RALEIGH – Mike Youngblood’s first brush with success at NC State came when he formed a start-up business selling shoes out of his dorm room in the late 1970s. “I created my own gig before the term ‘gig economy’ even existed,” he says.
Now CEO of Hire Scene, a mobile hiring app he created and headquartered at NC State’s Centennial Campus, Youngblood finds himself back where his entrepreneurial spirit was first formed.
Youngblood traces his inspiration for Hire Scene back to 2007, the year the iPhone debuted. “It was a big year and it changed a lot of things, specifically with employment, how to work and how to hire in this economy. My wife [also an NC State grad] and I knew that we could figure out how to use this new app technology to shorten the cycle of filling jobs, and it ended up being a chance to “Uber-ize” employment opportunities.” He notes that because their background comes from the employment industry rather than the technology sector, they were able to create a product that more fully addresses each facet of the economic equation for both employer and employee.
The term “gig economy” describes environment in which temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements. The trend toward a gig economy has been evident for the past decade, and a study by Intuit predicted that by 2020, 40 percent of American workers would be independent contractors. It has already led to the swift rise of companies like Uber and Lyft, that allow employees to target and take specific short-term jobs based on their schedule.
The Hire Scene app specializes in matching up the supply and demand for a variety of temporary work opportunities – a tool well-suited to college towns and big cities where students, shift workers, or retirees might be looking to supplement income when their schedule allows.
NC State sophomore Shayla Quackenbush has a lot of school friends who work in restaurants, but decided to give Hire Scene a try after talking to some company representatives at a campus event. She says she was impressed with the streamlined process that downloaded her references and background information, and led to an electronic interview and orientation about how Hire Scene works. Since then, Quackenbush estimates that she has had around 15 or 20 jobs in banquet work for area country clubs and at the convention center. “I’m studying Animal Science, so it’s a really nice break from that. It is a really good option for me because it is so flexible.”
Youngblood says that for now, Hire Scene is centered on the hospitality industry, and jobs can go fast: in one recent offering, he says that within 53 seconds of posting a job on the app, five people had applied for one position. Hire Scene offers the advantage of portable membership as well. With employment partners in Raleigh, Wilmington, Fayetteville and northern South Carolina, Youngblood says that when students travel or go home for the holidays, they can log in and find work.
As business grows, the team’s next area of development will likely focus on hospitals and health care as they head toward a national roll out in the near future. Youngblood predicts that this technology will impact the traditional staffing industry pretty heavily as the Hire Scene app offers “a total online solution” from its user-friendly design to the ease of locating all pre-employment and tax documents in one place.
But Youngblood says that Hire Scene’s broader impact will simply come in clients’ ability to “fill the gap,” reduce their student loans and take some worry out of making ends meet during certain phases of life. “We are absolutely a ‘lifestyle company’ – we want people to have access to real jobs real fast.”