There is perhaps no other city in the U.S. with a larger transient labor force than Los Angeles. Whether it's aspiring actors and singers needing part-time work or a free-spirit refusing the nine to five, this is a town built around finding a flexible gig.
Justin Boogaard noticed this trend last year while working as an operations manager at the on-demand massage service Soothe. After six months with the company he detected recurring trends in the experiences of on-demand contractors.
The masseuses he worked with were making twice as much money with Soothe as they were at a brick-and-mortar establishment and the only reason they hadn’t joined earlier was because they had no way of discovering the opportunity.
Boogaard decided to create a gig-based marketplace and teamed up with his cofounder David Lung to create Hustle, a job finder for flexible, consistent work.
But don’t expect to see services like Uber or Lyft on the site — Hustle upholds a wage minimum that the riding services simply don’t meet. In order to validate their job’s value, Boogaard and Lung decided to walk a mile in the worker’s shoes:
“In the beginning David and I insisted on doing all the jobs that we were listing. I have delivered laundry. I have delivered groceries. I have delivered Starbucks, I’ve moved cars as a valet — I have vetted all these things and they seem to be reasonable opportunities for folks that are looking for a side job.”
Sites like TaskRabbit or WorkAway have profited on the transient labor force for a few years now, however Hustle’s focus is on consistent work rather than one-off odd jobs. The jobs they post pay between $18 to $25 an hour and the company has benefited from the success of their biggest partner — Postmates.
The site, now 13 weeks old, has begun to test other cities, but Boogaard recognizes that LA’s transient workforce may be an anomaly in the U.S., especially considering the amount of work-hungry actors and performers within the city.
“If Hustle wanted to become some sort of entertainment studio, we could do it overnight,” joked Boogaard. “LA has been a great market for this product and we want to swallow it up and then use what we’ve been building in other cities.”
Boogaard’s Hustle is one of three LA companies selected by the Kairos Society for their 2015 K50, recognizing the world’s best startups led by entrepreneurs 25 years and younger. The companies will be honored next week at the Kairos Global Summit.
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