Toronto-based ShiftHub launched its platform in beta in February 2012 to give SMBs in industries like dining and retail a simple solution for their employee scheduling needs. After continuing to gather user feedback from its 60-70 active companies, the startup has seen more than 260 sign ups, and more than 1,200 employees added to the system. Based on the feedback from customers, the company is launching a revamped version next week at startup accelerator Extreme Startups‘ demo day.
Co-founded by Jeremy Potvin, who brings with him experience in the apparel industry, and James Woods, who built out the ShiftHub mobile app, the company was founded out of Potvin’s frustration with employee scheduling tools. “While I was running these stores, there were a plethora of front-end point-of-sale (POS) systems…then backend systems like accounting, monitoring your inventory, and in between there, where was scheduling? Tacked to a cork board,” said Potvin in an interview with BetaKit.
The company said right now most of their target market creates their schedules in one of three ways: on a piece of paper, using Excel, or via Google Docs. Potvin said that given how busy most business owners or store managers are, they wanted to make the onboarding process as simple as possible. Employers can get set up by scanning or taking a picture of their existing schedules and sending them to ShiftHub, and the company will get them set up within 24 hours. Business owners can then create and publish schedules and send out push notifications to their employees via SMS, email or through the company’s iPhone and Android apps.
The new features in the upcoming version are focused on employees, since Woods said the company has an increasing focus on being an employee-first tool. It already allows employees to switch shifts, request time off, and show their availability. It also has built-in social network-like functionality which allows employers to leverage their employees’ social influence, with the ability to check-in to their workplace and post to Facebook. In addition, it is now focused on allowing employees to manage multiple locations and multiple workplaces all from the same ShiftHub account.
“What we’re doing is taking an employee-first approach, whereby the employee, their availability, all these elements affect how a company interacts with its employees,” Woods added. “They can still impose rules, but that employee-first approach also allows us to have the employee, so if they leave one job at Starbucks and go work at Thai Express, it’ll take all their check-ins, positive feedback from one company to another, or from one location to another if they’re with the same company.”
The SaaS startup only recently rolled out its pricing strategy to start monetizing its platform, making it available for free for up to five employees, with volume-based monthly subscriptions ranging from $19 per 25 employees to $99 for up to 250 employees.
Other options that SMBs have for scheduling include startups like Shiftplanning, WhenIWork, and HotSchedules. However, ShiftHub believes that its focus on making employees’ lives easier and providing a social layer over their platform will give them the necessary edge to carve out a space in the market.
In addition to the launch of the revamped software, the company is working on adding more Facebook integration which would allow employees to get notifications and interact within Facebook. They’re also looking to add two-way messaging, letting employees send an SMS to see if they work on a particular day. The company will have to prove that its on-boarding process and social layer will be enough of a reason to get employers to go from a cork board to their smartphones for all their scheduling needs. While it has an employee-first mentality, getting employers on board will be the key to success, as will partnering with existing management platforms to give employers easy access.