In 2008 Jeff Tennery felt helpless as friend after friend was laid off and couldn’t find work. Tennery also worried about how he’d provide for his own family—he has five kids—if he lost his job as an executive at Millennial Media. He believed “corporations would never hire the same way again” and wanted to provide an easy-to-use, app-based lifeline for contract workers.
Enter Moonlighting, which launched in 2014. “Moonlighting helps people hire someone quickly or be hired quickly,” Tennery says. “It’s a directory like the Yellow Pages for freelance workers… carpenters, data scientists, accountants, housekeepers, attorneys—blue collar and white collar. It’s as simple to post a job or service as it is to post on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.” Moonlighting lets users choose their work instead of being assigned jobs.
The company, which has 15 employees and offices in Richmond and Charlottesville, Virginia, notched 160,000 users by August 2016. Freelancers pay $10 per month for basic services. Boost, a preferential worker-for-hire listing, costs $10 more per month.
Tennery and Moonlighting co-founders Roy Slater and Ritesh Johar, now chief operating officer and chief technology officer, respectively, tested the fledgling app by hiring freelancers to help with startup programming, marketing and design. As Tennery quips, “We ate our own dog food.”
Growth has been steady for Moonlighting. By spring 2014, the company had received $500,000 from 16 angel investors, and the co-founders left their day jobs later that year. The company raised $4 million in venture capital by August 2016.
The co-founders continue to refine Moonlighting. For instance, baby boomers requested a web-based service because they wanted bigger text than smartphones deliver, Tennery says, so the company obliged in 2015. A goods marketplace similar to Etsy recently launched, too.