Startup founder and executive Sergio Rodriguez is no stranger to doing odd jobs.
Having moved to the U.S. when he was twelve years old, he made extra money throughout school by doing yard work for neighbors. During college, he couldn’t get a job on campus or receive financial aid, so he continued doing odd jobs to support himself and finance his education.
It was this personal experience that would eventually inspire a new app to help kids like himself.
“I asked myself, what if I could build a marketplace for people who don’t have social capital or work experience?” Sergio says.
So Sergio teamed up with Jose Romo-Puerta, and ToDooly was born.
Image courtesy of ToDooly
The Latinx-founded marketplace app is the easiest way for folks to hire young people in their neighborhood for tasks that don’t require professional skills. Raking the leaves, helping clean a house, moving furniture, any kind of odd jobs like that where once upon a time someone might just ask their neighbor for help.
“The mission is really two-fold,” Sergio says. “The first is to provide formative work experiences for young people in an equitable way. The second is to bring community and essential services online.”
Facebook, Meetup, NextDoor are examples of this, and the internet is an aspect of life that wasn’t prevalent in older generations. Neighborhoods were much more close-knit, where everyone knew each other, and kids knocked on doors asking to rake leaves or help with other tasks.
Sergio says that over the decades, those neighbor relationships have declined.
“We may be more connected than ever online, but we don’t communicate as much. We don’t know our neighbors as well,” Sergio says. “Our parents grew up with that value and expectation that the neighborhood community helps you out. That generation still has a need for help and outsourcing chores. ToDooly helps them get access to people who need work.”
And it’s a huge win for the young folks (must be at least 16 years old) who need work. The “doers” pick up the jobs that work with their schedule, and rates start at $12 an hour. The more jobs you do, the more you get paid — up to $23 an hour! Plus, the work helps them get to know their neighbors and build their local network.
Image courtesy of ToDooly
Then, when these kids go on to their next role, they have all this experience under their belt, backed by their community.
“Our doers are not a product or a transaction. They are a core of the business. Building a professional development pipeline isn’t just important but it’s required, and we ensure ToDooly isn't a professional trap. It’s a stepping stone, a side hustle, not a forever job. While they use us, we want them to have a good time, learn, and grow. But sometime down the road we want them to move on and find a better job,” Sergio says.
Since its founding in 2019, the company has seen a lot of growth. In 2021, the company raised over $1.5 million in seed funding. In 2022, ToDooly raised an additional $100,000 in a grant from Google’s Latino Founders Fund. The company also has evolved since its early days (you may remember their former name, ToDoolie), pivoting and innovating during the pandemic, too.
Virtually all jobs were canceled in March 2020 when the pandemic hit. To stay active in the community, ToDooly launched TheBread, which got fresh bread to people’s doors.
“It was so fun, but definitely a trend and not a long term solution,” Segio says.
That summer and fall, they launched Home Academy, a marketplace for parents who were stressed out about what to do with their children going back to school during a pandemic. Not everyone can afford to hire tutors, so the marketplace helped parents form learning pods financed by the school system. Sergio says that it was an urgent problem, but the school sales cycle was so slow.
“All of this was a really good learning experience for our team,” Sergio says. “After pivoting a few times, we really landed on what is right for us.”
They updated their name to ToDooly, went remote-first, and launched a new market in the Houston metro area. They have their eyes set on launching in Atlanta soon, raising more funds, and growing their team. Doers have serviced over 490 homeowners and the platform has more than 450 active doers — and counting!
“We’re trying to do something no one has done successfully yet. There is no Uber for yard work, though many have tried to do this before,” Sergio says. “It’s really exciting to build a tech platform to do this.”