How cool is it to run a business that thousands of teens use to find summer employment, that recent college graduates tap into to land their first jobs, that unemployed workers call upon to get back on their feet -- and that was even cited by a former U.S. president as potentially beneficial to him?
Shawn C. Boyer '94, founder and CEO of SnagAJob.com, does just that.
Boyer's brainchild, eight-year-old SnagAJob.com is the nation's largest online resource for finding part-time and full-time hourly jobs. The Web site, which posts more than 130,000 jobs, is right up there with Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com, and other high-profile online job search services. Its clients include McDonald's, 7-Eleven and Home Depot.
SnagAJob.com catapulted Boyer from the vaunted halls of a high-powered downtown Washington, D.C., law firm to a laid-back, hip, Silicon Valley-like office complex in the Richmond, Va., suburbs.
And it earned him the 2008 National Small Business Person of the Year award. When Boyer was recognized for the honor during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House last summer, President George W. Bush announced that he might need SnagAJob.com's services once he departed the Oval Office.
With the downturn in the economy, more than 6.5 million people a month are logging on to SnagAJob.com, and Boyer is in demand as a commentator for national news outlets like the Today Show and Forbes.
The boyish-looking Boyer takes all the accolades in stride. Yes, he has found a lucrative niche and he has been phenomenally successful, but the 37-year-old views it all as part of the plan. He has known since childhood that he wanted to run his own business.
"There is nothing I could do professionally that I would enjoy more," he said.
Entrepreneurial seeds were planted early and nurtured at William and Mary. His dad, J. Hardin Boyer, left an Oklahoma pastorate, pulled up stakes, and moved his family to Williamsburg when Shawn was in high school. The senior Boyer opened Boyer's Diamond and Gold Source in Lightfoot.
Shawn was behind the counter there whenever he wasn't in class or playing sports. "I had exposure at an early age to working directly with clients," Shawn Boyer said. "I loved it."
His dream was to become a commercial real estate developer. After talking to many successful developers, Boyer kept hearing the same advice: Go to law school.
So, after majoring in business at William and Mary, where he played varsity football for four years, Boyer headed to Washington and Lee (W&L) School of Law.
He went from W&L to D.C., where he worked for two different law firms. Being involved in only one aspect of huge transactions in his work at the law firm, Boyer grew bored and restless. He wanted to see the big picture.
So, when a friend asked for help finding an internship in an obscure field, Boyer had an aha moment. He was unable to make much headway for his friend because he realized that among the 30,000-plus employment-related Web sites, there was a void. None focused solely on hourly positions.
"It just seemed so logical," Boyer said. He had a hard time believing he wasn't just overlooking something. But the more Boyer researched, the more it seemed he had struck gold. He quit his law job and launched his company in Williamsburg in the spring of 2000.
The name came from his dad. The two of them had tossed around lots of possible ideas. SnagAJob resonated.
Boyer's dad initially put up capital for the business, and he continues to serve as one of its chief advisors.
The business now employs 140 people, but remains a true family affair. Boyer's wife, Tennille (and the mother of their 1-year-old daughter, Macy), is one of the company's national account executives. And his sister, Heather, is SnagAJob.com's senior marketing manager.
In December, the company won the Young Professional Workplace Award for fostering a dynamic, supportive environment for young professionals.
Boyer said he focuses as much on recruiting quality staff members as he does on building his client base. "I want to maintain a great culture, and I never want to destroy the fabric of what makes us different." Staff members, called "snaggers," talk about the company's synergy and camaraderie.
"We are blessed enough to be in this great industry," Boyer said. "I want to make the most of it."