Nothing says recommendation like when your good buddy says “eh you need my guy”. Whether you’re looking for a plumber, deck builder, photographer, heck even a birth coach. Whatever independent contracting service you need, a new Rochester startup called You Need My Guy has someone for you.
When we first heard about You Need My Guy we immediately drew a comparison to top ranking, publicly traded Indianapolis startup Angie’s List. You Need My Guy’s founder Joe Cassara says that YNMG is different because Angie’s List is a paid model with mostly blue collar providers. They also offer no accountability to insure the identity of users. While Angie’s List is a great resource for some, they are plagued with stories about bad experiences sprinkled all over the internet.
You Need My Guy is the hybrid in the middle. You can find accountants and carpenters on the startups site at youneedmyguy.com
YNMG integrates social networks by allowing perspective clients with links to their perspective service providers Facebook, LinkedIN and Twitter profiles. This way users can vet out their service providers, going a little deeper than traditional reviews and referrals. Review systems can be plagued with fake reviews, created by service providers to “push down” any bad reviews. Of course in the case of referrals most service providers only provide referrals from people who have had the best experiences.
One of the best assets for this New York startup is Cassara himself. He’s thoroughly entrenched in the up state New York startup ecosystem. He has a background in strategic consulting. But what’s more important is that Cassara is also the managing partner of Harvest Ventures an early stage venture-funding firm as well as a mentor at New York accelerator StartFast.
We got a chance to interview Cassara about You Need My Guy. Check out the interview below:
What is You Need My Guy?
You Need My Guy is the best place to organize referrals and recommendations online. With users listing one service provider for each category, You Need My Guy has the best data of the most trusted ‘guys’ in a geographic region whether it’s a deck-builder, birth coach or IP attorney. YNMG also shows users who the people they’re connected to [via FB, Twitter, LinkedIn] are choosing to do business with, and will be the place that service providers show their prospects how they know their current clients.
Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds
Joe Cassara founded YNMG in 2011. After pitching and securing a sizeable investment from an Angel group out of Sydney & NYC [http://www.kaywebangels.com], Joe has been working hard to manage development of the site. Prior to launching YNMG, Joe ran his own strategic consulting practice. In addition, Joe currently serves as Managing Partner of Harvest Ventures, an early stage venture-funding firm, and Mentor with StartFast, a venture accelerator out of Syracuse, NY. Joe lives in Webster, NY with his wife and 3 children. Joe is an alum of Syracuse University, where he received a degree in Entrepreneurship.
Where are you based?
Headquarters is in Rochester, NY, with brand evangelists across the US.
What is the startup culture like where you are based?
The startup scene in Rochester, NY is incredible. We have multiple incubators and startup accelerators in the area, venture money from private investors and sizeable funds, an academia culture consistently leaning towards startups and pumping out qualified candidates to help start [and hopefully stay to build] at new companies. There are quite a few private champions of entrepreneurship and groups committed to providing support for those starting businesses.
What problem does your startup solve?
· For white & blue collar, there still isn’t a platform to connect prospects with clients
· For everyone in the middle [photographer, birth coach, interior decorator, etc.], there isn’t anywhere to spend energy/money on advertising to show your prospects how they know your current clients.
· For all service providers, current options are still lagging behind the public’s expectation to connect socially to all relationships [dating, banking, etc.]
What is one challenge that you’ve overcome in the startup process?
Funding! Every tech business either needs money [and lots of it], or technical talent to built what will become the go-to-market product. I stumbled upon KAYWEB Angels, and after competing with hundreds of other talented entrepreneurs, I pitched their board in person in NYC. At the end of the round of pitching, I was selected along with 2 other startups to receive investment in the form of development, legal, design, and launch efforts in exchange for some equity in You Need My Guy. The way we were able to get started has allowed me to raise a cash round earlier, because the idea has been validated by KAYWEB’s willingness to spend months on this project with no return unless we’re able to be pretty successful.
Who are your mentors and role models?
My dad is one of my best mentors. He’s on my board for You Need My Guy, has grown many businesses from startup through acquisition, and I can always use the grandkids as a hook!
Other than him, my wife is a great source of advice for me. You can fill your shelves with authors who have written great books on their stories. But, my story is unique to me, my family, and my situation. My wife knows me better than anyone else, so I constantly come back to her for advice.
What’s one thing the world doesn’t know about you or your startup?
Hmm…well, I’d say the thing you don’t know about You Need My Guy is that I’ve been building it while running a strategic consulting practice, and raising 3 kids under 3! I guess balance is the key, but I’ve spent a lot of late nights returning emails in between feeding a baby and helping with laundry!
What’s next for You Need My Guy?
We’ll be opening up new markets every few weeks, and will be hard at work on some business partnerships. One of the things that we’ve been asked for over and over is a way to connect to solid resources for small businesses for the ‘Guy’s that are using You Need My Guy. So, we’re on it!