London Startup Prepares for ‘David vs. Goliath’ Fight with Uber to Dominate UK’s Gig Economy
In the latest signs of an increasingly digital and competitive industry, Hela Job, the London-based company that launched the UK’s first AI-powered job-finding app, now faces stiff competition from the biggest company in the gig economy. Uber, the US-based ride-hailing company, just launched a beta version of a similar job-finding app in Chicago called “Uber Works”. Hela Job plans to own the mindshare of gig worker in the UK with their new app and Uber Works plans has similar ambitions in the U.S.
The London-based founders of Hela Job welcome the competition. “The gig economy is in desperate need of disruption in job markets throughout the world,” said Hela Job Founder and CEO Ioannis Antypas. “Uber’s entrance into the marketplace underscores the enormous opportunities in the gig economy market for different companies that know the local job market. Of course, we know the UK job market more than Uber. In fact, we carried out two years of R&D before our launch last month. We’ll prove our UK expertise as we reach out to gig workers in cities throughout the UK.”
A recent study by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) found that Britain’s booming gig economy more than doubled in size over the past three years and now accounts for 4.7 million workers. The study also concluded that one in 10 working-age adults now work on gig economy platforms, up from one in 20 in 2016.
While most gig platforms and apps have focused on fulfilling the HR needs in vertical markets, with freelance, part-time workers often separated by thousands of miles from their employers, Hela Job, the only job-filling, job-finding app in the UK focused on fulfilling the HR needs of local job markets.
How will Hela Job work? Once a business owner or HR manager posts a temporary job on the platform, local, pre-qualified workers are notified instantly on their smart phone. The first pre-qualified worker to respond to the job posting will be hired instantly. When a worker accepts a job offer, the app uses GPS to physically track them as they drive or, if they live in the same neighbourhood, walk from their home to the job site.
HR managers in the UK are impressed with the app’s features that not only track employees but screens them with artificial intelligence (AI) before they’re hired, technology that will save companies time and money before and after workers are hired. “”One of the app’s features I find most impressive is its ability to help me track employee hours,” said Emma-Jane Nutbrown, Head of Business Development at a London Museum. “When an employee is hired through Hela Job, they’re required to scan a QR code with their smartphones at the start and end of every shift. This makes time-sheets digital, more accurate, and saves us time in tracking their hours”.
Job seekers are impressed with the Hela Job platform as well, calling the app empowering. “The location feature is amazing! Who doesn’t want to work closer to home?” said Sia Tehrani, a London resident who works part-time at a London coffee shop. “I love the freedom it gives me. When I want to work, I’ll turn the app on and make myself available. When I don’t want to work, I turn it off. I’m in charge of my work schedule, not my boss, and I love it!”
While Hela Job is currently only available in London, Antypas plans to make it available for job seekers in every major UK city by December. And later, to keep pace with the booming gig economy worldwide, the company plans to introduce the world’s first locally-focused, job-filling, job-finding app to international markets. Hela Job’s next target is to compete directly with Uber Works the U.S., where an estimated 57 million workers have joined the gig economy.
The company’s slogan, “Fill a Job, Find a Job with Hela Job”, will likely be translated into multiple languages as service industries in industrialised countries worldwide undergo a fundamental, digital transformation, relying less on full-time employees and more on part-time, local workers looking for jobs in their own neighbourhood.