New London Startup Lab Makeshift Gives Birth To Its First MVP: HireMyFriend

Makeshift, a new “Startup Lab” in London’s Eastern tech cluster, has now produced its first product, HireMyFriend. Unlike an accelerator which invests in small startups, Makeshift plans to launch its own products from internal resources. These are significant – they include a co-founder of Bebo and the former CTO of Aframe. The “labs” approach has been taken by other notables including Kevin Rose’s former Milk Studios project, Monkey Inferno in SF, and, to some extent – Betaworks in New York. Labs also differ from the “Studio” model, which builds a team around an existing entrepreneur.

HireMyFriend is Makeshift’s first product and is a platform for people who are currently in a job, but want a new one and want to tell people without getting in trouble with their boss. It gets around that awkward problem of not wanting to declare your intentions on social networks. Makeshift’s designer / hacker Jon Gold came up with the idea.

A user creates a profile which can be vague or descriptive. Pictures and names are blurred out as it’s anonymous. They then ask some friends to share the profile. When employers get in touch, the user can reveal their identity – but can filter out bad approaches such as from recruitment agencies or their current employer.

Right now there is no business model as such. The main thing as co-founder Stef Lewandowski tells me, is to “test the proposition out.” Down the line there may be a role for employers perhaps subscribing to this platform.

To be frank, such an MVP is largely unremarkable. What is more interesting is that this is the first such project out of Makeshift, which is ambitious – it hopes to make around 12 apps in the next year which it clearly hopes will become full-blown companies.

We’ll be hearing more from them no doubt. The founders are Paul Birch, Stef Lewandowski, Nick Marsh and Jon Gold, and they are backed up by a team of engineers, designers etc.

Birch is the brother of Michael Birch (the latter runs Monkey Inferno) and was part of the lucrative Bebo exit to AOL. Lewandowski exited from Aframe last year when it raised $7 million.