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Creating a Tech Startup, We chat to service innovator MyHelpster
by Startacus Admin
We reckon that when starting a business it can be really beneficial to reap the benefits of someone else’s experience. That’s why we spend a lot of time finding inspiring individuals who have ‘been there, done that’ to help shed some light on the whole process and hopefully share some useful tips and experiences - people like Felix from MyHelpster.
You might not have heard about MyHelpster, but in a nutshell it’s a new platform where home workers can outsource tasks and problems that they are struggling with to certified experts. It’s a really innovative idea, with a huge potential for growth. We were lucky enough to catch up with Felix and quiz him about the process of creating a tech startup, support available, problems they have encountered and other startup related stuff.
Here’s our chat:
Hi Felix, so first off can you tell us a little about you and Bjoern’s backgrounds; where have you come from that has led you to develop MyHelpster?
Bjoern and I are best friends, and we have known each other since our Bachelor’s studies in Germany. We both did a dual study programme, which meant working part-time at a company while studying business administration. We figured that we had the same working habits and complementary skills. After our Bachelor’s, we continued our studies: I went on to do an MSc in Manchester, and he went to Lisbon. At that time, we came up with the idea of a remote support service, and we started evaluating the idea in our free time.
So what is MyHelpster?
Our startup MyHelpster is developing a platform where freelancers and home workers can delegate and outsource tasks and problems to friendly certified experts. Our experts and their services are called Helpsters, and you can get things done for around £5. These tasks could be things such as getting help in Excel, fixing an error in Wordpress, or scraping the followers of a Twitter account. Unlike other freelancer marketplaces, MyHelpster takes ownership of the results, and our ambitious vision is to build the Amazon of trusted online services.
Can you give us an idea of any organisation's / programmes that have been available to you in creating MyHelpster? Are there any in particular that have been especially helpful?
During the idea stage, we got support from the University of Manchester because we were a finalist in their VentureOut competition. They provided early-stage mentoring and introduced us to the TiE organization in Manchester, where we worked over the summer. TiE is a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship around the world through mentoring and events.
In September, we got into the Sirius programme, which is a UK Trade & Investment initiative that helps international graduates to launch their business in the UK. The support has been tremendously helpful and is, to be honest, the main reason why we are not working in Berlin at the moment. The programme comes with a £14,000 grant per founder and free office space for a year, making it affordable for recent graduates to build a business in the United Kingdom, particularly in London.
We have noticed a real increase in the number of outsourcing platforms across as range of industries, especially in the last year or so. Is there a comparable service already available, and what makes MyHelpster unique?
The service industry is booming on the Internet at the moment, which is not surprising because only 2% of all professional services are on the Internet. So many startups are bringing offline services, such as cleaning, repair, flower delivery, and many more, online. I think this is a great trend because people become more confident in ordering services online, and we fit quite well in that space because we focus on the tasks you want to delegate online to vetted experts, whom we call Helpsters. Yet we are not building just another freelancer marketplace because all our services can be requested within minutes for a fair price, from as low as £5, and the expert know-how and purpose-built technology mean we can offer helpdesk-standard advice with satisfaction guaranteed.
Who would use MyHelpster and can you give us an idea of the sorts of issues that can be resolved?
We are now at the stage of building our portfolio of Helpsters. We will add services and solutions to problems to our website every day. We are also adding innovative and fun services to the more traditional tech support issues. We have, for example, a Helpster who will set up your Mac with all the apps and tools Guy Kawasaki is using. We watched Guy’s videos to find out what he is using, and even got an email from Guy saying that he is flattered that we created this service. We also want to add services that are useful for startups and the Startacus community. That’s why we will be adding services such as proofreading, copywriting, formatting business plans, and moving websites to another server. But we invite everybody to suggest problems and issues they would like to see us resolve.
Can you give us some insight into any unique challenges which have risen as a result of starting a business with 2 separate offices at opposite sides of the world? How have you managed to overcome these?
I think the two main challenges for us are working in different time zones and coordinating work. We have Helpsters located in Asia and South America, but we are based in London, so managing all this is quite tricky and we often have to get up very early, at 4 am, to speak to our partners in the Philippines. Additionally, we have had to find a system to document everything and coordinate our work. We use the typical tools, like Google Drive, Asana, Slack, and Gmail, to coordinate work in our team. We also often create videos of processes and trainings so that we do not have to repeat ourselves all the time.
What do you think are the most important qualities that someone needs to work successfully in a technology startup? We’re thinking not only of founders, but employees as well.
I think you should really like the product or service the startup is developing. I worked for a FMCG company during my Bachelor’s studies, and I know that some people would prefer selling and marketing a new chocolate bar than the latest marketing analytics tool. Additionally, I think it is always good to be proactive and to think outside of the box, which is particularly true for startups, where money is often tight and processes still have to be formed.
Is there anything that you wish you had known in the beginning that might have made the process of creating MyHelpster a little easier?
I wish I had known all the free tools and services on the Internet that you can use to quickly evaluate if a business idea has potential. You can test so many ideas just with an Unbounce landing page and a £75 Google AdWords voucher.
Mi-IDEA Manchester Networking Event
27th Sep 2016
The teams from CISCO and Manchester Science Partnerships have teamed up to create Mi-IDEA, a post-accelerator designed to foster and nurture digital innovation in the North West of England.