August 16, 2010

Will PeopleMatter Change the Future of HR Tech

Valerie Killifer  /

Nate DaPore is not your average 33-year-old. As the entrepreneur founder of PeopleMatter, DaPore is looking to change the way restaurant operators address and communicate with employees.

On Sept. 14, the company is launching its PeopleMatter Hire Software as a Service (SaaS) solution, the first of six modules developed to improve the employee-management experience for both restaurant operators and potential employees.

"Our purpose is to change the world of the employee/employer relationship," DaPore said. "We're building a purpose-driven organization."

DaPore, whose background includes the development of BenefitFocus, another SaaS solution, believes he has created a system that will appeal to the next generation of restaurant employees. He is so confident about his program that he raised $7.5 million in venture capital during the summer of 2009 to begin work on its development. And while the initial launch will target the restaurant space, c-stores, retail and other sectors that rely on hourly employees are to follow.

PeopleMatter Hire
As generations X and Y further integrate themselves into the workforce, technology will play a larger role in how employers communicate to those demographics.

"We believe this technology will transcend into the human factors and make Generation Y more connected to their employer, which is what these employees want," DaPore said. "And investors saw the movement of Generation Y and X (into the workforce)."

The restaurant space in particular –- with its paper-based schedules tacked on a back office wall –- has been especially slow to use technology as an employee tracking and scheduling tool. Therefore, DaPore and his team of developers have designed Hire to do four primary things:

1.Track applicants such as employees and managers that are in the system
2.Determine if the applicant qualifies for the government tax credit
3.Assess if the candidate is right for the restaurant operation
4.Conduct background checks on employee prospects
Because the program is Internet based, employers can access the information from any computer, anywhere in the world. All that's needed is an Internet connection.

The company also worked to make the program as simple and easy-to-use as possible, something that is paramount to its adoption rate among restaurant operators and the employee pool.

"You have to be able to drive adoption to the workplace because that's where the benefits come through for both employers and employees," DaPore said. "Fast casual operators are so innovative and creative ... I just think these guys are going to be a big catalyst for the rest of the industry and one of the early adopters of the technology."

Indeed, DaPore in talks with Genghis Grill to run a 90-day pilot of his software program after its September launch. DaPore met with Genghis executives during the NRA Show in May to discuss the technology and how it could help the 42-unit chain.

The company has been using QSRonline's restaurant management platform since 2008 to automate its scheduling and payroll process.

"Prior to that, we were looking for a company to filling a technology gap," said Genghis Grill operating partner Chet Bhakta. "I think in the future, technology will play a bigger role in most restaurant concepts as far as keeping things consistent and getting more data out of the stores."

The test won't begin until after the software's rollout in September, but Ron Parikh, Genghis Grill's chief marketing officer, said the company is looking forward to the test and to see if HIRE works for them.

Following Hire will be the Schedule and Learn modules, followed by Perform, Rewards & Recognition, and Collaboration, and the complete launch of each is expected by the end of 2011.

"We're really going from hire to retire," DaPore said. "It's funny, we can track customers on Foursquare, but we still have to apply (for positions) on paper and keep a schedule posted on a back wall on a piece of paper. We've got all of this technology at our fingertips ... and this workforce is skilled enough to use it."

**Six Modules of Peoplematter
**1.Hire: Automates and tracks the application process. Performs background checks and assessments.
2.Schedule: Automated management of shifts and workflow.
3.Learn: Online training curriculum for certifications, loss prevention and ServeSafe training, among others.
4.Perform: Tracks employee and manager job performance as they excel throughout the system.
5.Rewards & Recognition: Manages employee on-the-job performance.
6.Collaboration: Monitors external social media use and enables internal communication