What prompted you to start PPH back in 2007 just as the recession was hitting?'

I started PeoplePerHour in 2007 with a pen, pad and telephone with a simple vision to connect businesses to freelancers. The idea actually came from my previous business, which I started fresh out of university. I had launched an offline version of what we do today; we were the service provider, a bit like a virtual assistant outfit. Originally, I had no plans to turn it into an online business. However, employees began leaving because they were saying actually I can do this from my bedroom and be self-employed. Skype was just becoming a big thing and people all of a sudden had access to free online communication. I realised that the future was actually to provide the marketplace for businesses and freelancers to connect, rather than acting as a virtual assistant and hiring out my own services. That's how the idea for PeoplePerHour came about. I soon hired engineers, and we started to build the platform that has developed into what it is today.

How long did it take to get off the ground?

There's no such thing as ‘off the ground'. It's an iterative process that evolves and keeps changing. To get a working website, initial revenue and our first customer business took around six months. The site and model has been rebuilt many times over. We're a technology platform that has to evolve to keep up.

Our mission at PeoplePerHour is to empower entrepreneurs to turn their bright ideas into reality, helping launch and grow their businesses from the ground up. Since 2007, we have paid out in excess of £150 million to freelancers around the world.

Is the situation now, with the pandemic causing many people to lose their jobs, not unlike when you started out?

Yes, very similar: We started in 2007/2008 when unemployment was skyrocketing and people were being made redundant. Using a service like PeoplePerHour allowed people to find a new source of income. On the other hand, there were companies who were downsizing and needed to cut costs, and using our services helped fulfil tasks that needed to be completed.

Does the business model work abroad? 

We're an online business that started getting traction organically and grew. We didn't venture abroad but our freelancers and those that were hiring contractors were global - 50% of customers are abroad. People can work everywhere from anywhere so our model worked around the world.

What now for PPH?

The business is 13 years old now and we're constantly improving and making changes. We're improving our customer experience and always making changes to our site to meet the changing needs. As we continue to grow, there are the challenges of needing a bigger website, integrating new methods of payment or new technology which we need to implement into our business.