Forced To Pivot, Job-Matching Entrepreneur Now Has A Winning Strategy

By David Nicklaus
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) “The Whether”, is a new social-media-like recruiting platform that allows students, for free, to create a profile, complete a personality assessment and see which companies might be a good fit. They can also “favorite” employers to learn more about them.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Chris Motley thought he had a great product and a solid strategy. Then his target market blew up.

Motley, founder of job-matching startup Better Weekdays, planned to market his software to for-profit colleges.
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Because of their dismal job-placement records, many were in danger of losing access to federal student loans. If Better Weekdays could help more graduates find jobs, it could solve the colleges’ regulatory headache.

Then regulators turned up the heat. Some big for-profit operators, including Corinthian Colleges and ITT Technical Institute, were forced to close their doors, leaving Motley’s business plan in tatters.

Better Weekdays had to pivot, but in which direction? Budgets were tight at traditional universities, so they weren’t likely to spend money on software to help their graduates. The job seekers themselves were unlikely to pay.

That left employers. As he researched the job market for new graduates, Motley learned two things: Companies spend heavily on campus recruiting, and they aren’t happy with the results.

“They spend $8 billion a year, and there’s no obvious solution that’s working for them,” he said.

Motley thinks he has that solution in The Whether, the social-media-like recruiting platform that Better Weekdays launched last week. It allows students, for free, to create a profile, complete a personality assessment and see which companies might be a good fit. They can “favorite” employers to learn more about them.

Employers pay $499 a month to post content and obtain data to help target their recruiting efforts. If a company gets a lot of favorites from a particular campus, it might send a recruiter there. If an engineering firm isn’t reaching students from a nearby engineering school, it may need to rethink its message.

Better Weekdays was founded in Chicago, where Motley grew up, but moved to St. Louis in 2014. Since then it’s won financial support from Capital Innovators, Arch Grants and Missouri Technology Corp.

Better Weekdays ran tests with students at Washington University’s Skandalaris Center, which used the platform to match 23 students with internships, and Harris-Stowe State University.

The Whether’s launching last week was sponsored by the St. Louis Regional Chamber, Regional Business Council and St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, all of which are eager to attract more college-educated workers to St. Louis.

The Regional Chamber saw the need for something like The Whether after commissioning a survey of 1,000 college students a couple of years ago. The students said they wanted to go to a city that had plenty of good jobs.

The wake-up call was that they didn’t know whether St. Louis had much opportunity — even as employers such as Enterprise Rent-a-Car and Express Scripts were trying hard to recruit college graduates.

“We decided we need to do a better job of aligning talent with opportunity,” says Valerie Patton, the Chamber’s senior vice president for inclusion and talent attraction. “It’s that simple.”

Motley expects to roll out the platform in 10 cities by this fall; he’s already heard from a couple of places that would like to be next on the list.

His phone may start ringing more often: On Thursday, The Whether won a competition among more than 500 education-related startups at South By Southwest, the big music and technology conference in Austin, Texas.

The challenges of the past two years made the win especially gratifying, Motley says: “We almost died multiple times, so having people validate that something’s working is pretty cool.”

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