inploi Connects Blue-Collar Workforce and Employers #16
inploi is an online platform built to connect people looking for jobs and companies looking for stuff efficiently and quickly. Also, to give them tools to connect and communicate from the point of job discovery through to getting hired. Specifically for industries that historically have been termed blue-collar.
This is Startups of London’s 16th episode. Unfortunately, we cannot do office visits currently, but this is no reason to stop! We are still meeting up with founders to have a chat about how they are adapting. In this episode, we are joined by Matthew de la Hey (CEO & Co-Founder) and Alex Hanson-Smith (CTPO & Co-Founder) from inploi. Enjoy!
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Core value proposition
There tend to be job boards that are very outdated and often awfully expensive and inefficient as well. inploi provides lots of tools to candidates to make that journey incredibly efficient and much easier than any platform out there.
They are bringing those people online with a professional profile that they used to submit applications, and they carry with them throughout their careers. That profile becomes more valuable as they get more experience, take training courses, receive endorsements. They can arrange a video call or a voice call directly through the inploi platform with that candidates.
In the past, you had to go on to Xjobboard.com, find the job on a plain text page, maybe have to go separately onto the company website to understand that and submit an application generally with a CV attached to an email. It is a very disjointed process. We are bringing all that into one place and giving people one set of tools to go from discovering a company, discovering a job, discovering and learning about the company, submitting an application, communicating through the steps, searching, and interviewing.
New product launch
It took about two years to understand the market, understand the two user types, “companies and candidates,” and all the problems they face on a day to day basis, and lastly, to build a product that solves those problems for them. So they have been kind of iteratively building this product. They have been talking to hundreds and thousands of candidates to understand businesses. Ultimately, this is what they have come up with.
They are using completely new frameworks, the backend, and has been built all around and matching engine with the best technology. This entire process has been incredibly inefficient for a very long time. However, they are not disrupting the entire process. In the end, the transaction remains the same but what they are doing is, making it much more efficient by giving everyone the tools they need to connect.
Part of that relationship is ensuring that the right candidate finds the right job, and the right company can immediately identify the right candidate. Because they have incredibly rich datasets on both sides of the equation, candidate and company, and they can make that match very efficient. They know that company has the right cultural fit for this candidate based on various sort of data variables that they have. So a large part of the technology has been built around making sure they can harness that data and make those connections through their matching engine.
Effects of Covid-19
As a result of this crisis, one thought that there is minimal hiring happening in these places by the government. All of these hospitality businesses are in kind of austerity mode to the extreme. They are not hiring, and they are cutting costs etc. So, come along and have an interesting time for inploi because they have already worked on this product. The clown had always been to move sideways in traditional industries with similar labour dynamics. They have now accelerated that and linked it to the awesome product that we have been working on.
Particularly given the Covid-19 issue, there will be a massive redistribution of labour across the economy from places where demand has completely dried out. That is retail work, that is hospitality work. It has that sort of thing where there’ has been a surge in demand into supermarkets, delivery drivers, coming soon the harvest season in agriculture because people are not coming from Europe. So, they have brought forward our plans to move sideways into other industries too. They were in the midst of launching this right now. So, they can be a platform that helps to facilitate that smooth and agile movement. Work is from a place where it is no longer works opportunities.
Team & remote working
inploi have a small team with a couple of people in the engineering team. Alex is the CTO, and they have another engineer working with him, and they have Matt, and then they have a couple of people working in sales, account management, branding, content, and marketing.
Regarding remote working, they say: “For us, it was a kind of a world that we were quite familiar with the human interaction side. It makes you appreciate how important that is, and certain decisions may take slightly longer to make that. We could have made it a little quicker if you are sitting in the same room, but broadly, we have managed to keep pace. We have just launched our products in the midst of all of this.”
“I have asked that the startups and entrepreneurs that I have interacted in London over the two or three years, I would say only 10 to 15 maybe 20% of them are bootstrapping. The rest 80% is dependent on funding. In which category are you?”
We have been a hybrid in that. We started strapped, doing as much as we could and used our savings. Alex and I had jobs on the side. Initially, until we got to the point in which we were satisfied. There was a suitably big enough opportunity and a big enough problem to solve. We were convinced that we had a normal solution to it that we could go out and ask people for money.
We subsequently have raised some capital over several small rounds from private angel investors, most reduced in the syndicate rooms, a small fund based out of Cambridge invested in us. Thankfully, we were truly fortunate to have closed a round quiet at the beginning of all of this. So there is a light in the tunnel, but London is an exceedingly difficult place to build a bootstrap business. I think because it is an awfully expensive place to operate.
What are the tech tools that you are using?
I will not get too much into the kind of this stuff that we use in the development process because there are about a hundred different tools that we use, but for the team and, of course, the board, we use Slack. As I said, without fail, it is just brilliant. Google Hangouts has been great for team communications and face to face stuff.
Most importantly, I could not do my job without Asana. It is just an incredibly good productivity tool that allows Matt and I to oversee exactly what projects are in process, whether we are on track or off-track, and communicate any updates to those respective followers of those projects very easily. Importantly, we were able to look back at all the tasks that have been created and completed.
For example, if we are looking at a product deployment process, we know that X number of tasks should take that amount of time. Actually, it took X amount of time. We can then forecast how long it takes to build certain features and actually how agile.
Matt and Alex think it’s very unclear, and probably this Covid-19 situation will last until the early Q1 2021. Lastly, here are what they are saying to other founders:
“People are similarly in the same position. Everybody is worried about running out of money, concerned about preserving a runway and adapting. Alex and I decided very early on that we would not regret assuming the worst and planning for it now. If that did not come to pass, great. We would be in a better position when things get better, and if not, we did not waste two months that we might have been doing difficult.
Assume the worst, be proactive, plan for it, and then look forward.
The other most important thing is that we cannot undervalue the importance of communicating in a team. Most of them are now furloughed workers, but some people are still working. We are still communicating with the engineers in exactly the same way that we would do if they were in the office. That also includes on a Friday night, we will sit around on a Hangout, and we will have a drink together.
Culture is such a massive part of what we do. It is such a huge part of the productivity of the company. We do not want that just to fizzle out simply because we are not all in the same room. We were doing quite a little work to maintain those open channels, make sure that everyone has a voice, and we are still doing all of that. So do not undervalue that and especially at times like this. Even though other things may seem far more important, culture should not get lost in the noise.
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Each week, we will be visiting a new startup office to meet with their team & founders. Stay tuned!