Innovation in the job and recruitment space seems to be a weekly occurrence. The neat thing about jobs related startups is that every one of them knows that something different needs to happen.
Monster.com, the leader in jobs sites has become stale. It’s also become a breeding ground for recruiters, head hunters and agencies. It’s hard these days to sort through real ads verses cattle calls for talent pools. Entrepreneurs are attacking this problem from all angles. Some are crowd-sourcing and using social media, some are putting job markets into silo’d verticals, while others are putting an entirely different spin.
Colorado startup Employtown is one of those startups that’s trying to do things totally different.
Husband and wife founders Scott and Andrea Balster have taken the job market and turned it around. Now instead of focusing on open slots, they are focusing on human capital. Employtown is about the people and not the job openings. Dare we say match.com for job seekers looking for employers?
In our interview with Scott he talks about how with their startup, those looking for jobs set up profiles, showcasing their style, creativity, skill sets, and resume items. The next thing they do is where Employtown separates themselves from other startups. Job applicants put what they’re looking for in terms of a job. They let employers know their criteria, are they looking for a 100% smoke free environment, are they looking for flexible hours, are they looking for a cafeteria and a weight room? Are they looking for more creativity in the work place? Whatever the applicant’s criteria for a new job is they can place it in their profile and employers can sift through profiles and find candidates that match.
Check out the rest of our interview with Scott below.
What is Employtown?
EmployTown is capitalizing on flip flopping the supply and demand for talent. It is a reverse job application system focused on people and not the “open slots” at companies.
In layman’s terms, how does it work?
We provide job seekers a platform where they can showcase their style, creativity, and actually provide criteria for what they want in an employer. Employers can use tags to find the person they are looking for. From there an employer can place a bid on them and avoid posting a job listing on a job board and save time and money without having to sort through hundreds of irrelevant resumes.
Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?
The founders are me and my wife Andrea Balster. I love business, sports, learning, and startups. I played minor league baseball for 4 seasons criss crossing the country on charter buses and living on locker room spreads (pbj and left over concession food). I moved on to work in a sales and marketing capacity for ELE International, which makes civil engineering testing equipment for the purposes of testing soils, concrete, and asphalt.
My wife is a fantastic leader who teaches 7th grade social studies in Longmont, CO. She heads up their Debate Team there, leads the annual 8th grade trip to Washington, DC.
We have numerous HR and Career advisors who provide a close hand.
Where are you based?
We are based in Loveland, Colorado which is about 45 minutes north of Denver, Colorado. We are very close to startup mecca Boulder and another college town Fort Collins, Colorado.
What’s the startup scene/culture like where you’re based?
We are very focused on making Loveland into a startup community. We have access to many talented tech and startup resources. We are working with many of the talented people in our community to build something special here. We hope to meet with Brad Feld (of Foundry Group) next year and begin develping a plan to make this happen.
How did you come up with the idea for Employtown?
A friend of mine who was super talented was having difficulty finding a job after college. He had applied and networked everywhere. He became incredibly frustrated. In his final desperation, he thought that jobs should apply to him and not the other way around. He created a website that was essentially a reverse job application where he asked employers to bid on him. It worked! He received 15 bids from companies across the world.
The lightbulb went on for me and I started testing this idea by talking to job seekers and employers. We set up a Launchrock page and received about 1000 signups from job seekers and 300 from employers. We knew we needed to help other people and help companies who were not finding the best candidates so we built EmployTown.
How did you come up with the name?
We envisioned that our product would be a community of employers and job seekers. So the best way to describe that is a town. Then we knew we needed to convey employment. So the concept is a hub or town or community of job seekers and employers who can both benefit by reversing the typical recruitment and hiring process.
What problem does Employtown solve?
We are solving problems for both job seekers and employers. For job seekers we are giving them the tools and power to create demand for themselves and eliminating the awful feeling of applying for countless jobs and getting no response and wasting time.
Employers told us that they waste time and resources posting jobs, going through resumes, buying expensive software, and taking far too long in sourcing a candidate and getting them on boarded and making an impact. With our product a hiring manager can find the candidate that they need and bypass many of the traditional steps in the human resource process.
What sets you apart from the other startups trying to create the perfect app in the job space?
There are many fantastic startups in this space that are doing excellent things to change the HR and career traditions. The one thing that seperates us is that we are completing reversing and flip flopping this process. By doing this, we are actually improving the chances of job seekers finding meaningful employment and for giving employers the tools to find lynchpin candidates who can make positive impacts on their organizations.
Of course, we are working hard to always improve the product and we have many directions we can go in that regards to make it even better.
What’s one dilemma you’ve encountered in the startup process?
The biggest dilemma is making your idea into reality. Once you know you have to move forward with your idea, if you are non technical and can’t program you have to find resources to get your product built. We were able to work with a terrific team of developers who recently graduated from Colorado School of Mines in Denver. We can’t thank Jerel, Chad, and Thomas enough.
We found that learning to code took too much time that we needed to focus elsewhere. We also got involved in many programming groups to meet people and determine who would be the best fit for what we wanted to do.
What’s one challenge you’ve overcome in the startup process?
The biggest challenge that we have overcome is actually building something and getting it out there for people to use and get a feel for. Once you do that, then a whole bunch of other challenges and experiments take place. The learning begins to accelerate at an extremely fast pace.
Who are some of your mentors and business role models?
One role model for me locally is Ben West. He is a local developer who has worked on many different projects. Meeting him here in Loveland restored my faith in many things. It is always a joy when you find other people who have similar passions and want to build things that make the world better.
I can’t thank Derek Sivers (of CD Baby) enough. He helped us create our initial specs and was really the guiding light during the entire process. His inspriation and kind words really kept us going.
James Altucher is a huge influence through his blog and his advice during Twitter chats. I highly recommend reading his materials to anyone who wants to be happy and improve themselves.
Dan Martell was a large influence to us as well. He was more than happy to lend a hand and give his advice at many roadblocks.
What’s next for Employtown?
We are working on creating a Campus Ambassador Program to really make an impact on college campuses. Also, we have strong interest internationally in our product and want to create a community program across the globe where our users and fans can get involved and make their communities better.
We will be focusing on making our product better and gathering a ton of feedback from our users. We have many options we are considering to make EmployTown even better. There will be a bunch of information products designed to help employers with the challenges they face and to empower job seekers and employees to really add value to their lives and to their employers.