Beta Byte: Rock Your Block



Rock Your BlockBeta Byte is a new series for the early stage tech that lies somewhere between idea and traction. Equally exciting & raw.  Are you in this phase?

What is the name of the company and/or product?

Rock Your Block

What is the customer value proposition? What business problem is being solved?

Teen unemployment rates in the US are currently at an all-time high, upwards of 25-35%. Multiple research studies indicate that high levels of unemployment during the teen years increase the difficulty of transitioning to part-time and full-time employment in the late teens and early twenties, as well as reduce future wage and earnings potential.

Rock Your Block solves this problem by offering a safe and convenient way for teenagers to find jobs in their community. Teens are given the opportunity to develop skills necessary to become independent, self-sufficient adults: searching for work, building a resume, handling job interviews, and developing good time and money management. Rock Your Block is the first mobile and Facebook-integrated application that leverages teens’ existing networks by providing a platform to search and apply to job postings in their community.

What is the vision?

Rock Your Block’s vision is to “create tomorrow’s business rockstars.”

When did development start?

January 2011

Who is on the team?

  • Sarah Young: Founder and Chief Executive Officer
  • John Hibscher: Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer
  • Steven Ladin: Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer
  • Blake Faris: Director of Technology
  • Caryn Evans: Community Outreach Director

What is the target “launch” date?

Public Beta launch is planned for February 14th, 2012.

What is your greatest strength?

Our greatest strength is our ability to truly understand the needs of our target market. Our team members’ extensive experience working with youth, teens, technology and entrepreneurialism creates a culture with a diverse perspective. We have identified a niche market with significant demand, which, to date, has not yet been directly addressed by any competitors at such a targeted level.

What is your biggest weakness?

Our biggest weakness at this point is the inability to commit as much time as we all would like to, as we are relying on a bootstrapped budget.

What is the specific technology or combination of technologies,
framework, languages, etc. that makes Rock Your Block run? Is there any IP?

The Rock Your Block Application is patent pending technology. We have
designed our application using open-source technologies when available. Due to the tight integration with the users’ social graph, we are integrating (and currently requiring) a Facebook account to use the application. We also have engineered a standard integration point for incorporating other social networks such as Google+ in the future. The database is built in MySQL 5.1 using InnoDB engine.

We are using Yii Framework to provide scalable, high performance, an modular coding capability. All code is observant of MVC design principles. The language employed for our model classes and controllers, providing all business logic for our application is PHP 5.3. Presentation code is written in HTML4, CSS3, and JQuery. Media queries and other CSS techniques are utilized to render the site differently for different devices such as computers, tablets, and mobile phones.

What is the revenue model? How big is the market?

The primary revenue model is the sponsorship model: Each teen account is activated by an adult sponsor (parent or legal guardian) or an organizational sponsor that agrees to pay a yearly sponsorship fee. The secondary revenue stream is from corporate sponsorships: paid job postings offered by companies and small businesses. A year two revenue stream will be from transaction fees: fees for payment processing facilitated through Rock Your Block.

There are 21 million teens (age 13-17) in the US. With teen unemployment rates up to 35%, there is an enormous labor force of young adults seeking employment.

What is one resource you could use that would take this to the next level?

We have been successfully working off of a shoestring budget for over a year to build our first Beta release, build awareness, and gain a significant number of sign-ups for our first group of test users in the Twin Cities. Securing funding post-Beta launch would be the most valuable resource we could acquire to allow us to advance the Beta to the next level in a timely manner as well as extend our reach to teens beyond the Twin Cities.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

We are avid supporters of other Minnesota entrepreneurs. We have engaged with many Minnesota companies to establish partnerships and good will throughout our community. We welcome and appreciate any and all feedback on Rock Your Block and would love to have you try out our Beta application when we release it!