On the last stop of the 2017 nationwide Shark Tank Diversity Tour, the casting team for ABC’s Shark Tank visited the National Urban League Conference in St. Louis. Entrepreneurs pitched their businesses at the annual Small Business Matters Summit.
Brandon Andrews of Values Partnerships sat down with Chris Motley, founder and CEO of Better Weekdays; a mobile job matching platform that helps universities improve and measure job placement outcomes of its graduates.
Brandon Andrews: What do you want to be when you grow up? How does Better Weekdays help students answer this question?
Chris Motley: What I wanted to be changed when I was exposed to more and more things. It started off as a drug dealer, then cop, then lawyer, then Wall Street trader, now entrepreneur. The point is that my association to what I could do to be successful changed. When Better Weekdays is successful, I will invest in entrepreneurial companies that want to build off of our platform.
We help students answer this question by aggregating jobs, internships, mentors, and continuous learning opportunities in a single application that has been curated and personalized to each student based on their coursework, interests and strengths. The job search shouldn’t be a search because people are only aware of what they are exposed to.
Andrews: Why are you passionate about personalizing career pathways?
Motley: Many people don’t know what they don’t know. They can’t be what they haven’t seen. This lack of visibility, awareness, and access holds many people back from a fulfilling life. I grew up on the South Side of Chicago and my mom was 13 when I was born.
Despite being a single mother—both she and my grandmother knew that it was important for me to be in situations (whether the church, school, or various community organizations) where I would have visibility and awareness of opportunities, and access to resources to help me seize them. That took me from a very rough neighborhood to boarding school, Columbia University, Goldman Sachs, building a manufacturing company in Africa, to founding a technology company. I want to make it easier for college kids—especially the most underrepresented—to have visibility and access to opportunity. It changes lives.
Andrews: How does Better Weekdays work? How do students, career advisers, and employees connect on the platform?
Motley: We aggregate corporate content (jobs, internships, career articles) and categorize it with attributes that are aligned to the company’s desired skills and workplace culture. We then connect it to the implied skills and values of college students and deliver content in an FB/Instagram-like user experience. The more they interact, the more precise we are with our recommendations.
The result: We build diverse talent pipelines for companies at the click of a button, thereby reducing cost per hire. Despite having 1.5 billion users, FB didn’t get into the dating app business. We think that this is because that is not the intent of a person when they use Facebook. This gave rise to Match, Tinder, Bumble, and all the others. We believe that a new platform is needed that speaks to one’s intention of discovering their career paths. We want everyone “checking the whether.”
(The Whether by Better Weekdays. Image: Courtesy of Better Weekdays)
Andrews: Why do you believe this is the best approach for employers and student job seekers?
Motley: Well, we’ve learned that students want a casual way to discover career opportunities because it is a very intimidating process, which is why they wait until the last minute. Second, they all want to know the same attributes about a company but value them differently and want to know at different points in time; attributes such as corporate culture, a ‘day in the life,’ innovation, community engagement, career trajectory, etc.
Currently, career fairs and static corporate career sites can’t communicate these things in a personalized way and are altogether misaligned with how we discover anything. What’s interesting is that companies create this type of content each day, but it hasn’t been aggregated, standardized for easy consumption, and targeted to the most relevant individuals.
Andrews: What does the opportunity to appear on Season 9 of Shark Tank mean to you?
Motley: In a word, everything; I’ve sacrificed so much for this vision. I’ve spent my entire 401(k), sold my car, my condo, borrowed money from my grandmother, and convinced key team members to work without a salary for months while I figured out how to raise the money to build the technology. I “burned the ships.” Appearing on Shark Tank provides an opportunity for people around the country to be aware of a product that can change their lives, and provides me the opportunity to meet very successful individuals that can help us make the vision a reality (and make money).
(The Whether by Better Weekdays Mobile App. Image: Courtesy of Better Weekdays)
Andrews: How do you plan to grow Better Weekdays in 2017?
Motley: First, we recognized that college is a “Better Weekday” so we rebranded our product and named it “The Whether” so it can be used in everyday language. We will partner with chambers of commerce in regions throughout the country and create an affiliate model with them where we will share 10% of subscription revenue with their corporate members. Every region cares about attracting and retaining talent to their region.
Second, we will partner with the United Negro College Fund and the schools they support to help HBCUs connect their students with internships and full-time jobs. Third, we will provide discounts to companies who promote “the whether” and the applicants that they didn’t extend an offer to. Everyone wins.