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xBound In The News

August 2, 2021

Zave Smith

 

August 2nd 2021

Molly Givens

Photographer Zave Smith has been in the photo business in the City of Brotherly Love for over three decades, starting out working with products and food before evolving to shooting people and lifestyle in 2000. But now, the man who spent his career capturing snapshots in time has changed his tune and entered the start-up world of sorts—in fact, he’s braving into an all-new world altogether with his new company, xBound.

When COVID-19 first hit, Smith was among many photographers who were out of work. When it became a bit safer to venture outside, curiosity began to circulate in the photographer’s mind. From that curiosity, Smith’s ‘Back to Work’ series was born.

But with reopening fully and safely in the forefront of everyone’s mind, Smith has found another need—and although this idea was accelerated by the pandemic—it came way before COVID-19 even hit.

“It’s been personally a balancing act of taking care of the photo business, and then taking care of launching xBound,” says Smith. “The idea came to me in late fall of 2019, and it kept bouncing around my head.”

This idea of a new company came from three points according to Smith: How hard it is for people who are 50 and above who get laid off to then get back on the career track, the fact that there are 10,000 people a day retiring in the U.S. and just not enough millennials to replace them, and the reality that some friends of his were retiring from a workforce they could no longer be in.

“There are people with tremendous skills and business knowledge and wisdom… and they just couldn’t physically work the 50 hours a week that they’ve been doing for years and years,” he explains. “But if they could find a part-time gig or a project-based gig that was 10-20 hours a week where they work for some company and then take a little time off… they would love that.”

In short, xbound.us is a dual-sided platform dedicated to helping companies and organizations benefit from the valuable expertise and wisdom of late-career and semi-retired talent. But to get to the point of just an idea to an actuality took some time. That’s where quarantine came in handy.

“When COVID hit, I had a lot more time on my hands,” continues Smith. “I started doing some research and I called some recruiters and HR people, and I started sending them a deck about what xBound could be. One of the questions I asked them was: “Would you be interested in a service like xBound?” The resounding answer was “Yes!”

People seemed so generally excited about the idea when I talked about it, that’s what gave me the courage to move ahead”, says Smith. “Even though I have no background in technology, I have no background in recruitment, I have no background in start-up—because of Xhilarate, I have  big network of really smart people. “xBound was something I knew I could do. This just seemed too good of idea to pass up.”

During the pandemic, there were stories of hope and of people finally sitting down and grinding out that dream they had or bringing an idea to fruition that never would have happened if the globally devastating events had not occurred. Maybe that’s a silver lining, or maybe it’s an accumulation of time finally being so accessible to many. Whatever it was for Smith, it landed him an award for xBound, which is still in its very early stages. 

xBound became the first winner of the Science Center’s new OnRamp: Stimulate Your Start-Up pitch competition.

“It really was a huge validation,” says Smith. The photographer turned idealist businessman awards a lot of his early success to people and groups that got him started. “I started talking about this idea, and one of the first things I did was to join two area start-up networks.”

Those networks, Startup Bucks Founder’s 30 run by Jon Mercer and Venture Café Philadelphia’s roundtable with Aron Starosta.

“It was really through sharing my ideas with these groups and listening to their advice that really gave me the emotional and technical support I needed because I didn’t know what I was doing.”

For now, xBound is in its beginning stages, but moving forward, xbound.us will also be a source of training and learning. The new site will drive user engagement with a news and forum sections. They will be a source for highly curated information that will help users embrace this new stage of business and career life. xBound is currently free for both people seeking to hire and for talent seeking opportunities and it will always be free for nonprofits seeking volunteers.

“The other area where xBound I think is going to be really useful is in our young entrepreneurial start-up companies. Because, while you might have a great idea for a new way to grow flowers, you might not have any ideas for finance or compliance, or human resources and you might not have the resources to go and hire a full-time salaried HR person. But you might be able to find someone who just recently retired, who might not be looking for a full-time gig but would be able to give you 10 or twenty hours a week at a reasonable rate because they want to remain engaged and enjoy mentoring your younger workforce.”

To learn more information about xBound, visit xbound.us

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