The five minute CIO: Tom Nimmo, Hassle

13 Feb 20151 Share

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Tom Nimmo, CTO of Hassle

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“For us IT costs tend not to be a major point of our budget discussions,” says Tom Nimmo, chief technology officer of Hassle, the internet firm disrupting the cleaning service market.

Hassle.com, a start-up based in London that has been co-founded by Irishwoman Jules Coleman, recently gained US$6m from Silicon Valley venture firm Accel Partners.

Last year, we reported how the company has begun its international expansion in Dublin.

Hassle.com is disrupting the cleaning services market by making it possible for city-dwelling workers to hire a cleaner in a very similar fashion to booking a cab on the app Hailo.

Former Accenture executive Coleman established the company in 2011 with friends Alex Depledge and Tom Nimmo.

After Coleman spent six months teaching herself Ruby on Rails, the TechStars programme in London accepted the start-up and its initial idea of serving 25 different categories got whittled down to just one: cleaning.

The company won in the Start-up of the Year category at the Tech City Awards in 2013.

What are the main points of your company’s IT strategy?

At Hassle.com we like to keep things simple and build only what we need. We don’t try and reinvent the wheel just for the sake of it and only build when we are sure it will add value to the business and our customers – all strategic features go through rigorous questioning to ensure it is absolutely required. We utilise third-party online software where we can. In a few words we are lean, agile and no fuss. 

Can you give a snapshot of how extensive your IT infrastructure is?

We run our infrastructure on the cloud-based platform Heroku, using the popular Ruby on Rails web framework. This has allowed us to scale our infrastructure quickly as we have grown and expanded to new countries. We have a number of integrations to third-party services, such as Stripe, for handling customer payments and Twilio, for our customer service calls and text messages.

In terms of managing IT budgets, what are your key thoughts on how CIOs/heads of technology should achieve their goals?

By using third-party online services we are able to accurately predict monthly costs. Knowing how much you are going to spend each month in a start-up is vital to keeping a handle on cash burn. For us, IT costs tend not be a major point of our budget discussions.

How complex is the infrastructure, are you taking steps to simplify it?

Although complexity of our infrastructure has grown, we are always looking to make simplifications. A focus on simplifying infrastructure allows us to spend more of our time building new features to grow the business and less time managing and fixing stuff. We use Google Docs extensively throughout the business, which has made document and email management super simple.

Do you have a large in-house IT team, or do you look to strategically outsource where possible?

All of the Hassle.com development team are in-house. Taking this approach has allowed us to react quickly to changing business needs without the overheads of managing what can be a slower-to-react outsourcing arrangement.

What are the big trends and challenges in your sector, and how do you plan to use IT to address them?

The biggest challenge for Hassle.com is taking the offline world of cleaning and bringing it online. This has been the focus of the technology that we have built. It’s all about making it super simple for a customer to book a cleaner and for cleaners to accept jobs and manage their workload. Because Hassle.com’s invariably involves managing unforeseen scenarios, such as a cleaner missing their bus, or a customer called out unexpectedly, there will always be the need to manage these ‘edge cases’, and we look not only to process and training but also IT to help us manage this.

What metrics or measurement tools do you use to gauge how well IT is performing?

Our core metrics are relatively simple:

  • Code quality
  • Code complexity
  • Site downtime

What other projects do you have lined up for the year, and what will they contribute to the business?

We have been working on our customer and cleaner mobile apps. This is the next big step to making it as simple as possible for our customers to find and book a cleaner and allowing our cleaners to manage their bookings on the move.

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com