Catching up with Traba: From 0 to 3,000 workers on its on-demand platform in 6 months

Attention, warehouse and event businesses in South Florida: Traba has 3,000 flexible, reliable and vetted temporary workers who want to help you.

Traba, a Miami-based tech startup with global ambitions, is building an on-demand marketplace that connects workers with open shifts at warehouses, fulfillment centers and event venues. From their phones, workers can choose when and where to accept shifts and earn a living on their own schedule. At the same time, Traba helps small businesses solve their workforce management issues at an economical cost and focus on what they’re good at – running their businesses.

CEO Mike Shebat knows that pain because he began his career at an industrial supply company that struggled with staffing up to meet fluctuating demand. “The main value-add is whatever businesses ask for, we can provide,” Shebat says. Traba fills 100% of a business’ needs, unlike traditional staffing agencies that average a 46% fill rate, he says.

Shebat co-founded Traba with  Akshay Buddiga, Traba’s co-founder and CTO he met in an On Deck Founders Fellowship cohort last year. Buddiga, who moved to Miami from San Francisco, was previously a senior engineering manager at Fanatics and was part of Zenefits during its hyper-growth phase. Traba also raised $3.6 million in seed funding round led by Founders Fund and General Catalyst.

We last checked in with Traba as the startup launched about six months ago – that’s about a minute in startup time. Back then Traba was a team of 4 with plans to grow to 15 by year’s end. And bucking the distributed trend, the team would be all in Miami.

Mission accomplished. Traba team, then and now:

Since then, Traba’s team of mostly engineers has built out the worker side of the marketplace – with the 3,000 on the platform – and has begun onboarding businesses. The startup is already generating revenue and currently works with 25 businesses in South Florida, including Petal Productions, Kreyol Essence, MIA Shoes and the event company that works with FTX Arena, and has been using those experiences to build the business side of the marketplace. Shebat notes that “both Traba’s operations and engineering teams are prepared to iterate our tools to ensure that businesses are getting everything they need from us.”

He adds, “Right now, we are starting to ramp up the sales structure on the operations side. We’re hiring account executives, senior operations roles, and a sales manager. We do have an open role for a senior engineer.”

How was the hiring experience?

“It wasn’t easy and wasn’t hard,” Shebat said. “We were just very upfront and transparent about what it’s going to take to become as big as Airnbnb or DoorDash. It will take a lot of hard work in the early days, a bunch of people working together on something great.”

The transparency helped, he said. “It’s OK if someone wants to optimize for other things in life but it’s just not going to be a good fit at an early-stage startup with ambitious goals. It actually attracts a certain type of profile because not a lot of other tech companies have that culture right now. If someone does want to optimize for their career and being in a tribe of other highly motivated people, this is the job for them.”

Although Traba plans to expand nationally, they are starting local. Traba started working with companies in Miami-Dade but now has workers and companies all over South Florida up through Palm Beach County. “We want to be be very well known in the business community, service a lot of clients here and uplift workers and help them find great South Florida jobs.” Traba pays a minimum of $13 an hour on the platform, and that’s before incentives and bonuses, Shebat said, noting that the jobs are a sociable way for workers to make money, as these jobs are ones they can do with friends.  

To amass that many workers so quickly, Traba used a lot of the incentive strategies that Shebat learned at UberEats, where he previously worked scaling the service in Europe, Latin America and later Miami. The word quickly spread in the South Florida worker communities.

Shebat has read the headlines about worker shortages. “We thought the workers would be the harder part of the marketplace side to get but it has gone viral,” said Shebat. “We have the workers and they’re like, hey, we want to work.”

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg and email her at [email protected]


Nancy Dahlberg