I had the chance to sit down for an interview (see video below) and share our vision and passion, behind Assist 2 Develop.
In the midst of the Great Recession, some of the engineers I worked with were being laid off and would come to me asking for help. They knew that I had connections with companies in the area because I worked for a SolidWorks reseller. Before the economic meltdown, many of the engineer’s I worked with had full-time jobs and did contract/freelance work on nights and weekends. If they were a full-time contractor, it was through a temp agency, and their hope was to be hired as a full-time employee. But once the economy crashed, some were left searching for freelance work because the full-time jobs were harder to come by. However, the challenge would be finding enough freelance work to sustain themselves, and in some cases, provide for a family. I did everything I could to assist the engineers I had befriended throughout the years.
A handful of engineers I helped to find work thought I should start a recruiting firm. The timing was interesting because I had been investigating the concept of marketplaces and felt they could be a better solution. Why? Recruiters tend to charge a lot of money and not every small to medium sized business can afford the cost. On the other end of the spectrum, some job boards produce mediocre candidates. I don’t mean average regarding engineering skills; I mean just flat missing the mark. For example, imagine you post a job for an engineer with a minimum of ten years experience, and you open a resume for a pizza delivery guy. May not sound like a big deal, but if you’re an HR Manager and 50 out of the 250 resumes are unqualified, that’s a waste of time and money.
That’s when I got serious about the idea and began testing. I would connect the engineers to small businesses, and in some cases act as a liaison between both parties. The engineers loved it because, they could focus on what they loved to do, and I would take care of the rest. Soon, I realized that if we created a marketplace that facilitates a direct connection while giving everyone the tools to collaborate in real-time, we might have a product-market fit. Not to mention, be an alternative to recruiters and traditional job board which is important with the emergence of the fourth industrial revolution and the continued challenges facing companies due to the skills gap in engineering.
I wanted to give engineers the chance to define their career path and work on problems they’re passionate about solving when, where, and how they want to. We all want work-life balance, but we also want to be proud of the work we do every day. Plenty of engineers would love the opportunity to freelance work full-time, but most marketplaces in the freelance/gig economy are a race to the bottom (lowest price wins). The thought of dropping your rates to secure work online drives high-quality producers away and is why 75% of freelance work comes via word of mouth. In the past year, we have been investigating new ways to eliminate the race to the bottom and will be rolling out our hypothesis this quarter.
In the end, if this platform lives out its mission, we will democratize innovation and help our members reignite the childlike joy for engineering. Will you join us?
If you would like to read a more extensive version of our origin story, click here.
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