OnContracting founder Pradeep Chauhan wants to change the way people find contract jobs. The former Microsoft manager and graduate of the Founder Institute incubation program is starting that quest in Seattle, and already boasts more than 1,000 recruiters and contractors in his marketplace. Soon, he plans to take the idea to LA and San Francisco.
We caught up with Chauhan for the latest installment of Startup Spotlight. Here’s more from the interview, including why he thinks OnContracting has the chance to become the “Zillow for temp staffing.”
Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “OnContracting helps professionals find contract jobs at awesome companies like Google, Amazon or Microsoft through the best staffing agencies.”
Inspiration hit us when: “Having worked in the temp staffing industry we saw how frustrating the match-making experience is for contract job seekers and recruiters. Contract jobs on job boards never list who the client is. As a full-time employee, it would be irrational to apply for a job without knowing who you will be working for and researching that company, but this is the industry standard for contractors. We take the mystery out of temp staffing. We offer job seekers an independent website that crowdsources fragmented information about which client companies hire contractors, skills they hire, their preferred staffing agencies, hourly rates to expect, and reviews of agencies. Contractors can see what options exist, decide what works for them, connect with the recruiter they feel is best and discuss it, instead of applying ‘blindly’ on a job board.”
VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “Bootstrapping for now. We will raise money from angels as we get more traction and embark on expanding our community, content and marketplace.”
Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “We are a service by contractors, and for contractors. By focusing on providing value to the contractor, we will attract the best professional talent to our platform and in turn recruiters.”
The smartest move we’ve made so far: “The staffing industry has historically been closed, non-transparent, and unwilling to change, so it has been tempting to abandon our mission of providing transparency in order to be more easily adopted. However, we have stuck to our guns, and we are now starting to see the results.”
The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “We’ve made every mistake on the startup checklist of things to avoid, but we’ve managed to learn from them. Time will tell which was the biggest.”
Would you rather have Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “Zuckerberg. Allowed an additional choice, it would have to be Rich Barton, for pioneering the ‘Power to the People’ business model. We’re following in the footsteps of Zillow, Glassdoor, and Avvo.”
Our world domination strategy starts when: “We become the best place for contractors to discover contract jobs and connect with the best staffing agencies and recruiters. The opportunity is huge and growing. Companies in the US spend $35 billion hiring four million skilled professionals on contract through 17,000 staffing companies every year with most contracts lasting only 3-12 months so the demand for match-making contractors and recruiters is very high.”
Rivals should fear us because: “We’re challenging the inefficiency of the old, non-transparent and closed models. Job seekers are increasingly choosing networking to find contract jobs these days and we are positioned to help them do this more efficiently and in a more targeted way, and we’re only getting started.”
We are truly unique because: “Current job boards are designed for full-time job seekers and force-fitted for contract jobs. Online labor marketplaces like oDesk and eLance are good for remote projects but large companies need a large number of contractors to work out of their own offices. Most existing professional networks are ‘closed’ – they only let you connect with people you already know and there’s no easy way for contractors and recruiters to find each other. We are truly unique because we are focused solely on onsite contract jobs. We do the difficult research for contractors, greatly multiply their options and connect them to the best recruiters in an open way. Our business model is in sync with how temp staffing already works and just makes it more transparent and efficient. We’re like a Zillow for temp staffing.”
The biggest hurdle we’ve overcome is: “Coming up with a business model that makes it a win-win for everyone.”
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Work hard on simplifying your pitch and always keep a 1 minute pitch handy. You never know when you’ll need it.”
Startup Spotlight is an occasional look at a Pacific Northwest startup company. Have an interesting new venture you want spotlighted in GeekWire? Fill out this questionnaire in a fun and engaging style that shows off your startup’s culture. (Remember to upload photos). Past profiles can be found here.