Bolstered by a $1 million seed injection, Melbourne start-up Weploy has launched an on-demand recruitment platform that connects pre-screened, talented employees to employers who need short term staff to manage peak periods or cover employee absences.
Co-founded by serial entrepreneurs Nick La and Vince Luong, Weploy was conceived in response to the frustration they had experienced in dealing with recruitment agencies and the churn of unreliable staff in previous businesses. The platform is now live in Melbourne with a pilot underway in Sydney but they have plans to roll it out nationally ‘in the coming months’, before taking it internationally.
The venture received its seed capital from Van Luong, founder of Viet-Uc Seafood Company, a leading shrimp farming company in Vietnam. The AgTech mogul also serves on Weploy’s advisory board alongside Redbubble CTO Paul Coia, Rotten Tomatoes co-founder Patrick Lee and Australian financial expert, Robert Krigsman (Krigsman Partners).
La spoke to Dynamic Business about chasing success in an industry in need of disruption and, when looking for investors, considering what they can ‘bring to the table’ aside from just money.
DB: How does the Weploy platform work?
La: We’ve built smart tech to ensure we offer the most simple, cost-effective and reliable recruitment platform available to market. For ‘Weployers’ (employers), replacing a shift or sourcing a reliable employee takes around 60 seconds. They access the platform via their mobile or desktop, submit a job post, and within 30 seconds they are matched to a ‘Weployee’ (employee) with the suitable skill-set for that job.
For Weployees, the application is centered on an online onboarding process, which involves completing a psychometric and skill test. If they pass that, the candidate is then interviewed and safety checks (such as police and ID checks) are conducted. Once approved to use the platform, Weployees get job offers via our app, matching their skills, rating and geographic location directly to their phone, allowing them to choose when and where they want to work.
DB: What sort of users do you target?
La: Weployees can be anyone qualified to work, including uni students, mums returning to work, professionals looking for a side gig and even travellers with working visas. Our community of Weployees is made up of talented individuals who want to work in a flexible capacity, particularly in the admin, retail, hospitality and labour sectors. Part of Weploy’s mission is removing the bias and discrimination that is common within traditional recruitment processes. We want to make it easy for talented people to find work, regardless of gender, culture or age.
From a Weployer perspective, our main users are medium to large sized businesses who need temporary staff fast, however we also work with smaller businesses who use Weployees to support their business’ growth. By keeping our margins low without compromising on staff quality, we’re able to provide a unique service to businesses who are often exploited by the recruitment industry.
DB: Is recruitment in need of disruption?
La: Definitely. At Weploy, we’re competing against the traditional recruitment agencies, which are rife with flaws that mean clients and candidates are exploited. Van and I saw first-hand what these agencies were doing wrong and we’ve made it our mission to do it better. Doing our industry research, we identified a lot of inefficiencies, a huge lack of transparency and many situations where employers were paying inflated margins for under-qualified employees who would see only a fraction of that rate. A lot of the current competitors are too driven by profit margins, meaning the employee and client are inevitably neglected.
We wanted to create a service that produces a win-win scenario, so we set our rates at 10% above average to attract the best talent and set our margins lower so employers are better able to access these skills. We don’t charge any upfront fees and only take an 18% service fee of the subtotal. For context, recruitment agencies charge up to 50% per hire. We take full responsibility for Weployees as actual employees (not contractors like other on demand platforms) meaning Weployees receive entitlements including including Super, payroll tax, and WorkCover insurance, on top of the hourly rate.
We’ve had very positive feedback from our clients, who agree the sector is due for disruption. We believe what we’re doing is moving the industry into a positive direction and helping us to achieve our vision to change the way the world sees employment.
DB: What success has the platform enjoyed to date?
La: Weploy has been lucky enough to have some significant Australian companies participate in our pilot phase, including VICE Australia, RMIT, Arthur J Gallagher, HotDoc, General Assembly. To date we have 8,500 Weployees and 500 employees in the Weploy community (which is rapidly growing).
DB: What makes Van Luong an ideal investor?
La: When we were looking for investors, it was of utmost importance that there was a strong alignment. We turned down two VCs, not because they weren’t great but because we didn’t have complete alignment. When approached by an investor, we need to consider what the investor can bring to the table (e.g. how can they help us grow and approach problems). We’re not looking for someone to just throw money at us. For us, an investor needs to be a strategic partner where we can retain control and stay true to our mission.
Van understood, first-hand, the problem we are looking to solve and shares our passion to change the way the world sees employment. When we pitched Weploy, he immediately related to this problem as something he also experienced building his own business and instantly saw the value in what we were trying to achieve. He initially invested AUD$400,000 into the platform but was so impressed by our rapid growth and ability to hit our milestones during our beta phase that he contributed an additional late seed of $600,000 AUD (bringing our total investment to AUD$1 million).
DB: What attracted your other advisors?
La: Our advisors were attracted to Weploy for one core reason- they were impressed with our passion and commitment to our cause. Our advisors have worked across a number of startups and told us that a key differentiating point was our maturity and solid structure. From the outset we’ve set ourselves up as a commercially minded business solving a global problem, whilst having a positive social impact- and this was obviously recognised. At Weploy, we’re not in this to make bank, we’re in this because it’s our passion and it has been a common tread between our advisors’ motivation to join.
DB: What do they bring to the table?
La: As non-technical founders, we knew we needed to get an expert to oversee the platform’s development – that’s where Paul Coia steps in. He is our CTO and oversees all technical aspects of Weploy. Meanwhile, Patrick Lee is an all-round advisor and someone we as founders aspire to model our own growth on. As someone with extensive experience across various aspects of business, Patrick is able to provide counsel on the overall strategic direction of the company. Finally, Robert Krigsman is a trusted financial advisor who specialises in startups. He advises us on managing growth through number, burn rate and measuring how financially healthy we are.