PeoplePerHour.com: Xenios Thrasyvoulou and Simos Kitiris
The PeoplePerHour founders on setting up their part-time and freelance staff service
Founders: Xenios Thrasyvoulou and Simos Kitiris
Age: 30 and 32
Company name: PeoplePerHour.com
Based: Knightsbridge, London
Date started: September 2007
Staff Numbers: Eight including team of three in India
Turnover: £500,000 annualised
Tell us what your business does
PeoplePerHour.com is a website that enables start-up and small businesses across the UK to outsource small tasks or projects to rated professionals online. The services range from designing a website, to writing a press release to doing data entry.
The people who do the work tend to be self-employed, mothers working at home, students or retirees: people who need the extra income and whose skills come in handy to a young business.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
The inspiration came from the two founders who had built two other start-ups in the past and always relied on limited personal contacts to find skills on demand.
Using agencies or recruiters was never an option due to budgetary constraints and the size of the jobs.
We quickly realized that the recruitment channels available (online and offline) were really geared for the larger businesses and neglected the micro-businesses and start-ups. There was our opportunity!
How did you raise the money?
It wasn't easy at all especially since we started fundraising after the onset of the credit crunch. The important thing was that we showed some good traction on the site and we had a clear plan ahead with a well thought out product.
We made sure that we had a functioning site before we started fundraising with growing usage. Within three months of launching in September 2007 we closed our first seed round for £300,0000.
We also had invested some of our own money which helped – investors always want some skin in the game. Not every door we knocked on was successful, some did turn us down but we didn't let that discourage us and we learnt a lot from our rejections
How have you promoted your business?
Most people have found us through referral and word of mouth which in itself is a sign of success: if people are happy and referring us, that is for us a sign that we are adding value.
We get a whopping 90% of our business from organic sources right now – only 10% is through paid advertising. The rest is through referral, word-of-mouth, or people who've read about us in the press or through blogs.
What about staff – how many do you have? Is it burdensome?
Our team is still very small – only five people full-time, three part-time, but that's because we eat our own cooking! We use dozens of freelancers from our site on an ad-hoc basis. We are now at the stage where we are growing the team in-house.
We have a fairly flat structure: most important decisions are taken between the two co-founders on a mutual basis.
We are a young team, very upbeat and energetic and very modern in the way we do things. We keep things fun, light and interesting.
What has your growth been like?
Our ultimate metric of success is repeat usage which is a sign of customer satisfaction.
In the 15 months since we started trading, we've gone from nothing to having served over 7,000 small businesses and start-ups, most of whom have returned to the site to post second and third projects.
We've gone from zero turnover to a run-rate of £350,000 in just 15 months of trading and have 23,000 professionals registered on the site.