As part of my series about the “How Business Leaders Plan To Rebuild In The Post COVID Economy”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mathieu Stevenson, CEO of Snagajob.
Appointed in 2019 after previously serving as Snagajob’s Chief Marketing Officer, Mathieu and his team are focused on using data and AI to realize the vision of becoming the first truly on-demand platform for hourly work, instantly connecting millions of hourly workers with hiring employers. Mathieu brings deep technology and marketplace experience across venture owned and public companies, including leadership roles at McKinsey & Company, HomeAway Inc (NASDAQ: AWAY), and most recently, Blucora Inc (NASDAQ: BCOR) where Mathieu served as Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer. Mathieu and his wife Catie have three active, young boys. The family is enjoying their new home and community in Richmond, VA. Mathieu is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and attended the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University where he received his Masters of Business Administration. His first hourly job was as a lifeguard.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I was born in a small town in central Puerto Rico and spent most of my childhood in Latin America before coming back to the US. After finishing school, I spent my formative years in consulting which was a fantastic experience. I had the opportunity to work across different industries and spent several years in Europe and Asia (where I met my wife!!).
However, I realized that my passion was technology and helping build / create — which is why I left to pursue more entrepreneurial opportunities including most recently Snagajob. I remember the first discussion I had with our now Chairman about Snagajob’s mission and vision — we were supposed to talk for 30 min but ended up speaking for well over an hour and a half. After I got off the call, I turned to my wife and said, “we have to do this.” I wanted to be a part of something bigger and saw that Snagajob could have a trans-formative impact on a massive segment within society.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
When I was a young Associate at McKinsey, I was asked on a Friday afternoon to attend a meeting at a client’s European headquarters that Monday. Wanting to show how self sufficient I was, I did a quick Google search and booked a flight.
Monday morning I showed up to their office, only to find out their headquarters was in an entirely different country! On top of that, I managed to forget to pack socks. Given European stores have more limited opening hours, I spent the week wearing a suit with no socks.
The learning for me was this– don’t be afraid to ask questions and ask for help and double check your packing!
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to, that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
I love “How I Built This,” which is a podcast that interviews founders about how they built their companies. It reminds you how building a successful company isn’t linear — that even the most successful entrepreneurs and companies faced significant adversity during their journey. It helps put things into perspective.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven business” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
The mission of Snagajob has been the same since its inception — to put people in right-fit positions so they can maximize their potential and live more fulfilling lives. That unwavering belief guides the products we build and how we operate. It’s been incredibly powerful and as a result has withstood the test of time.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
Stay true to your North Star — your customers are why you’re in business. While building any business requires adaptability, it’s important in the face of adversity to stay true to your vision — one that’s rooted in solving your customers’ needs. While that can sometimes require short-term financial trade offs, long term it will enable you to build the right business — one that can outlast the inevitable ups and downs.
Thank you for all that. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. For the benefit of empowering our readers, can you share with our readers a few of the personal and family related challenges you faced during this crisis? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
We have three young boys — ages two, seven, and eight. Like many others, it has been challenging juggling home schooling and work my wife and I take shifts during the day. Additionally, I worry about my older parents who live overseas and aren’t near family. I worry for their health but also the sense of isolation they feel. We do weekly video calls with the kids, which everyone has really enjoyed though we’ll be excited to see each other in person when the situation permits!
While it has undoubtedly been a challenging time, I’ve been able to spend more time with my family than I have ever before. It’s so nice to finish a meeting 5–10 minutes early and be able to walk into the living room and spend even a few minutes with my wife and kids. Those are the moments I’ll remember most fondly when this is all over
Can you share a few of the biggest work related challenges you are facing during this pandemic? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
Snagajob serves the 80 million Americans who work in the hourly economy, which has been particularly hard-hit with key sectors such as retail, restaurant, and hospitality down 70%+ (of the 36 million unemployment claims filed in the last eight weeks, 86% have been hourly workers).
To help our customers and clients during this environment, we have taken a number of actions:
- Created a COVID-19 resources page to help workers identify which employers are urgently hiring and what benefits/ relief funding they may be eligible for.
- Helped hourly workers better market themselves through their Snagajob profile so that employers can seek them out as the economy rebounds.
- Launched new solutions such as On-Demand by Snagajob to help employers navigate the rebound by engaging candidates how they are most comfortable (video, phone, or in-person) and engaging their teams and furloughed workers to staff shifts in real time to meet demand.
- Hosted a series of virtual employer round tables for peers to share best practices on how they are managing through the crisis and preparing for the rebound.
Like many of our clients, we’ve also been impacted by COVID-19 and had to make difficult sacrifices to weather the storm, such as cutting all non-essential spending, pausing most hiring, asking all employees to take temporary salary adjustments, and our Chairman and I taking no salary for the remainder of 2020.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the corona virus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. What are a few ideas that you have used to offer support to colleagues who were feeling anxious? Can you explain?
The last eight weeks have been difficult for all of us and have impacted every aspect of our personal and professional lives. We’ve tried support our Snagger family during this period through:
- Communication. Weekly updates on what we’re seeing in terms of the impact of COVID-19, our outlook, and actions we are taking.
- Transparency. We provide the entire org full visibility into our weekly operating and financial metrics and answer Snaggers’ questions each week,
- Time off. We recognize working remotely can be stressful and that everyone has been putting in extra effort during this period. As a result, we gave everyone the day off on Snagajob’s 20th anniversary (May 15th) to help folks recharge and announced an additional week of company paid holidays this year.
- Connection. In addition to hosting virtual happy hours and events, the org took it upon themselves to launch SnaggerU “Home” Edition which features classes building on the diverse talents of our colleagues on topics such as grilling, yoga, and cooking.
- Flexibility. Recognizing many are juggling managing work with having kids at home, many teams have adopted flexible schedules to allow colleagues to balance work and home life.
Obviously we can’t know for certain what the Post-Covid economy will look like. But we can of course try our best to be prepared. We can reasonably assume that the Post-Covid economy will be a trying time for many people across the globe. Yet at the same time the Post-Covid growth can be a time of opportunity. Can you share a few of the opportunities that you anticipate in the Post-Covid economy?
While it has been a trying time for all of us, I have been inspired by the selfless actions, support for one another, adaptability, and innovation we’ve seen over the last two months. While the next few months will be challenging, I have no doubt that we’ll emerge stronger as a country and world.
I see several opportunities coming out this crisis as we rebuild the global economy:
- I am grateful that enhanced unemployment benefits have enabled millions of impacted workers to not have to look for a job in the midst of a pandemic. The opportunity for workers now is to prepare for the rebound by building out their digital profiles to enable employers to seek them out, especially as they start to rehire what’s expected to be tens of millions of employees.
- While it’s difficult to imagine benefits in the short term– given the more than 20% current unemployment rate — long term I see more opportunities for hourly workers than ever before. The crisis has shown how applicable the skills of millions of workers are across different industries (and dispelled some preconceived notions), which will provide them a broader range of opportunities in the future.
- Technology will play a larger role in how people find work going forward — making it safer, more efficient and more effective. Even as we see the pandemic recede, it will be months or years before workers or hiring managers are eager to attend traditional hiring events with several hundred people. Instead, this creates an opportunity to accelerate the adoption of technology that will potentially eliminate the need for an application or even an interview.
How do you think the COVID pandemic might permanently change the way we behave, act or live?
This experience will affect the way we live even after the pandemic recedes. There are three specifically I’d call out that will affect the hourly economy:
- While the adoption of e-commerce, pickup, and delivery is not a new trend, what is new is how COVID-19 has accelerated adoption across sectors. The lockdown has upended consumer expectations and been a forcing mechanism for consumers to expand their use of those services — something that is unlikely to recede post pandemic. This will have profound implications on how businesses operate as well as growth in different jobs.
- With millions quarantined, videoconferencing has become the primary way to interact across numerous facets of our lives — such as school, family reunions, and work. This has disrupted previously held attitudes and conceptions (e.g., many companies were skeptical that remote work could be effective). While there will undoubtedly be a desire to reconnect in person over time, video will play a much more prominent role in the process of finding work and work itself.
- Consumers will continue to demand higher standards of hygiene and safety when shopping, dining, and traveling. Precautions such as wearing masks in public and wiping down carts are likely to become the norm — much like we’ve seen in parts of Asia for years as a result of previous pandemics such as SARS. Additionally, I expect workers will be much more aware of workplace safety and healthcare benefits — an area that was historically undervalued by hourly workers.
Considering the potential challenges and opportunities in the Post-Covid economy, what do you personally plan to do to rebuild and grow your business or organization in the Post-Covid Economy?
Our focus is on helping our customers and clients successfully navigate the rebound — which will enable us to grow our business as well.
For workers, this means supporting the 30+ million hourly workers who have been impacted by the crisis prepare for the rebound, specifically, by helping them market themselves through their Snagajob profiles to employers who are looking to rehire, and further investing in data and analytics to match to the best-fit roles.
For employers, it’s about being their partner as they navigate new operating models and uncertain consumer demand (i.e., it’s anyone’s guess how quickly sales will recover). We’re excited to launch new solutions this month that enable them to flexibly fill shifts and hire ‘on-demand’, engage furloughed workers they can’t hire back initially, and provide candidates with options to engage how they prefer — whether video, phone, or in-person.
Similarly, what would you encourage others to do?
I certainly don’t have it 100% figured out, but a couple thoughts:
Hope for a “U” but make sure you can weather an “L” shaped recovery. While I’m cautiously optimistic that we will see a “U” shaped recovery (early indicators from China and even markets like Georgia and Texas that reopened early have been encouraging), ensure that you’re in a position to weather an “L” shaped one as well. In our case, that meant implementing aggressive financial sustainability measures at the on-set of the crisis in March. We did that at the time to ensure we could weather the storm, which has enabled us to now focus on the future and how we best help our customers and clients emerge from this stronger.
Identify leading metrics to help guide investment decisions. Given the uncertainty around the pace of the rebound, it’s important to have three to four metrics that can shape when and where you invest in rebuilding or growing your business (or conversely pulling back on planned spend). While we have a plan that we execute against, we also have a set of metrics based on the weekly and monthly trends that inform whether we flex investment up or down for the coming months.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“In adversity lies opportunity.” As I’ve told our organization and investors over the last eight weeks, the adversity we’ve faced has created new opportunities. For example, we’ve seen more traction in several sectors over the last eight weeks than we’d seen in the last three years combined, have deepened our relationships with customers and clients, and are seeing accelerated adoption of new hiring technologies.
How can our readers further follow your work?
The best way is to follow Snagajob on LinkedIn or Facebook where we share our latest insights and news about upcoming solutions. Or you can visit Snagajob.com if you’re an hourly worker or employer who wants to further your career or find the best-fit candidates.