GigPro founder talks about the changing landscape of the restaurant industry
ORLANDO, Florida. – Twenty-five years working in kitchens doesn’t usually lead to a tech career, but Ben Ellsworth did when he founded a company to help restaurants deal with staff shortages unexpected.
Ellsworth is the founder and CEO of GigProrecently launched in the Orlando area.
“We (covering) restaurants, catering businesses, event businesses, hotels, many resorts, but yeah, anything that encompasses hospitality and service,” he said.
GigPro allows people in the service industry to fill open shifts at businesses, allowing those places to hedge if someone calls in sick or has to leave work unexpectedly.
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Ellsworth, who is from Charleston, South Carolina, said he came up with the idea when he was looking for someone to fill an open position at a restaurant where he worked.
“Dishwasher didn’t show up for a shift,” he said. “I looked at my line staff and said, ‘Who knows a guy? We all have 40 people on our phones who can cover the shift, but finding the available person is impossible. That’s when I got an AirBnb notification that someone had booked a room in my house for the night and I thought, “I wish they had booked to do the dishes .” And it was kind of a little light bulb moment.
Ellsworth feels GigPro can be a boon to the struggling service industry, which he says has been “hardest hit by the pandemic.” Much of the service industry has struggled with staff shortages, though Ellsworth admits that problem has been a long time coming.
“It’s been going on for over a decade, you know, in Charleston — in any market that has a big dining scene and a high cost of living that’s had a lot of economic gentrification,” Ellsworth said. “I mean, people are — where are all the restaurants? They are downtown. People are being pushed out of there – more and more – and if you can’t afford to live in the area, it’s hard to get there. So it was a decade of staffing that only got worse. And then COVID was like that band-aid that just got ripped off.
Ellsworth said GigPro is designed to provide more flexibility for service workers. He said the platform also provides a minimum of $15 per hour for workers.
“That’s kind of the only requirement we have is that you can’t post (a job) for less than $15 an hour. Above that, a company can post for no whatever hourly rate she wants. We don’t assign anyone we don’t use algorithms to connect people to computers. It’s not like a traditional recruiting agency where you order seven (workers) – like, we’re not dealing with burgers, we’re dealing with people,” he said.
Ellsworth added that her company often sees GigPro employees end up with full-time jobs as a result of a shift they completed through the app.
“It happens all the time,” he said. “We don’t track it through the platform in any way – because we don’t charge for it, so we don’t need to track it – but we work closely with our business partners and we hear about it all the time. .”
In the latest episode of Florida Foodie, Ellsworth talks more about the creation of GigPro and how the service works. He also explains why he’s focusing on independent restaurants and expanding service to a dozen markets.
Please follow our Florida Foodie hosts on social media. You can find Candace Campos on Twitter and Facebook. Lisa Bell is also on Facebook and Twitter and you can check out his children’s book, “Norman the Vigilant Gnome.”
Florida Foodie is a bi-weekly podcast from WKMG and Graham Media that takes a closer look at what we eat, how we eat it, and the impact it has on us here in Florida and for everyone, everywhere. Find the new episodes on apple podcast, Spotify or wherever you download your favorite podcasts.
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