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First Tuesday Awards

May 11, 2009
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About two hundred people went to the First Tuesday Party after their awards.

What was interesting was the three finalists were not companies that were doing anything revolutionary, but were using the Internet to deliver a very traditional service.

  1. The winner was a company called ShipServ, (www.shipserv.com), that basically provided services to the 8,000 or so cargo ships that ply the world. The company employs about a hundred people, has been running for eight years or so and claims about 70% of the market.
  2. Another company was Wonga, (www.wonga.com), that is basically into unsecured lending. If you want to borrow up to £200 for up to 60 days, then this site may be for you, if you want to pay an interest rate of 2,000 plus percent. But believe it or not about £60bn is lent by traditional companies like this in the UK. I think that the Zopa model is more acceptable.
  3. The third company was WorkHound, (www.workhound.co.uk), who have set up an intelligent job search engine. They search all web sites looking for job ads and bring them all together. The useful thing is that you can even search company web sites for jobs advertised there. I just tried it for Project Manager in CB8 (my post code) and I got a lot of relevant jobs. WorkHound appears to have been pretty successful. The interesting thing though is that a lot of its business is now done using Twitter. When they started it wasn’t even in their business model!

So what do these companies have in common?

They are what I would call A to B business, with C taking a fee for the service. Even my granny would have understood that. Anything that stinks of derivatives, swaps and too much cleverness is very much out these days.

I’m going to return to WorkHound, as they are a more than interesting company and in my view should have won.

ShipServ is business-based, has seen a niche and has exploited it. And done it very well, using standard technology, albeit with a good twist! Wonga lends to those at the bottom who need money fast, but it is something that could be replicated. Or possibly! But then I might be wrong about Wonga in that it may be more technology-based than I thought.

But WorkHound is technology based and I think shows how if you get the technology right you can create a very interesting company. For instance, just as I searched for Project Manager vacancies near me, could it be modified to search for things like large projects that are just being started? But it’s their use of Twitter especially to create a community of those looking for jobs, that is interesting.

We should all watch WorkHound.

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