Playa Vista entrepreneur launches pet industry’s first employment search engine
Story By Srianthi Perera | PHOTOS BY LUIS CHAVEZ
Seda Bolulu was looking for a career transition combining her skills in talent acquisition and passion for animals. What the Playa Vista resident found was a niche in the business world.
Bolulu noted that it was difficult to search for jobs in this particular field. Thus, while still in business school at the University of Southern California, she created a job board for the pet industry.
“Through extensive market research we discovered that the name job boards created for the masses were not sufficiently catering to the rapidly growing $100 billion pet industry, and we wanted to build the platform where employers and candidates can easily and cost-efficiently find their pack,” Bolulu says.
PackHire, the new employment search engine and recruiting firm exclusive to the pet industry, serves the pet-loving community through its online platform. The service is free to job seekers who may search employment opportunities in areas such as veterinary care, grooming/boarding, dog training, rescues and nonprofits, pet food, retail, pet insurance and pet care start-ups.
Employers pay to register and post jobs, search the candidate resume database, and work with industry expert recruiters to find quality candidates with niche backgrounds for their pet business.
Bolulu has a decade of talent acquisition experience under her belt and her husband, Fadi Rasheed, is an employment attorney.
“Creating an employment search engine between the two of us kind of made sense,” she notes.
The couple hired technical expertise, such as web development, to fill the gaps in their knowledge. Funding was bootstrap.
It is an opportune time for applications in the pet industry. Pet ownership is at an all-time high. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates 23 million households acquired a pet during the pandemic. The spike in ownership has sparked the growth of innovative pet products and services.
Research also showed Bolulu that investors had poured more than $2 billion of venture funding into global pet-focused startups since 2017.
According to the business information platform, Crunchbase, 2 million jobs are available in the industry across the country. To match those needs, Bolulu discovered there was no one-stop-shop to search for employment.
When Bolulu started searching for a talent acquisition manager position in the pet industry, the search results were “really bad,” she says.
“They were inaccurate; a talent acquisition manager or marketing specialist search would get nursing home managers, event planners for a gentleman’s club — totally random things that were not in the pet industry or even loosely related,” Bolulu adds.
She followed up with quantitative market research and asked business owners in the pet industry questions such as on how many job boards do they post their jobs, how many relevant resumes do they get for job postings and would they use a job board in the pet industry if it existed?
Bolulu asked questions of her pet-loving family and friends. She also visited pet supply and grooming stores, vet clinics and similar places. Her main question was how are you finding jobs? Most job leads came via friend networks.
“They said, ‘It’s very hard and it’s kind of all over the place,’” Bolulu says. “The results were really telling. Clearly there was a need in the market for businesses that wanted to hire people for their pet business, that had experience in the industry or that wanted to work in the pet industry.”
Bolulu’s research, data collection and personal intuition led her to decide that a specialized job board was a necessity in the current climate.
Since the soft launch of PackHire in February, Bolulu has received encouraging statistical results to back up her decision. PackHire has more than 1,000 registered users, among them National Veterinary Associates and Banfield Pet Hospital, and many boutique clients in grooming, doggy day care and supplies stores.
Bolulu has had more than 10,000 website visitors and a 10% click-through rate, which she deems “pretty high.”
Pets have always been a part of Bolulu’s life. While growing up in suburban Orange County, her family raised many animals, among them dogs, cats, birds, a turtle and a bearded dragon, a type of lizard. Currently, her pets, Meeko the dog and Uma the cat, help maintain Bolulu’s love for animals and inspire her career.
As for the future of PackHire, Bolulu wants to raise funding with seed or angel funds for its next level of development. After starting as a job board, PackHire incorporated a recruiting services search. With those first two steps complete, the third is to be a digital community where pet professionals may connect with each other.
To that end, Bolulu plans to participate in community events including one upcoming: she will be featured at The Pet Summit, a virtual educational seminar from October 23 to October 24 as a panelist in the “Meet the Founders: The Ins and Outs of Business In The Pet Space” to discuss hiring trends, challenges and career outlook.