uber of x

Uber Of X: Baristas, Waiters, Chefs … On-Demand

Employees can get sick. They’re allowed to quit. But, many times, the staff is just at capacity. Need catering help for an event next week? Seeking a barista for you coffee shop’s morning rush tomorrow? How about a seating hostess for your restaurant’s evening diners tonight? London-based Coople can settle your staffing nerves.

Coople is an on-demand staffing platform and this week’s focus for the “Uber of X” trend. Coople connects people and companies by finding qualified and available employees in the hospitality, events and promotion, retail, logistics, business services and commercial sectors.

How fast can businesses secure a new employee — known as a Coopler — and have them start? Within hours.

Jacques de la Bouillerie, managing director at Coople, said that, since its launch in 2011, the business takes care of all right-to-work checks, admin and payroll and fills 98 percent of roles within four hours. Coople provides tens of thousands of Cooplers to thousands of businesses. The site and app — available on both iOS and Android — is free to join and to use, and companies only pay for the hours worked.

The idea for Coople came from Founder and CEO Viktor Calabrò, who had his own events company and had a real issue trying to recruit staff, and the concept grew from there. Fast forward to now, the business is already five years in.

How does it work? According to de la Bouillerie, the Coople app has a unique algorithm to connect candidates with the most suitable jobs available. Cooplers and companies can rate each other, providing a clear and open network of trusted, skilled staff and dependable businesses.

Coople has offices in London, Zurich and Lausanne. De la Bouillerie wouldn’t comment on Coople’s funding but said, “We have thousands of Cooplers on our platform, and the number is increasing on a daily basis.”

PYMNTS connected with de la Bouillerie about how Coople solves an issue, how the business fits into the “Uber of X” model and what the future looks like for expansion.

PYMNTS: How does Coople’s on-demand staffing help uniquely solve an issue?

JDLB: We allow businesses to shortcut the lengthy and often costly agency process to manage their workforce in the most efficient way possible.

With Coople, businesses are able to build a pool to flex their workforce based on demand, eliminating short staffing (and the penalties on a business in lost sales and poor customer service that result) and overstaffing in periods of low demand. In this way, businesses can operate far more efficiently.

For individuals (the Cooplers), this means the freedom to build the perfect work-life balance, to create a working environment that suits their lifestyle and other commitments.

This approach is perfect for students wanting to work around their studies, parents or anyone else who wants flexible, part-time work to fit around their own lives, rather than the other way round.

PYMNTS: Coople would be the “Uber of___?”

JDLB: Coople is the Uber of on-demand staffing. We instantly connect companies and people, helping those who need staff now to find flexible, available workers.

PYMNTS: That phrase “Uber of X” — what does that mean to you?

JDLB: The “Uber of X” means two things to me. One, a company that is revolutionizing an industry, taking an existing business model and turning it on its head to provide a superior service in a totally new way. Two, a company that directly connects the customer and the provider in a highly efficient, on-demand marketplace, making the purchase process virtually instantaneous, personalized and removing the complex bill payment process.

PYMNTS: So, how does everyone — the Cooplers, the employers and the business — get paid?

JDLB: The workers, the Cooplers are paid via the platform on a weekly basis after completing their placement and confirming their hours. Employer companies are also billed on a weekly basis. Coople charges a markup to the employer on each hour worked. There are no setup or recurring fixed fees.

PYMNTS: There are many staffing businesses. What’s been your rule of thumb in terms of staying competitive?

JDLB: Unlike many of the competing U.K. businesses, Coople has a strong heritage with over five years operating in Switzerland (under Coople’s parent company, Staff Finder).

This gives Coople the edge in terms of having a more robust technology platform, legal and support framework, operational knowledge and customer support and experience building partnerships with companies and building strong worker pools to serve those businesses.

Coople operates cross-sector. Some of our competitors are siloed in one.

Coople spans hospitality, events and promotion, retail, logistics, business services and commercial sectors. We are a true marketplace, unlike several competitors who are merely an online jobs board.

PYMNTS: Starting a startup can be rocky. What kind of hurdles or surprises have you found?

JDLB: Like all startups, building brand awareness, building trust in our proposition (B2B and B2C), building our network and community to gain traction and momentum — all these things take time, but we’re making great progress.

The key is the team. We already have a strong team in place, and their energy, talent and keenness to improve every day is crucial in our ability to react quickly to the market and make necessary changes to overcome hurdles.

We have been pleasantly surprised how receptive many businesses are to adopting a new approach to recruitment.

Many businesses are ready and willing to explore the benefits of a flexible work marketplace and move away from the traditional agency model to a platform that enables them to manage their staff more effectively and efficiently.

PYMNTS: So, what does the future and expansion look like for Coople?

JDLB: We have offices in London, Lausanne and Zurich. Our clients in Switzerland can recruit for any location in Switzerland. In the U.K., presently, our core focus is London, but we have ambitious plans for future growth in the U.K. and beyond.


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