For about 15 years, Hyr Co-Founder and Canada native Erika Mozes worked in politics, and also lobbied for large, multinational companies like Coca-Cola and more recently at McDonald’s. It was at a restaurant patio one day that Mozes found herself sitting with her life partner—as well as Co-Founder and CEO—Joshua Karam. The couple was discussing labor reform.
“When a lobbyist and a human resources executive go out for drinks on a patio, naturally the conversation turns to labor reform,” Mozes said sarcastically. “We started talking about labor reform issues that were keeping us up at night at McDonald’s—labor shortages and scheduling restrictions. Our server then told us that the patio was not supposed to be open that day so they were super understaffed. I turned to Josh and asked, ‘Wouldn’t it be awesome if this restaurant could get the extra hands they need, when they need it?’ That was the origin story of Hyr. We were on that patio, saw a need, and said let’s figure this out!”
Mozes went to her university homecoming that weekend, and when she returned home, Karam had put together the first pitch deck for the company that would become Hyr. They ran with Karam as CEO and Mozes as COO, and founded the company in late 2015.
Hyr connects businesses with hourly-paid workers when they need it most. Companies can post shifts to Hyr that need temporary filling, and Hyr Pros (who work via 1099) can apply to said shifts to earn a little bit of extra money fast, while also obtaining portable benefits through the platform’s UPoints feature.
“What we’ve created on Hyr is a rewards program. Every time a Pro works a shift, they earn UPoints, based on each dollar earned. We branded them UPoints, because they’re points for ‘you.’ With UPoints, once earn a certain level, you can cash it out for a paid vacation day worth $75.00. By the end of this year, we are on track to partner with an insurance provider. So Pros will be able to cash in their UPoints for insurance offerings. As we grow, we’re looking to add more options—such as personal savings, insurance, or paid vacation days.”
A Hyr Pro who wants to use the app can download Hyr and input as much, or as little, information about themselves—such as work history. There is also a rating system on both sides of the platform. Moreover, if a Hyr Pro cancels or no-shows to a shift, that is noted on the Pro’s profile. Hyr Pros typically pick up between four and six shifts per month, so the focus is on supplemental income over being a full-time gig for someone.
Work history, of course, is critical.
“The biggest thing companies look at is work history. I’ll give you a perfect example. When I was in University, I worked at a restaurant—Jack Astor’s—as a bartender. When I finished school, and got my first job in politics earning $22K a year, I would have loved to pick up a few bartending shifts a month to help make ends meet, or put that income towards my student loans. But you can’t just walk into a Jack Astors and say you want to work 3 shifts a month. With Hyr, I would have been able to do that. And for the businesses, they’d be able to see that I was a trained bartender at one of their other locations. What’s awesome, is the Jack Astor’s chain is—and they do exactly that—when they see someone has that knowledge already baked into their work history, its a no brainer to bring them in for a shift.”
One question some larger clients have asked Hyr is whether the model is compliant.
“Josh’s background in HR, and mine in legislative affairs, led us to seek legal counsel before we wrote our first line of code. We built the app with a strong legal foundation,” said the COO. “It is up to the contractor to build their own profile and apply to shifts. Regulations and legislative compliance may not be the sexiest of things to talk about, but when you are dealing with 1099s and labor law it is absolutely important.”
The businesses using Hyr are primarily in the restaurant and hospitality industries, but they’re building out the retail vertical going into the fall, with another to follow early next year. Some of their prime customers include Thompson Hotels, Carsberg, and Marriott.
The company is currently live in two markets: Toronto (as of February 2017) and New York City (as of August 2017). Between the two markets, they have close to 15,000 professionals and 450 businesses. Going forward, Hyr is focusing on their recently-launched Version 2 of the skill-sharing platform, which is faster and sleeker than its predecessor, and is built into AWS. The 13-employee company is also looking to hire more sales leaders and tech talent for their office in New York City.
Closing out our interview, Mozes laid out her vision for the future of the platform.
“What we see is that this skill-sharing platform is a place where you’re able to earn extra income—maybe even when you’re traveling across the country, going to school, saving for a vacation; or you need to make your rent at the end of the month. Hyr is a place that will help you earn money—fast—when you need it.”