Russ: Hi I’m Russ Capper and this is BusinessMakers USA Live – what an audience, what an audience – brought to you by Insperity, inspiring business performance. I’m coming to you today in the Oklahoma History Center, where I’m in front of an audience of business innovators, CEO entrepreneurs and the Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb of Oklahoma. And I’m real proud to have as my guest an Oklahoma City entrepreneur Robin Smith, Co-founder and CEO of WeGoLook; Robin, welcome to the show.
Robin: Thanks. I appreciate it Russ, it’s definitely an honor to be here, especially among so many thought leaders so thank you very much.
Russ: You bet, tell us about WeGoLook.
Robin: WeGoLook is a mobile technology company and we feature a platform – it’s a crowd-sourcing platform. We have over 40,000 independent contractors in this network who are able to dispatch on demand – we refer to them as Lookers – and they go onsite to any location to capture data; and that’s in the form of photos, video at working demonstration, taking measurements, answering custom questions and even completing low complex tasks. And we do that for individuals and also enterprise clients.
Russ: Wow, so how old is the company?
Robin: So we formed the LLC late 2009, came out of beta December 2010, so we are rocking and rolling on our 7th year; a little over 7 years.
Russ: So 40,000 Lookers, I mean they’re independent contractors, is that right?
Russ: So did they just kind of come on gradually or was it sort of a hockey stick; how did that happen?
Robin: So in the beginning while we were bootstrapping we were recruiting and we had a small number. And as we grew and as our demand for work grew then we added personnel to our – we have a community team here in Oklahoma City, we have about 140 employees right up the street – and we started adding and recruiting. So we’ve been adding around $1,000 per month here recently so just growing quickly.
Russ: Okay, and so you can’t just take anybody off the street and sign up so you must sort of have a vetting process that’s pretty significant.
Robin: We do, we vet all of our Lookers. Obviously everyone goes through a background check. We have an upper echelon of Lookers who we refer to as Pro Team Members; we have about 1800 of them in our database and of course we are also in the UK, Australia and Canada. But we capture all the data on these Lookers so with these profiles we know what type of skill sets or certifications they may have. So we have some licensed drone operators, we have mobile notaries, process servers, those that are certified in heavy equipment operation. We also have stay-at-home moms, pastors, teachers and we do a lot of work with current and past service military members as well.
Russ: My goodness. So you described it as a mobile technology company, it requires very sophisticated mobile technology to handle that, is that sort of your secret sauce?
Robin: Well it’s definitely the way that we’re able to capture consistent and similar data for all of our clients and we’re able to really provide this footprint if you will – a nationwide footprint – while providing the same report over and over and having that consistency. It allows us to have different requirements, obviously there’s geo-tagging, all this information in the metadata that’s important to our customers. It allows us to communicate with all of our Lookers very quickly as well.
Russ: Okay. So in doing my research it was pretty obvious to me that we’re all doing this stuff all the time where we’re buying things – or at least considering buying things that are far away kind of like through eBay and that sort of thing so I understand that, I just couldn’t imagine though that it took 40,000 people to do that. And you’ve already mentioned you’ve kind of expanded beyond the individual, right?
Robin: Yes. So we actually did start the company – it was created out of an idea actually based on eBay to your comment – and so we originally created the company for people just like you and I; those who are wanting to purchase something sight unseen and help kind of mitigate our risk, right? Be able to go out very quickly and verify current asset information and give you more condition report on whatever type of asset you’re wanting to purchase.
And then that did expand into a B to B play when we had small, mid size and even large companies who needed that logistical field work done, but whether it was for traditional field services, property, auto, heavy equipment, courier services, some of them needed a mix, some of them needed a very specific process flow. So we were able to do that with our technology and be able to provide these services. So one client can use us and we displace five or six vendors with just WeGoLook.
Russ: So I want to go back to what triggered the idea, but even before I do that do you still remember the first GoLooker and what they were looking at and what they did? Is it wrong to call them GoLookers?
Robin: You can call them Lookers, yes. I remember a lot. I remember the first time the platform actually worked the way it was supposed to and everything worked smoothly without a human having to touch it and dispatching the Looker, getting the information in and then just reviewing it was the only thing that we had to touch. That was a very exciting moment and that was for a property.
I remember our first international Look which was ironic because my son was kind of vacationing nearby, it was in Pennsylvania, the Allegheny Mountains, and I knew he was close by and I called him and he was able to actually go over and perform that Look. And that was a gentleman in Germany placed that order and that was my first international Look and it was really neat because my son was actually able to complete that for us. But yeah, we have all these little small milestones, obviously my big contracts and our first international in the UK; a lot of it is heavy equipment overseas, but lots of fun little memories, yes.
Russ: What about heavy equipment, what do you have to do? I mean are people buying heavy equipment?
Robin: Sure, there’s people that are buying, there are brokers; we catalog off-lease forklift equipment for a very large manufacturer every single month and all their heavy equipment dealers. So we’re able to go out – and again we’re using our technology for that consistent report, and we even can incorporate video into our reports. So you think about the forklift with the forks coming up and down or a bulldozer.
It’s hard to find someone who is an expert in all types of heavy equipment because there’s about 35 different types, but we can capture enough information to give it to the person who can look at it and go you know what – we also can of course do a live video, almost like a Facetime, where they can walk us through and ask what points are important for them. But they can actually see the data that they need to make that decision; whether it’s verifying an asset before they send a deposit or helping catalog so they can turn around and sell it, or it might be part of their fleet that they already have.
Russ: So I already mentioned this sort of eBay example I also had another idea before I even knew much about the details. I can remember when my son was in school, he was going to college, and every night I would try to call him and he’d never be home. And I’d talk to him and I’d say well what are you doing Carson. And he said well I go to the library every night from 6:00 to 11:00. Could you go to the library, take a picture of him and verify that he’s there?
Robin: We could but I’d be really worried about you. They have mobile apps for that too. We could but we’re not really into the P.I. side. But we actually do some work for a government arm where we do some exterior only photos. So as long as we’re in a public area we can go take photos. But really what we do is a lot more we augment or supplement a current workforce. So if you say you have a field adjuster who is expensive and driving a fleet vehicle and they’re being employed and they’re costing a lot of money in benefits, we’re able to just dispatch a Looker on demand to capture and do those type of again local complex tasks.
So we’re really kind of in lieu of or helping augment someone’s current workforce or we’re helping them with a whole new business process flow. We have a bank; the old process they would have a customer come in to the brick and mortar branch, bring a vehicle, bring the paperwork with the loan officer. Now a Looker is dispatched to their home, place of business, Starbucks, and we take the paperwork. If the customer speaks Mandarin or Spanish then our platform solicits only a bilingual Looker that’s also a notary.
And so we’re able to quickly – same day – execute those documents, perform the condition report and the sales team back at the bank can see immediately in almost real time yep, the paperwork is completed properly, yep, there’s no deferred damage and they can fund the customer before they even ever get the FedEx package back. So we’re helping with their conversions, we’re helping with their costs; you can kind of see where our Lookers are being part of this whole workforce and that’s what’s exciting. I just get excited every time I talk about it.
Russ: I am too. I wish I was a part of it.
Robin: You can be a Looker.
Russ: Well what does your best Looker make?
Robin: Gosh, we had one of our top Lookers – he’s performed over 3,000 Looks, we flew him in as secret surprise to a lot of our team members here in Oklahoma City because they all love him. We have another lady in Chicago, she’s performed over 2,500, so you can start doing the math. Some of these people make quite a bit of money and the great thing is it’s supplemental income. So we have a lot of retired professionals and they can still work it into their schedule if they want to take it or they don’t want to accept it. So it’s really up to you, we want to give everyone who wants to work a job.
Russ: I can do the math so give me some numbers and I’ll do the math. I want to know how much they make.
Robin: Well it really varies but you could average around $25 an hour unless you are one of these Lookers that have a specialized skill. So obviously our licensed drone operators make quite a bit more than that per job. We have of course also IAs and CAT adjusters and those that require a little bit more sophistication or skill set they receive more money because it costs the customer more.
Russ: Okay. You’ve sort of carved out a piece of the gig economy big time; you look at YouTube and you’re kind of like that – not YouTube, you look at Uber and then you turn around and you look at AirBnB and you’re like that.
Robin: I love it.
Russ: Do you have Uber drivers that are also Lookers?
Robin: Absolutely. Yes, absolutely. And I love that. I’m just going to make one quick point because there are business people watching this, because I truly believe you don’t have to be an industry expert to be an industry leader. And you start thinking about the guys in Uber and AirBnB, neither one of them had a background in hospitality or transportation, but they took technology, a better customer experience at a lower cost, and they created their services. And that’s really what we’re doing in a field services area with our people so it’s very exciting.
Russ: So take me back to the very beginning. What triggered the idea and you said I think I’m going to do this?
Robin: So I had a friend who was looking at a high-end projector on eBay.
Russ: High end Projector?:
Robin: Like for your media room. And he is an attorney so he’s very particular but a lot of people were purchasing items on eBay back then, right? And he was like I wish I had someone to go look at that for me and he was just I don’t know if I want to buy it or not. I said well there has to be a service provider doing that, let me look for you. Couldn’t find a company providing those types of services and I was like wow, that seems to be a real need again to help people mitigate their risk, right? And because there were so frauds and scams and gosh, did anybody ever do any online dating back then? It was terrible. It was like the picture was one thing and the person was another, I can only imagine what you’re getting on eBay.
So I thought that it would be a great way to have this workforce and dispatch them on demand so if I wanted to buy a pinball machine in Kentucky I could order my little WeGoLook report and the Looker in Kentucky could go meet with the seller and video a working demonstration to make sure everything is working properly and even take measurements for me. And then send all that information back to me electronically so I could bid properly and it had to be done very quick based on the auction cycle time. So that’s really the heart of our business is that particular market. And we are by the way eBay Motor’s official inspection arm. So something people may not know that here in Oklahoma City we are an Oklahoma company doing that.
Russ: So this move to B to B, you’ve mentioned a couple of things; I assume you’re talking a lot about insurance companies and maybe even some of these weather catastrophes that we have, do you participate in those?
Robin: Wow, yes we just did and we came through with flying colors and we were able to help policy holders get back on their feet more quickly. So to the first part of your question, we do service several industries because there are a lot of similarities in whether you’re performing a condition report for say a Hyundai versus State Farm versus a bank wanting a loan – they’re all vehicles. So we service all these different industries but we have a sweet spot in insurance because their technology is so archaic and they haven’t really changed a lot and there’s a lot of people that need insurance. It’s a big industry.
So anyway, we started doing a lot within that space within the last 3 years and actually Crawford & Company, which is the world’s largest third party administrator of claims, came in exactly a year and 2 weeks ago and acquired 85% of our company for a little over $36 million. My COO and I retained the remaining 15%. So while we are still very heavily focused on insurance, because obviously we have their industry knowledge and their resources and their contacts, we are still very focused on automotive, which is good for us, and then the bank and financial sector.
Russ: Wow, there were a lot of stars in that last one.
Robin: I know. I’m sorry; I just have so much to tell you.
Russ: I am curious still back at the disasters, you covered Harvey too?
Robin: I’m sorry, yes we did. So think about all the adjusters, which there’s a waning group, it’s an older group of people. So there’s a small group of real adjusters out in the field for the insurance space just like there is in automotive and actually mortgage appraisal; lots of synergies there. But anyway, we had about 893 Lookers that were within 100 miles of Houston still that were not displaced – some of them were in areas that were already cut off because they lived there – and so we were performing auto Looks – and 1.3 days I’m sorry was our turnaround time for auto Looks in Houston for flooded vehicles.
And obviously we were able to help during Irma very quickly because a lot of those assets couldn’t move over to Florida because they were so busy there. And then of course we had people already in Puerto Rico, Lookers there that were part of our network and we were also able to utilize the military down there before a lot of the adjusters could even get there. So it was a great use case force. We were, not to leverage a bad situation but we were able to help these people get back on track and kind of get their money faster so we were happy about that.
Russ: Let’s hear it for Robin Smith.
Russ: Thank you so much.
Robin: Thank you; thanks.
Russ: You bet. And that wraps up this episode of BusinessMakers USA Live in Oklahoma City.
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