Swob, a new job searching and recruiting tool from co-founders Stephanie and Alexander Florio, has been described as a “Tinder for Jobs.” The app is the first of its kind to target students in high turnover industries such as retail and food services for part-time, seasonal, and full-time employment. With Swob, employers are able to experience the benefits of securely filtering through the best possible candidates, safely and efficiently.
Stephanie and Alexander are York University and Seneca alumni. “Alex and I were both in marketing and advertising,” says Stephanie. “We left our roles to focus on Swob full-time. We really believe in this, not only for students but also for employers.”
The Toronto-based siblings are recent winners of Sir Richard Branson’s 2018 Pitch To Rich Contest, in which thousands of mobile-related businesses pitched for a chance to win $10,000 toward their idea and a meeting with Sir Richard Branson. With partners such as McDonald’s, Tim Hortons, Bell Canada, Sleep Country, and Virgin Mobile Canada, Swob is changing the way people apply and hire for jobs.
“Our technology with Swob was developed to help individuals who struggle to find work, find work. We created Swob to make job searching easy for everyone, and one of my favourite moments in Swob’s short history was knowing that someone was hired two weeks after launching the app.”
We sat down with Stephanie to talk about how and why Swob got started, why this is the right time for a mobile-based job search tool, and the importance of customer feedback in building better products.
What’s Swob in 2–5 words?
Simple and easy recruiting tool.
Tell me about the inception of Swob.
The idea for Swob came from Alex, who was in the process of applying for jobs, and thought there should be an easier way. He was on Tinder at the time, and kind of put two and two together.
“To our surprise, many of these individuals would print out stacks of resumes and walk around malls or go from store-to-store handing out their resume, not even knowing if these places were even hiring.”
It was a cool idea, but we weren’t sure who we would build it for. Before launching in November of 2017, we spent time with students and job seekers to learn about how they have applied to jobs. To our surprise, many of these individuals would print out stacks of resumes and walk around malls or go from store-to-store handing out their resume, not even knowing if these places were even hiring. Our target audience is high school, college, and university students, but really anyone who’s looking for a part-time, hourly role can and should use it. We’re trying to disrupt the way people apply to jobs. Employers no longer have to go through stacks of resumes; they can post jobs, screen applicants, and call them in for interviews right on our website. Everything is centralized on our website, and right there for them.
The whole idea of Swob is its ease of use; you can look for a job anywhere. We told students they could literally sit on the couch and look for a job, and they loved that idea.
Why is now the time for Swob to exist?
Although we live in such a digital world, and have seen technology advance in ways we couldn’t imagine, there haven’t been any advancements in the way people apply to jobs. Swob is not only easy to understand, but also relevant to users and makes the job searching process convenient and available right at your fingertips.
Are you also targeting smaller, more local employers, or are you looking more specifically at bigger organizations?
We’re looking at bigger firms because they have more locations. We want to give everyone on the app an opportunity to look for work anywhere. That’s not to say we don’t go after smaller, more local businesses as well, but our focus is on giving users the most opportunity.
Are there additional features that you envision being a part of the platform?
We’re always evolving and considering feedback from our users. We’re just trying to make the app the best it can be. It’s already at a great place, but it will always evolve. We’ve been taking feedback from the employers we work with, and take it seriously when they suggest a new feature or something they’d like to see. For instance, Tim Horton’s mentioned to us that they post roles on Indeed, but receive applications from Vancouver for part-time roles in Toronto. Based on that we created a feature called “Maximum Applicant Distance.” If you want applicants to be, for instance, within 5 km of your business, only candidates within the 5 km radius will see the job posting, ensuring only local candidates can apply.
Can you paint a picture of the future of Swob? How could this change people’s lives in a day-to-day way?
We’re working toward becoming a household name. If you think about Swob when applying for or posting a part- or full-time hourly-rate role, that is success to us. Our goal is to be present throughout Canada. We’ve even trademarked in the US, and have goals to move into that market next. If we can make someone’s life simpler and help them find a job they’re looking for in an easy and efficient way, that’s success for us. We want to give everyone an equal opportunity to work.
What’s most exciting about the work you’re doing?
What’s most exciting about Swob and what we are doing is the fact that we are changing the way individuals can apply to jobs.
“I love what we are doing, and can’t imagine doing anything else but grow Swob!”
Despite living in such a digital world, students still go to the mall to hand out their resumes – without even knowing if those places are hiring. Swob is changing this approach, and now provides the job seeker with a variety of options and allows you to select the types of roles you are looking for.
How is Swob changing the lives of Canadians/Ontarians?
Our technology with Swob was developed to help individuals who struggle to find work, find work. We created Swob to make job searching easy for everyone, and one of my favourite moments in Swob’s short history was knowing that someone was hired two weeks after launching the app.
How are you collaborating with other organizations in your or other industries?
We have collaborated with organizations such as Employment Ontario & Student Pricing Card (SPC) as they both aim to help students and job seekers, so naturally, there is a strong fit for partnership. In collaborating with these organizations, we have been able to create more awareness about Swob in different locations where we might not have had much awareness.
How do you measure success?
We probably measure success differently than most people.
“When our customers, both employers and job seekers, find value in Swob, we know we have been successful.”
For us, success is when a franchisee or store manager has an urgent hiring need, and automatically thinks to go to Swob to post a role. It’s when a job seeker, who has struggled to find a job, downloads Swob and is able to find a job. When our customers, both employers and job seekers, find value in Swob, we know we have been successful.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
The biggest challenge for us is that we’re getting students who are downloading and using the app in areas that we don’t have jobs just yet. We’re fairly new, and are still working on getting as many employers as possible.
If you weren’t building Swob, what would you be doing?
I honestly don’t think I can answer that! I love what we are doing, and can’t imagine doing anything else but grow Swob!
How has being involved with ventureLAB helped your company this year?
Knowing that we have a great support system has really helped. It’s just me and Alex, and it’s been valuable to know that we can reach out if we have a question or need something, being invited to events. Knowing that there’s a support system and group of people that support what we’re doing. It’s fantastic.
Do you have advice for other small businesses and entrepreneurs?
If you believe in what you’re doing, go for it.