Boole start-up of the week: Sortsy

16 Nov 2015

Peter Layland and Richard Campbell, co-founders of Sortsy

Sortsy is a new app from Northern Ireland that connects consumers to tradespeople, providing convenience for the consumer while also catering for the needs of small businesses.

“Time and time again I found myself frustrated trying to find good reliable tradespeople who were available when I needed them,” explained Peter Layland, co-founder of Sortsy.

“This frustration fuelled the idea for Sortsy – an easy-to-use app that helps customers to avoid wasting valuable time trawling through directories and making phone calls to trades and other service providers who are too busy or engaged. It also assists tradespeople, who can avoid interruption from phone calls while on the job and can now check their job requests when it suits them.

‘Local businesses using the app can let their customers know when they’re free and when they’re not’

“While Sortsy has initially launched with tradespeople in the home and garden realm in our community, it will be rolling out to other hair and beauty and health and fitness [providers] where consumers would benefit from having real time availability, whilst at the same time giving businesses 24/7 online booking opportunities.”

The market

Layland describes the market as potentially vast, but the company will focus on the home and garden sector first followed by hair and beauty and health and fitness in the coming months.

“For many, there just simply aren’t enough hours in the day, and their exhausting schedules make finding time for themselves almost impossible.

“Whilst the desire or need is there to take time out, it can be a chore in itself to find that certain something that matches your requirements.

“From choosing a treatment at a health spa, to being put through your paces by a personal trainer, or finding that guitar teacher in your area, the opportunities are endless for consumers and local businesses aiming to expand their customer bases.”

The founders

Layland had an engineering background prior to becoming a pilot.

“I started off as an apprentice in a power station, moving on to installing lifts and escalators through to maintenance in large production factories. I started my flying career at the start of 2008 and have been flying for a leading commercial airline since the end of 2010.”

Richard Campbell, Sortsy’s co-founder, was interested in software from a young age and is now managing director of a software company where he has been working for the last 10 years, building business solutions for all kinds of business. His expertise in the area was the perfect match for Sortsy, and Campbell and the rest of the Sortsy team have been able to develop an app that perfectly matched Layland’s vision.

The technology

Sortsy is an easy-to-use app that matches customers with local services in real time, helping customers get the job done quickly and allowing local businesses to tailor their services to the perfect time and place.

Customers are given the satisfaction of receiving quick responses to their enquires, and businesses are expanding their reach through the Sortsy community.

“Potential customers are now put in touch with the right person for the job, when it suits them.

“In turn, local businesses using the app can let their customers know when they’re free and when they’re not, filling gaps in their schedules and making connections with new customers in their desired areas.”

Layland said the immediate goal is to add more categories while rolling the app out across Ireland, the UK and worldwide.

“Things are going great and we’re excited about Sortsy’s much-anticipated launch. We’ve had a lot of sign-ups of tradespeople in a short space of time and a huge amount of interest from hairdressers, beauticians and personal trainers for the coming categories.

“Consumers are also seeing how Sortsy’s offering can benefit their busy lifestyles, which we are delighted by. It was our goal all along to make life easier for our users, and it’s great to see that they are embracing the service.

“There’s no surprise over the amount of capital required in order to launch our app worldwide and we will be looking closely at gaining investment from the right sources as Sortsy’s rollout and expansion continues,” Layland said.

Research, research and more research

Layland emphasised that there is a lot of market research that goes into each category as well as time spent understanding each industry and building relationships with those working within it.

“The challenge increases as we expand into other categories whilst simultaneously moving into other countries.

“Understanding different cultures and ideas, as well as building relations and expanding our team so as to be visible to our members and communities is a continual challenge our team is always working with.”

Work with feedback

Layland said the local start-up scene in Ireland is supportive and people are always willing to offer insight and feedback.

“It’s always better to work with feedback rather than avoiding it, and it’s been especially valuable for us to have input from other start-ups and veterans of the industry who have helped us to learn from their mistakes.”

‘Procrastination and dwelling on the ‘what ifs’ are far worse than giving something your best shot and failing’

His advice to other potential start-up founders is to just go for it.

“If you have an idea, look into it and ask questions. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I found that as I started out researching, I came across others who shared my enthusiasm which helped to motivate me further – sometimes at much-needed times when experiencing setbacks or negative feedback.

“Procrastination and dwelling on the ‘what ifs’ are far worse than giving something your best shot and failing.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years