Building a two-sided marketplace is hard work but the key to scaling is forming partnerships and effective marketing, according to the founder of job matching platform OneShift.
Speaking at the SouthStart conference in Adelaide this morning, Gen George described how she started OneShift from scratch two-and-a-half years ago with the aim of saving businesses time and money in hiring candidates.
The platform now has 415,000 candidates and is growing by about 1500 candidates a day. Earlier this week the startup announced it had acquired mature age jobs platform Adage for an undisclosed amount.
Despite such enormous growth in such a short amount of time, George described how her initial marketing efforts involved flyers printed from her workplace and a lot of duct tape. And when she printed her first round of business cards, she even forgot to put her website on there.
However, these early efforts – coupled with a few mistakes along the way – are critical in building up a customer base, according to George. For example, she bought her company’s logo for $99 from design startup 99designs and still hasn’t changed it.
“Obviously the tech can be complicated and take a lot of time and you’re not sure of the bell and whistles you need from the get go,” George says.
“No matter what you’re trying to build – whether it’s car owners and people wanting to buy cars – you have to get the relationship going from the get go. Anything you have to do to keep it cheap and cheerful to get it off the ground, it all helps.”
George also encourages startups to hit the streets and go to industry events in order to build up brand awareness.
“We printed flyers, spoke to businesses and it was all about having conversations,” she says.
“What candidates are they looking for, what are their problems? Have a small business mentality, but a big business reach.”
George also says social media is critical for reaching new audiences, even though it requires constant effort.
“We’ve found some of our largest clients that way, like Jones the Grocer,” she says.
“The HR manager found our Facebook page because a lot of her hospitality friends liked it. As you keep testing, keep learning.”
Gen George’s top three tips for building a two-way marketplace:
1. Look for partnerships in order to find new users
2. Make it work in one area before scaling
3. Build awareness and credibility through marketing and PR
StartupSmart travelled to Adelaide courtesy of Brand South Australia.