A Bryan-based company is looking to help connect the "heroes" of the community with residents in need of trusted help.
"Hire Our Hero" is a website that will serve as a database to allow heroes -- defined for now as military veterans and current or former police, fire and emergency medical technicians -- who offer skilled trades as either a business or a side-job to advertise their skills. Residents can then access the information for free when looking for a variety of different contract work.
Brandon Bunch, Hire Our Hero founder and CEO, served in the Marine Corps from 2000 to 2004 and now serves as a firefighter paramedic in Austin. Unimpressed by the process of sorting through, calling and researching dozens of potential businesses for help with trades like plumbing, roofing or real estate, he decided to aggregate the options with a focus on helping the military and public servant workers.
"I had a really hard time getting reliable and dependable people, and thought Hire Our Hero would be a good way to provide our citizens and consumers with a database of trusted heroes that have honorably served," he said. "We wanted to showcase their service or business, and if they're not marketing, this can be the biggest asset they have to get a leg up on the competition."
Bunch is an entrepreneur with Innovation Underground, a Downtown Bryan-based business and technology small business incubator. A year ago, Bunch attended the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities, part of the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship offered through the Mays Business School at Texas A&M. There he met Jose Quintana, president of AdventGX, who was mentoring.
"I'm from Mexico and when I became a citizen, I wanted to give back, so my wife and I have been helping as mentors and [Bunch] was one of the ones who really wanted to help get his idea to the next step," Quintana said.
Hire Our Hero will include a professional profile, picture, back-stories of the "heroes" behind the business and services. Hire Our Hero will independently perform background checks, verify licensing and liability insurance, and ensure the listees served in the military or other public service honorably before allowing them to post their services.
The market will determine what trades and skills will be posted on the website. Bunch said he knows "heroes" who offer a wide variety of skills ranging from custom home builders to real estate agents to handymen, and he wants to support them by marketing existing businesses or those who have retired with special trades.
"We want to create a good product for the consumer and to let veterans know their worth -- they don't realize they're an asset as a worker or a small business," Bunch said. "This is an opportunity to give back without getting a handout. None of these guys I've dealt with have a handout mentality. They want an opportunity or a chance to prove they are worth their time and money."
The service site launches this Saturday. In addition to posters from Bryan-College Station, Bunch said he's looking to include workers statewide, starting with San Antonio, which has a large military population.
So far, dozens of "heroes" have signed up to help get the word out about the services they provide. It is completely free for users browsing for help, and will cost $19.50 a month for those advertising services.
One person who will be listing his services on Hire Our Hero is Roman Garza, a firefighter and owner of SS Pool and Spa in Austin. The custom home and spa builder has done work for other fire, police, EMS and military veterans, but does not market his skills. Garza said he looks forward to being a part of the new network.
Blake Hogan is a Marine entrepreneur who helps with VetCommander.com, a job matching and video interview service for veterans.
"[It] provides a powerful connection between civilians looking to hire veterans in a fun and engaging way," Hogan wrote. "And, because [Bunch] is a Marine, we will do anything we can to keep each other in the fight. Our creed, "Semper Fidelis," does not end when we take off the uniform."