Startups

Staffly Supplies The Workforce For Independent Retailers

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Independent retailers often have a hard time finding and retaining qualified employees. TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield participant Staffly, a startup created by husband and wife team Bjorn and Marissa Ovick, wants to make it easy for them to fill their staffing needs. Staffly has created a digital temp agency of sorts in which retailers find staff, employees find work and Staffly runs everything.

What that means in practical terms is that Staffly is the employer. All employees are hired, vetted and trained by the startup. They work on W2 for the company and it takes care of all the employee paperwork, while pledging to comply with any local laws around employment and insurance, and making a commitment to pay over minimum wage.

What makes the system digital is that the entire transaction is taken care of online. Employees and retailers sign up on the company website. When a retailer has a staffing need, they can go to the site, search for an employee that meets their requirements and put out an offer. The employee gets a text with the offer and simply confirms receipt. When the shift is over, the supervisor approves the hours and they are sent to Staffly for payment.

Finally, each party rates the other, as with many similar services such as Airbnb, so that both employees and retailers begin to build a Staffly reputation. Employees will know which companies they may want to work with more and retailers will know the same about the employees. Each party can rate one another on a one to five star scale, as well as leave a comment.

Staffly screenshots

The founders came up with the idea after having lunch with a friend who is a small retailer, and was complaining about staff retention problems. In fact, she was so desperate to find staff that she was ready to use Urbansitter, the online babysitting service to find people. And this person wasn’t alone.

At the same time, the Ovicks knew employees need a certain number of hours, and that these smaller retailers often can’t accommodate them.

The founders recognized a market opportunity when they saw one and they began building Staffly. They hired a consultant to develop the software side of it and have taken in $800,000 in seed money so far.

For now, the target market is smaller independent retailers and the company is piloting the idea in San Francisco with 50 retailers and 150 staffers available on the Staffly team. Much like Uber or Airbnb, it’s an idea that could branch out to any city in the world where retailers have a hard time retaining qualified staff.

So far, they’ve found it has been a win-win situation for both the retailer, who gets trained and competent sales people, and the staffers who get steady work and more hours than they could get from any single job. In the pilot, employees are making $13/hour. The minimum wage in San Francisco is currently $12.25 per hour.

Employees can also easily make themselves unavailable in the system if they have a conflict. This is an especially useful feature students, who may be unavailable to work during finals, but want more hours on weekends or vacations.

The company launched today in San Francisco. Go to Staffly.com to learn more.

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