Cordray believes past experiences will enable ability to succeed with social media application

Julia Cordray, a Calgary-based entrepreneur, has always found success in mixing her love of people and business together, but her newest venture—a social media application called Peeple—has caused an unexpected amount of controversy and criticism, even though she says she has the best of intentions. 

The app was orignally created to use a rating system to score others on their professional, personal and romantic likeability. 

Since she was a child, Cordray says that she has always been an outgoing person with a mind for business.

 “I’ve always known that I was an entrepreneur,” Cordray says. “My very first company, it’s kind of hilarious, but I was a dog walker at age seven, and I made this poster and spelled a bunch of stuff wrong on the poster… I only had two clients but eh, at least I was making some money.”

Corday’s experience as a dog walker led to starting her own “babysitting ring” when she was 14.

“I had 25 families in my neighbourhood and my immediate area which was mostly through referrals, and I got so busy I had to hire my brother to help run it,” Cordray says.

Creating her own options 

When she realized a business lifestyle was for her, she enrolled in university originally wanting to go to Mount Royal University to study strategic communications, with a specific interest in branding. Instead, she chose the marketing program at the University of Calgary, where she learned everything from branding to management.  Cordray says it would have been “narrow-minded” to focus on the specific topic that she enjoyed the most.

Although Cordray was uncertain about which university to attend, she says her decision to start her first company was like a “blind faith.” At the time, she was the Southern Alberta territory manager for Parmalat a multinational dairy corporation, but she decided that she wanted to start her own recruitment agency instead.

“While I was working for Parmalat, I had built my business plan, applied for the loans, [and] figured out exactly how the business should work,” Cordray says. “So I literally quit my full time permanent job on August 18th of 2008, and on August 19th I was the owner of Career Fox.”

Career Fox is Cordray’s first pursuit, a recruiting agency based in Calgary that creates job matches across North America.

“I started it out of my house.  I worked for two years at my house, literally 15 hours a day, including weekends. It was intense. But what I remember the most was in my first year, I remember thinking if I could just make $100,000 I would be rich,” says Cordray. “Well now we’re just under a million in revenue and those thoughts are great, but don’t ever limit yourself. “

While Career Fox is financially successful, Cordray says the job is emotionally rewarding as well.

Cordray says after finding a candidate a better job, some will tell her she changed their entire lives. It isn’t an easy process, she admits. Her job seekers must put in the effort in order to receive the reward at the end of the job-searching journey.

As an example, Cordray says Career Fox has been working with a candidate from Saskatchewan who is willing to move to Calgary for a project manager position at a construction company.

 “He has family here, he wants to relocate here and he wants more money and so that is such a win.  He’s going to finish his schooling here.  We completely transformed his life in less than two weeks and now he has to move here and start his job by Monday,” Cordray says. “Like that’s amazing, so when we can help people get better pay, better jobs, they become a more productive, happier, healthier person in society.”

The initial idea 

Earlier last year, Cordray’s friend Nicole McCullough ran in to a problem. She had to find a babysitter, but she did not know whom she could trust with the responsibility in her neighborhood. McCullough and Cordray both agreed that there should be an app to solve and improve situations like that.  “Cordray did not expect the hateful reaction when she first announced Peeple, but she said she would not do anything differently about the announcement because it allowed her to develop a better product in the long-run.” Photo by Paul McAleer

With her new social media application Peeple, Cordray not only wants to improve a person’s life professionally, like Career Fox strives to, but she also says she wants to improve a user’s life in two other ways as well. Currently in development, Peeple will allow its users to submit recommendations about other users in three categories: professional, personal, or romantic.

 “I think it’s for a good cause,” Cordray says. “We really are doing this so you could get that better job opportunity, so you could get that better date, so you could check someone out before you go online dating, or before you let them live with you as a roommate.”

 “There are so many things, unfortunately, that can go wrong when we don’t have enough information about who we are about to trust.”

But that is not how some people saw the app when it was first announced. The Washington Post called the app “terrifying,” believing that the rating system could not truthfully represent the user as a person, and criticizing the app for trying to turn people into “objects” that could be rated.

Before the Washington Post article hit the web, Cordray says there was excitement about her app and people didn’t have a problem with it, but after the article, the public reaction changed to hate.

“People latched onto the bullying but they still didn’t understand what the whole point of the app was,” Cordray says. “They don’t see that you can socially share any recommendation that someone writes about you to get a better job.  They didn’t see that you can manage your online reputation; they didn’t see that you can look into people to protect your greatest assets. They missed the point completely, and went straight for bullying.”

 As a result, some people on the Internet took action against Cordray, sending her death threats, sharing her information publically, and making fake social media accounts in her name.

 Although Cordray didn’t expect the criticism, she wouldn’t change anything about it. She says the uproar resulted in a massive amount of publicity that money can’t buy. And, instead of rejecting the criticism, she changed the app.

The app now only features those who sign-up to be a part of it. But, initially, anyone could be added to the Peeple database, giving cause for concern to those who didn’t want to use the application. Users will also have full control over their profiles, whereas before, they would have to wait 48 hours to work out negative reviews with the people who wrote them before it went live on the app.

Peeple has been submitted to the Apple App store on Dec. 10, 2015. It will then take several days for Apple to approve the app before it’s available to the public. The release date isn’t certain, as Cordray and her team may decide to release it in the new year instead. 

pmcaleer@cjournal.ca 

Thumbnail courtesy of Paul McAleer.

The editor resposible for this article is Veronica Pocza, vpocza@cjournal.ca