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Torontonians who are shaking up the tech sector

Erika Mozes co-founded Hyr, an app that lets restaurants and retailers hire temporary, on-demand shift workers

Torontonians who are shaking up the tech sector

Company HQ: Bathurst and Adelaide, with an office in New York Founded: 2015 Employees: 9 Users: 215 employers; 10,000 contractors

How it works: “As a worker, you download the app, input your skills and set your hourly rate, and then you can apply for shifts right away. As a business—like a restaurant or store—you can post shifts that workers can apply for. Hyr takes a cut from the employer.”

Eureka moment: “I was having a drink with my co-founder, Joshua Karam, on the patio of the Bier Markt on King West. Our server came up to us and said, ‘I’m sorry, but the patio wasn’t supposed to be open, and I’m slammed, so it might take me forever to get to you.’ I said to Josh, ‘Wouldn’t it be awesome if this restaurant was able to get extra help right when they needed it?’ That was the seed.”

How much you spent initially: “During the first six months, I worked my corporate job on weekdays and did Hyr on the weekends. In that time, we spent north of $100,000 on the business.”

Your turning point: “When the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association took us on as a partner, they gave us a stamp of approval, and introduced us to their board and industry members who were having issues accessing talent quickly.”

Your big-time backers: “We raised $1.3 million early on from backers including Gaingels, a network of angel investors in the New York LGBT community. Late last year, we raised $1.6 million from Flybridge Capital Partners, Newark Venture Partners and XFactor Ventures, which supports female founders. Jesse ­Middleton, the founder of WeWork Labs, also recently joined our board.”

If you weren’t running a start-up: “I’d run for office, probably as an MPP.”

Tech jargon you use too much: “Product/market fit.”

Tech jargon you hate: “If I hear one more person say they’re going to disrupt dog walking….”

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App you can’t live without: “ClassPass, a gym app you can use to sign up for classes like kickboxing or yoga.”

Coolest thing in your office: “We’re in a co-working space, so there are treadmill desks, foosball tables and hoverboards.”

Your go-to office outfit: “One day not long ago, our whole team wore jeans and grey T-shirts to the office by chance.”

The best advice you’ve received: “Don’t talk at your customer, talk to them. Listen to them, ask them questions and meet their needs.”

Your tech role model: “Sheryl Sandberg. Not only is she a woman in a position of power, she’s also empowering other female founders.”

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