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Behind the Rind: Marketing Our Matching App for Service Jobs in New Orleans

a man in a white t shirt stapling a green poster that says "cantaloupe" on it to a light post on a city street in New Orleans.
Cantaloupe Chief Sales Officer Lane Degenhardt staples a flier to a post on Magazine Street in New Orleans

"Ka-CHUNK"... the staple gun works hard to penetrate the thick wooden light posts on Magazine Street. It wasn't easy finding an inch or two of wood free of staples from past concert and festival ads, but we managed. Connor, our Chief Marketing Officer, tells Lane, our Chief Sales Guy, to pose with the staple gun behind the newly-pinned poster. Before cracking a big smile, Lane wipes his forehead with his t-shirt—it’s June in New Orleans, and even in the late evening, it's still nearly 100 degrees.

Later this summer, our startup, Cantaloupe, will launch an app that allows job seekers in the service and hospitality industry to create profiles, share details, and swipe on compatible jobs to apply. Employers will receive a steady stream of qualified, compatible applicants through a user-friendly platform, complete with custom compatibility scores indicating how likely the applicant is to be a good fit for the role. This is a glimpse into what it's like launching our first marketing campaign.

Our founders, Josh Anderson and Rich Simmerman, have both founded and run previous ventures, learning firsthand how expensive marketing can be. "It kind of felt like throwing an entire pack of sticky notes at a wall and hoping that a couple would stick. My first startup's marketing was sometimes pretty wasteful and inefficient," said Rich while planning with the Cantaloupe team. But Cantaloupe's approach to informing New Orleans about its app is different—it feels like a blast from the past. The team is emphasizing an "in-person experience" rather than a purely digital one.

"When you're working the graveyard shift at a hotel in the French Quarter or opening a coffee shop Uptown, a lot of workers in this industry walk. Those walks can be the last minutes of peace for them for a while. So instead of bombarding them with digital content, we're trying to catch their attention in an eye-catching but peaceful way," said Josh Anderson, CEO of Cantaloupe. The team is strategically placing flyers in heavy-traffic areas across New Orleans, prompting people to scan the green flyer to see the first app allowing users to swipe to apply for jobs in the service industry. They're also on the ground, interviewing people about their experiences in the service industry in exchange for free, Cantaloupe-branded water and drinks. "When you work in restaurants, bars, hotels, whatever—you see a lot of things. These stories are too good to keep quiet. We offer people a microphone and a free drink to share their story, and it's awesome," said Connor, who is behind the camera for each interview Cantaloupe conducts.

While the team focuses on personal, in-person experiences ahead of launch, creating quality, original content on social media that resonates with service and hospitality workers is also a priority. "When you're on a lunch break in the middle of a stressful shift, scrolling on Instagram for a bit, we want you to see something that makes you feel understood. We want to be real," said Connor. Leading up to the app’s availability on the App Store later this summer, the team will be connecting with people and sharing stories on social media via their @trycantaloupe handles. From the moment the app is available, a wide variety of jobs will be ready to fill on the platform with a simple swipe at some of the top hotels, restaurants, and bars across New Orleans and the metro area.

The app is free for users, who can create a profile, share details like personality traits, desired work environments, pay preferences, availability, and even how far they're willing to travel to work in the city. To understand where service industry workers hang out, the team has brought in former and current workers from places across the city, including the famous Palace Café (which will be hiring on the Cantaloupe platform) and the Hotel Monteleone. The team is also spending time at post-work dives, like the Jimani Lounge on Chartres Street, having drinks with cooks after work and learning about their experiences. "The goal is to understand. We want to know what makes people like their jobs, what makes them dislike their jobs, and what they wish they could change about finding a job. We already knew that resumes and online applications weren't helping job seekers find work they're best suited for when we created Cantaloupe. Now we're using real-life conversations to build a stronger app that can absolutely change how people find work in the service industry forever," said Rich Simmerman.

As a startup, we're holding onto our cash tightly, focusing on building a great platform and not wasting money on high-level marketing activities. "While we know that marketing will change for us and become more advanced as we scale Cantaloupe to new cities, we know that a dollar can be stretched very far in New Orleans. If you have a little creativity, the ability to listen, and the ability to share, you can get far here," said Connor Gleason, who will continue to oversee Cantaloupe's marketing towards job seekers.

The startup has successfully marketed to businesses that list their open roles on the platform, allowing them to message and interview applicants all within the app. "The value we bring businesses is very clear—by connecting them with applicants who are a best fit for their environment, culture, and job description, they stay longer and reduce turnover," said Joshua Anderson. But marketing to consumers and letting them know that paper resumes, applications, and generic job sites like aren't their only resources will be no easy feat. "Once people see how Cantaloupe works, how easy it is, and how great the experience is, they're sold. But we have to catch their attention first," said Anderson.

Cantaloupe will be available on the App Store later this summer. Job seekers can download the app and start swiping to apply for active roles throughout New Orleans. Users can signup for the waitlist today by clicking here.

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