Staffing startup Sidekicker has secured $10 million in funding from long-term partner and Aussie recruitment giant Seek.
The Melbourne startup provides pre-vetted and pre-interviewed temporary and casual workers for the hospitality industry, as well as for events, retail and admin roles.
Founded in 2013 by Tom Amos and Jacqui Bull, Sidekicker has been partnering with Seek, its sole investor, since 2015.
Currently, Sidekicker has more than 10,000 casual workers on the platform, supporting 4,000 businesses. With offices in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Auckland and Wellington, it also hires 75 full-time staff.
Speaking to StartupSmart, Amos says the startup is seeing net revenue growth of 105% year-on-year.
The product is designed to make life easier for business owners looking for casual workers, removing some of the friction and costs involved in hiring.
“The employment sector hasn’t had as much innovation as it could have,” Amos explains.
“When you’re able to make something easier and cheaper, then you’re going to get adoption.”
Some businesses are “doing a huge amount of churn and burn casual recruitment”, he adds, spending time on onboarding, and managing tax and super, just to have them leave in a matter of months.
Sidekicker allows business owners to “switch from doing annoying admin, to focusing on culture, training and delivering quality outcomes”, Amos says.
More to be done
According to Amos, the strong growth Sidekicker has seen in Australia and New Zealand meant now was the right time to raise funding again.
There is still a “huge opportunity” in this market, the founder says.
“We’re looking at the way our customers are embracing the technology and the problems we’re solving, and we’re looking at how big the market is,” he explains.
“We want to make sure we have the required funds to invest into our technology platform, to build up our core offering, and also just to onboard more customers — to get out there and meet more people.”
Currently, the startup is not looking at expanding overseas. While Amos doesn’t rule out the possibility in the future, this funding is about doubling down on Sidekicker’s growth in Australia and New Zealand, he says.
“The reality is, there are tens of thousands of businesses we need to speak with and educate on how we operate.”
When the team pitch a business, whether in hospitality, events, startups of any other sector, often, it’s the first time they’re hearing of the offering.
“What that means is, we need to be in market,” Amos says.
“We need to have people going out there, meeting customers and educating them on how best to use the product, how best to get results, and sharing success stories,” he adds.
“We need a really good sales team.”
The money will come
Although Sidekicker is making good use of investment capital now, Amos says in the early days the co-founders may have been a little too concerned about securing funding.
“You have a lot of meetings, and you get knocked back a lot,” he says.
In reality, if a startup does as much as possible with as little cash as possible and builds something that starts to get some traction in the market, it might just start attracting inbound attention from VCs.
“Find ways to get as far as you can without capital,” Amos advises.
“That’s not always going to be possible — there are always going to be business models that need capital up front.
“But if you can do as much as you can without taking much capital, that means you’re in such a better position,” he adds.
If you’re starting to get good metrics, and customers are saying nice things about you, “it just changes the whole dynamic”, Amos explains.
“Focus on the business, focus on delivering customer outcomes, focus on solving problems, and if you do that, then the money will come.”
Finally, when they do choose to raise capital, Amos advises founders to carefully consider who they’re taking investment from.
Just because someone offers you a substantial amount of money or a generous valuation doesn’t mean they will be a good partner, he stresses.
“Really be careful with who you work with,” Amos says.
“Make sure you’re choosing investors who have similar ethics, and a similar vision to what you’re trying to achieve, rather than the first person who comes along and offers you a cheque.”
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