A couple of weeks ago we interviewed tech startup Myna, another alumni of the now London based Oxygen Accelerator programme.
And as if by magic, (and a little like buses) two ex-Accelerator occupants come along at once and so we have our second Oxygen linked interview in just a matter of weeks. This time we chat to James Pursey of crowdsourcing-come-marketplace business of sorts Sorted Local.
Hi James, first of all, let’s talk about your business sortedlocal.com. How did you first come up with the idea - your eureka moment of sorts?
Like most good ideas, Sorted was born in a pub! I was with a couple of friends mapping out different business ideas and looking for an idea to spark off a new venture, when Jade (now the CEO of Sorted) asked “If I were a student, how could I make £200 by the end of this week...without breaking the law, or taking out a payday loan?” We looked around and thought of services like PeoplePerHour and oDesk but there was nothing out there for people that couldn't design websites or code software. We looked over the pond to the US and saw a couple of companies scaling well and creating this industry over there, so we decided to try and pioneer it in the UK. Sorted was then born, although we didn't name it for a couple of weeks! It's a task marketplace that matches people looking to make money in their spare time, with busy people looking to outsource non-skilled tasks such as cleaning & dog walking. We now have Sorters (task doers) across every major city in the UK.
How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors? After all there are a number of crowd sourcing and community marketplaces trying to do quite similar things at the moment.
Ultimately the end goal and basic concept is the same...you're matching somebody looking for help, with somebody willing to help. Sorted doesn't work like the other task marketplaces out there; they're all on a 'reverse-marketplace' model where customers create a task such as “I want someone to clean my flat” and post it out to their local community, people come back with offers then the customer decides. We decided to cut out the process in the middle, and put the customer in direct contact with the Sorter (task doer) without the waiting period. So the Customer searches the database of Sorters by location and category, then chooses the person they want and books them straight away.
At what point did you first consider going on the Oxygen Accelerator programme and how difficult was it to get selected for the programme?
We actually heard about Oxygen really late in the game and had to rush in an application in the last few hours before they closed it off. The process was ok, they posed some tough questions and wanted to really test the team but we came through it well and obviously got a place.
What would you (post programme) consider are the main benefits to this and more generically other Accelerator programmes?
Very simple answer - without a shadow of a doubt it's the network effect. Accelerators also call themselves things like 'mentor-led incubators', the key part of that is the mentors. Oxygen has 150+ awesome people on hand to help startups, there's everything from startup founders to lawyers with the occasional journalist along the way, and they add a heck of a lot of value to really 'accelerate' your business.
And any downsides or aspects that you had not considered before applying?
Not really to be honest, I learnt a lot at Oxygen and really enjoyed the experience. It was tough at times but that's all part of the fun!
And what’s next for Sorted Local - any plans or secrets that you can share with us all about your business?
We're currently raising cash, we're using equity based crowd funding site Crowdcube, you can check out the pitch here and even invest from as little as £10 if you're interested. Aside from fundraising, we're working on some exciting new features to make the platform better for both sides of the marketplace, so watch this space.
Best of luck to James and the Sorted Local Team - we'll be watching that space indeed!
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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.