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

06 December 2018 Authored by 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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