Coe Lottis (left) and Ethan Smith-Gillespie launched their first business together when Lottis was 19 and Smith-Gillespie was 15. Their new website, Joblab.com, connects freelancers and job-seekers with creative services gigs. // PHOTO COURTESY OF THE PROGRAM/DUSTIN ROWLEY
Craigslist forever changed the world of classified advertising, but anyone who uses the site is aware of its shortcomings. “Buried in the 500 replies you get from India and everywhere else maybe you get 10 people who follow directions and are local,” says Ethan Smith-Gillespie, co-founder of The Program, a Portland design firm. “Maybe three of them are qualified, and one works out.”
All of that filtering adds up to a lot of wasted time. Rather than complain about it, Smith-Gillespie and Program co-founder Coe Lottis decided to do something about it. Their new site for Oregon’s creative services industry, Joblab.com (they bought the domain name for $1,000), helps employers filter through job and gig applicants systematically, differentiating between those with robust portfolios and those who’ve been smoking too much medicine. They’ve established early partnerships with big players in the Portland design scene such as Ziba Design, XPLANE, Caldera (the nonprofit wing of Wieden+Kennedy) and the Art Institute of Portland, and their timing couldn’t be better, given the promising yet disheveled state of what Lottis calls “the giant, oversaturated mess of Portland’s creative industries.”
Lottis and Smith-Gillespie were 19 and 15 respectively when they launched their first startup, a clothing line called Ancient Inc. “We didn’t know what we were doing but we did a lot of it,” quips Smith-Gillespie. Now that Lottis is a grizzled 27 and Smith-Gillespie is 22 going on 23, they hope to build up Joblab as a free site before taking it commercial in 2011, with the idea that other sectors may need similar services. It’s part of a larger strategy to boost their web design operation (“Get with The Program”) into an eight- to 12-person team over the next few years. Currently they employ three people, one locally, one in Vermont and the other in New Zealand, communicating through Skype and email.
If they do manage to reach the next level, they’ll have plenty of hungry talent in their Joblab database to choose from.