Gold Coast talent platform startup BenchOn has completed a $650,000 capital raise from angel investors and high net worth individuals to help grow the company’s team and deliver on a national marketing strategy.
BenchOn was founded in 2016 by Tim Walmsley, a former executive in the defence industry who saw first-hand the problems caused by the constant cancellation and delaying of contracts, which left businesses struggling with employee underutilisation.
This inspired him to found BenchOn, which operates as a business-to-business talent mobility platform to help businesses big and small navigate the “peaks and troughs” of managing their employees. The platform matches employees in small and medium businesses who are “on the bench” to larger businesses, which are hungry for talented employees to quickly fill gaps to fulfil short-term contracts.
“When I was involved in the defence industry, I found myself and my peers were struggling to find workers for short-term contracts to plug gaps for clients as they appeared,” Walmsley tells StartupSmart.
“At the same time, there were times I had to look valuable employees in the face, with the full knowledge they had mortgages and families, and tell them they had to be let go because a contract got cancelled.”
Affected by this “heartbreaking” experience, Walmsley raised an initial pre-seed round of $130,000 to get the company off the ground and set about establishing BenchOn. The company also went through the BlueChilli accelerator program in 2016.
$650,000 to keep growing
The startup has now raised $650,000 to grow its team and continue to upgrade its tech, along with rolling out a national marketing campaign to better establish BenchOn as an strong industry player.
“We were running off revenue all last year and at the end of the year we had a number of large enterprise clients sign on to the platform, and I realised we’d need a bigger team to meet that demand,” Walmsley says.
To date, BenchOn has processed more than $50 million of contracts through the platform, with those contracts coming from an array of industries including defence, IT, construction, mining, engineering, cyber security and logistics.
Numerous recruitment and talent startups have begun to emerge over recent years, a trend Walmsley himself has also noticed. He believes it’s due to the uncertainty over the future of work, which is leading founders and larger companies attempting to wrap their heads around how things like automation will affect the job industry.
“The media at the moment is also quite extreme in its view, saying everyone’s going to be an independent contractor by 2030 and the full-time job is dead,” he says.
“Like anything, there will always be swings towards the extreme, but it will balance in the middle.
“The talent and HR space will remain crowded for a while as people wrap their heads around the best way to use tech to allocate human talent. But we will see a drop in recruitment and freelancing startups, as there’s only so much niches they can cover.”
Walmsley expects the B2B space to keep growing and the wider job industry to balance out, with a good number of platforms focused on areas such as gig work, student jobs, and freelancing.
For other founders looking to raise their seed rounds, Walmsley says founders should be stringent with their investors, and lock down key dates.
“Set your limits and dates, and be upfront about it. Don’t leave it open-ended and create an opportunity for investors to drag it on,” he says.
“And start six months before you need to raise, as it will take a lot of time to complete and you don’t want to be scraping the bottom of the barrel.”
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