Every week we ask a local business or product to introduce themselves in eight simple takes. This week we talk to Alex Vaz and Nik Ellis, founders of an app that links up builders, plumbers and other tradespeople with jobs that need doing around the house.
ONE: How did Tradee start and what was the inspiration behind it?
Tradee started as an online website we designed and created. At the start, it was inspired by an issue facing many of our friends [in the trades industry] who were looking for work in dry periods but having trouble. We also knew many people looking for trades services but were having no luck with traditional methods like Google or the Yellow Pages, and were getting nowhere with the trades companies that were typically hired to complete the work.
The inspiration was to create a method where those looking to hire the tradespeople could post the work – no matter the scale – directly to a market of tradespeople who could do it, not into a market for large companies who were already fully booked or charged much higher prices.
TWO: Did you have any interest/experience in business or entrepreneurship prior to starting Tradee?
Alex Vaz (AV): I had a previous start-up in the technology scene called Perfit that was successful in many university-led innovation competitions such as AUT Venture Fund, Co.Starters and AUTEL Innovation Challenge. I even raised seed capital to develop the technology for market while completing my business degree in finance and economics.
Nik Ellis (NE): I’d started multiple successful online businesses such as TLC Hair, Teeth Whitening NZ Australia and many more. I was an online guru for e-commerce and digital business/marketing while at the same time having real on-site experience and interest in the trades industry having undergone a building apprenticeship.
THREE: What makes Tradee different from other ways of finding tradespeople?
Unlike Google, local listings or Facebook which primarily advertise businesses and companies, Tradee is a peer-to-peer platform that allows customers to find tradespeople at an individual level. It allows customers to post work to an entire market which results in a much wider spread of resources, as opposed to a select few businesses [getting all the work]. It also allows the customer to get help from those who are more relevant, effective, local or cheaper compared to only being able to contact those who pay for more advertising and show up in traditional places like local listings or Google.
Tradee allows for direct responsibility because customers can leave feedback on the individuals who actually do the work and not just the company who contracts the workers. This provides a more transparent and reliable market of workers because it gives a rating for the tradespeople that work hard and [is more measurable than saying] “I worked for X company for Y years”. A tradesperson can now show their real reviews and work done, creating a much more reputable and appreciative method of exhibiting their work to future employers or clients.
FOUR: What sort of qualifications (if any) are needed to be a tradesperson on the Tradee app?
For builders, plumbers or electricians, they need to hold a New Zealand National Certificate for their industry or they won’t be able to sign up for work on the platform.
For other services like waterproofing and tiling, these don’t require a National Certificate and are more of a skill. You’ll want to look for quality reviews and work case studies.
FIVE: How many users do you currently have active on the app?
Our current user base is at a couple thousand, but we’re actually about to launch our first market-ready version that’s evolved from our prototype in late February. So with very large plans to launch and enter the market, this [user] number is set to change soon.
SIX: What about the payments process? How does that work? And does Tradee take a percentage of the earnings in the same way that other sharing economy apps like Uber and Airbnb do?
Currently, all payments are organised privately, whether that’s through a bank transfer, credit card or cash.
Our next update, which is coming in late March, will allow our tradespeople to be paid by clients directly through the app, which will entail a minimal percentage fee – just above 6% – to cover the costs of transactions to providers. There will also be a payment feature that allows clients to enter their payment details and pay their tradesperson through the application which will be sent to the tradesperson’s nominated bank account. This will allow peace of mind for both parties as the process is taken care of 100% legally and can be tracked for future reference.
SEVEN: Do you have any plans to scale/grow further and if so, what are they?
Our goal for 2018 is to create a platform that actually works and adds value to both tradespeople and clients. Once we’re confident that our system is adding value to the trades industry here in New Zealand, we think it would be worth taking the platform internationally, starting with Australia.
EIGHT: Lastly, tell us about a start-up or business that you really admire right now.
AV: The Boring Company. Elon Musk has always been a hero and inspiration of mine, and the innovations right through to the hilarious marketing they get up to is both inspirational and entertaining
NE: 5-hour Energy. Ever since I first saw a video on the founder of 5-Hour Energy, Manoj Bhargava, I was inspired. The passion and determination that lies behind every one of his creative ideas not only in business but in communities as well, is something I’ll always be motivated by.
The Spinoff’s business content is brought to you by our friends at Kiwibank. Kiwibank backs small to medium businesses, social enterprises and Kiwis who innovate to make good things happen.
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