Wonolo: Staffing Marketplace with Jeremy Burton

Online labor marketplaces are widely used for one-to-one transactions. On Uber, a rider hires a driver for transportation. On TaskRabbit, a homeowner hires a cleaner to come clean their kitchen.

These types of marketplaces are not as widely used for one-to-many transactions, but they can be just as useful. A warehouse owner would want to hire a group of workers to help with holiday shipments. A conference organizer would want to hire a group of event staffers to help run the conference.

Wonolo is an on-demand staffing platform. Businesses post jobs and workers apply for those jobs. The types of work include event staffing, warehouse operations, merchandising, and other general labor tasks. In past shows, we have covered on-demand work platforms such as Fiverr, Thumbtack, Uber, and Instacart. Wonolo presents another variation in the business model and software architecture of the gig economy.

Jeremy Burton is the CTO and chief data scientist at Wonolo. He joins the show to talk about building and scaling Wonolo, and some of the key strategic decisions that Wonolo has made along the way. As with any successful marketplace business, Wonolo has solved the chicken and egg problem of how to get supply and demand on the platform simultaneously. The company has grown deliberately, setting up operations in one city at a time to make sure that they can provide a good experience in both sides of the market in each of the new geographies.

Jeremy and I also talked about the broader effects that the gig economy could potentially have on the labor market. Gig economy platforms use a 5-star rating system and written reviews to judge workers, instead of a resume system. The gig economy allows for rapid job liquidity, and the potential for workers to steadily “level up” more quickly than they might be able to in a typical corporate job. These aspects of the gig economy are rarely discussed, so it was enlightening to hear Jeremy’s views on them.


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