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How This Company Combines Qualities From Craigslist and Airbnb to Solve Staffing Issues Instawork, a new online service, solves a restaurant's hiring woes.

By David Port

This story appears in the February 2016 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Chris DeLorenzo
Staff sergeant: Plant Café’s director of training and technology, Doug Hunter.

As it was opening multiple locations, the Plant Café, a thriving Bay Area restaurant chain, was struggling to find workers to slide into many of its new hourly positions. "The job market is incredibly competitive here," says Doug Hunter, the cafe's director of training and technology. "We were trying everything to find the right people -- postings on and Craigslist -- but the places we were using weren't producing, which made it very difficult to sustain our growth. It was impacting the quality of service and the staff's stress level."

The Fix

Last summer, Hunter found the elusive talent pool he'd been seeking by using Instawork, an Airbnb-style marketplace that matches employers with part- and full-time job seekers. The site takes two key steps: It checks job-seekers' references; and when an employer posts a job opening on (an app is coming soon), the service responds with a list of screened local employees with relevant experience -- always within 24 hours, but often quicker than that. Employers then tells Instawork which candidates they want to interview, and when. Instawork schedules the interviews directly with candidates. The fee: $100 for a 30-day job posting.

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