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.
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!”
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.