In the eleven short years since graduating from Eastern Mennonite University, he has had some pretty sweet jobs: business coordinator for O, The Oprah Magazine, recruiter for Dreamworks, head of companies for Intern Sushi, and now co-founder and CEO of a tech startup.
It’s in this last role that Jeff Boodie really feels he’s solving a problem he knows, because he sees himself in the youth that – with some assistance from an ongoing crowdfunding campaign – he’s determined to help.
Boodie’s startup is JobSnap, a Los Angeles service that connects restaurant and retail employers with 30-second resume videos posted by potential employees. He promoted it last year in a three-minute BMW Hot Lap Pitch video that shows his amiable charm and dogged tenacity, in that case under the pressure of professional speed.
While JobSnap is a growing for-profit enterprise – one actively seeking private investors – Boodie has also started a GoFundMe campaign with a specific purpose: to support the use of JobSnap by youth who are receiving services from local nonprofits.
One of those nonprofits is Safe Place for Youth (SPY), which assists youth facing homelessness but doesn’t have the budget or manpower to fully support job seekers. Boodie’s crowdfunding campaign website features a video of Kuybba, a young man at SPY who says he landed a shoe store job through JobSnap.
“I don’t take that lightly,” Boodie said of Kuybba’s willingness to post a video. “When you don’t have access to things, you’re not like ‘Yeah, I want to be in the spotlight for needing help.’ It takes a certain kind of person to put myself out there and say, ‘We need resources.’”
But Boodie’s compassion for young people like Kuybba goes beyond appreciation: “When I look at him, I immediately do see myself, and see that it was people like me now who stepped in and said, ‘I see something in you. Let me help you.’”
A Mennonite poached by Intern Sushi
Boodie grew up in the South Bronx going to a Mennonite church and summer camps. He told Crossroads magazine in 2008 that at EMU he “finally fit in – I was surrounded by people who thought and believed like I do.”
After graduating with a liberal arts degree, though, he found himself in a very different world when he landed the job at O. There he discovered that he “felt at ease talking with one and all, from the president to the security guard at the door.” Just before he left the magazine, Oprah distributed $10,000 checks to employees at a party – with the mandate to “do something that you believe in. Use it for something meaningful.”
That gift check from Oprah propelled him to Los Angeles, now with a new perspective on wealth that he had gained from the friendships he had formed in the “Oprah world”:
“Money alone wouldn’t fulfill my heart,” he said recently. “It wouldn’t fulfill my destiny.”
His next job was for Dreamworks, which he said “was like a dream – pun intended,” he said. “I felt like the universe god was guiding me right in that case. They had all pieces: free food, the best health insurance, a gym. It was a dream.”
From Dreamworks he was poached by a startup called Intern Sushi, which he said connects “the top 10%” of college grads and youth with internships for businesses who are “looking for top talent.”
It may have been a great service for the college-educated scene, he said – “but then there’s the bottom, the 76 million workers who are hourly, who are the backbone of our country. These are the people I grew up around.”
As he looked around at his friends in tech, he realized that the problems they were solving were the problems they knew firsthand. And there was a problem that he knew: not everyone comes with ready connections to upward mobility.
He said to himself, “If I don’t solve this problem, I don’t know who will.”
A problem’s ‘right person’
After three years at Intern Sushi, Boodie decided he was “the right person to solve this problem” – and in 2015 he put himself full time into co-founding JobSnap.
He frequently receives other job offers – and could be making “a ton of money” – but often revisits “why I do what I do: I’m someone who is fortunate to have education, to have been mentored, to have people who believed in me when I couldn’t see a way out.”
Equipped with vision for growing his tech startup, Boodie continues to speak with investors to raise startup funds for JobSnap. Now, though, he’s also asking for GoFundMe donors to make the service useful for more people – the ones who need it the most.