Two math geeks out of St. Louis bring a Midwest mindset to the Valley.
Work scheduling is tricky. Throw in variables like shift preferences and business demands, and millions of results are possible, very few of which might be optimal, for employees, for the employer, and fewer still that are good for both. But for Philip Thomas, the so-called nurse scheduling problem is a “legitimately cool” one — and one he thinks he can solve.
Thomas, originally from Ohio, and Hess, from Michigan, met in St. Louis while both studying applied math. After graduation, the two continued to work together at OpenDNS until its acquisition by Cisco. Still fascinated by applying math to workforce management, the pair applied for the Bay Area fellowship and launched with their first Staffjoy customer in May.
How Staffjoy works
Staffjoy takes input from workers on their shift preferences, including rules on rest between shifts, and analytics from employers on their demand needs to automatically create schedules. Workers can claim open shifts and managers can alter workforce needs to match demand.
The company offers two models: “Flex” for on-demand businesses with contractors claiming shifts; and “Boss” for businesses with employees on assigned shifts. For both approaches, Staffjoy’s competitive edge is its ease of use for both the worker and business, Thomas said. Data entry is an easy process with a nice-looking web-app, and the application’s algorithms cut the need for a human scheduler.
“It’s scheduling workers when they want to work [in order to] to save money,” Thomas said. “Working for the worker and the business — automatically.”
Since their official launch and hiring their first employee in October, the team has focused on splitting their pricing models and features to better serve on-demand workforces in businesses that still require pre-set shifts to be filled. Serving the “contractor economy” was their original goal, Thomas said, though he’s been surprised by in-bound interest in using Staffjoy for tech support call centers and a wider array of business models.
Staffjoy’s next challenge will be working with other workforce management applications — the apps used for hiring and paying employees. They’re sticking to scheduling, and integrating through APIs to be “best of breed” rather than a full suite, Thomas said.
San Francisco startup, Midwestern values
Though they have been living in Silicon Valley for years, Thomas said that his business approach has its roots in the Silicon Prairie, especially when it comes to focusing on usability.
“It’s very humbling knowing who’s using our software,” he said. “Not everyone lives in the bubble, but it’s important as you’re building a business to know that your workforce can use your solution. We’re going to build advanced tools with the end user in mind — if you can get on Facebook, you can schedule with Staffjoy.”
Alex Garrison works in educational technology, tech support and WordPress development. Before finding her passion in programming, she was a reporter and web editor in Northeast Kansas. She lives in Omaha but is a Larryville townie at heart.