Today we’d like to introduce you to Davis Waddell.
Davis, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
At my previous position as a Strategist at Disney, I was tasked with leading undergraduate recruiting efforts for the Global Development and Corporate Finance teams. This job involved putting on recruiting events in various places and making sure all the logistics were squared away.
I always had trouble with finding bartenders and service staff for our events – there were a lot of bartending companies online, but it was hard to figure out which ones were reliable, available on our date and had the right insurance and licensing.
I was surprised that there wasn’t a name brand company that had people available anywhere and at any time, along with transparent booking, payment, and really great staff that you could choose from. A year later, I left Disney to start Tend.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I don’t think it’s ever a smooth road! We’ve had lots of bumps along the way, but I think there were two big ones.
The first was the chunk of legal and regulatory issues that we had to figure out on the fly – getting the proper license and insurance, knowing when and where you can serve alcohol legally, and making sure we were complying with each venue’s restrictions. That took a lot of time to fully figure out.
The second was that because I didn’t come from the event industry, it was tough to break in initially. A lot of startup founders talk about the advantage of coming into an industry with fresh eyes, and that’s definitely true – but you’re also putting yourself at a disadvantage by having to start from 0 in terms of connections.
Over the last six months, I’ve really tried hard to meet great people in the industry and lean on their experience and knowledge base to improve our service.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Tend story. Tell us more about the business.
We’re a digital marketplace for event staffing, connecting hosts to our vetted network of bartenders, servers, bussers and wait staff. The obvious comparison is Uber for event staffing, which isn’t inaccurate, but I actually think we’re more similar to Angie’s List because we spend so much time and effort interviewing and vetting our staff.
What sets us apart is just being a better all-around service for event hosts. Whether you’re a caterer hiring 30 people per week or a host looking to hire a couple of people for your annual holiday party, I think we provide a superior experience of affordability, dependability, transparency, and ease of use.
The thing that makes me proud, and drives me to wake up every morning to do this, is the positive feedback we get from both our Tenders and our customers. We’ve had multiple caterers, and planners tell us that they were able to expand their services and take on more work because we were able to take the stress of staffing off their hands for an affordable price.
We’ve had Tenders who were able to use the extra shifts and pay to make ends meet during a difficult time. Our goal is to continue to do that, on a larger scale.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Well certainly in my life, good luck has far outweighed the bad. I was lucky to have great family and friends, to get into a great college, and to have the network to obtain the financial backing to be able to start this company. With Tend specifically, I’d say it’s been a bit of both.
I’ve had some random chance meetings that lead to cool opportunities, but I have also had weird random small things happen along the way that I’d consider to be unlucky. The odds of succeeding as a startup are so small that I think you need a big lucky break or two, and I feel like we’re still waiting for ours! A big part of my job is putting us in a position to capitalize on them when they come.
What were you like growing up? Personality wise, interest wise, etc.
Personality wise, I’ve always had a contrarian, entrepreneurial streak to me. I was sort of a bizarre kid actually. When I was 11, I started a snail picking business and after it rained would walk around my neighborhood asking if people wanted me to pick snails out of their yards for 10 cents per snail.
When I was 14, our middle school banned any unhealthy foods, so I would buy candy in bulk from the 99 cent store and sell it out of my backpack during lunch. In high school, I started my own Model United Nations prep class for two summers, and in college, I founded a local SAT-tutoring branch. The first job with hours and a boss I ever had was working for JP Morgan on Wall Street!
Other than that, I was and still am a sports fanatic and pop culture junkie although I have less time to stay current now than I used to.
- $25/hr – tip jar allowed (bartenders only)
- $25/hr – host tip
- $35/hr – no additional tip
- Website: https://hiretend.com
- Phone: 310-662-1350
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org