Walking around the neighborhood handing out CVs in the hopes of scoring shifts in a local cafe or restaurant has never been an efficient job-search process. But workers in the service industry still do it. London-based startup inploi is hoping to change that — it’s gunning to replace the paper CV with a mobile profile and location-based jobs platform.
The founders say they came up with the idea after trying to find hospitality work themselves during their university holidays — a process they found to be time-consuming and frustrating. “We realised that employers were also spending too much time and money, hiring the people they need.”
inploi, which launched in beta late last month, is actually one of several European startups chasing high-turnover service industry jobs with a new recruitment modus operandi via a smartphone chat app — with the likes of Accel-backed JobToday, Barcelona-based CornerJob and Atomico-backed Jobandtalent all spying similar opportunities here: looking to leverage the speed, familiarity and convenience of mobile messaging to kill off the paper CV.
But inploi, which is backed by £200,000 in pre-seed financing at this point (raised in January from a group of friends, family, angels, a Chicago-based family office and a Johannesburg-based investment fund), reckons its positioning is a little different versus the better-resourced regional competition. It argues rivals are taking existing structures — such as the job board model or the staffing agency model — and optimizing them for mobile, whereas inploi claims it’s aiming for a more radical rethinking of how recruitment is done in this sector.
“‘Agency’ model startups still act as intermediaries, charging significant markups on the labour that they broker. Optimised jobs boards (like JobToday, for instance) still uses the volume of candidates that they can send an employer as a selling point — we think that this misses the point. inploi is working to drive the candidate-to-hire ratio down by reimagining the process entirely, saving everybody time, and money,” co-founder Matthew de la Hey tells TechCrunch.
“On one level we are building a recruitment-driven ‘LinkedIn’ for the service economy, rather than a mobile optimised jobs board. On a more macro level we want to change the way that staffing works at this end of the economy entirely, providing workers with credible ‘working passports’ with which they can get more and better work.”
Job seekers using the inploi app create a profile with their experience and skills (users can also create a short intro video for their profile if they wish), as well as specifying their hourly rate and location, in order to be matched with relevant job opportunities — applying in-app if they wish to do so.
De la Hey concedes the matching element is “fairly binary” at this nascent stage, but the intention is to hone it over time based on data generated by usage of the platform — such as response rates and reviews.
The platform covers both gig economy one-offs and full-time positions. So as well as matching job seekers with permanent roles, the aim is also to be a marketplace for one-off staffing needs, such as for festivals or corporate events, starting at one shift to up to five days’ work. In that instance, inploi handles the entire transaction in the app, with payment powered by Stripe.
A key facet of the inploi platform is ratings, with de la Hey noting that both staff and employers are expected to be rated. (For gig work, ratings are provided at the point of payment after the work has been completed; for full-time roles employers are prompted to rate hired workers “after a period of time” and vice versa.)
“The review system is mutual,” he notes, talking up inploi’s wider “mission” to try to equalize the relationship between employers and workers, which he argues is “too often skewed towards the former.” And, he adds, “The reviews employers receive from workers are private. Workers are rated across five areas — punctuality, presentation, co-operation, communication, and quality of work, in addition to short written feedback. These are public. However, in order to avoid possible ‘downward spiral’ situations we will only make an employee’s reviews public once the employer reviewing them has received five or more 4/5 Star reviews from workers, rendering them a ‘trusted employer’.”
“Employers who consistently receive bad reviews from workers will be removed from the inploi community,” he adds.
inploi also offers a dashboard view for its enterprise users, providing them with what it dubs “key HR data” on things like staff hire costs, applicant volumes, labor turnover rates and market wage positions. “To our knowledge this is unique. In time as the data we have becomes more comprehensive our matching algorithm will become smarter and develop into a key piece of our technology,” adds de la Hey.
inploi launched its mobile recruitment platform on iOS a couple of weeks ago (an Android app is slated as coming soon), focusing initially on London and the U.K., and on the hospitality industry specifically — although de la Hey says he also sees future potential to expand into other sectors with similar characteristics down the line, such as retail, domestic work, security staff, construction and railway workers.
At this point, inploi has 65 employers signed up to offer jobs through the app, ranging from single-site establishments to multi-site chains — including Bill’s, the Corbin & King Group, YouMeSushi, Daylesford and Deliveroo.
While the potential reach of participating employers is around 700 sites across the U.K., less than 50 jobs are listed at present, and inploi has less than 500 job seekers. So it’s certainly very early days for the startup, albeit no one dominant mobile app network has emerged yet for this segment, so there’s plenty to play for.
And while inploi is U.K.-specific right now, with an immediate focus on EMEA, the team’s wider goal is to build a global marketplace — with de la Hey noting possible future expansion opportunities in the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa.
In terms of business model, while the platform is free for job seekers to use, inploi charges employers seeking to fill permanent positions on a freemium tiered basis — so it’s free for small employers with limited hiring needs but larger employers with more activity are charged if they wish to interact with candidates applying for jobs they have posted, including using the in-app chat feature. To do this, employers have to connect with applicants, and it charges for the number of connections on a volume-driven sliding scale, says de la Hey.
For gig work, via its QuickShift marketplace, inploi adds a service fee onto the total amount paid by the employer at the point of paying the finished job.