BizSpark Startup of the Day - Uberistic
Uberistic is a Professional Social Media Network that connects people with companies using social media tools and video pitches so that both seekers of opportunity and providers of opportunity can find each other. Uberistic is a Career & HR Resource, says founder Jacquie Verenka (CEO), who has been working with partner and company President Michael Goodine to develop the venture on Azure.
We asked Jacquie about her vision for the company, and she provided a few thoughts and sent us a video that explains it very well.
According to Jacquie:
The Vision of Uberistic is to become a respected and influential global leader in professional social media, which is dedicated to helping people and companies achieve professional and financial success.
The overall Vision for Uberistic is to be a place for the average person or company to come to, and have the same ability to shine as others with large marketing dollars.
Uberistic will be a professional social media site dedicated to the masses.
How did you get the idea for your company?
Originally, we wanted to promote start-ups and SME’s, let them introduce themselves to the masses, to bring awareness to new customers and help promote their product/service. Bu it went beyond that. The idea was communication, to connect customers, potential employees, and businesses to find mutually beneficial opportunities for everyone involved. During the last recession, unemployment skyrocketed and nothing was fixing or addressing the problem. There was a general sense of hopelessness surrounding the unemployed. Hundreds of applicants would line up for a single job. People would use traditional job boards, their applications would go into a black hole. People didn’t know where they stood.
My partner talked about his A-B-C process for screening resumes. He would start out with a stack of 300 or more resumes and would only want to interview 5 people. He would grade resumes A, B, or C while watching TV with his family. He would give each resume 15-20 seconds to stand out. Then it would get a grade of A, B, or C. He needed to get the 300 down to 15 or 20 resumes, so his Office Manager could do phone interviews. During the actual interviews he would gauge the candidate in 30-45 seconds by their demeanor and presence.
From this we identified two fundamental problems for businesses and job-seekers.
A couple months into development, we saw a story on CNN that featured a single Dad living in California. He got laid off and couldn’t find a job. He took out all his savings and bought highway billboard ad that read:
“Single Dad desperate for work. Will do anything. Please help me!”
CNN contacted this man, brought him into their studio, and said they wanted to help him out, and told him that he had 60 seconds, right then, to “pitch” himself and tell employers why they should hire him.
That was when the “Aha” moment came. Not everyone can be on CNN, just like not all companies can get exposure by being on Dragons Den or Shark Tank, BUT, everyone can be on Uberistic!
Tell us about your Azure based solution.
Uberistic will run on the Azure Cloud as a web application.
How is Azure implemented in your solution?
We us both Azure SQL Server, and the Azure Servers.
How did you get excited about Azure?
While looking for a place to host our servers we discussed Azure with Fadi Berro a Business Development Manager with CSV Windows Azure Platform. Microsoft is offering some great incentives to BizSpark members who utilize Azure. So on Azure we have an enterprise strength solution that is scalable and economical.
What were the Azure features that prompted you to decide to build on Azure?
It is an enterprise strength hardware and software solution that is both economical and scalable which are key to any start-up.
What advice do you have for companies that are thinking about building in the cloud?
Number 1, determine your needs, security, storage costs, bandwidth costs, hardware requirements, network reliability, etc. Then prioritize and do a cost analysis on them. You will go out and get different quotes so you need to be able to compare apples to apples. Many offerings had hidden costs which could cripple you. With Azure we were able to address these issues.
Tell us about your funding history. Are you currently looking for funding?
For the past 2.5 years, we've been putting efforts into R&D, developing the software, building our team of experts, advisors and partner’s, have become a Microsoft BizSpark Partner.
Up to this point the company has been funded by the founders. We are currently seeking $100k in funding with an Indiegogo Crowdsourcing Campaign www.inidegogo.com/projects/be-uberistic which will enable us to market Uberistic to the world.
This is a perfect opportunity for students, job-seekers, and businesses to purchase our services at a discounted rate, by purchasing a perk and supporting the campaign.
How many employees do you have? ____ How many of them are developers? ____
We currently have 4 employees with 3 of them being developers.
Microsoft technologies that you are using in conjunction with the development of your application (and if you’re using Windows Azure, please answer the Windows Azure section below):
We are launching Uberistic as an Azure Web Application.
What impact or legacy do you hope to make in the market and in the business world?
We hope to develop an amazing product that will help many, and that we can give back to many! We want Uberistic to become the place to be for job seekers and companies. Uberistic is the complete package for the working world. Knowing we’ve revolutionized this system, and helped people and companies find success, and knowing that we made a difference,,,,that’s the legacy we want to leave behind.
What are some of the challenges you face as a founder or developer at a startup, when it comes to dealing with family life, or socially? Does working on a startup change the way you associate and interact in these areas?
This life is not for everyone.
Unless you have a strong support team around you, meaning family and friends that can understand and appreciate the stresses of starting a company, it would be really hard to do. Luckily my partner and I are both very fortunate that we have such supportive spouses and children. An entrepreneur does not live a typical life with regular business hours. Nights and weekends are never really free. Sometimes friendships and family relationships are put “on hold”, because as a start up, there is so much to do, and the stress level can be high. Most of the times, at the beginning of a start up, there is no salary to draw from. In fact it’s the opposite. The age old saying, “you need money to make money” is so true. Just even for little things, such as business cards, cell bills, travel, gas, business lunches and coffee, all the little things add up. And, when you’re a one income household with kids, as both of us are, it can be trying at times. Financial stress can be crippling, and one's energies can only go so far. You need to have the vision and end goal in sight, and then focus, and carry on.
What characteristics do you possess that make you an entrepreneur? What makes your startup a startup?
Maybe it’s the optimist in me, but I really believe that there’s a solution to everything. If you get a no at first, look for other ways to get that yes. It won’t always be visible and it can take some figuring out, but there is always a way! I do have a thick skin, I know who I am, so that gives me the confidence to move in the direction I have envisioned, even if others may not always see that, or look down on me because I don’t have the degrees and schooling they have. I have “life” smarts, and common sense, and I would also say I’m a dreamer. I do believe in the good of others, and want to be the best “me” that I can be. I also have a strong threshold for stress. There is a lot of stress in starting a business, but you have to know how to manage it, and I think for the most part I do that very well.
We’ve been working together for the past 3 years, getting the business to where it is today, and now we’re ready to open it up, make people aware of our product and start selling! This is why I consider us a Start-Up. We’re just getting started!
Do you have any advice for young startups?
My advice is do something you love and that you’re passionate about. I know that sounds so “cliché”, but it is so true!! Be prepared to put in the time, and effort! It is hard work! Nothing happens over night. An overnight sensation as we like to speak of has years of work and research behind them before the public ever becomes aware. My other advice is find “great” people. My partner and I complement each other very well. I truly believe my weaknesses are his strengths, and vice versa.
Jacquie Verenka (CEO) and Michael Goodine (President)
Can you describe the relationship that you have had with Microsoft in building your startup?
We became Microsoft BizSpark Partners and received an invaluable amount of free software.
What do you think of the BizSpark Program?
I think the BizSpark Program has been great for us. It’s given us the opportunity to use software that we otherwise couldn’t have afforded, it’s provided us with greater credibility and the support and promotion to other BizSpark members is invaluable.
Why would an entrepreneur turn to Microsoft for help in building scale, a team, or using software?
Software can be costly and capital is usually at a premium for start-ups, so by BizSpark providing start-ups with free tools, this allows the start –up to do things it may not have been able to otherwise. I also feel that it helps identify a start-up as being more credible. If they can advertise the fact that they’re a BizSpark Partner, then peers and other companies may look at them in a different light. Not just a Mom and Pop Shop. Microsoft is huge, and if a company like Microsoft is a partner of yours, then it looks pretty good and has people noticing. Credibility is key.