Cool Pool Tool

First-of-its-kind app for pool sharing splashes into Houston

You can rent this Rice Village-area pool for $50 an hour. Swimply.com

A new app is making a splash in Houston by enabling users to rent pools, Airbnb-style.

Swimply, which launched in Houston last month, promotes itself as the first online marketplace for pool sharing. On the app, someone searching for a cool pool to borrow can sift through offerings based on location, price, and amenities (like grills and hot tubs). A potential customer also can peruse reviews left by renters. Once a renter finds an appropriate pool, he or she then reserves it through the Swimply platform.

A review of Houston-area pools available for rent found prices ranging from $40 to $125 an hour.

For instance, a pool near Rice Village that's listed at $50 an hour is touted as feeling like "a resort in the Italian Riviera." It comes with an outdoor kitchen, hot tub, limestone floors, and even a basketball court.

For $100 an hour, you and your crew can rent a pool in Cypress, complete with a hot tub, barbecue, trampoline, bounce house, pool toys, and a margarita/slushie machine.

Swimply says prices are based on size of the pool area, as well as amenities, rental time, and rental demand. The company also notes that each pool undergoes a safety inspection prior to being listed on the app. Pool owners can use the app to purchase services like pool cleaning and maintenance before and after a renter takes a dip.

"Whether you're stuck at home with the kids, tired from a long day of work (or homework), or just bored, we want you to be able to teleport somewhere awesome with a few clicks of a button," Swimply says on its website. "We want mini-escapes to be as ordinary as visiting a café or [taking] a good nap. Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, it should only take a moment from the time you want to be somewhere happier until the time you actually are."

The app launched with a pilot program in the summer of 2018 and is being rolled out nationwide this summer. Currently, there are also pools for rent in the Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio areas.

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This story originally appeared on CultureMap.com.

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Building Houston

 
 

SeekerPitch exists to update the job hiring process in a way that benefits both the job seekers and recruiters. Photo via Getty Images

Companies across the country have been requiring resumes and cover letters from their new hire hopefuls since the World War II era, and it's about time that changed. A startup founded in Houston has risen to the occasion.

Houstonian Samantha Hepler had the idea for SeekerPitch when she was looking for her next move. She felt like she had developed a formidable career in digital transformation and had worked with big name clients from Chevron to Gucci. However, she couldn't even get an interview for a role she felt she would be a shoe-in for.

"I knew if I could just get through the door, a company would see the value in me," Hepler tells InnovationMap. "I wasn't being seen, and I wasn't being heard. I didn't know a way to do that."

And she wasn't alone in this frustration. Hepler says she discovered she was one of the 76 percent of job candidates who get filtered out based on former job titles and keywords. At the same time, Hepler says she discovered that 80 percent of companies reported difficulty finding talent.

Samantha Hepler had the idea for SeekerPitch based on her own ill-fated job hunt experience. Photo courtesy of SeekerPitch

"I was just a symptom of a larger problem companies were facing," Hepler says. "Companies were using algorithms to dilute their talent pool, and then the hires they were making weren't quality because they were looking for people based on what they've done. They weren't looking at people for what they could do."

SeekerPitch, which is in the current cohort of gBETA Houston, allows job seekers to create an account and tell their story — not just their job history. The platform prioritizes video content and quick interviews so that potential hires can get face-to-face with hiring managers.

"We empower companies to hear the candidates' stories," Hepler says. "We're bringing candidates streaming to computer screens. We are the Netflix of recruiting."

Hepler gives an example of a first-generation college graduate who's got "administrative assistant" and "hostess" on her resume — but who has accomplished so much more than that. She put herself through school with no debt and in three years instead of four. SeekerPitch allows for these types of life accomplishments and soft skills into the recruiting process.

SeekerPitch profiles allow job seekers to tell their story — not just their past job experience. Photo courtesy of SeekerPitch

Over the past few years, a trend in hiring has been in equity and diversity, and Hepler says that people have been trying to address this with blurring out people's names and photos.

"Our belief is that connection is the antidote to bias," Hepler says, mentioning a hypothetical job candidate who worked at Walmart because they couldn't afford to take multiple unpaid internships. "They can't come alive on a resume and they won't stand a chance next to another person."

SeekerPitch is always free for job seekers, and, through the end of the year, it's also free for companies posting job positions. Beginning in January 2022, it will cost $10 per day to list a job opening. Also next year — Hepler says she'll be opening a round of pre-seed funding in order to grow her team. So far, the company has been bootstrapped, thanks to re-appropriated funding from Hepler's canceled wedding. (She opted for a cheaper ceremony instead.)

Right now, SeekerPitch sees an opportunity to support growing startups that need to make key hires — and quickly. The company has an ongoing pilot partnership with a Houston startup that is looking to hiring over a dozen positions in a month.

"As a startup, your key hires are going to make or break your company — but you have to hire quickly," Hepler says. "That's the ultimate challenge for startups. ... But if you don't hire well it can cost your company a lot of money or be the demise of your company. It's people who make a company great."

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