Here our chat with Saf Nazeer, Co-Founder at Helpfulpeeps.
Disrupt SW: As an intro, what does Helpfulpeeps do, what stage are you at currently and what makes the business and your offering unique?
Saf Nazeer: In short, Helpfulpeeps is a platform for peer-to-peer help that has enabled thousands to find help from people in their local community. Based on the principle of ‘paying it forward’, all help on the platform is given for free – no transaction or exchange, just good old-fashioned community help. Each time you help, you earn karma, which acts as social capital on the network. We call it the karma economy!
In terms of progress, we launched at the end of January following a pilot that we ran in Bristol to test the idea and have since grown the community to almost 100,000 members with active communities in over a dozen cities across the UK.
Disrupt SW: Speaking of People, can you share some challenges you have faced, are facing or are anticipating around up-scaling and growing your team? And are there any top tips you could share with those faced with the same issues?
Saf Nazeer: Our biggest challenges at the moment are around scaling the team in order to handle the exponential growth that we have had this year. We are hoping to double in team size and grow the community to over 1M members in the next 18 months. We are currently going through this process so I’m not sure if I’m in a position to provide top tips but it’s worth mentioning that we are hiring based on relevant technical experience but just as important is the cultural fit. We are a mission driven startup so it’s crucial that those who join the team share our values and are excited about our vision for the future.
Disrupt SW: Moving to Product, what is your approach to understanding and addressing implications of change around you?
Saf Nazeer: We have a very clear mission and vision, which acts as our north star for our decision making in the face of change. We also have a small but tightly knit team where we encourage openness of conversation and debate and this certainly helps as it allows us to process a diverse range of opinions when making decisions.
Disrupt SW: Do you have any tips to ensure focus of planning and strategies on opportunities, options and possibilities when faced with change?
Saf Nazeer: Our strategy is to build out a flat organisational structure with dynamic, motivated and empowered individuals. As a technology startup, we accept that change happens and so we have to learn to embrace it and adapt accordingly or be left behind.
Disrupt SW: And then Potential, can you share some challenges or barriers you had to overcome to create a Product / Offering with potential?
Saf Nazeer: I think most people will have to agree that there has been a decline in community spirit over the last decade. Further there is so much scaremongering in the news that one could also argue that people are more fearful and sceptical of strangers than ever before as well. When we look at human history, until very recently we used to live communally with tribes and then with our extended families.
It's a very recent phenomenon where the majority of the population lead such individualistic lives, particular in urban areas. Social media has perhaps exacerbated this problem as well because platforms like Facebook and Instagram are designed to keep us online for longer as they rely on ad-revenue.
With Helpfulpeeps we saw the potential to do the opposite and use technology to enable people to do more in the real world. The biggest challenge was to raise awareness of what we were doing on a very limited budget and luckily those that did sign up helped us spread the word locally. Now the most common feedback that we receive from our users is that Helpfulpeeps has restored their faith in humanity.
Disrupt SW: And finally, is there one piece of wisdom you could pass on and share with those that are part of a Disrupter Business...
Saf Nazeer: I think everyone is trying to be ‘disruptive’ these days and so it’s become just a buzzword. However the fact that we are a small team that has the tech in-house means we are able to try lots of different things and we recognise that some of those experiments will fail. We aim to learn from those failures and to continue trying new things and this kind of culture I feel lends itself to create a disruptive business.
Thank you Saf for sharing.