Assured Labor’s Founder and CEO, David Reich, thought up his idea for a mobile, text-message-based employment service for low-income individuals while a graduate student at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. He got together with fellow students at MIT and Harvard and together they hashed out a plan to launch in Boston, then slowly take over the world. With co-founders from around the U.S. and around the globe, the team launched in Mexico this week. From Mexico City, Reich told Fast Company how the latest launch is going.
How exactly does Assured Labor work?
Assured Labor is the first digital marketplace for jobs optimized for the way that people in emerging markets find jobs. Candidates interested in finding a job register at www.EmpleoListo.com.mx. They enter contact information, education, experience, skills and references. Once registered, candidates never need to see a computer again as they can communicate with the service entirely through text-message. Employers that need to hire also go to the website, where they can use our advanced search technology to rapidly identify ideal positions for their position. They view anonymous CVs, select their favorites and add them to their shopping cart. Employers then create a text-message by filling in a few blanks, Assured Labor instantly sends these messages to the candidates. More than half of candidates contacted typically respond that they’d like to interview within a few hours. From there we assist companies in ensuring candidates show up for interviews and allow them to track their progress within the Assured Labor platform.
What is EmpleoListo?
Assured Labor is the name of our U.S.-based parent company. EmpleoListo is the first brand that we’ve launched for Latin America. Empleo means “job,” “work,” “business,” or “employment” and listo means “ready” and also “clever”, so the name can mean business ready or work smart. This is our brand for local markets so it makes sense to our local customers. We expect that we’ll use local brand for each of our major markets, so expect to hear a few more brands coming from Assured Labor, leveraging our same technology platform, in the not too distant future.
What was your 30-second elevator pitch that got you funded?
There’s 4 billion people in the world with cell phones and only 1.5 billion with access to the Internet. Over two-thirds of Internet users in emerging markets don’t have computers at home. This means that traditional job boards have only exposed the tip of the iceberg in terms the opportunity. Our founding team from MIT and Harvard has spent years understanding the nuances of hiring and technology usage in emerging markets and has the experience to build this company to its potential.
Emerging markets are a plenty these days; how do you choose which countries to enter? How did you choose Mexico?
We had five great interns at MIT helping to conduct a market analysis to figure out which countries would be the best for us to enter. While the stats were a big factor, relationships and funding also played a major role. Nicaragua, our first market, was a great place to experiment and get things right with a low budget. We also had a great relationship with the largest wireless carriers in the country and a great network that helped introduce us locally. In less than a year we’ve grown to become the largest marketplace for jobs in the country.
Entering Mexico after Nicaragua was the obvious next step. It’s a vast market, with 85 million mobile subscribers and only 30 million Internet subscribers. Of individuals on the Internet, only one-third has a computer at home. Add to that a young text-savvy population, high job turnover and our ability to leverage our great team in Nicaragua, and there you have it.
What’s the single most innovative feature of your approach to job creation in emerging markets?
Assured Labor’s primary innovation is in creating a recruitment platform optimized for mobile phones rather than looking at mobile phones as a bolt-on feature. Sending text-messages is easy, but enabling companies to instantly connect with only the right candidates is very hard–that’s where we excel. Both our technology and our business model are built around mobile as it’s actually used.