How mentoring gave clarity to Sage One user Alex Depledge (Hassle)

4 years ago

Alex Depledge, Founder of Hassle.comSage One aims to provide business owners with the freedom, clarity and confidence to take their business ambitions to the next level.

Clarity is crucially important for business owners, especially early stage start-ups, and one of the best ways to gain clarity and clear thinking is via mentors, more experienced business owners who can help you think through those difficult and seemingly intractable problems.

Alex Depledge, a Sage One Payroll user who was first profiled on our blog back in July, talks about how mentoring helped her and her business, Hassle.com.

Tell us a little about your business

Our company is called Hassle. The founders are Julie-Ann Coleman, Tom Nimmo, and myself, Alex Depledge. We have 8 employees, including some part-time and remote staff which we use Sage One Payroll to pay.

We curate a marketplace for local services, currently just domestic cleaning, but we will expand into gardening and other markets as we grow.

We are different from Gumtree and other sites because all our providers have been interviewed and background checked. Consumers want choice, but not too much, and they need trust. Our website allows you to check provider’s availability in 60 seconds.

Where are you based?

We are mainly based in London, but we launched in Manchester on 4th November 2013.

How did you find your mentors?

In April 2012 we were accepted onto the London Springboard programme. I went to a talk by Eric Ries, author of Lean Startup, at an event sponsored by Springboard. After research into Springboard we applied, followed by two Skype interviews, and an idea pitch.

I believe we impressed the mentors at Springboard because of our passion, resilience, determination. We did not use business speak! Investors do not like the local services market because it is so disparate and very difficult to succeed. They don’t want to commit money to it.

What is Springboard?

Springboard is an intense mentorship scheme to allow entrepreneurs to test their assumptions and business plan. We met with six mentors almost daily during this time, allowing us to identify a trend in advice and giving us direction for our plan. We still have a core group of mentors as a result. These mentors have also been instrumental in giving us exposure to investors.

How have mentors helped you and your business?

I have found the main advantage of mentors is that they are generous with their time. They appreciate people looking to learn from their expertise rather than asking for money or excessively flattering them. It is important to use your personal connections as well as other mentorship programmes.

Our mentors give us key pieces of advice for each area of our business. The best piece of advice is to not build/implement any ideas until we have tested it manually. We need to see patterns in consumer behaviour, rather than simply responding to customer comments.

Have your mentors helped you with investment?

We received an initial £15,000 as part of Springboard, and then raised another £255,000 from angel investors this year. Our mentor network from Springboard allowed us to approach other investors that we would never have met. We plan on fundraising again next year, again using our mentor network. My Springboard mentors have taught me the importance of networking and how to network effectively.

Do you plan to keep expanding?

We would like to add other household services, but we will judge our expansion based on our success in Manchester. I want to test further concepts in Manchester, before moving to larger markets and into Europe. We have already provided 15,000+ hours of cleaning services on Hassle.com!

If you’d like to manage your business more efficiently and cost-effectively, take a look at our range of Sage One accounts and payroll services and sign up for a free 30 day trial today at https://app.sageone.com/sign_up.