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The idea came to Naomi Pereira in the middle of the night. After days spent trying to find a reliable contractor willing to do a simple repair in her mother’s home, Pereira realized she could use technology to help homeowners hire skilled tradespeople and, at the same time, help unemployed tradespeople find work during an economic downturn. Combining her knowledge of industry and her entrepreneurial savvy, Pereira and co-founder Rafael Pieters created JobJar, an online directory that connects homeowners with what she calls “skilled doers.” Launched in January 2016, JobJar has been named by the Calgary Chamber of Commerce as one of the most promising start-ups of 2017. “If you own a roof, you probably have the same problems [as most homeowners do] of finding help to do those small jobs around the house,” Pereira says. “We’re solving this problem with the use of technology and we’re closing a huge gap in the industry.” While JobJar lets homeowners make their choices based on estimates and reviews, the online platform also gives tradespeople essential tools for invoicing, scheduling and self-promotion. In 2018, JobJar‘s expansion plan will involve growing its database in cities including Winnipeg, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary.
It’s interesting because very early in my career I was on the fence, trying to decide between working with animals and working in architecture. I was interested in both and I’ve always pursued work that I really love.
I tried going into oil and gas after I graduated from SAIT, but I couldn’t do it because it wasn’t my passion. It was a career path I tried because it pays well and I thought it’s what you’re supposed to do in Alberta. Although the pay was higher than other positions I might have had at that point, I wasn’t fulfilled.
I am very young but, as you age and get wiser, your priorities shift a little bit. I feel that what I’ve been doing in my career over the past 10 years has prepared me to grow into becoming a business owner.
I’ve always been a problem solver and I’m continually asking if there’s a different way or a better way to do something.
But it’s not like I came up with the JobJar concept and went to it right away. It was something that downloaded in my mind and I thought about it. It was an idea or a dream that I put to the side for a while and thought I’d get back to later. It took me too long to actually put it into action (laughs).
In general, my family has always been risk-takers — risk has been embraced in our lives. I’m the youngest of four kids and my parents moved us from Venezuela to the United States when I was four years old. Four years later we moved back to Venezuela before coming to Canada when I was 18 so I could have an opportunity for a better life.
Also, my uncle is an entrepreneur. He didn’t complete his high school education, but he opened a shop and built it up and was very successful. His attitude and sense of accomplishment in owning his own company have always been inspiring to me.
So when I said, ‘OK, I am going to do this,’ it was kind of normal and exciting at the same time. I’ve always had a vision of doing something bigger that can impact more people than just my two arms can.
There are so many (laughs). It’s very easy to be out of balance. I burned out last summer and needed a reset. I learned that, as a leader, you can’t do it all — you need to lead by giving your team opportunities to lead. It’s easy to become a bottleneck if you’re such a perfectionist that you have to oversee everything. I’m still a perfectionist, but it’s something I am aware of now.
Intro Text by Giselle Wedemire | Photo by Trudie Lee | Interview by Ashley Naud