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Finding a face that fits

The emergence of the internet has made possible a new generation of companies with the ability to change established markets, according to Ryan Cleland-Bogle, chief operations officer of Belfast firm FlowJob.

Cleland-Bogle describes his company’s website, FlowJob. com, as an online marketplace, on which users can obtain quotes from service providers in their locality, including gardeners, carpenters and child minders. ‘‘The internet is the backbone of our business and our website is our primary product,’’ said Cleland-Bogle. ‘‘We have a very disruptive product that changes the way consumers find someone to provide services. also changes the way businesses advertise the services they provide.’’


An idea is born

The idea for the business came about as a result of Cleland-Bogle’s own frustration with the limitations of printed directories. ‘‘I was using traditional directories to find people to do various jobs like garden- ing, decorating or babysitting,’’ he said. ‘‘It took ages on the phone to find people that were available, and then I had no idea whether the person was reliable or good value for money. I found myself wishing I could just post my jobs online and have recommended people quote for them. Hey presto FlowJob was born.’’

Social media platforms are key to the business concept behind FlowJob. ‘‘We use traditional online advertising methods as well as embracing social media, including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, to create momentum. Facebook is especially important as friends’ recommendations are helpful when it comes to find- ing a trusted person to do work for you,’’ said Cleland-Bogle.

Offering so much more

Launched in March 2010, FlowJob’s local directory has more than 25,000 registered service providers from around the country.‘‘We are much cheaper than old-fashioned directories, but we offer so much more. Once service providers sign up, they can quote on as many jobs as they like with no success fee to pay.’’

‘‘They then receive e-mail alerts for all potential jobs in their service category. If they provide a good service, they get positive ratings, which creates a cycle of success.’’

Cleland-Bogle believes the system is equally easy for consumers to use. ‘‘Customers can quickly post any type of job they need done on FlowJob. com, sit back and watch the quotes roll in,’’ he said.

‘‘Relevant service providers then quote for the job online and the customer selects the service provider that they want based on price and the provider’s FlowJob Star Rating, as awarded by previous customers. You can then pick the one that you want based on price and genuine ratings from previous customers.’’

Doing the research

Cleland-Bogle researched the market carefully before launching the company. ‘‘We carried out a lot of desktop research looking at market size and potential competitors. We also spoke to potential users to understand their needs, making an early hire and getting this person to ‘bang the phones’. This effort and expense proved invaluable in helping us establish our product and win our first users,’’ he said.

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