Peter Maglathlin has a vision. To help workers with highly specialized skills connect with each other for support and mentorship, as well as get in front of potential employers.
It’s an industry where traditional written resumes just don’t work. And this social network – with an app – will allow the workers to show off their stuff in a visual way – like a digital storefront.
We talk about how he identified this market and grew the network to 50,000+ members in just five months, as well as…
- The two ways they can monetize the network – and why they haven’t done it yet
- How to identify the priorities that will grow your business – and the tasks that don’t matter
- An unexpected strategy for policing inappropriate content
- The people you need at work and at home when starting a business
- And more
Mentioned in This Episode: www.tradehounds.com
Jay Sparks: Hello. This is Jay sparks, your host of Finding Unique Value, I’m the bringer of brilliant people that can find unique value in their business or industry. And I’m excited today to be joined by Peter Maglathlin and hopefully he can help me with the pronunciation of his last name. But he found value using tools that by themselves have created value for different industries, but that’s really not particularly new. What he has done and what appears he’s done is he’s found a group of people that he can combine this technology with. So his firm is combining the technology with this critical group in our society that are almost hidden from a networking and messaging perspective, but they’re vital to our growth. And I am fascinated with this idea and I can’t wait to learn how he came up with it and where he wants to take it. So Peter, welcome to the podcast.
Peter Maglathlin: Thanks Jay. I’m very happy to be here.
Jay Sparks: Great, great. Could you take a minute and just to introduce yourself and what you’re currently working on, because this is really, really interesting idea and it’s one of those things that’s out in the open, but no one’s taking the reins and trying to connect the right parties.
Peter Maglathlin: Absolutely happy to. So I guess just by way of personal background, I grew up in Darien, Connecticut, the oldest of three children. My wife and I live in Boston, Massachusetts, which is where Trade Hounds is headquarted. And the premise behind Trade Hounds, I guess let’s take another step back. I, from a career perspective, I graduated college in 07, not really knowing what I wanted to do with my life. Like I think a lot of college students do. And I felt that investment banking would provide, at the very least a great platform. So I went moved to New York to work at UBS investment bank about six months before the financial crisis. Which was unfortunate timing, but at the same time, I wouldn’t really trade that career experience for anything because to go through adversity like that, real adversity like that early in your career I think teaches you a lot of things, right?
I think that nothing is really sacred and everlasting that people lose their jobs, right? And it was an amazing experience also from a work ethic perspective because I realized how hard I was capable of working. So I worked in, I’ll call it traditional finance in New York City for five years. Got to a point where I either needed to dedicate my career to finance or to pivot, right? And one way I thought would be best to pivot was to go business school. So I came back up to Boston to attend business school and really had no intention of starting a company. But I had no idea how to, didn’t think I was qualified to, but that’s exactly what I did in 2013 with two classmates and we founded what is now called Catalant Technologies. Which is a technology platform that connects freelance business consultants with corporations around the world, through pretty sophisticated matching software, right? So as opposed to hiring a big firm for a lot of money.
Why not get matched with the right person at the right time, at the right price, right? So, I co ran that with my founders for about five years and exited a couple of years ago. And part of me thought I wanted to go into venture investing in, given all the experience that I’d had in fundraising and running a company. But I started to realize that where my heart really lied was in building businesses from the ground up. So I ran into, fortunately my now business partner, David Broomhead at a conference I was speaking at, and he approached me with this idea, which was, hey, there is this big, deep demographic of workers out there, right? Commercial construction workers, millions of them, who are now very actively and very frequently using mobile phones or smartphones for a variety of reasons on and off the job site. However, no one’s been able to build something that amalgamates them in one place and provides them a tool through which they can kind of take control over their careers, right?
And so when you think about the rest of the world, right? We’ll call them kind of more office worker, like folks, there’s LinkedIn there are other platforms that kind of allow us to create a digital storefront of ourselves, right? Before coming on and speaking with you Jay, I looked you up on LinkedIn. I do it for, I use LinkedIn for a variety of reasons over the course of my career, right? However, for the commercial construction worker, written resumes simply don’t really fulfill their needs, right? So if you’re a commercial carpenter, electrician, welder, et Cetera, you tend to demonstrate your skill set through imagery, right? By either portraying images that are work in progress, finished projects, obviously with some texts attached to it. But the most compelling form of sales collateral right? For commercial construction workers is images. And so we needed to build something that replicated the pretty tried and true habits of the workers in order to provide value, right?
So we founded Trade Hounds a couple of years ago and our mission really is to improve the everyday lives of the commercial construction worker, largely because we felt that, they had adopted modern day technology. But hadn’t been built the tools in which to really harness it, right? And so we launched a mobile application on apple and Google about five months ago, highly simplistic platform that allows workers to sign up through their phone number, engage with each other, share work, they’re proud of, seek advice, create a digital storefront for themselves. And it’s, and the response to the market has been really, really encouraging.
So over the course of those five months, we’ve had more than 50,000 workers across the country and every state and every area code, sign up and utilize it, right? Which suggests to us that we’re really onto something here. That there is this kind of latent demand for a useful piece of technology dedicated to this worker, right? Largely because they have a different set of habits. It’s a very distinct culture with a distinct language. And if you build something that is conducive to that culture and those habits, then no usage should kind of take care of itself, if you will.
Jay Sparks: That is incredible. You’ve touched on many, many things. I could probably spend an hour on each. But before we get into the Trade Hounds, because obviously that’s really the thing you’re working on right now. But you said a couple of things early on in your introduction. The introduction was fantastic, by the way. Most people that go to business school, don’t want to start a corporation, I found, right? I always kind of struck me as odd, I think, which is now that you learn more about the theory about how this works, it should be easier and you should want to do it more. And the theory is, well, you study what goes wrong, right?
You study all the problems and a lot of these people that go to business school, they can run a business better, but they don’t want to start one. They want to be an executive and now they have a theoretical foundation to base on decisions, which is certainly helpful than having none of that foundation. But how was it that you, it excited you and you not only done it once, but not twice. And you’re working on your second successful company. That’s really, really incredible, what, why were, why your experience may be different for you?
Peter Maglathlin: Yeah, it’s a really good question. There’s something I’ve thought a lot about over the last several years. So, I think there are a number of factors that together contributed to my decision to become an entrepreneur. So I’d say first and foremost, the environment in which I was placed at Harvard business school with a lot of other very smart, very capable, very ambitious people. Combined with a program they had recently started called the field program, it’s only in its second year of existence in which every first year student was actually required to launch a quote unquote revenue generating business, right? So they effectively put you in this uncomfortable position of doing it regard regardless of or not you want to. And I feel very fortunate to have gone through that experience. And from a founding team perspective, we didn’t really think that much about complimentary skill sets or experiences that were diverse, right?
So, the three of us who started the company were really relatively similar on paper, right? Which was a challenge over time when we were trying to seek investors to fund the business. But I think ultimately what mattered was it was people who liked each other, people who trusted each other and people who respected each other, right? Regardless of where our gaps in competency were, it was critical that those three things were true. And so because it was the first year of my business school term, because I was forced to actually pursue it at least four over the short term.
And because I had the backing and partnership of a strong team, it gave me the encouragement to actually dedicate the remainder of my time in business school to proving out the concept, right? And I think business school is such a phenomenal environment for trying to prove out business concepts because it’s effectively, it’s not risk free, but it’s risk, it’s less risky, right? So sure you could always go find a well-paying job after school, but why not take that year and a half to try to prove something out, get to a point where you can actually make an informed decision about whether or not you want to pursue it after school, right?
So we had a pretty, a typical business school experience and that, for our second year, which tends to be a more laid back year where a lot of people are traveling. We were working 50, 60 hours a week plus classes on the business, right? So because we had that year and a half to effectively prove out the concept, we raised Trade Hounds the funding while in school, right? The first one being led by Mark Cuban and the second by a legit VC, it gave all three of us who didn’t come into school intending to start a business, a lot of promise that hey, this is what we should be dedicating our careers too. We’ve proven we’re good enough at it. We’ve proven the idea has traction and we would regret for the rest of our lives not pursuing it, right?
And so I think once you get the bug, it doesn’t really leave you right. So I entered business school really not knowing what I wanted to do with my life. I actually thought I wanted to go work kind of as an operator at a traditional company, a nonfinancial company. Entrepreneurship is that on steroids, right? Because you’re wearing a bunch of different hats, you’re required to do so many different things that are rapid pace. And that was really fulfilling to me, right? I think that I’m someone who thrives, with a list to get done every day. As an entrepreneur, your list is endless. You almost are never able to complete it.
And so, once I exited my first company, as I touched on before the prospect of going into venture capital was appealing, right? Largely from a pay and lifestyle perspective. And I keep the tires a bunch, but again realize that what really fulfills me is going from zero to one in startups, right? Whether it’s technology, business or not, I think there’s something really, really fulfilling and attractive while also being risky about taking an idea and through sheer will expertise, in collaboration, creating a business out of it.
But I am, I think, I would hope most entrepreneurs would tell you that it’s a combination of skill and luck that ends up really, really contributing to your success. But luck really only comes about if you put yourself out there, right? And I’m thankful that I took the field program seriously, Harvard business school that I dedicated the time. I didn’t look at it just as a project, but actually as a potential career opportunity because it’s effectively changed my life. And I feel like I’m so much more fulfilled now than I actually envisioned myself being in my early to mid-thirties given the career path I’ve chosen.
Jay Sparks: No, that’s incredible. Well and you’ve in your own words you’ve explained some of the keys that you see with some of the titans out there, which who knows you, you may be one of them someday, right? You talked about liking and trusting and respecting being really important for the original team, and that’s something that anybody can have, right? That’s not something you need to be born with or you need to get from somebody else, right? You can, you can kind of be those qualities. And I like the fact too that this isn’t about what Peter did, right, is about kind of you being part of a team. Because I don’t know anyone that’s been successful by themselves, right? So you have to figure out how to work with people. They’re like you and maybe not like you.
So that’s really fascinating and I’m glad that it’s worked out so quickly. So how did you get through those times when, because the lists are endless, right? You could work 24 hours a day and still not have enough time and still not get to everything you want to do. So for you, what was it before we move to Trade Hounds, back when you’re in business school, what was it that was keeping you motivated through those times when it just didn’t feel like things were moving? Or with any new business you have to try some things, they don’t work, so you have to try something else. Or maybe you don’t agree with your partner, but you’re going to do it anyway.
Hopefully you’re using the Jeff Bezos idea of disagree and commit, but that’s not always as easy as it sounds, we disagree, disagree. So how did you get through those rough patches? Because I think that people think that when it happens to them, they’re the only one that’s ever happened to when everyone else like you, everything has worked great. You had this great business and just everything just worked in, you’re just reaping the rewards. But I like the focus on kind of the hard parts too and just get your take on what worked for you so maybe someone else could get benefit from that.
Peter Maglathlin: Yeah, So I know I paint kind of a rosy picture, but ultimately for anyone who starts a business, it’s going to be really, really bumpy, right? The relative to a more traditional career, the highs are going to be higher, but the lows are going to be lower because almost everything is kind of existential, right? When you’re a PE person team that’s thinly funded things that go wrong may actually end up, ending the company’s life, right? Which is, I think early on it was a difficult thing for me to grapple with, but I got more comfortable with it. I’d say there are a few things that allowed us to, and this goes both from my experience and it’s my experience trade hounds that I’ve translated over to my new company that allowed us to kind of like keep the faith, if you will.
I think I’ve already touched on this, but ultimately being around people that you can lean on, right? And you can, that sympathize with you both personally and professionally is huge, right? Because ultimately any entrepreneur’s journey is likely going to be highly emotional, likely going to be highly challenging, likely going to be pretty volatile. And so from a founding team and from a kind of personal team perspective, you need people you can lean on, right? And I think that ultimately had I been trying to do this by myself as a single person founding team, I would’ve failed, right? I think that ultimately you really need people that when times are tough, you hunker down and you figure it out and you talk through it. Versus feeling like it’s all up to you, even though hey, if you’re one of three people, a lot is up to you, but it’s not everything.
I say the second piece is, and this is a piece of advice I give to all entrepreneurs, was we had such a bias for action. And it’s something that we have at Trade Hounds as well, that was really critical to maintaining momentum, right? I think ultimately there, especially at an early stage company, every decision you make is going to be based on imperfect data, right? You’re not going to know if something’s going to work. You’re not going to be able to be 100% confident that something you’re trying is going to have the intended impact. But you’ve got to do it, right? Because if you don’t, the result of inaction is stagnation and stagnation is the ultimate form of failure for any sort of early stage startup, right? Because really what you’re trying to do at an early stage company is progress every day, right? It’s different than a big company.
People and hey, there are plenty of phenomena big companies out there, but a big company is people can hide. At big companies progress doesn’t necessarily need to be made every day, but at a startup, you need to make progress every day. And that’s where prioritization comes into play, right? Ultimately there are a million different things like you said, I or my partners can be doing on a daily basis. And the goal setting we do, we did quarterly goals, still do quarterly goals at my current company. You need to make sure that literally everything you’re doing matches or can be matched to one of the overarching quarterly goals. Because any sort of wasted time or any sort of action that isn’t additive towards what really matters at that point in time is likely going to be useless.
So I think that bias towards action, just kind of closing the loop there, allows you to move forward from either mistakes or through difficult times in a way that continually discussing or debating or strategizing doesn’t allow you to do, right? And so this bias for action I think is so, so, so critical. And then the final piece is, if you believe that what you’re doing is a commercially viable entity and B is something that’s actually a good thing for the world. And that helped me get through tough times, right? And so at my prior company, at my current company, I fundamentally held those beliefs. And I think when times are good, you don’t really need to lean on that type of stuff. But when times are bad, it allows you to say, all right, hey we just got to pick ourselves up like what we’re doing, we believe will work. And what we’re doing, we believe it’s going to help people. Therefore, we can’t kind of feel sorry for ourselves.
Jay Sparks: No, it is interesting. I think that’s a lot of mistakes that new business owners make, right? Like they’re doing it for the money and that’s just not enough, right? And the bolts are flying and you having three or four bad days in a row. It’s very difficult for you to get up and do it so you can get another couple of dollars. But if you’re trying to improve people’s lives, like you said, then that’s something the other people counting on you that don’t even know you yet, you’re got to figure it out. So I could see how that would work. And speaking of improving people’s lives, it’s amazing that you found this massive, massive group of people that we all know and see every day. If you live in a city for sure and you found a way to connect them. That is really unbelievable.
And I was talking to you before we started the construction firms we’re working with some investment, real estate projects, they’re all complaining about not being able to find these workers. So I may be able to introduce you to some if you’re not already working with them, that I’m sure would benefit from this. But is the value more for the individual people using the APP? Or could the value also be for the owners of the construction company? Or where do you see this playing? Or is it everybody it just depend that they use it differently?
Peter Maglathlin: It’s a really good question. And so I think what makes Trade Hounds different than companies that have sought to solve the matching workers, construction workers with opportunities. Problem is that we’re going about it in a fundamentally different way, right? So there are plenty of small to mid-size or even failed construction job boards out there. But we felt that growth strategy was misguided because it engenders a very intermittent engagement model, right? So if you’re a job board, you only use a job board if you’re out of work, which tends to happen not all that frequently on an individual basis. There also can be like adverse selection issues with the job board, especially in a tight labor market, like we’re in a construction. So hey, I don’t want to generalize too much, but the most desired workers are those who have jobs but are potentially looking to move, right? Which is something that LinkedIn has been able to accomplish in kind of the office worker world.
And so we felt that the end game here, right? Is to solve the lab, is to help solve the labor problem. That’s one of the outcomes we seek to achieve. But we felt that the way to get there was to provide a tool for the workers that they want to use every day. Because if you’re able to do that, several things are possible, right? Number one, you’ll have their attention on a daily basis, which also allows you to collect the required data that will enable you to make the matches, right? And it also allows you to position yourselves not just as a job board or every few months utility, but as something that they feel is vital to their everyday lives. But also that they will use in a variety of different fashions depending on where they are in their career cycle, right?
So the Trade Hounds, if you’re happy in your job and you’re working your butt off, as a commercial welder in Albany, New York. What you’ll like to use Trade Hounds for, is to showcase your stuff. Maybe seek advice from other guys, joke with guys on the platform and save your work to your profile in a way that should a rainy day come, or should you want to move people, you’ll be able to leverage, right? If you are a guy who or a girl who is seeking work, you’ll use it for that purpose, right? And so we felt like it was really important to take this community approach to the problem in order to develop the asset, which is the commercial construction worker in math right now. We don’t want several thousand, we want several million in a way that all the other kind of enterprise ecosystem players would want to participate, right?
So whether it’s general contractors, big and small, whether it’s subcontractors big and small, whether it’s recruiting firms, right? We will own the worker, therefore they will seek access. And then on the flip side, there are so many different companies seeking to thinking to access these folks in a more authentic, conversational way. So whether it’s Food trucks, Dunkin donuts, Carhartt, Timberland, such several of which we’re already working with, yes, they can advertise on during NFL games or they can put up billboards.
But ultimately they’re seeking defined better and more targeted ways to participate in construction conversation, that the positions their brand in a way that will drive sales, right? And sure, all these guys a lot of these workers are on Facebook, there are on Instagram, but the fundamental distinction to understand is that when they’re on Facebook or Instagram, these workers are fathers, brothers, friends, et cetera. They’re not welders, plumbers, electricians, right?
So they, the Lens are looking through on Facebook, it’s fundamentally social. And like in, in many instances, political. On Trade Hounds, their persona is their trade, right? Which is highly attractive to companies because they are seeking to be in touch with them when they’re looking through a construction lens and on Trade Hounds, they are 100% of the time doing that.
Jay Sparks: Notice the issue with unions get in the way of this at all? Or is it help that type of structure or is that a different problem that needs to be solved?
Peter Maglathlin: That’s a really good question. So unions, I didn’t understand all that much about unions themselves, until I joined Trade Hounds. And it’s been really interesting and actually, it’s been really great to meet with union leaders and to talk to union workers to get a sense for what the motivations are, what the value is the unions provide. And so unions are obviously still a very kind of a relevant player in the construction fields, right? Certainly more relevant in places like Boston, New York, et cetera versus, the Midwest or the southeast of the United States. That being said, they’re a force to be reckoned with and, and a lot of folks in the industry, regardless of whether they’re right or wrong, feel strongly one way or the other, right?
If you are a union electrician, you feel very strongly that being in the union is the way to go. Almost to a point where it’s a bit self-righteous. And if you’re non nonunion you feel like the reasons for you being nonunion are also undeniably right, right? And so there’s a lot of conversation that goes on on a daily basis on Trade Hounds, about the merits of being Union, Non Union. Some of it is constructive, some of it not that constructive. But at the end of the day, what Trade Hounds is meant to be is a platform for these workers to discuss things like this. And we are not a curator of content. We are a facilitator of discussions.
And so we’ve actually met with several union leaders in Massachusetts and they’re fascinated by what we’re doing. And I think, initially they tend to be pretty skeptical, understandably. But by the end of the conversation, what tends to happen is they say, hey, you know feel our union provides a phenomenal service. And a lot of value to our workers. We also are seeking more, more good members every day. So why can’t we use Trade Hounds as effectively a recruiting tool to draw more members into our union in a world where finding these guys is really hard, right?
And so I ultimately believe that we, there will be a great way for us to work with the unions. I think it’s still a bit premature now. I will tell you that the Union nonunion split on the platform, it’s probably 50, 50, right? So there are a lot of nonunion guys and a lot of union guys. Which is great because in genders, interesting conversations and discussion and also goes to show you that ultimately when it comes to the construction workforce, whether you’re union or nonunion, there’s still this unifying overarching theme. Which is your brother’s in construction, right?
And I know I’m leaning heavily on kind of using him or male terms, but it is it 98% male industry. And so I think that the brotherhood of construction is unifying and there are union, nonunion issues that are constantly being debated and worked out. And it’s something that we hope we can help facilitate and ultimately help unions grow. Help nonunion and companies, recruit workers and grow in a world where I think there’s room for both.
Jay Sparks: Wow. That’s fantastic. I think we need to get you in the political office too because you can help remove that stigma approach between different players. That would be great because I wasn’t expecting to have that kind of response at that. That’s really fantastic. That makes a lot more sense, right? That that’s the way it should be and let the market decide and it shouldn’t really matter what side you’re on because they both have advantages, that you can take advantage of. I think of it the way we look at our investments. They’re neither good nor bad. They’re either right for what you’re trying to do with or they’re not right. So to have an opinion one way or the other doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense.
Well, I have two other questions. These are more type of social media type thing. I don’t know if these have crept into this platform or not, but one of the challenges with social media is people that are particularly negative and all it takes is a couple of those folks and all of a sudden it can really change the nature of the discussion. And I worked construction when I was younger and it was, it could be a challenging situation sometime. So I’m wondering is that as a facilitator versus a curator of discussion, is there anything that has been an issue or things are working the way you would expect? And that is all adults and we’re looking to showcase ourselves and there’s plenty of work to go around and we just want the work that’s for us. Is that, how was that …
Peter Maglathlin: It’s a good question, I’d say that we are facilitators, not curators with a caveat, right? So we reserve the right to remove anything and this is in our terms of service and it’s something we take very seriously to remove anything that’s offensive, discriminatory violence, right? That has no place on Trade Hounds, it should have no place anywhere, right? And those are the rules of the road. And I think most guys understand that. Sure, are there bad actors out there? Yes. Does, do things get posted to the platform every once a while that are inappropriate? Yes. Do we remove them? Absolutely. And I think what’s been really cool too experience on Trade Hounds is if you build something guys care about, they tend to self-police it, right? So ultimately I think what we built is becoming important to guys lives. Therefore they don’t tolerate stuff that could potentially put the existence of the platform at risk.
That’s an imperfect mechanism. But I think especially one at scale is really valuable because and that’s kind of a byproduct of building something people really love. That’d be dead. You know, there is the ongoing challenge in an open kind of platform like this of ensuring that the rules of the road are understood and that content is removed in a very fast manner once it’s posted to the platform. So that’s kind of our overarching philosophy. I think that ultimately when it comes to, you’re right. I think construction workers even maybe more so than other types of workers can be a highly critical of each other’s work. I think largely because it’s, you’re able to kind of tell defects or understand the quality of work through the naked eye if you’re a construction worker.
And so what we try to facilitate is not the types of conversations that are, oh that looks like crap or what the heck’s going on there? It’s more, it’s more advice oriented like, and I think what’s been really cool to understand is that in construction, there are very distinct levels of experience and skill, right? So when you first enter the industry, you’re an apprentice after several years and demonstrated expertise, you become a journeyman. And then the ultimate goal is to become a master. The apprentices of the world are constantly seeking out ways to get better and advice and Trade Hounds is a phenomenal platform through which they can do that. And the masters tend to be people, for the most part again, I’m generalizing who are proud of their skills and love to help out the younger guys largely because construction sense are good to them over time.
And so, hey, there’s plenty of, I’ll call it spicy conversation that will devolve. But at the same time, I’d say the overarching kind of theme and conversations tends to be this is how you can get better or very complimentary, right? Because for the most part, a lot of guys are posting stuff they’re proud of. But it’s something that, it’s a really thoughtful question and I think an issue that is going to maintain top of mind and our philosophy will continue to evolve. I think the most important thing to understand is that we want this to be a platform for them. And that by enabling them to effectively determine what gets posted and what gets removed. Understanding we have kind of the ultimate authority, it tends to lead to content that is really engaging and interesting to these guys.
Jay Sparks: Wow, that’s incredible. That is incredibly hard to engineer and enforce, right? Because you have to make someone want to do that and you can’t just tell them to. So it sounds like you provided the right environment, which is what leadership is all about. That’s really amazing because that doesn’t happen, certainly doesn’t happen by itself. But the, as you said, I mean sometimes street justice does work in the right way. It’s not the best thing to always use. But it sounds like they are self-policing and that’s great. You’ll get more people and you’ll continue to see this parabolic growth.
Now, because you can see with the naked eye and because, I remember some of the carpenters I worked with, some of them were clearly finish guys. They sweated every single detail. They would lose their mind if one thing was off. You didn’t have to tell them or look over their shoulder. They were really good and some guys could care less. They wanted to just be framing houses and moving to the next one, right? They didn’t want to do any of the inner detail work. And part of that is just our cognitive preferences, right? Now that I know more about how the brain work.
So from a rating standpoint, you don’t really, I’m assuming there is no ratings per se, it’s more like, are you an apprentice, journeyman or a master? Or are there other ways that within each kind of level that they can get rated? Is it just because more people are talking to you? Or is there some form of quote unquote liking the person? Like how is that hierarchy done in a way that isn’t a punitive or isn’t based on one person’s opinion, right? Which is what you don’t want. You want the group saying, yeah, he’s not good because he said he’s good, he’s good because all of us say he’s good.
Peter Maglathlin: Yeah, it’s a good question. So ratings are a really complicated, interesting, potentially powerful beast, if you will, right? I think if you think about a platform like Uber, they’ve been constantly evolving how their rating system works for, since their existence. And so we’re thinking about it in a similar way in which, it can’t be this simplistic form of perfectly transparent ratings. There needs to be some nuance and there needs to be structured appropriately before rolling it out broadly. And so the way it works now is, when you post something into the platform and let’s call it, let’s say it’s something you’re proud of, workers can like it, they can actually dislike it, which is a feature that is unique. That we’re trying to understand whether or not it’s hugely valuable, but I think guys like it because it’s different. You can like it, dislike it or comment on it, right?
And it becomes very, very clear very quickly what guys think of someone’s work by the number of likes and the comments, right? Because I hear you for a finished carpenter, I think you and I can tell a good job, but for pipe fitting, welding, electrician, electrical work, that’s the type of stuff that requires real experts in construction to opine on. which is cool because there isn’t really a place for them to seek out that validation or that criticism. And so very quickly because it is a relatively homogenous construction only world, you’re kind of able to tell what the sentiment is, if you will, on a given post.
What we’re going to, what we’re starting to consider over time is some semblance of a rating. I’m not sure it needs to be on a post by post basis because the feed is intended to sort of amalgamate a lot of different archetypes of content, right? It could be funny stuff. It could be text only questions, it could be pictures of stuff you’re proud of. It could be all sorts of stuff, job openings. But when it comes to the actual hiring functionality, I think there’s a lot to consider, right? Because how we structure that functionality will fundamentally determine how successful it is. And so we spend a lot of time talking both to workers and to direct hiring companies and recruiters around like, hey, when we build this and we’re starting to, what should it look like? Right?
And I think construction, the falsifications and requirements for construction are just fundamentally different than they are in other industries, right? So things like certifications, around safety and skills are important. That’s not something, I, during my time in finance would ever seek out or use to sell myself. But it’s stuff that these guys constantly need to refresh and it can be a big selling point, right? And then I think that some semblance of a grading system on the work that they choose to demonstrate in their work profile’s important, right? So I haven’t talked to about this, but there’s a bifurcation on the platform around stuff you’re posting to the feed, which is just meant for general consumption and stuff you want to use to demonstrate your abilities, right? And I think that having some sort of feedback or rating mechanism for the stuff that is meant to be kind of work fodder or sales collateral for these guys when trying to find the job. I think it could be valuable to have some semblance of a rating system.
I think for the time being, we’re still in research mode because when you start to consider a rating system and all these, whether it’s Yelp or Uber, et Cetera, it’s a complicated beast. And then I think that ultimately we want to make sure that whatever we roll out there, it doesn’t have any unintended consequences or like derivative effect that are negative. Because that can lead to bad blood, which is the last thing we want to have happen.
Jay Sparks: Sure, sure. Yeah. People won’t forget that if it’s a negative thing, right? And it’s not warranted. But you brought up one thing that is really interesting because I didn’t think about this, this platform could be used for this, but could someone be on, particularly as someone that’s a newer in their roles or maybe isn’t where they want to be. Could they’d be using this as a way to help themselves get better by getting feedback, right? So someone knows that maybe they’re not the best and they’ve seen some other people that are better, but they don’t really know how to kind of get from point A to point B. Is that where some of these masters can reach out and help them or is there something that they can get feedback from other people? Is that, is it really, can it be used that way or is that really not something that this can be used for?
Peter Maglathlin: Oh, it absolutely can. It already is being used that way even though we don’t have great functionality to support it. So, on a daily basis we have, we have guys, kind of regardless of experience, throwing out trade related questions around something they’re struggling with, right? And I think a combination of guys feeling like there on the same team and want to help each combined with wanting to show their expertise has resulted in like really, really great responses that seem to be ultimately pretty helpful. Because if you’re a master, like you love showing off your stuff. And at the same time, if it’s someone in construction that that is not a competitive to you and that you can help, why not do it? And at the same time, if you’re an apprentice, if you’re someone relatively new, there is so much you don’t know, right?
And sometimes asking the foreman or asking the guy next to you isn’t going to lead to the best outcome. So we absolutely believe that, that the key value proposition for the platform, it’s already happening. We’re starting to think about how do we support that even better, right? I think some semblance of like trade specific forums could be really helpful because plumbers are looking for help from plumbers and electricians are looking for help in electricians. Right now it’s kind of all in one place. But it’s been really cool to see that happen because that’s real impact, right? That’s not just allowing guys to like each other’s photos that’s having an impact on the ground and enable guys to get better, which is great.
Jay Sparks: Wow, that’s incredible. Switching topics, just a little bit of being an investment manager. I’m always interested in the economics and I was wondering if there’s anything you can share about the business model and how you either are making money or intend to make money. Again, I’m not looking for, I don’t know how far along you are on this. But I’d be interested in your thoughts, even if it’s just something that you’re thinking about this point, what you’re looking to do.
Peter Maglathlin: 100%, yeah, happy to talk about it. So we are still pre revenue, but we’ve done a lot of work and has pretty grand plans around profiling in the platform, right? As I, as I mentioned earlier, we felt like it was really, really critical to established the community, a deep engaged community that loves the platform prior to monetization. Largely because if you do it too soon, it can have a negative impact on the user experience. And also if you do it prior to scale, you won’t necessarily be able to deliver on it. So we think there are two pretty obvious, relatively proven revenue channels that we’ll be able to stand up, call it in the back half of this year. Begin to stand up in the back half of this year, right?
The first one we’ve already talked about a bit, which is jobs, right? So the current landscape for hiring construction is highly antiquated and it’s highly inefficient, which is leading to this problem, like you mentioned earlier of companies not being able to find workers quickly. That match the need of their jobs, right? And sure, there is a bit of a skill shortage, but at the same time, there’s way more inefficiency in the market that than there needs to be, right? Largely because of the existing options, right?
So the existing options are Craigslist, it’s wild to me, but people are still using Craigslist to extent in this industry, right? There are recruiting firms, which there’s a place for them, but at the same time, they charge 15 to 20% of a first year salary, right? So companies, a lot of companies just don’t want to use them. And then there’s word of mouth, right? Which is never going to go away, but it’s impossible to plan for it as possible at scale, right? So we believe that, if we bring the workers together, collect the data, have them use this platform on a daily basis, we’re going to be able to allow LinkedIn to capture this passive market in a way no one’s been able to before. Sure. The job words and the recruiters might still capture a bunch of the kind of active market. But like I was saying earlier, what a lot of what these companies really want is that guy who is working already but isn’t 100% happy or is considering making a move. How do you tap into that? You can’t right now really, right?
But if there’s a way for a worker, which they can right now privately that they’re looking for work, right? We know there, we know where they’re currently working, we know where they live. We can push a job to them in a relatively private way based on our data set and algorithms that is going to be hugely powerful at scale, right? And because of our delivery model being technology based. Sure, there’s a lot of upfront cost to build it, but to deliver that service, we don’t need an army of recruiters or an army of sales people, right? Like the, the data itself is the underpinning of that and will enable it to happen. Sure, it’s going to take a while to really get it right. But we think that the community we build will ultimately be the key input that allows us to achieve that. And because the current alternative are either too expensive or fundamentally inefficient, there’s this obvious gap that we can fill.
So, I think jobs is number one. But at the same time there’s a big opportunity to partner with brands to who desperately are seeking access to this type of workers. What’s really interesting about construction workers relative to other workers is that they’re highly, highly product oriented to get their jobs done, right? So whether it’s boots, drills, other apparel, right? Safety glasses, gloves, hammers, they are carrying around dozens of things and they feel really strongly about those things because they enable them to get their job done. Then you go further into trucks, into sports and to beer, right? There are a ton of big companies who really, really want to capture more market share across this demographic. But the existing options again are challenging largely because they’re untargeted and highly expensive.
And so again, we think that we can provide those companies access in a way that is far more targeted, that they kind of know who they’re reaching because of what Trade Hounds is and will enable them to just really participate in the platform in a way that will start to influence these guys purchasing decisions. And they’re making these purchases all the time. So they need to be frequently engaged.
Jay Sparks: That’s a tremendous point. And another yet another incredible opportunity you have because of all this hard work you’ve already put into this. That’s really amazing and very extremely, very well thought out. I want to be respectful of your time. You’ve done a great job, you’ve given some great advice for a whole range of people, whether you’re starting out in your business or you’re hitting a rough patch or looking to connect people in the way that Uber and Airbnb did. This is exactly that type of situation, and I think it’s going to be very, very successful. So I’m sure that anybody who’s a good business person or professional investor or who just has common sense is probably excited to hear this and rooting for you like I am. If someone wants to reach out to you, what’s the best way for people to get in touch with you, Peter?
Peter Maglathlin: Yeah. Email is probably best. I’m on email all day every day. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be more than happy to speak with anyone interested.
Jay Sparks: Fantastic. Great. Peter@tradehounds.com. That is fantastic. Well, excellent. Thank you, Peter. I appreciate your time and thank you for listening to Finding Unique Value. We look forward to sharing our next guest with you. Bye for now.