August Meetup with Hassle.com and Tom Forth from Imactivate
There are lots of ways to make money from a software product and knowing the kind of business you want to build is important. Any plan must play to your strengths as an entrepreneur and be something you’re good at and enjoy as your going to spend all your time doing it. Back in August a room full of Yorkshire’s Lean Startup community listened to two contrasting visions of company building. Keeping the team small and building high value IP for license, verses a strategy of fast growth, global domination to out accelerate the competition. Reflecting on both speakers articulate their points of view was a lesson in self-analysis and planning.
Tom Forth, founder of Imactivate, kicked off the evening by demonstrating the technology his business has been creating to bring the fun and interactivity of the internet to the physical world of books, public gallery spaces and printed business material. With software running on a range of mobile devices and utilising the image recognition software they have developed in-house, Tom showed a range of applications that allow users to interact with their physical objects in both a fun as well as practical manner. Imactivate are seeking businesses to licence the technology and have interest from a wide range of sectors including publishers, fashion houses, public galleries and museums. The image recognition technology that Imactivate have developed has its roots in bio technology research Tom carried out while studying for a PhD. Imactivate are also in the process of publishing their own physical book titles that utilise their technology and soon will be able to tangibly demonstrate the benefits that merging the physical and virtual worlds can bring to a wider audience.
The second half of the evening switched the discussion from brainstorming licensing opportunities to scaling and rapid growth. Penny Roberts described Hassle.com current situation as a young company, barely two years old, with a proven business model and a recent injection of VC cash. Having created a marketplace for home services and discovered the potential and demand for people looking for cleaners that can be easily, flexibly and economically engaged; their challenge is to out run the competition and become the house hold name in this space. Hassle is a home services marketplace that helps local residents easily find and engage local cleaners. Hassle provide the platform and handle the exchange of money on a flat rate £10 per hour basis. Customers can easily find and choose a cleaner they like and cleaners can pick and choose who they work for and when. The service has proved as popular with cleaners as it has with residents and has even attracted students to their cleaning workforce by facilitating a fair rate of pay with flexible working hours.
Penny told the story so far, from the early days installed in Google Campus as part of a London-based start-up accelerator, through an early pivot to focus on the cleaning industry to the present day growth cycle as they race to open for business in cities across the UK and Europe.
The evening wound up and moved for after drinks to the Midnight Bell next door, where the conversation continued and lean startup stories and experience was swapped between the attendees.