GCP 56: ChooseVets
Episode 56: Major Steven Buchanan from ChooseVets
“Clients love hiring veterans. They’re dependable, trustworthy, and they work incredibly hard.” - Steve
Steve served as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army for nine years and completed combat tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He is currently a Major in the Army Reserves and most recently finished a successful command of an Army Reserve PSYOP company. He created the concept for ChooseVets in August of 2013 while completing an MBA and studying for the bar exam. One year earlier he had formed “Veterans Moving Company,” a local company that employed only U.S. military veterans. Through this company he learned that the skills and needs of veterans and clients could be perfectly aligned in the “on-demand” economy.
The conversation starts with his history in the military. Originally from New York, after attending West Point, he moved to Washington for his first duty station after school, he has lived in this area since he was 22.
They then discuss how ChooseVets service works and the process a customer would follow when hiring someone. Through the website, people looking for help can see the veteran’s picture, hourly rate, and how the vets are rated by other customers. After you find the person you want to hire, you set the time you want them to do the work and make the payment on the website. For the vets, they’re all contract workers, giving them the flexibility to choose their schedule, the type of work they want to do and the price they wish to charge. They also talk about how the the idea of hiring veterans through the unemployment office came about and how, through being mentored with VIBE, he learned about creating a scalable company which eventually lead him to building the website and offering the service across the US.
The topic of discussion then turns to Steve attending the State of The Union in January 2015. Calling it the Red Carpet Grammys of Politics, he talks about what it was like to be a guest there, the type of people that go, and the politicians he had a chance to meet.
They then talk about the distinction between Angie's List, Yelp, and ChooseVets. The distinct difference is when hiring through Angie's List, service is provided through a company and the payment goes to the company. The person providing the service then gets paid a small hourly wage. The benefit with ChooseVets is because they’re a shared economy type business, the vet gets paid directly, cutting out the middle man and putting more money in their pocket. They also talk about other service business that are popping up, like Buddytruck, 2Go Services, and Tac Town Snacks.
Discussion then turns to advertising, competition, and the importance of the veterans and customers advertising via word of mouth. They also talk about the types of service they offer. Working around regulation, availability of jobs, and the talent of the vets, they typically pick jobs that any vet can do. They’re also looking into getting into other areas like Event Security and personal fitness training.
Talk turns to him constantly focusing on how to get more money, clients, and investment dollars to grow the business and the benefits his service offers to vets. He also talks about the effects of vets skills being underutilized when they return to civilian workforce and how important it is for vets to have a job where they see the end result of their work. Another benefits is that the vets also get to tell their story to customers. They’re also working on eventually offering transition skill service to vets.
Talk continues with discussion of groups he’s involved in that helped build ChooseVets. There is a growing group of people in Tacoma that are working to build a startup scene, much like the groups in Silicon Valley and Boston. With the great political infrastructure, a lot of wealth, and knowledge, Tacoma could be a great spot for startups. With multiple incubators, business service offered from the college, and groups like Million Cups, Tacoma is an up and coming city for entrepreneurs.
They finish out the show talking about the customer service they offer to the vets, how the schedule service works and how easy it is for vets to get started with the process. They are also offering an affiliate marketing program with Steve, so anyone that is interested in using ChooseVets service, at checkout use Gritcity as the coupon code for $10 off your first purchase. Thanks Steve for joining us, we look forward to working with you again sometime soon!
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