Marcus Smith creates app for local job opportunities
By Morgan Bryce
Teenagers looking for part-time jobs next summer will have a much easier time finding work, thanks to the People over Profit Solutions (P.O.P.S.) Pay app, created by Marcus Smith, who is a member of Opelika’s small-business incubator, Roundhouse.
Smith, a Hurtsboro native and Troy University alumnus, said his entrepreneurial spirit and passion for working with youth inspired the idea behind the app.
“I’ve always been a salesperson. Ever since I was kid, I remember selling magazines, cookies and pecans. I’ve always had this business mindset,” Smith said. “Years after that, I started deejaying and became a party promoter, doing weddings, corporate events and other events around the area. I started a marketing company off of that called Total Control Promotions.”
The son of a retired military man, Smith said his background gave him a strong work ethic, which he feels is lacking in today’s society.
“Over the years, I’ve worked directly with youth, from speaking and mentoring at local schools, serving as a youth director at my church, and serving as a direct care worker for five years at Three Spring Schools. It was plain to me that my calling was to minister to youth,” Smith said.
Those two facets of Smith combined and formed the foundational idea and concept of P.O.P.S. Pay. Smith said the idea for the app was conceptualized last year.
“I’ve always been trying to think of something to help kids out. Back in December of last year, the team threw the idea at me of an Uber-like app for kids to find odd jobs. I knew I could do something like that, and we started going through the logistics of how something like this would work,” Smith said.
Before any sort of app development, Smith said he researched how to solve issues such as child safety and pay as well as the kind of interest such an app would have. However, within a couple of months, Smith and his team resolved those issues and generated enough buzz to overcome those hurdles.
The app’s primary purpose is to serve as a medium for youth, or poppers, to connect to neighbors who are looking to have small jobs or projects done for them.
Smith maintained that safety is first and foremost, so before a youth can agree to work, built-in technology within the app gives parents the power to grant permission. Smith said that those who post jobs have been properly vetted to ensure the safety of the youth using the app.
Besides helping the child making money, Smith said the most important aspect of the app is the development that takes place in the child through doing the work.
“Our goal is to encourage youth to be proactive in their community and build skills through various odd jobs. The technology we have created does so much, not just for the youth, but the community, participating schools and businesses,” Smith said. “Using a skill-tracking system, youth are awarded skill points that accumulates with more jobs that are completed and used to build a ‘living resume’ that youth can use for future career searches. The app has a built-in fundraising tool that local schools and organizations can take advantage of as well.”
Now in its beta-testing stages, the P.O.P.S. Pay app’s expected finish date is projected for this November, but Smith’s team has already begun marketing and arranging promotional events, and according to Smith, the plan is to launch in spring 2017.
“We want to teach our youth the importance of having a strong work ethic and developing real-life skills. P.O.P.S. Pay vision is to encourage youth entrepreneurship and creative exploration through odd jobs,” Smith said.
Though P.O.P.S. Pay is not quite finished, Smith is already thinking ahead to ideas for other apps, and said he “already has some ideas that are going to help change lives for people.”
Keeping busy with the tasks at hand, he said his ultimate dream is to start a youth and family center, in order to do what he loves most.
“Whether it’s through the apps or the center I want to start one day, I’m all about community, and cultivating community and taking communities back to the old days where people went out and talked and shook hands and had fun together with no trouble,” Smith said. “And talking about P.O.P.S. Pay, remembering the old saying that it takes a village to raise a child, P.O.P.S. pay is the way. A big part of this app is to just use technology to bring back the human impact in society. Technology has separated people, and the hope I have is to bring back face-to-face interaction.”