Spotlight: Wonolo Can Help Staff Your Next Event


Hiring a great team is such an important part of running a business. Sometimes, you need some extra help for an event or busy time. In those cases, being able to find reliable help, quickly, is what’s most important.

That’s where Wonolo comes in.

Wonolo works with both businesses and job seekers and is the focus of this Small Business Spotlight.

What the Business Does

Connects companies with candidates for flexible work.

Business Niche

Offering flexibility to both businesses and workers.

Wonolo makes connections quickly. Businesses that are looking for event staff or temporary help can do so. Workers — the company calls them“Wonoloers” — can find work that fits with their schedules.

A.J. Brustein, co-founder and CEO at Wonolo, says, “We allow companies to find talent today versus next week as traditional temp staffing agencies would generally operate. We also allow our Wonoloers to work whenever, wherever, and for whomever they want — complete freedom and flexibility which was never available before for real jobs.”

How the Business Got Started

As part of the Coca-Cola Company.

Brustein explains, “We initially created Wonolo inside the Coca-Cola Company. We spent a lot of time with Coke’s front line workforce, seeing if we could find some ways to leverage that workforce to give us a leg up in whatever company we ended up building.

“While working with their merchandisers, we saw the same thing happening almost every single day. They would get a call sometime during the day to go service an outlet that wasn’t on their route. Usually to restock a shelf or build a display or something. These unexpected calls would cost the company a lot of money — make the merchandiser work overtime, [result in] extra transportation cost, delay his visit to the other retailers, and while the product is out of stock, consumers are buying Pepsi instead of Coke.

“We started saying to these merchandisers, why don’t I go and stock the shelves and you keep on your route and I’ll meet you at XX store. Then we got to thinking, this job isn’t that difficult if I can do it and I am not a trained merchandiser. So why couldn’t another merchandiser do it, or another Coke employee do it, or even some random person shopping at that store right at that moment?

“Coke, and other businesses, consider only their existing employee pool, and often only considered the person who was assigned to that store. But in reality, the only important thing is to get that shelf stocked — the means doesn’t matter, only the end. So, we saw an opportunity to do something about that and created Wonolo to solve this problem.”


Biggest Win

Getting the first customer.

Brustein says, “We had spent months trying to convince Coke to roll out Wonolo in a test market but it was very slow going and after months and months of waiting, we decided to move outside of Coke and find another first customer.

“We found an eCommerce company with a couple hundred employees that was struggling to keep up with its growth and couldn’t find talent, having had bad experiences with other staffing solutions and not able to hire their own people quickly enough. They said if we could help them, they would give us a try.

“We didn’t have any Wonoloers at that point, but hustled to recruit people and make sure we had all of the jobs filled over the Christmas holiday. We did, we saved their Christmas, and they went on to become our first, and still our biggest customer.”

Biggest Risk

Spinning out of Coca-Cola.

Brustein says, “We were basically risk-free entrepreneurship inside of Coke — nice Coke salary, funding, building and running a business. If it failed, we still have a job and then just start over on another business.

“Spinning out, we are on our own. Find our own funding, pay ourselves much less, nothing to fall back on. The end result is unknown — we spun out last year but until the business IPOs, gets acquired, or fails, we won’t know. But it certainly is much more rewarding on our own.”


Ten, with many more Wonoloers.

Brustein says, “Our company is 10 people but we have 5,000 Wonoloers so it actually feels huge. We go out and do jobs with Wonoloers all the time to experience our product and get first-hand feedback from the faces of our company – the contractors in the field, Wonoloers – out there doing the work everyday.”


How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000

Hiring more sales and marketing staff.

Favorite Team Lunch

Any food from a company that hires Wonoloers.

Brustein says, “We love it when a Wonoloer ends up delivering us food!”

* * * * *

Find out more about the Small Biz Spotlight program.

Images: Wonolo 6 Comments ▼

Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

6 Reactions
  1. It is hard to find the right employees. Some companies treat their employees as replaceable but they’re not. There will always be some effort in training new employees so it is better to just take care of the existing ones.

    • There is definitely a lot of value in treating your employees well so they stick around. But sometimes companies do still need some extra help, either short or long term. And it helps to be able to find people who are reliable even when they’re new.

  2. I have troubles understanding how these workers can be independent contractors.
    They are given a shift, a manager and are supervised.
    They don’t set their rate.
    They work next to people doing exactly the same job but are W2 employees.
    It sound like a pretty cheap way not to pay employer taxes, overtime or having responsibilities over safety and OSHA regulation.
    These illegal business are bad for the employees and are only trying to get away with an illegal model to take advantage of worker that do not know their rights.
    Take the DE38 checklist to see what a contractor is. They fail every question!

    • Hi John, Maybe it’s that they are so short term? If you’re hiring someone for a day or two to staff a tradeshow or conference, it hardly amounts to hiring an employee. Assuming that is the nature of the arrangement …. Anita

      • Hello Anita.
        This is not precise. The length of the assignment is not connected with the status.
        What you need to do is check the DE38.
        You can see how these workers do not qualify as 1099.
        Also a lot of their jobs are for multiples days and advertised as temp to hire.

      • Hello John, thank you sharing that. Very interesting.

        First of all, I want to preface my comments by saying I have no dog in this hunt. I don’t know anything about Wonolo other than publishing a piece about their business. We write about many many thousands of companies as a news organization. They are just one of many. So I am not necessarily arguing a position – either for or against.

        But just as an intellectual exercise, I was thinking more of the IRS classification guidelines:

        I think the case is less clear under those. California, which you cited, is known for taking views that widely differ from other states and the federal government.

        Personally, I do not know what the answer is. Just thought I’d engage in a bit of intellectual debate, that’s all.