Be prepared to pivot from a failed concept — I was ready to close doors on one business when I was able to pivot to the successful concept of Bacon. Bring negative information to the attention of your team quickly. Be quick to ask for help when you need it.
As a part of my series about “Big Ideas That Might Change The World In The Next Few Years” I had the pleasure of interviewing Hunter Sebresos, founder and president of Bacon.Work, a company that’s been called the “Uber” of hourly jobs. The Bacon app lets employers select, screen and hire qualified workers in moments. Likewise, the free app allows workers to find and select hourly shifts for temporary employment. Sebresos received a bachelors’ degree in communications at Brigham Young University and a master’s degree from the Art Center College of design. He served as a sergeant for the U.S. Marines, helped found a successful water company in Kenya, operated as a visual strategist for NASA and worked in some of the nation’s top ad agencies.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
For about seven years I had been observing how businesses were grappling to juggle the ebbs and flows of employment needs. At the same time, I kept hearing from business owners in retail, restaurant and manufacturing who said they couldn’t find good people and we’re understaffed. I thought we need a way to make work more flexible so they could offer temporary work.
I founded Bacon so companies could offer hourly jobs when they need it, and let people work those shifts when they want it. Employers now have more opportunities to find more workers who are talented, educated and capable. The trick is flexibility.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I recently went down to Texas and visited a family-owned company that ships auto parts. I saw they were able to double the number of employees by using temp workers from Bacon and by hiring full-time employees that started doing gig work through Bacon. It was great to see their excitement on how they were able to grow their business and help others improve their work situation. I’m proud I could provide those opportunities.
I’m heartened by all of the other stories I hear from people who start as a temp worker through Bacon and end up with a full-time job they love. I also talk to lots of business owners who are grateful to hire outstanding people who excel in temp shifts. I have found the gig economy is not at its best when it is simply providing paychecks, but when it is also providing a way for workers to improve, train and grow toward even better opportunities. Plus, some people take a shift and learn a certain job is not what they hoped it to be and can move on to try something else.
Which principles or philosophies have guided your life? Your career?
When I was growing up my mom had a piece of paper that was hanging on the side of her filing cabinet, that said, ‘Don’t give up what you most want in the future, for what you want in the moment.” What we want in the future is almost always worth the hustle right now.
Ok. Let’s now move to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about your “Big Idea That Might Change The World”?
Bacon is helping people to go from no opportunity to many opportunities. Companies like Uber and DoorDash provide jobs that are consumer to consumer. Bacon is different. We developed a platform for workers to get real-life experiences with employers. Bacon gives business executives and shift workers a chance to decide whether or not the employment situation should become more permanent. We are creating an environment where more opportunities are available to everyone who participates.
When companies start hiring again, chances are they will hire gig workers first. When people who are unemployed are looking for work, chances are they can start with gigs. However, we are using this time to look at what’s next.
At Bacon, we want to treat short-term employment as a way of levelling up. We want people to think of their jobs as steppingstones. If gig jobs are transitional, “What are you transitioning to do next?” “What do you want from this opportunity?”
How do you think this will change the world?
Bacon can uniquely help companies quickly find qualified and screened workers for as long as they need them. We are seeing thousands of displaced people who need to earn wages until they can return to their jobs. The Bacon app can transition quickly to meet the needs of employers and employees.
For example, events and catering companies used to provide one-third of the jobs at Bacon but not a single shift has been posted from these businesses since the outbreak. However, we are seeing firsthand, the need to fill shifts at warehouses and manufacturing companies. Several manufacturers have shifted production toward in-demand items such as face masks and are turning to Bacon to hire gig workers to meet the increased demand. Warehouses need more staff for packing and deliveries and for the first-time many companies are needing assistance finding delivery drivers.
Gig workers are the right solution for this moment in time. Learning how to use a gig workforce properly will be a key advantage for companies looking to rebuild or maintain productivity while keeping payroll costs low. However, the gig economy is at its best not when it is simply providing paychecks, but when it is also providing a way for workers to improve, train and grow toward even better opportunities. We haven’t faced something like this, but we can solve this and with time we will emerge as better people.
Companies hiring gig workers still need to balance safety, liability, and legal concerns. Employers will likely need to provide masks, have a full understanding of OSHA requirements and have training in place in case of an infection. They should also have policies in place to allow employees to return to work and they cannot retaliate against workers who voice safety concerns.
Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this idea? Can you tell us that story?
My mom was single, raising five kids, working full-time and pursuing a college degree. She retired from a successful career in business and teaching but still wanted to do something on a very limited basis — even if it just meant filing papers. She said, ‘Son, can you help me put a flyer together that I can drop off to businesses that says I’m willing to work a few days a week for a few hundred bucks?’ My mom told me she just wanted some extra money for birthday gifts for her grandchildren.
The extent of the problem was later confirmed by my wife. She is a certified nursing assistant and a stay-at-home mom. She didn’t have the time to work enough shifts to keep her license from expiring. However, she still wanted to offer healthcare on a part-time basis.
I learned from business people about the need for qualified workers. I learned from my family about the desire of many people who want to take shifts when they are available to work.
What do you need to lead this idea to widespread adoption?
Bacon is operating in Utah and Texas but we can be online and connecting employers and workers in other states within 10 days. Essentially, we need business leaders in each market to consider the success we are having in Utah and Texas and see how Bacon can help them with their immediate and long-term employment needs.
I’ve learned legislators with good intentions can stop the best business plans. Some states have passed laws that essentially ban gig work, which prevents Bacon from moving into those states. We are working with lawmakers so employees are protected and companies are able to provide employment opportunities that are not available now.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why.
- Be prepared to pivot from a failed concept — I was ready to close doors on one business when I was able to pivot to the successful concept of Bacon. Bring negative information to the attention of your team quickly. Be quick to ask for help when you need it.
- Validate and act on ideas — Before you form an opinion, try to learn from gathering real data, feedback, and experiences. If you don’t know how to solve a problem, find someone who does. Ask that person to share some expertise or tips to help you. Once you have proof, act on it quickly.
- What works in one market doesn’t always succeed in another — The culture and employment needs are different in each community. Bacon has needed to be flexible to make adjustments to help employers and workers in each market.
- Create a real connection and recognize others–Do your best to genuinely learn about the people you interact with and seek to make a friend. Don’t be afraid to share about yourself. I was teaching entrepreneurial skills in places like the Philippines, Mexico, Peru, Brazil and Bolivia, We were able to connect and recognize individuals as they were building their businesses, providing for their families and ending generational poverty. These recognition programs have since been adopted across the globe.
- Show up and get the job done–When assigned to be somewhere or to deliver a desired result, be sure to arrive when/where you should and thoroughly complete the assigned work. Even if you have had success, you can’t rest on your laurels.Be excited to push yourself beyond your current abilities.
Can you share with our readers what you think are the most important “success habits” or “success mindsets”?
I also just read “So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love.” This book encourages people to treat their work like a craftsman. This means if you become really good at something, you become valuable. You don’t have to become a big influencer and have a huge following on social media right away. We should really just roll up our sleeves, work really hard at something and become really good at it. I always say to my kids that “hard work beats lazy talent.”
Some very well-known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
Although I could not have predicted the COVID-19 pandemic, Bacon.work is in the right place at the right time to help businesses quickly find employees to meet rapidly changing demands during the crisis. At the same time, the Bacon app is helping thousands of employees who are suddenly underemployed, laid off or out-of-work.
For years I have been hearing from business owners in retail, restaurant and manufacturing who said they couldn’t find good people and we’re understaffed. I determined employment needed to be more flexible so companies could offer temporary work.
The app is always free to employees and Bacon is waiving fees for employers for at least the next 60 days to help businesses and people who want to work during the pandemic.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.