Ernie Dempsey is Founder and CEO of Job Ninja, a website designed to help full time students find part time jobs. Since its inception on November 11 at last year’s 48 Hour Launch, Job Ninja has grown from Dempsey’s brainchild to a thriving start up that has attracted much interest from investors and fellow entrepreneurs. On a Tuesday night in the CO.LAB space, after a meeting with his interns, he made time to answer a few questions about how he got involved in 48 Hour Launch and described the effect it had on propelling Job Ninja from idea to reality.
CO.LAB: How did you originally find out about 48 Hour Launch?
Ernie Dempsey: Back in November a acquaintance of mine, Jenny Hill, told me I should check CO.LAB out. I was looking at business incubators in Atlanta for Job Ninja and didn’t know there was something in Chattanooga right under my nose. I called CO.LAB and talked to Enoch, and he told me to come to 48HL pre-pitch night that just happened to be going on later that evening. I didn’t really know what exactly to expect, but I figured I’d at least go down to the event and maybe meet some web developers or maybe find some freelance guys who would consider partnering with me. That was the most I thought would happen.
CO.LAB: What happened instead?
Turns out, a lot of people liked my idea and asked if they could be on my team, so the following week we all met up at Battle Academy for the first night of the event.
When I got there it was crazy. First of all, at 6pm on Friday you and everybody else with a business concept stands in front of a microphone and re-pitch your idea in case there are any other people that might want to join your team. After the business pitches were over on Friday, two graphic designers jumped on my team and we started working on creating the site. I worked with my team on Friday until about 1am, and on Saturday we worked from 9am until late that night. It helped that I’d been thinking nonstop about Job Ninja and what it would look like for the past six weeks because the site already existed in my mind. That helped us get a lot of work done that weekend, and we honestly haven’t had to change much about the site since then. At the end of the event, there was an audience presentation and a closed door, shark tank-style presentation. To my surprise I won the votes of both groups which resulted in two different prizes.
CO.LAB: What a great surprise! What was the prize for winning?
ED: The fact that I won got me $15,000 worth of business services. It included several hours worth of legal counsel and accounting services, help from Moss Media Labs (social media management and multimedia production), branding and design from Area 203, a one year membership in the Chamber of Commerce, and membership in the Chattanooga Technology Council. Obviously, that’s been very valuable. I also got accepted into the accelerator program at CO.LAB, which was the prize for winning the shark tank presentation, and that has also been very important to our success so far. Sheldon Grizzle and Charlie Brock have done a great job of helping us move forward with this thing.
CO.LAB: What’s next for Job Ninja?
ED: The site goes live May 28. We’re working on finishing our business plan and we’re getting our investor pitch ready. We’ve already raised about $50,000 in the initial round of investing. I have a board of advisors from the grocery and food services industries, and I’m considering bringing on a CFO and CTO.
CO.LAB: What a great past three months. Any parting words about 48HL? Hopefully your story encourages more people like you to give it a shot.
ED: It’s an awesome event, mostly because of all the people giving their time to help you succeed. I’m really glad I came here that night and met all these guys. There’s no way I’d be where I am without 48HL and I’m very grateful.
CO.LAB: Thanks for making time for us today and good luck. We look forward to watching your progress.
You can follow Ernie Dempsey @job_ninja on Twitter and on fb.com/jobninja to stay up to date on Job Ninja’s evolution over the next few months as the site gets closer to launch. Also, keep an eye on our blog for news about this year’s 48HL coming March 30 and submit your ideas to enhance our #CHA experience.