There is a growing “gig economy” in the U.S.
A gig economy is economic activity involving the use of temporary or freelance workers to perform jobs, typically in the service sector. There are three major components to the gig economy: the independent workers paid by the “gig;” the consumers who need a specific service, such as a ride to their destination; and companies that connect the worker to the consumer in a direct manner, such as through app-based technology platforms.
In the past decade, the share of the U.S. workforce in the gig economy, which includes a lot of people who are self-employed, has risen, along with companies connecting workers to consumers such as Uber, Airbnb, Lyft, Etsy and TaskRabbit. Now, from Provo, there’s a new platform in town: Bacon.
It’s a nod to the idea of “bringing home the bacon” because it helps people find jobs to make money, but it’s also intentionally a bit silly, as a way to get a foot in the door.
CEO and founder Hunter Sebresos said he and his co-workers have had several experiences making cold calls where they’re put through, simply because their company name made someone laugh.
“I want to create as much power behind this as possible, and I know if I name this as a unique thing, then it’s going to help spread and open doors for us,” Sebresos said.
It’s also a nod to Sebresos’s 10-year-old son, who he describes as a “creative guy.”
“My son had this notebook, it had the name of the notebook company on there, and he had with his pen manipulated the letters to spell ‘bacon’ instead of the name of the company,” Sebresos said. “I read that and I chuckled to myself and I thought, that’s what I want. I want people, when they hear our company (name), it puts a smile on their face.”
Certainly, the name “Bacon” makes people smile, but more importantly, it puts money in their pocket.
While working on a different project at Hall Labs in Provo, Sebresos said he engaged with a lot of employers who were struggling to find workers. On the other hand, Sebresos said, there are lots of people out there who want to work, but have a difficult time finding work that fits their schedule. Enter: Bacon.
The website or app connects people looking for hourly work with companies looking to fill shifts. To sign up, workers and employers agree to terms of service, verify they are authorized to work in the U.S., and agree to submit to a background check. Bacon works with online payment company Stripe, so people signing up also have to agree to Stripe’s terms of service.
Then, it’s simply a matter of looking through available jobs and picking shifts to work. Workers can also fill in payment information and edit their profiles and personal information so companies can choose who they hire based on work experience. Similar to Ubert or Lyft, both employers and workers can give each other a rating once the job is completed.
The Bacon company motto, according to Sebresos, is “never be jobless.” The idea, he said, is to help people build their confidence through opportunities to work, whether they’re in between jobs, trying to make it as a single parent, or struggling with physical ailments that prevent them from working full time.
“Some of the people on our own team have gone through periods of unemployment, each one of us, and we believe that when you have a job that kind of gives you a purpose ... that kind of gives you that sense of self confidence,” Sebresos said.
Sebresos grew up in a single parent home, and he said he remembers his mom working multiple jobs while going to school and raising their family.
“It’s hard when a company isn’t able to offer you what fits your schedule when you’re in that type of situation,” Sebresos said.
He’s also passionate about helping veterans transition back into civilian life and the workforce, having served in the Marines himself.
“(Veterans) come home, there’s this tough transition,” Sebresos said. “(Bacon offers) an opportunity ... to try certain things out, build relationships in a way that is not like networking but it’s working ... and making money at the same time.”
Bob Edwards runs his own software company, which he said works for him since he broke his back as a young man, because he doesn’t have to do any physical labor when his back hurts. He likes to use Bacon to find manual labor jobs instead of the of going to gym to get some physical activity in when he isn’t in pain.
“I call it my bacon diet,” he said.
Edwards said he’s worked sorting packages and helping host catering events through Bacon, and that he tries to take a shift every two to three days. Recently, Edwards also signed up to be an employer on the app. He said he hasn’t used it to hire anyone yet, but switching from “employee mode” to “employer mode” was a seamless transition, which surprised him.
“It’s just been positive all the way around ... I’ve enjoyed the work,” Edwards said. “The flexibility is wonderful.”
On the flip side, Taylor Brantley with Service Systems Association said she’s loved hiring people through Bacon, as opposed to a regular temp agency, when it comes to hiring for big events. SSA is often contracted by Salt Lake City’s Hogle Zoo.
Brantley said the company has always had issues with hiring for large events because of the need to have them attend orientation, even as temporary employees. She tested out Bacon on an whim.
“We really like it. The temp services that we’ve used in the past are kind of just people who don’t have experience in food service, or catering events,” Brantley said. “Bacon, it’s people who are primarily food services … it tells you on their application how many years they’ve worked in each industry, so it’s nice to see that people have worked in events, and they’ve done catering before.”
Brantley said the company has used Bacon upwards of 10 times since, and that the workers hired have been great every time, even bringing in repeat workers. She’s also a fan of the concept of Bacon.
“I think it’s a great idea. I think that people who get laid off or like in between jobs, it’s a really nice buffer,” she said. “It’s easy and user friendly.”
She compared it to using a dating app.
“It’s like a dating app, it truly is. You get to see photos of people, their bios, their backgrounds. And you pick and choose who you think would be the best fit for the job instead of just getting random people thrown in.”
Bacon currently only operates in Utah and Texas, but Sebresos said the company is growing fast, probably because of how much people like the idea and the ease of using it. Sebresos said building it in Utah County in particular has been a great experience.
“There are a lot of really high-quality people who I think would normally not be considered part of the workforce, but through a little bit of creativity we’ve been able to get people into the workforce who didn’t think they had the availability,” he said. “We’ve got great students from the universities here, we’ve got great stay-at-home parents, we’ve got great retired professionals … so it’s a been a good place to start something because of the people here.”
Soon, Sebresos said the company will be rolling out programs designed to specifically support to of the main target groups he mentioned single parents and veterans.
“Our platform’s all about is providing those opportunities.”