This week on the XLIVE interview Series, we sat down with Brian Fox, Founder & CEO of Trusted Herd, a marketplace event staffing company. Trusted Herd is like Carfax for the event marketing industry, comprising of 50% DIY job posting, hiring, and event management, and 50% reviews. We spoke about a variety of topics such as founding Trusted Herd, the importance of staffing at events, how Trusted Herd is able to put both companies and workers first, and what we can expect from Trusted Herd in 2018.
For those who don’t know, can you tell us about Trusted Herd, your business model, the problems you solve, and provide us with a brief overview of the company?
I made Trusted Herd because I hate it – honest truth. After 13+ years in experiential marketing, I consistently saw a broken staffing system, and yet, no one was trying to address it because we all focus on the finish line, delivering incredible events. Trusted Herd brings mutual accountability and transparency to the equation, something that’s never existed. At the end of events, companies get to anonymously review workers and workers gets to anonymously review the company, think getting out of an Uber or Lyft. With every gig, a worker’s future in the industry is at stake based on their communication, timeliness and on-site performance. On the flip side, a company’s reputation is put on the line, how well they manage and treat their workers. We then take single ratings and turn them into an aggregate to rank. Have an event anywhere in the U.S.? Create a job post and five minutes later search a ranked list of talent from a certain mileage radius, view profiles, pictures, past reviews and instantly share the job. Get the best talent and feel confident knowing they understand they’re held to a universal platform, not just one company.
In terms of cost, it’s $10 to post a job and any worker hired off the Trusted Herd platform is $1 per hour, confirmed by the hours they submit post event. We also have enterprise solutions available.
Was there an ‘ah-ha!’ moment when you saw the need for an organization like Trusted Herd?
100%. I waited a few years for someone else to create a Trusted Herd; I didn’t want to do it. Then, I fired a worker on a client’s program and it made me incredibly frustrated that I would never hire this individual again, but tomorrow, thousands of other companies would and learn the hard way.
Why is event staffing so important, and what are the biggest challenges event organizers and producers face when staffing an event?
Staffing is an integral part of any event, a case could be made it’s the most important. The hired staff is often the first interaction and impression for your guests, clients and attendees – think about that. These are workers who haven’t been involved in your pre-planning meetings, no clue the amount of work that went into pulling off the perfect event and you’re entrusting the big day to them. The contingent workforce has no accountability, if they burn a bridge, you’ll never hire them again, but there’s always the next one. Trusted Herd makes them think twice about no-call/no-showing, being late or taking an unexpected turn that damages your event’s reputation.
I also strongly believe workers want to be held to that higher standard. If they understand they’ll be reviewed going into an event, they’ll try harder knowing they will rise in the rankings; it translates to more opportunities and better paying ones.
What types of events (industry, size, location, event duration, audience, etc.) do you work with most, and which are the best fit for Trusted Herd?
The beautiful thing about Trusted Herd is it can be utilized at ANY event where hired assistance is needed nationally. Jobs from liquor samplings, music festivals, sporting events, farmers markets, conventions, trade shows, photo booth activations, there is no limitation on the mentioned parameters. The contingent workforce want opportunities and are willing to work any event that interests and fits their schedule.
Without giving away any sensitive information, can you tell us the ‘secret sauce’ behind Trusted Herd and how you are able to match the right people to the right positions?
Every single review makes Trusted Herd stronger, every day. The secret sauce comes in finding event workers who have been engaged with previous companies, reading their anonymous reviews, and knowing this worker comes recommended from other event professionals. We’re a very industry first and industry share mentality platform, together we can create a needed change.
How does Trusted Herd use technology to create a better product for its users?
50% of Trusted Herd is a dual-sided Glassdoor-like company, the other half is event management.
For workers, they can actually add any promotional/event job they’ve worked in the last year and still rate a company anonymously and ask to be reviewed. We’ve now had over 5,600 reviews added by workers, it’s extremely powerful because it allows them to go to company pages, see other workers’ reviews, how that company pays on average vs. industry average and more.
For companies, search talent based on rankings, hiring your workers, offer shifts, track worker hours and then approve those hours to makes the event management side easy.
Can you explain what an ‘average’ day looks like for the CEO of Trusted Herd?
Trusted Herd is a big thing, we’re actively trying to change an entire industry and as a solo founder, I find myself working anywhere from 10 to 12 hour days to make it happen. Whether I’m talking to event workers, managing social media, designing new site screens, generating new business, it’s really all about being an entrepreneur. If I didn’t have such a passion for fixing it, I’m not sure after 26 months I’d still come in with the drive to push the boulder further up that mountain!
Many events recruit volunteers to help with staffing. Does Trusted Herd work with volunteers, or only paid positions?
Currently Trusted Herd is only paid positions, but absolutely understand some events are driven by individual and group volunteers. In creating Trusted Herd for the greater good of the industry, this is a logical next step and I’d love to play my role in assisting event organizers who go that way. If that sounds like you, send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org – let’s figure it out together!
Trusted Herd relies on the network effect, meaning the utility of Trusted Herd is as valuable as the number of people using the service. Was it a challenge to sign up the first organizations and potential staff, and how were you able to penetrate the event staffing market?
The answer is yes. I’ve had the luxury of living every single user in Trusted Herd during the last 13 years. I know what brand ambassadors go through, touring event workers, event managers at agencies, and finally, owning an event agency. The frustration has always been there and the answer was always could we pull off a platform that allows that frustration to be plugged in for the greater good. Workers were the first to buy in by rating companies anonymously, something they’ve never had. In the last week, we’ve secured 4 staffing agencies to begin posting their jobs, hiring and reviewing workers. The companies who thrive at treating workers well and have strong event management skills understand Trusted Herd levels the playing field, it’s a huge new business opportunity for them to show future clients.
Most event workers live in Facebook groups and are pulled in to Trusted Herd by companies who post jobs in there. What’s great is there have been a few jobs that have netted 120+ applicants. When workers realize what an asset the platform is for not just jobs, but also that Glassdoor-like searching of companies, they add their reviews and the wheel keeps turning!
Trusted Herd puts both the workers and companies first. How are you able to create a mutually beneficial environment for employers and employees, and how is this different from your competitors?
Good event companies deserve more business. Good event workers deserve more jobs. When you rank both, it immediately adds recognition that’s never been there before. There has never been a rank in our industry, accountability through gamification is an avenue no one else has ever taken, it’s always been there, just surprising no one ever did it.
What changes can we expect in 2018 from Trusted Herd?
There’s a lot of excitement and traction lately, in just the last few months, here are some of those wins: won Chicago Founders’ Live Startup Contest, Top 10 out of 100 Midwest Startups at FUND Conference, Exhibited at the annual EventTech and XLive Convention (shout-out!), Won a Live YouTube Startup Pitch Competition (MinnoTank), Finished 2nd in judge voting at ABQid’s National Ski Lift Pitch Competition in Taos, NM and selected to exhibit as a BETA company at Collision in New Orleans.
We have some new investors, which means more capital, which means building out current successes. The entire roadmap is in my head from 13+ years in the game and as long as we’re sticking to our core mission of improving the entire industry, together, we’ll be on the right path.
It takes about 4 minutes to create an account and it’s free to do so, sign up now at www.trustedherd.com!