Good news for anyone looking to employ or be employed. Better Weekdays is an innovative new tech start up company based out of St. Louis founded in 2011. The company seeks to use data to create meaningful and effective relationships between job seekers and employers. Au’loni Magazine got a chance to have an exclusive Q & A with CEO and founder of Better Weekdays, Chris Motley.
Tell us about your background and the beginning stages of Better Weekdays.
My first job out of college was an oil trader at Goldman Sachs. I really enjoyed it but I wanted to do something that was a little bit more impactful, I wanted to build something. So, I serendipitously found an opportunity to run a part of a global manufacturing company where I had a lot of different responsibilities. After six years of doing that I started to reflect on my experience. I had this amazing work experience from a company that few people knew about, even though a lot of folks used our products. As an executive of that company I struggled with finding and retaining talent for the organization. So I started to think there should be a technology in place where you can create serendipity for both job seekers as well as employers, especially those that don’t have consumer-facing brands. That idea goes into what is now Better Weekdays.
And once you had that idea, how did you go about starting off?
Well, my definition of entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity with no regard to current resources held. Once you have an idea you have to be able to go get the resources to be able to bring that idea to market. I pitched the idea for Better Weekdays first at Start Up Weekend in Chicago. One of the people I met during that weekend became my co-founder. At that point he actually could not code. He understood enough of the technology to get us to the next level. From there we went and found a service provider who helped us develop the early application of our technology to connect job seekers and employers. It took us almost three years to amass assets, build technology, recruit our internal team and figure out our business model.
What were some challenges you faced when first starting up and how did you overcome those challenges?
There is no shortage of problems with a start up company. The biggest challenge within a start up is raising money. To overcome this I had to figure out a way to answer the question, “Why now?” A lot of people have great ideas and they may even have a great product, but the question that investors always ask is “Why do you need my money today?” Most investors will want to wait six months to see how your company is at that point. For Better Weekdays, we became very clear on the ‘why now’. When federal and state legislation came out in July 2015 that tied people’s funding to job placement rates, Better Weekdays came out with a solution to automatically capture this data and it became very clear to investors why they should be investing now.
The second biggest challenge is recruiting talent. Even if you have money it is still a challenge to recruit talent to get the people who have the right skills and are aligned to the mission of the company. The way we go about this is to make sure people understand our values. I would speak at events with prospective employees and spend most of the time talking about value of the company instead of the money or job title. Even if you can recruit the talent, in reality nobody can afford the type of compensation that some of these tech pros are getting paid these days unless you are Facebook or Google. There has to be a compelling reason for people to attach their ego to your company.
Since your company is all about connecting employers with employees, how do you use your own methods in the hiring process?
We definitely use our own process to find talent. Everyone goes through an assessment to help me understand his or her values, motivation, personality, and to a certain extent their ability. It helps me also to assess their strengths and perhaps their areas of needed growth. Whether or not they get a job with Better Weekdays, they know that we are trying to understand them as a person. Ultimately what I try to communicate is that their aspirations and skills are embedded into their job. Our entire process at Better Weekdays proves that.
On a business and personal level, who inspires you the most?
The company that inspires me the most is Hubspot, I’m a huge fan of cofounders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah. They do a lot for the entrepreneurship community and they built a fantastic business. While they focus on sales and marketing and we focus on recruiting, they have a lot of similarities to what Better Weekdays is trying to and I really admire them.
On a more personal level, the person that inspires me the most is my mom. She was a teenage mother, she had me at thirteen years old and she is the ultimate entrepreneur. I spoke before about pursuing opportunity without regards for resources and that’s exactly what she did. I remember the sacrifices that she made in order to get me access to opportunities whether it be getting me access to certain people, encouraging me to apply to different programs, education, or work opportunities.
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