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'Uber for restaurant staff' company takes off

November 18, 2016
Fresh off winning a 10-week startup competition for its "Uber for restaurant staff" idea, a new tech company is eyeing its first venture capital haul.
 
Indianapolis-based SnapShyft is a mobile application that enables food and beverage establishments to find bartenders, servers, DJs and others on demand. Last week it beat out 15 other startups competing in the inaugural Indy Startup Challenge, and it's working to reel in a mid-six-figure sum to debut its software early next year.
 
Co-founder and CEO William "Thor" Wood, 34, spent about a decade in the staffing and recruiting industry before coming up with the idea last year. He said the restaurant industry has sky-high turnover rates, and the platform is meant to instantly connect those looking for work with those offering work.
 
"It's for both sides of the equation," said Wood. "It gives professionals an opportunity to make more money and establishments an opportunity to stay fully staffed."
 
The Indy Startup Challenge was put on through a partnership between Logika-USA and Elevate Ventures and serves as a boot camp through which entrepreneurs can validate and launch their business ideas. The program granted SnapShyft $5,000 for winning, and Wood said he's looking to raise less than $500,000 in seed capital.
 
The app works like this: Employers and prospects create profiles, and employers can swipe through available service professionals, similar to the way dating app Tinder works. Workers are paid through the app—SnapShyft gets a cut of that transaction—and both parties rate their experience with the other.
 
"There really is no good current approach to staffing for food-and-beverage establishments—it just doesn't exist. There are companies out there that try to modernize the old way—just put a pretty mobile front door to get with the times—but they're still doing it the old way."
 
Wood said he's starting out in Indianapolis, which has about 53,000 service professionals and 4,000 establishments. The market opportunity in the U.S., he said, is about 14 million professionals and at least 1 million restaurants.
 
So far the pre-revenue company has four employees: Wood; Stephanie Corliss, co-founder and acting-chief financial officer; Chief Technology Officer Mack Earnhardt; and Chief Marketing Officer Chris Reed.
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