Finding a part-time job as a student can be a difficult process. But the work experience gained is also vital in building transferable skills that help in later life. Alexander Florio and his sister Stephanie, founders of Swob, set out to make finding part-time work as a student easier.
‘’I always wanted to start my own business; I just never knew what I was going to start.’’
When Alexander told Stephanie about the idea for Swob, Stephanie knew immediately that this was something very interesting and unique. Stephanie was really inspired to start the business after the feedback they got from both employers and students – They found a problem and created a solution.
The idea for Swob came from Stephanie’s brother, Alexander, who was in the process of applying for jobs, and thought there should be an easier way. He was on Tinder at the time, and he put two and two together.
It was a unique idea, but they were still not sure who they would build it for. Before launching in November 2017, Stephanie and Alexander spent time with students and job seekers to learn about how they have applied to jobs. To their surprise, many of these individuals would print out stacks of resumes and walk around malls or go from store-to-store.
Once Stephanie and Alexander noticed this trend, they knew they wanted to create a tool that would disrupt the way people apply to jobs. Employers no longer have to go through stacks of resumes; they can post jobs, screen applicants, and call them in for interviews right on their website. And that’s where the idea for Swob came from. Stephanie and Alexander developed it in conjunction with students and employers to make both sides of the hiring process more efficient.
‘’We’ve now worked with companies such as McDonald’s, Virgin Mobile Canada, Tim Hortons and The Source to help them find suitable employees for their part-time roles. Through doing so, we’ve helped hundreds of students find meaningful employment and build their skills.’’
Share two advice for female entrepreneurs.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
- If you never try, you’ll never know.
What is the one advice that has impacted you the most?
Being an entrepreneur is tough and at times you feel as if you should just give up. It was Richard Branson who told me to “keep going” that has inspired me to work harder. Having someone so important and inspiring in our world like Richard Branson believe in what you are doing is an incredible feeling.
How is it like to start a business with your brother? Anyone who wants to start a business with a family member, what would you advise?
Go for it! We often joke around and tell people, yes we still talk and yes we get along. Working with a sibling is so rewarding because you can be as honest as you want and you get to share all the highs and lows together. Alex and I never hold back on how we feel about something and our goals are the same, we want to make Swob successful.
What has been your key (or keys) to success?
Alexander and I believe there are many factors that have been key in Swob’s success. Before we launched, we met with multiple employers to gain their feedback and to learn about the struggles they face when recruiting in high turnover industries.
Trust for the employers is a big factor. We realize how important trust is in our business and realize that if an employer is paying us to use our service, it needs to work.
We are always communicating with our clients to ensure that they are getting the best experience and to offer up any support we can.
On the job seeker side, we know how frustrating it can be for these students who struggle to find meaningful employment.
With Swob, we wanted to create a tool that is not only relevant to the audience, but simple to use as well.
What is the most rewarding aspect of Swob?
The most rewarding aspect of Swob for us is knowing we have helped place students in jobs. Aside from that, it is when an employer thinks Swob first when they are looking to post a role, to us, that is success.
What popular entrepreneurial advice do you agree or disagree with? Why?
“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” – Richard Branson. I could not agree more with this statement. If you have a fun working environment and great culture, your employees will want to work harder. Culture is a huge aspect of Swob and we ensure we give each one of our employees a great experience.
Tell us about your proudest achievement?
Some of our key milestones include winning the “Pitch to Rich” contest. In May of 2018, out of thousands of applicants across Canada, Sir Richard Branson personally selected Swob to be the first ever Canadian company to win the “Pitch to Rich” contest.
In December 2018, Swob won the Ignite Spark Competition and was awarded $25,000.00. Most recently Swob has reached over 13,000 downloads and hired 5 Business and Marketing Development Coordinators.
What is your favorite aspect of becoming an entrepreneur?
What’s most rewarding about Swob and what we are doing is the fact that we are changing the way individuals can apply to jobs. I love what we are doing, and can’t imagine doing anything else but grow Swob!
Despite living in such a digital world, students continue to go malls to hand out their resumes – without even knowing if these stores are hiring. Swob is changing this approach, and now provides the job seeker with a variety of options and allows you to select the types of roles you are seeking.
What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
One of our biggest mistakes was doing a radio advertisement targeted toward students. Although this was a mistake, it was a great lesson learned that really helped us reach our audience in the right place.
The biggest challenge is ensuring that job seekers have an adequate amount of job opportunities available to them when downloading Swob. We want to create a strong user experience, and in order to do so there needs to be multiple opportunities in various industries.