How Jyve secretly raised $35M & built a $400M retail gig economy
What if instead of just accepting Uber rides, gig workers could pick from higher paying skilled tasks around town like stocking shelves, checking inventory, or driving a forklift at a local grocer? When they work quickly and accurately or learn new trades, they get to choose between more complex jobs. That’s the idea that’s racked up $400 million in staffing contracts for Jyve, an on-demand labor platform that’s coming out of stealth today after 3.5 years.
“I believe the skill economy is way bigger than the gig economy” says CEO Brad Oberwager. He sees Uber driving as just the low-expertise beginning of a massive new job type where people with specializations or experience are efficiently matched to retail work. Jyve’s secret sauce is the work quality review system built into its app for managers and stores that lets it know who got the job done right and deserves even better opportunities.
Jyve’s potential to become the skilled labor marketplace has quietly attracted $35 million in funding across a seed and Series A round raised over the past few years led by SignalFire and joined by Crosscut Ventures and Ridge Ventures. “Jyve is one of the fastest-growing companies we’ve seen, having already reached $400 million in bookings in three short years” writes Chris Farmer, CEO of SignalFire. “They are creating a new economic class.”
It’s all because Safeway hasn’t touched a bag of Doritos in 50 years, CEO Brad Oberwager tells me. Grocery stores have long outsourced the shelving and arrangement of products to the big brands that make them, which is why the retail consumer packaged good industry employs 10 million people in the US, or over 10% of the country’s workforce. But instead of relying on one person to drive goods to the store, load them in, and shelve them, Jyve can divide those tasks up and match them to neraby people with sufficient skills to cut costs.
“Retail isn’t dying, it’s changing, and brands that are thriving are the ones investing in their in-store experience as well as owning their e-commerce initiatives,” observed Brad Oberwager, CEO and founder of Jyve. “The question we must ask then is how do we fill this labor shortage and also enable people to refine special skills that are multi-dimensional and rewarding.”