INDIANAPOLIS - The winner of last year's inaugural Indy Startup Challenge has officially launched in what a co-founder calls a "perfect market." Stephanie Corliss says SnapShyft is a gig economy platform connecting bars and restaurants with qualified workers looking for shifts. Corliss, from Silicon Valley, and Indianapolis native Thor Wood came up with the idea to help venues recover what she says is "billions of dollars left on the table" due to understaffing. The company has about 180 restaurants signed up and has attracted supporters including Scotty's Brewhouse founder Scott Wise.

Wood says he and Corliss wrote up the plan for the business in 2015 when they were living in Florida. The two had been watching the Indianapolis Colts, and discussed bringing the business to Indianapolis. Wood says he connected with Wise through "pure luck" after Wise answered a tweet.

Corliss says bars and restaurants lose business when they are understaffed because customers who have to wait too long for a table or a drink simply walk away. SnapShyft aims to connect those venues with professionals including servers, bartenders and dishwashers who are looking for additional work. She says, since bar and restaurant workers are often part-time, the platform allows them to pick up extra shifts without committing to a second full-time job.

Since the app launched Thursday evening, Corliss says users in 38 states have downloaded it. The service is free for workers, and available on a subscription basis for venues.

SnapShyft won the $5,000 first prize in the inaugural 10-week Indy Startup Challenge in 2016. When that was announced in November, Wood said the challenge "provided us a roadmap to validate our concept" and enabled the company to "take our initial business plan, pivot and get where we are today."