John Lidington paid his way through Harvard with freelance moving jobs and bartending gigs – and he assumed that all colleges had organizations similar to the one that he worked for, where students could make money through short-term, flexible jobs. And then when his two younger sisters went off to college, John found out that they did not have the same opportunities, which he thought was unfair. So he saw an opportunity in this, but then realized that while his job opportunities in college did offer him attractive wages and flexible scheduling, they really did nothing for his resume. But John remained confident that there was indeed a way to combine all three of these things, as well as help business, and ended up creating HireOwl to address this. Colin LeStrange, co-founder, joined basically because he holds the belief that every student who wants to work should have the opportunity to do so. Both John and Colin believe that some of the best opportunities for skill development and career preparation take place outside of the classroom.
HireOwl is a free platform that makes it super easy for startups to connect with talented students from top schools who are eager to work on a freelance basis to drive their businesses forward. As the co-founders are experienced entrepreneurs themselves, they understand the fragility of many startups and the urgent need to find high quality talent at affordable prices in order to increase productivity and drive growth. Startups also need this process to be as fast and easy as possible. HireOwl strives to make the process of sourcing quality, motivated, affordable freelance talent as efficient as possible because working with the right people can really kickstart a startup’s growth. HireOwl has admittedly faced a lot of hurdles, many resulting from the fact that they’ve been bootstrapping. Running a lean operation impacts how they approach some problems, and it definitely forces the team to get creative.
HireOwl is basically solving two problems simultaneously – that startups need affordable high-quality talent on demand in order to boost productivity and experience growth, and that university students need work experience, which can be hard to find. The beauty of this solution is that it creates a highly efficient connection between these two parties in order to meet their very real needs. This is more of a necessity product for both sides than a luxury product. Campus Job is HireOwl’s largest competitor based on the funding they’ve received. But HireOwl’s technology is different, and they have a different business model and approach than Campus Job, so it’s not really apples to apples; but they both operate in the same general space. In the near-intermediate term, HireOwl is focused on expanding to each major city in the U.S. There are 21 million students in the U.S. alone, so there is plenty of room to grow. In the longer term, this service can be expanded overseas as well, but there’s a lot of ground to cover before they can get distracted by those longer term goals.HireOwl collects a fee for jobs that are completed. It is important to note that fees are only collected for completed jobs, not to post jobs or view applicants. This is a very important differentiator vs. Campus Job and other competitors. Basically, HireOwl has created a solution that takes away literally all downside risk. If you try them and don’t find the talent you’re looking for for your job, you aren’t paying a dime.
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