The recruitment tech space is crowded, with the vast majority of players looking at optimising existing solutions for mobile. inploi wants to change that. The team at inploi is redefining this process entirely, providing users with a platform on which to build a new way of working.
inploi does more than providing one-off recruitment assistance, it supports repeated opportunities for recruiters and job seekers to connect and create sustainable working relationships.
inploi raised significant investment during their seed round in January, with investments from financial professionals including Cazenove Capital, Investec and Deloitte, alongside funding partners, Kgolo Investments and Almington Capital.
Matthew de la Hey, CEO and co-founder of inploi, reveals how they started, challenges they face, their success factors and what aspiring entrepreneurs need to know to launch a successful business.
Launched in July 2016, inploi is a jobs network for the hospitality industry. Whether for a short-term gig, a part-time role, or a full-time career, the inploi platform enables a network of employers and job seekers to seamlessly communicate, interact and transact.
inploi gives employees greater control over their working lives. Job seekers are able to access a catalogue of open shifts and positions, filtered by their own working preferences – when they want to work, what type of work they want to do, and how far they are able to travel. Employers can post jobs, and then hire, pay and review intelligently (algorithmically) matched candidates.
inploi redefines the recruitment process, providing users with a platform on which to build a new way of working. inChat, inploi’s in-app chat function, allows users to interact; payment for short-term assignments is handled directly via the app, and a mutual review system keeps users accountable. inploi is the professional network (the LinkedIn if you will!) for the service economy: a user’s profile becomes their virtual resume and working passport.
Why and how did you start inploi?
Alex and Matt developed the idea for inploi is response to our own experiences trying to find work in the hospitality sector during our university holidays. It was too difficult – walking around handing out CVs in the hope of finding work, waiting weeks for agency training days, and applying to multiple roles on jobs boards which we never heard back from.
It occurred to us that there were places all over the country with paper signs in their windows announcing ‘staff needed’, and countless people looking to work in places like that – in the era of airbnb, Uber and Tinder, why was it so difficult for them to find each other?
Looking into staffing in the industry more deeply, we were convinced that it was deeply inefficient: it costs to much for employers to find staff, and is too difficult for work seekers to find opportunities. Intermediaries extract significant amounts of value. Convinced that this situation ought to be different, we set out to build a marketplace that make it easy for these two parties to interact.
We also decided that workers in the services sector, and specifically in hospitality – where work is very transient, and often opaque- were underserved by technology. An integral aspect of inploi’s platform therefore is the detailed, dynamic profiles that workers create, which act as a credible working passport, helping people to access more and better opportunities.
What has been the biggest success factors for your team?
We are a small, diverse team juggling many balls as we work to build inploi into a global company. We have therefore had to divide our attention, specializing in and taking ownership of particular aspects of our operations.
Arguably a key success factor has been a mutual and unfailing trust in the ability, the dedication, and the focus of our team members. This has made us efficient and effective, allowing us to punch above our weight and move quickly.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced before and after launch?
Marketplace businesses are notoriously difficult to build. Anybody with any familiarity with them unfailingly points out the challenges of overcoming the ‘chicken and the egg’ problem: of figuring out how to get people onto a platform, when the value that they obtain from it is derived from there being people on the other side of the marketplace, and vice versa.
We have worked very hard to overcome this problem by building relationships with a number of exceptional hospitality brands, including the Corbin & King group, Margot, YouMeSushi, Bone Daddies, Deliveroo, Aubaine, Pronto, Daylesford, Coppa Club and others.
These companies are using inploi because they believe in our vision and what we are trying to accomplish, and we are thrilled to count them as members of our community. There participation has allowed us to build a flow of jobs, developing one side of the marketplace, which in turn allows us to onboard more jobseekers.
The task is far from accomplished, but we are off to a good start!
Which do you think is most important: the right market, the right product, or the right team?
We believe that all three are essential.
As a starting point, in order for something to be successful, there has to be demand for it – there needs to be a market in need of your solution. This potential market should be large enough for delivering a product to be worthwhile.
If this box is checked, then having the right product is essential. Are you delivering something that provides an effective solution to a real problem? Does it deliver value to the people using it, and is it something that they will easily navigate, and return to again and again? Essentially, do you have product-market fit?
And finally, the right team. Good ideas are abundant. It is the ability to execute effectively that is difficult, and this comes down to having the right team.
These three things form the legs of the tripod supporting success.
Final words for aspiring entrepreneurs chasing the startup dream
Matt: One of the hardest parts of setting out as an entrepreneur is taking that very first step, deciding to shelve all of your other plans and options and pursue ‘the startup dream’ wholeheartedly.
If you can manage that, then you are capable of overcoming the enormous challenges that you will face along the way. Proceed then with confidence in what you hope for, and assurance about what you do not see.
Alex: Get a co-founder. We are in awe of anyone who starts a business on their own. Having someone standing next to you in pitches, sitting opposite you in the office at 3AM (this happens a lot) and picking you up when you are down – is invaluable.
You don’t need to be best friends (in fact, it is probably better if you aren’t) but you do need to be equally committed and perhaps most crucially, are able to be entirely honest with each other.