Businesses need to upscale quickly or run a lean core team and upscale during peak times. It is exciting for businesses to have something like this now, because they have not seen it before
Ellie Amos moved to New Zealand just over 18 months ago to start Sidekicker here.
The startup was already operating across the Tasman, providing temporary employees to a range of businesses through its list of staff who have been pre-vetted.
Since then, Sidekicker has grown from its first client to having more than 300 businesses on its books, which include Uber, Lewis Road Creamery and Sofitel.
“We now have about 800 Sidekicks [temp staff] in New Zealand,” says Amos. They work mainly in four areas - events, hospitality, commercial marketing and business support.
“It is a marketplace for labour hire,” she says. “We specialise in events, hospitality and business support sector.
“We are solving a problem by using technology,” she says. But at the same time, they could not do this business without the workers.
“Staffing is a huge issue,” she says. “Businesses need to upscale quickly or run a lean core team and upscale during peak times. It is exciting for businesses to have something like this now, because they have not seen it before.”
Becoming a sidekick
Having a sidekick is having someone to come in and help you, she says, on the roots of the company's name.
Staff wanting to be on the Sidekicker list fill in an application form online.
She says after interviews, where there is an emphasis on good communication skills, around 10 per cent of all the applicants make it to the company's list.
“We have to make sure our staff know how to set up the platform and use it,” she says. “These include knowing how to apply for jobs and log on their hours.”
She says the app, developed by the company's in-house team in Melbourne, is designed for easy use. It takes about five minutes to set up on a person's smartphone.
“We have a product development [team] that really listens to our clients needs and is continually developing our platform,” she says.
Sidekicker's clients can log on the website now and request staff, without needing any direct help from us, she says.
Ease and simplicity of use of the app is critical
Peaks and troughs
From a business perspective, a client can go to the website, create an account and request the needed workers. The client will provide a short description of the skills required and this gets sent to staff that have been pre-screened to work in the area.
The client will be notified and presented with prospective workers' profiles and experience.
After the work shift is completed the client reviews and rates the Sidekicker staff, and this review can be viewed by businesses when choosing who to hire.
Before Sidekicker, these businesses usually used job boards to find temporary staff and found the process too time consuming.
“Each of our sidekickers have the company app and they have been pre-approved and screened.”
Sidekicker's clients know the company has readily available staffing solutions, where they can make a request online and get a response within three hours.
From a worker’s perspective, it is about getting connected to a network of jobs available, she says.
And it is all done online.
“If something goes wrong or a client has a query, we are here to give them that customer support,” she says.
Even when you provide technology solutions, “there is always going to be a place for that human interaction”.
She says referrals from their first clients helped the company grow.
Most of the referrals came from small businesses that had used its online marketplace once or twice, and referred the operation to other businesses.
She says the company also has ongoing client contracts with businesses whose staffing needs vary from week to week. Extra staff could be required for a product launch where they will need hospitality staff, or for a social media marketing campaign.
‘Don’t get stuck in old ways’
Sidekicker operates from a co-shared office in Ponsonby. The New Zealand team is composed of Amos and one other person.
“When we first launched here, we were very much a startup. It was just me over here.”
For Amos, heading the New Zealand operation of Sidekicker meant a major career shift.
She was working as a nurse at the Royal Melbourne Hospital when she moved to London “to try something different”.
“I was trying to step away from nursing,” says Amos, who then found herself running a neurosurgeon’s private clinic in London.
When she returned to Melbourne, where Sidekicker is headquartered, she got the offer to start the business in Auckland.
Amos says her nursing background prepared her for time management and prioritising in running a fast-growing business.
“Those are things you learn very quickly in nursing and they are very transferrable,” she says.
Her advice for businesses today?
“Try new things and do not be stuck in your old ways,” she says. “If there is a new technology out there that can help you in your business, give it a go. You have nothing to lose.”
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