Get The Shifts is transforming temp work in the hospitality sector

27 Jan 2020785 Views

Hannah Wrixon. Image: Get the Shifts

Our Start-up of the Week is Get The Shifts, a Clare-based staffing app that is helping hospitality businesses to source reliable, experienced workers on demand.

Get The Shifts was founded by Irish entrepreneur Hannah Wrixon. The start-up supports bars, restaurants, stadiums, festivals and other hospitality and events businesses, helping them source quality, experienced staff in their area, on demand.

The Shannon-based start-up works with companies that need staff for irregular shifts, to combat sick days and no-shows, and to manage seasonal labour challenges.

“Historically, temp staffing has been approached in a haphazard manner with agencies, in a lot of instances, sending ‘a body’ to clients,” Wrixon told Siliconrepublic.com.

With Get The Shifts, she added, workers are considered in a different light, referred to as ‘superstars’.

“Coming from a hospitality background, I knew that this industry is ripe for disruption,” Wrixon said. “We at Get The Shifts have created innovative software that allows our clients to browse and book workers 24/7 with as little as three hours’ notice – one click, one invoice.”

With this platform, she said that the eventual goal is “to become the most flexible working opportunity for hospitality staff worldwide”.

The technology

“We have designed and developed a proprietary technology platform that combines a web application and mobile apps – that can be used on any smart phone or mobile device – to support our business,” Wrixon explained.

“Several filters can be used to ensure clients are getting the right skillset and the right experience in the right areas. Superstars are in charge of their calendars and will only be offered work when available and choose the work that they accept. The software also streamlines our recruitment process, automating many of the application and paperwork processes.”

Wrixon said that the company is in the process of developing the second version of its software, with an increased focus on UX. The next stage after that would be adding a layer of gamification to the app, allowing workers using the platform to earn badges for their work.

The platform can currently support 2,000 flexible workers, and Wrixon said that she is currently seeing five to 10 new clients signing up per week.

The market

Right now, Get The Shifts is focusing on the hospitality market in Ireland and the UK, with plans to use Manchester as an initial base to launch the business across the pond. Wrixon expects that the business will move into other markets by 2021.

“The Irish hospitality sector is worth an estimated €7.2bn and supports some 235,000 jobs,” she said. “The UK hospitality sector will exceed £100bn this year, and the industry has steadily grown for the past five years, supporting 2.9m jobs.”

According to Jobs.ie, job vacancies in the Irish hotel sector increased by almost 200pc between 2013 and 2017, while the UK market holds even more opportunities.

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The founder

Wrixon was brought up in a family that was focused on hospitality, with her father owning a number of pubs in Ireland and the UK, and her grandmother working as a hotelier.

Prior to launching Get The Shifts, Wrixon founded a childcare business called Aire Children’s Centre in 2004. During this time, she saw a gap in the market and founded her second start-up, Last Minute Minders, which supplied pre-screened childcare professionals to crèches, parents and multinationals.

Aire was sold in 2009 and Wrixon wound down Last Minute Minders in 2017. She said that her background in hospitality, temporary staffing and software development prepared her for launching Get The Shifts just over three years ago.

‘Coming from a hospitality background, I knew that this industry is ripe for disruption’
– HANNAH WRIXON

To help get the business off the ground, Wrixon took part in the EY Winning Women Europe programme, the AIB Startup Academy, and the Enterprise Ireland and KPMG Starting Strong initiative, among other training and development programmes.

More recently, Wrixon was named Image Digital and Technology Businesswoman of the Year for 2019.

The future

Looking ahead, Get The Shifts hopes to raise €600,000 in funding this year, which will facilitate the company’s continued expansion in Ireland and the UK. Wrixon said that this will come from seed funders, angels and private investors.

“In 2020, we would aim to establish a dedicated UK team based out of our Shannon facility, with a sales presence on the ground in Manchester. We will continue to develop the software and application, and look to bring software design in-house with a CTO.”

She praised the different supports and funding available for entrepreneurs in Ireland at the moment. “There’s a whole community now, there are financial supports and really practical supports like mentoring that are available to start-ups. Also, the incubators that are available are amazing, with great facilitators, peer-to-peer learning and information.

“I have built a great network through incubators locally and nationally, including New Frontiers, Going for Growth and the AIB Academy.”

But how can people make the most of these supports? “Ask loads of questions, surround yourself with brilliant people and build your team slowly by identifying skills gaps and filling according to priorities,” Wrixon said.

“Outsource what you can’t afford in-house, ask for help and always watch the money!”

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Kelly Earley is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com