Worksome CEO Morten Petersen on the firm's UK market entry

06 December 2018 Consultancy.uk

Last month Worksome, a Danish matchmaking platform for independent consultants, announced that it has made a foray into the UK market. Having already demonstrated its success in Denmark, CEO and co-founder Morten Petersen is confident the firm can make a mark in the UK’s crowded market. In discussion with Consultancy.uk, Petersen elaborates on the rationale behind market entry, how Worksome sets itself apart and how he believes the firm will be able to successfully capitalise on market opportunities.

For those who are unfamiliar with Worksome, can you introduce the company?

After launching Worksome in Denmark in early 2017, we have onboarded more than 6,000 of the absolute top freelancers and independent consultants and 6,000 companies, varying from SMBs to large corporations. We’ve facilitated thousands of jobs, but most importantly, our matching technology is now at the point where it is beating the human alternative. As more data is coming in, the matching algorithm will improve exponentially, eventually leaving traditional recruiting in the dust.

Competition in the UK’s market for consultant matchmaking is heating up, with several international players recently entering the market. How does Worksome differentiate itself?

There are a few aspects that set Worksome apart from its competition. One thing that freelancers tend to miss out on is the company culture and feeling part of a team. Because Worksome is for local/onsite consultants only, it’s easy for them to remain flexible and be able to have the experience of being part of a culture. For example, a client in London will access London-based consultants, meaning the people they hire can actually join their company and be part of their team for however long they need them.

From a business perspective, this means that the knowledge and expertise these highly skilled consultants bring with them can be accessed and leveraged by an in-house team. This removes any fear or threat of losing knowledge which is sometimes associated with hiring remote freelancers. By having them in-house, a business and its teams can capitalise on this sharing of knowledge and skill and can take it forward beyond the lifespan of the contractor's tenure.

Worksome CEO Morten Petersen on the firm's UK market entry

Our technology is accurate. The algorithms are doing the heavy lifting and puts consultancy buyers in direct contact with the best profiles for their job or project. All processes are automated – matching, algorithm, contracts, invoicing, ratings etc. This saves time for both parties and is more efficient. 

Lastly, is our cost. Worksome, has a low fee of 4% compared to the industry average of commissions between 15% – 30%. Because the technology behind the platform creates ultra-efficient search and matching processes, this means that the need for human input at the ‘churning of data’ stage is minimal – so, with fewer resources needed, it’s possible to keep commission costs at a minimum.

Why did Worksome enter the UK, as opposed to, for instance, Sweden, Germany or the Netherlands?

Maturity, size and language. The number of self-employed workers in the UK has been growing increasingly since 2001. Self-employment now accounts for around 15% of the working population, having increased from 3.3 million in 2001 to 4.8 million in 2017, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). That means that we have a large pool of freelance talent that continues to grow that we can tap into. That is essentially the supply side of our business. 

In terms of the demand-side, UK companies are much more accustomed to using flexible labour than most of the companies in their neighbouring countries. For this very reason, we don’t have to convince them about the benefits of using freelancers. Studies show that freelancers bring access to specialised skills, provide greater innovation, and faster time to market at the same quality level as full-time employees.

Adding to this, most companies in the UK severely struggle to find the competencies they need to keep their businesses running. These businesses are starting to realise that they have to tap into the flexible labour market to future-proof them against any upcoming skills shortage. According to the 2018 Talent Shortage Survey, large companies in the UK with 250+ employees have the most difficulty filling job vacancies, with 50% of employers experiencing skills shortages. Large companies account for 0.1% of businesses, but they employ 40% of the total workforce. This demonstrates the significant impact this skills shortage has on the wider labour market. SMBs are feeling the pinch too, with 45% struggling to find the competencies they need to keep their businesses running. 

“How does Worksome differentiate itself? Worksome is for local/onsite consultants only; clients can expect perfect matches and our algorithms creates ultra-efficient search and matching processes – meaning our commissions are well below the industry average.” 

Therefore with more accurate, faster and targeted matching, there are ripe opportunities for Worksome to help solve the problems faced by both businesses and contractors in the UK.

How is Worksome going to build a presence in the UK?

What has proven most effective so far, is to, one by one, deliver perfect matches between consultants and business. Quickly. All wrapped in a smooth user experience. Having embraced the Google approach and attitude towards innovation, we are always looking to challenge the status quo. It is our aim to not only be recognised as a platform that provides a superior professional business-to-consultant matchmaking solution, but to also be recognised as innovative thinkers and educators on the recruitment scene. 

The next generation of talent is a different breed to any we have seen to date, so it’s crucial that businesses open their eyes to new ways of thinking to access the very best in talent, not just taking the traditional route because ‘it’s always been done this way’. We want to be leading – and challenging – the conversation around smarter recruitment, we want to get rid of the biases around recruitment, we want to spark debates around best practices, and drive new thinking that will help businesses and freelancers prosper in a landscape which is quickly shifting beneath our feet. 

Lastly, what else can we expect in terms of European expansion?

The jury is out. For now (meaning the next 9-12 months) UK has our complete focus, but we are already experiencing strong demands from clients to open for business in the rest of the Nordics and the Baltics. Obviously, Germany and Southern Europe is also of great interest to us, but for now we are conscious not to spread ourselves too thin. 

Morten Petersen co-founded Worksome in 2017 with Mathias Linnemann (background at Google), Christina Brun Petersen (background in HR) and Hans Peter Nielsen (background in IT). Following launch, the co-founders closed a small investment round to finance expansion, and in 2018 a larger seed round was closed to scale the business and accelerate growth. The capital raising round was backed by senior managers from Google as well as investors, including Tommy Ahlers, a business angel who is now Denmark’s Minister of Science, Technology, Information and Higher Education.

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Robert Park on the launch of his consultancy RWG Enterprises

18 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

Following a lengthy spell as a General Manager at an international materials corporation, Robert Park was keen to rediscover his inner entrepreneur. With the launch of his new consulting firm, RWG Enterprises, Park spoke with Consultancy.uk to outline his hopes for the future of the company, and how he believes his boutique will be able to challenge the market.

Robert Park commenced his career in retail, taking up a string of General Store Manager positions with companies – including Poundstretcher and The Gadget Shop – before making the 2005 move that would lead him to a 13-year stay with Morgan Advanced Materials. First taking up a role as Production Supervisor with the organisation, Park quickly worked his way to the upper echelons of the group. By 2013, he held the role of UK Operations Manager for the company’s UK ceramic core business, Certech UK, before seeing out his final four years at the firm as General Manager, leading the senior management team and strategic direction of the business.

Despite his success with the firm, however, Park found himself getting itchy feet. A change of career seemed increasingly appealing, and by February 2019, the time to take a new path had arrived.

Park explained: “I was losing the ability to to use the entrepreneurial flair that I had enjoyed in the past; the organisation was moving more towards a structured and common approach for doing things, and that made me feel restricted. I also really enjoy the troubleshooting, problem solving side of my role. However, having been in my last post for four years, the troubleshooting and firefighting was long behind me. I realised that I am really energised by tackling difficult issues or turning around things that are clearly struggling.”

New consulting firm RWG Enterprises launches

His criteria for a new career seemed to point conclusively in the direction of management consulting, and while his CV has no formal experience in the sector, Park believes his career to date has provided him with a wealth of transferable skills. During his time with Certech at Morgan Advanced Materials, he became a Senior Manager at the age of just 21, and went on to succeed in a harsh factory environment where six former candidates had previously failed to deliver results.

Later, he became the group’s youngest General Manager in its history, and was involved in the turnaround of numerous departments. He also developed vast experience dealing with a wide range of ‘people’ challenges, including re-organisation, talent development, talent acquisition and leadership development. Along the way, Park noted that he learned to deal with large, blue chip organisations such as Rolls Royce, securing major long-term contracts worth upwards of £25 million.

Now, he hopes to take that know-how and apply it to the diverse world of consulting work. Park elaborated: “I really want to be able to help organisations that feel that there is no hope or have lost faith in the business… Having been there myself I know how helpful it would have been to have someone to refer to in times of crisis… The firm will also focus on leadership development, as I spent a lot of time with the global graduate program during my corporate career… and I was really motivated to see these individuals grow and develop… helping them to find their own way through challenging situations.

New enterprise

Park’s new Derby-based consultancy, RWG Enterprises, will focus on five key operational fronts. As stated, leadership development and business rescue will be two of these areas, as well as manufacturing – where the firm will tackle challenges such as new product introduction. RWG will also offer financial advisory services and strategic business planning offerings.

While Park is understandably guarded about the firm’s initial engagements, he revealed that he has been “speaking at length to a well-known university and business school about providing mentoring and coaching support to students.” In the long-term, the aim is for RWG Enterprises to take on engagements from clients across the industrial spectrum. He added that as “the company is very embryonic”, it would be “foolish” to become too focused on target clients at this stage.

When asked how RWG Enterprises intends to differentiate itself from the rest of the pack, in an ever-more-crowded UK consulting sector, Park is undaunted by the task ahead. He stated, “I think the main differentiator is that we are small... I have operated at a very senior level for many years but I have enjoyed a very diverse background having worked in most functions within my last organisation. I also won’t take on any work or clients that I feel I cannot deliver value for, I am honest and ethical and am really motivated by seeing others become successful… The main thing I am focused on is 'can I add value' and 'can I help?'”