company.  Any night of the week you can find a meetup at a local bar or lecture to attend with fellow entrepreneurs.  We aren’t sure if its the number of students in the area or their average blood alcohol level, but for some reason people here are wild… about innovation.

How did you come up with the idea for HoursForEquity?

Bill’s last startup was a bootstrapped energy management company, which had major engineering challenges and a tiny bank account.  In lieu of cash payments, he would often offer his workers equity, perks, or freebies as compensation.  Early on he was skeptical, but the strategy worked incredibly well.  In addition to conserving his most precious asset, cash, he was able to motivate his workforce by sharing equity in the business.  Teams tend to stay focused when compensation depends on the success of a project.  It’s also our personal philosophy that building a successful company is a team effort and the members should be rewarded fairly.

What problem does HoursForEquity solve?

HoursForEquity solves two major problems:

1)  There are few jobs available for college students, recent grads, or experienced professionals.  Many of these people have valuable skills that our communities need, however, they still have trouble finding work.  We have all seen the job listings, “entry level positions available – two to three years experience required.”  HoursForEquity gives these skilled workers a chance to build a strong resume or portfolio while getting compensated fairly.  It’s also the place to be if you want to get in on the ground floor of an exciting startup!

2)  Many startups and individuals have great ideas but need help building a team to execute it – without the fundraising!  Stop wasting your time hounding investors and start building something!  HoursForEquity allows you to search a database of professionals (local and abroad) to find a team with the skills you need.

What’s your secret sauce?

The HoursForEquity development team is made up of people with an extremely diverse skillset.  Our backgrounds include web development, lean startup development, engineering, design, photography, videography, and small business ownership.  Because of this we tend to have completely different approaches to problems, which has been a great asset.

What’s one dilemma you’ve encountered in the startup process?

Early on in the lean startup process, HoursForEquity created a MVP (minimum viable product) website to see if people would be interested in using our service.  The site was crude – even for our standards – but we had lots of people sign up.  So many, in fact, that we were unable to process all their requests.  Needless to say, this was a great problem for us to have and we quickly fixed it.

What’s one challenge you’ve overcome in the startup process?

The biggest challenge we’ve encountered so far is deciding what features to include in each version of our website.  There are so many ideas but so little time – it’s been very exciting.  We have been adding users and features at a good pace, but there is always more we can do to improve functionality and the user experience.

What’s the first thing you would do for HoursForEquity with a one million dollar investment?

Obviously, we would need to buy some corporate jet skis.  After that, we would like to add a few full time staff members (so far our site has been built by issuing equity – how fitting) so we could start developing our web site and advertising more aggressively.  Did I mention jet skis?

What’s next for HoursForEquity?

In the coming weeks you can expect to see some changes to our website.  We are just finishing up a search and organize feature for our database, so users will be able to browse through businesses and job seekers at their leisure.  Up to this point, we have been matching job seekers and businesses by hand… as you can imagine it’s quite time consuming.  The strategy has worked extremely well so far (and has allowed us to launch weeks ahead of schedule), but our girlfriends have had about enough.


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