When Corey Bober and Zack Smith were undergraduate students at Northeastern, they were always working odd jobs to stay afloat financially. Sometimes they did food deliveries. Other times they worked event security. But no matter what, the experience was always ad hoc and disorganized.
“It was always a very decentralized process,” says Bober, co-founder of Jobble, a company that helps gig workers find work and access benefits. “We’d randomly receive an email about a job, we’d do it, and then weeks later, we’d get a paper check in the mail. That’s how we knew technology could help this process.”
In 2016, Smith and Bober launched Jobble, an app that consolidates short-term contract work opportunities into one easy-to-use database. Today, Jobble has over 5 million users across the United States and over 14,000 partnerships with businesses that advertise job openings on the app. The company currently employs 45 people.
“At the rate we’re growing, we expect to have more than 10 million users by this time next year,” Bober says.
The app supports many popular contract employers such as Amazon, Uber, and UPS, which is convenient for gig workers—who are often employed by more than one company. Workers can log hours and receive payment from all employers on one app instead of on each individual company’s app.
“We find that gig economy workers usually work for two to three different companies per week,” Bober says. “Jobble is the aggregated place for them.”
The app is free to use for workers and charges a fee for businesses that advertise job listings. Because gig workers typically don’t have access to benefits such as health insurance, Jobble also consolidates resources for workers on the platform and provides discounted benefits.
While Bober and Smith, the CEO of Jobble, were still at Northeastern, they started a Jobble-like business for students to find event-related part-time work such as security and furniture assembly. Though the staffing agency, called Collegiate Contact, lacked the centralized technological features of Jobble, it sparked the idea for what is today Smith and Bober’s full-time job.
In fact, Jobble was incubated in Northeastern’s student-led venture accelerator, IDEA. “We were really bootstrapping it to begin with,” says Bober. The pair took full-time tech jobs after graduating from Northeastern in 2012 but worked nights and weekends on Jobble through the IDEA lab.
Bober says that after the pandemic started, there was a massive uptick in the number of workers using Jobble to find jobs. At the time, most of the job listings on the app were event-focused, a pool of connections left over from Collegiate Contact. But as those jobs shut down because of COVID-19, Bober and Smith had to introduce jobs from different sectors to the app.
Events now make up less than 10% of the app’s repertoire of job listings. “Retail, delivery, restaurant, supply chain work, and warehouse-type jobs are now much more prevalent on the app,” Bober says.
“Pre-COVID, a lot of these gig workers were looked down upon,” he says. “But now, these people are rightfully recognized as the essential workforce. Those are the people we want to serve.”
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