FROM SCHOOL LEAVER TO BUSI­NESS ACHIEVER

Cre­ative HQ’s youth fo­cused en­trepreneur­ship ac­cel­er­a­tor was the per­fect en­vi­ron­ment for Re­becca Gi­dall to de­velop her on­line em­ploy­ment por­tal.

NZ Business - - CONTENTS - GLENN BAKER IS EDI­TOR OF NZBUSI­NESS.

Sur­round your­self with great peo­ple, and amaz­ing things will hap­pen. That could eas­ily be the mantra of Re­becca Gi­dall, co-founder of the on­line por­tal for part-time em­ploy­ment – ap­pro­pri­ately named PartTimer.

It’s hard to be­lieve Re­becca is just 20- year old. She has al­ready achieved so much by fore­go­ing cus­tom­ary univer­sity study and launch­ing her­self into a busi­ness of her own – in part­ner­ship with exXero GM of sales Viv Mor­re­sey, who’s on board as man­ag­ing di­rec­tor.

Re­becca caught the en­tre­pre­neur­ial bug dur­ing her final two years at Nel­son Col­lege for Girls through the Young En­ter­prise Scheme.

The con­cept for PartTimer first came about in early 2016 when Re­becca and five team mates took part in Cre­ative HQ’s six-week Ven­ture Up sum­mer en­tre­pre­neur pro­gramme for school leavers. The idea was born out of frus­tra­tion in find­ing a job as a high school stu­dent.

“We had all ei­ther ex­pe­ri­enced this for our­selves, or wit­nessed our peers hav­ing trou­ble with tra­di­tional re­cruit­ment,” she says. “Be­cause the tra­di­tional sys­tem puts a heavy fo­cus on the very things we didn’t have – qual­i­fi­ca­tions and ex­pe­ri­ence.”

PartTimer helps stu­dents gain their first part-time job by get­ting em­ploy­ers to judge them based on pos­i­tive at­tributes, such as their vol­un­teer­ing ef­forts and/or at­ti­tude to­wards work.

To­day the on­line por­tal has evolved to in­clude peo­ple of all ages, but Re­becca says the idea of be­ing able to find a job with­out spe­cific skills is still cen­tral to the sys­tem’s DNA.

She’s in­cred­i­bly grate­ful for the Ven­ture Up op­por­tu­nity, de­scrib­ing the pro­gramme as “a hugely im­por­tant fac­tor in PartTimer’s suc­cess”.

“On a per­sonal level, Ven­ture Up com­pletely al­tered my life for the bet­ter. With­out Ven­ture Up, I never would have been ex­posed to the plethora of op­por­tu­ni­ties which are now pre­sented to me, and I never would have be­lieved that what I’m do­ing now was ac­tu­ally pos­si­ble.

“With­out the pro­gramme, I’d be at Univer­sity study­ing for a de­gree that I didn’t re­ally want to be do­ing, sim­ply be­cause I thought it was the only path to the ‘suc­cess’ I dreamt of.”

Re­becca was in­tro­duced to co-founder Viv through Ven­ture Up. Af­ter de­cid­ing to pur­sue the busi­ness to­gether, both Ven­ture Up and par­ent com­pany Cre­ative HQ pro­vided on­go­ing men­tor­ing sup­port as well as of­fice space.

“Hav­ing Viv come into the start-up at [mar­ket test­ing] stage had a hugely pos­i­tive im­pact on the busi­ness,” re­calls Re­becca. “He brought ex­pe­ri­ence, con­nec­tions, as well as our first seed cap­i­tal, giv­ing us around three months of run­way.

“With­out those three key things, PartTimer would never have got­ten to where it is to­day. So I am hugely grate­ful for Viv.”

Be­sides rais­ing the fund­ing, Re­becca says the big­gest achieve­ment so far was the first end-to-end ful­fil­ment of their ser­vice.

“It re­ally felt like a mas­sive mile­stone; it showed that the ma­chine truly worked, and we were head­ing in the right di­rec­tion – it truly is an amaz­ing feel­ing.”

There have been big lessons dur­ing the jour­ney too. “Per­haps the big­gest les­son I've learnt is to con­tinue talk­ing to your cus­tomers. It’s very easy to think that you've val­i­dated some­thing enough, and to just move onto some­thing else. But that’s a huge mis­take.

“Al­ways keep that con­ver­sa­tion go­ing; al­ways be val­i­dat­ing,” says Re­becca.

As with ev­ery start-up, there have been quick suc­cesses, as well as fail­ures. Yet, ex­plains Re­becca, the con­stant bal­ance be­tween suc­cess and fail­ure is what keeps PartTimer’s heart beat­ing. “It is the fail­ures which ul­ti­mately lead to the suc­cesses. “Be­sides the abil­ity to fail fast, there are two things which have helped us get where we are.

“Firstly, our con­nec­tions. With­out know­ing the peo­ple that we do, many of the quick wins wouldn’t have even been pos­si­ble.

“Se­condly, our abil­ity to put some­thing out in the mar­ket with­out be­ing afraid of the fact that it’s not per­fect.

“As I’ve been told nu­mer­ous times – when bring­ing some­thing into the mar­ket, you should feel em­bar­rassed with what you’re show­ing peo­ple. If you’re not, you’ve prob­a­bly worked on it far too long!”

SUP­PORT CREW

Re­becca’s keen to thank five groups who’ve sup­ported them through­out the jour­ney.

As well as Cre­ative HQ (“with­out whom we wouldn’t have ex­isted in the first place”), there has been Eye­mag­net Welling­ton, (“who did an awe­some job of build­ing our en­tire plat­form”), Seadig­i­tal (“who’ve helped us dis­cover our po­ten­tial in launch­ing our ser­vice over­seas”), and Ama­zon Web Ser­vices (“who wel­comed us into their Ac­ti­vate pro­gramme; giv­ing us both in­fra­struc­ture and host­ing ser­vices, as well as busi­ness and PR sup­port”).

“Know­ing that we had the scale and sup­port to of­fer the best cloud plat­form on the planet was re­as­sur­ing,” says Re­becca. “We have all the ca­pac­ity and ca­pa­bil­ity should our ser­vice grow ex­po­nen­tially.

“Last but not least, we thank our share­hold­ers – the bunch of awe­some peo­ple who re­ally have helped to shape PartTimer into what it is to­day.”

Look­ing to the fu­ture, Re­becca says any en­hance­ments made to PartTimer will al­ways be based off learn­ings made through cus­tomers us­ing the sys­tem.

“So be­sides the clas­sic bugs you al­ways need to iron out, our next big en­hance­ments are soon to be dis­cov­ered,” she says.

Hav­ing one thou­sand ac­tive em­ploy­ers us­ing PartTimer is the im­me­di­ate goal. Cur­rently they’re around 25 per­cent there.

The long-term ob­jec­tive is for PartTimer to be the mar­ket leader for part-time jobs in New Zealand. Five years from now Re­becca would also like to have a foothold in Aus­tralia and be look­ing at other Asi­aPa­cific coun­tries such as Sin­ga­pore.

So would she con­sider a ver­sion of the plat­form for full-time work­ers?

“Build­ing a sim­i­lar plat­form for full-time work­ers is some­thing we’ve ob­vi­ously con­sid­ered. How­ever, the de­ci­sions we’ve made for the way PartTimer works, is en­tirely based around the part-time mar­ket,” she ex­plains. “So, in short, yes, it’s pos­si­ble. But will we do it? Prob­a­bly not.”

Be­sides, she has a full-time job in get­ting PartTimer fully up to speed.

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