Gig work site Coople had a successful 2019 in the U.K. The site, which first operated in Switzerland, launched in the U.K. in 2018. “It was a bit bumpy early on,” said founder and executive chairman Viktor Calabrò. “But after putting in the right elements we have experienced triple digit growth in the U.K. last year.” Coople.co.uk now has around 100,000 registered applicants.
The AIM Group spoke with Calabrò about the company’s progress:
Will freelance work supplant traditional employment models over the next five to ten years?
There is a big shift into the digital world across different industries and it will happen in the recruitment sector as well, though digital penetration is still small, particularly for short-term work. Traditional agencies don’t track the sector and it can’t be done manually, so they need technology to help.
What share of the working population is your platform currently applicable to?
In Switzerland, we have 300,000 registered applicants out of a working population of five million, that’s about 6%. We get 10,000 new applicants a month, so hope to increase that to 10-20% by 2025. We operate in similar sectors in both countries and the office sector is large in both countries.
We’ve grown from blue collar to white collar workers. It’s very important to go this in a balanced way, to balance supply and demand.
Are there synergies between short term shift work and finding job-seekers longer term employment?
I don’t think so. Once a candidate is on the system and using the platform to search for jobs, they do it how it suits their purposes, depending on their own availability and goals. Some workers go for six month or year shifts and others just top up on work occasionally. For us, there is a better margin on longer term shifts.
Are you the employer for your staff? That is, do you take care of taxes and national insurance payments in the U.K.?
Yes we are, and we believe flexibility shouldn’t come at the expense of worker rights.
We are exploring ways to offer fringe benefits. Candidate smartphones act like PCs and are the connection to work, so we could offer a phone subscription benefit when they complete a certain number of shifts. Another possibility is to allow access to earnings immediately rather than weekly.
What are the core benefits of what you offer employers?
There are multiple pain points that need addressing and can be outsourced by using us to allow them to become flexible employers. We also offer them flexibility on how to employ people. They can trial a worker for a few hours before committing.
How do you measure churn among job-seekers in this type of business?
We can’t measure candidate churn because they may stop applying for all sorts of reasons. “For companies it’s easier to measure, because they stop ordering. Churn for employers is a low single digit number.
Do you see opportunities to work with permanent recruitment platforms? How might this work?
We work with some already, mainly in areas where they struggle, short-term projects. If they get an order for a four-hour event requiring 300 workers, they can outsource to us and similar companies. It works for them because they can maintain good client relations in areas they may not normally cover.
What can permanent recruitment platforms learn from you?
Job boards have a very different business model to us. We have a lean, slim business and we also have to manage regulations and rules for roles in different sectors. Indeed and the like don’t have to deal with any of this. We cover the full process from recruitment to advertising.
How do you use technology to improve the job-searching and hiring process for candidates and recruiters?
We focus on intelligent matching between candidates and recruiters. To do this at scale is very difficult. It involves building a large data set and you need to add behavioural data that helps predict the next job a candidate might go for so that we bring the relevant jobs and employers to them.
To do this successfully you have to ask candidates and employers the right questions. Matching is all important. “We are experimenting with chatbots and they work in certain areas but it’s important to maintain good relationships with people.
Have you launched any initiatives to improve the candidate experience?
We are looking to improve the algorithms, so candidates have to search less jobs to find the right one. For employers we want them to be able to sift through fewer candidates to find the right one.
As this happens, and we get more candidates, we could offer additional services, for instance transport, buying footwear for candidates, even insurance services. We are not doing this but could explore ideas at a later stage.
What is the best feature of the Coople app?
The matching system that links candidates to employers. It happens in the background and requires a lot of engineering and data. The more a user doesn’t realize anything is happening, the better.
Can you briefly explain your revenue model?
It’s a service model for temporary recruitment. We charge a premium for salary because it includes the total cost of the worker. We may move to a subscription model for employers.
How did your business progress in the U.K. last year?
I can’t share much data on the U.K. yet but it’s going well. There is lots of competition and the U.K. is a challenging market with low margins but we entered in about the top 20 and now we are approaching the top 10.
What do you expect will be your biggest growth driver in 2020?
I think it will be the computing sector. For us longer-term roles will help our growth as well as being able to shift into higher salary sectors. “We want to grow the base of our customers by triple digits as we have in Switzerland.