Developing technology that is powering the gig economy: A chat with Tony Macklin

Developing technology that is powering the gig economy: A chat with Tony Macklin

A self-confessed geek, Tony Macklin’s interest in technology was sparked by computer games as a teenager. However, unlike most adolescents, he went on to develop an inventory control program for his father’s business at the tender age of 14. His interest lay in how the existing program could better fit the needs of employees; the start of a long-held interest in the relationship between technology and people. Tony still believes that truly understanding customers lies at the heart of developing great technology solutions. Joining Coople in 2016 as CPO, Tony is responsible for developing technology that is powering the gig economy by enhancing the way Coople connects people to jobs. We sat down with him to discuss how technology is changing the way people live and work.

Prior to joining Coople, you worked at eBay and What prompted you to make the leap?

I’ve been lucky to work at many companies that have changed the world in some way. eBay created a step-change in how we buy and sell. made it possible for people to discover their family history online; I like to think of it as a Facebook of those that came before.  

The common factor is the use of technology to solve human problems and impact our lives for the better. When I came across Coople, I was fascinated by the potential for technology to change the world of work and increase the level of choice for workers. Delivering this self-determination is important. In the UK alone, close to 5 million people have made an active choice to work as temps, contractors, or freelancers as they strive to juggle employment with other commitments. Coople gave me the chance to help people balance life and work, touching their lives in a meaningful way.

With that in mind, how can technology change the workplace and the gig economy for the better?

The internet has changed many aspects of our lives, but until recently it had not won in the world of work. This is because work is a human endeavour that cannot be governed by algorithms. However, there is an important role for technology in the workplace. It can help people and businesses succeed by connecting workers to the right jobs and managing the communications process that enables this. 

On-demand staffing platforms like Coople have been developed to help employers find skilled, flexible workers, even when they need staff at short notice. This helps businesses to respond to fluctuations in demand and ensure shifts are filled. It also lets them run their businesses more economically, using on-demand staffing to dramatically lower overall staffing costs. For workers, we make it easy to select jobs based on location, experience and availability. It is this ability for businesses and workers to better connect and engage, in a way that meets the needs of both sides, that will revolutionise the gig economy.

You have worked with some of the most exciting technology brands around. What has motivated you throughout your career? 

The phrase ‘I didn’t know the internet could do that,’ is what drives me. Technology is at its most powerful when it is solving human challenges in surprising and unique ways. To do this effectively you need to talk to your customers, understand their problems and develop innovative approaches to tackling these. At Coople we have spent a huge amount of time talking to our customers and our Cooplers to understand their challenges. These conversations will guide our approach to product development as we continue to power the gig economy across Europe.

We also chatted with our Head of Training and Quality Assurance, Ignat Kostadinov, to learn more about his journey to Coople. Click the link here to read his story.

Meet our workers: Amanda Canever, Chef

Meet our workers: Amanda Canever, Chef

Meet Amanda, who used Coople to work flexibly as a chef allowing her to follow her dream of setting up a food photography business.

Introducing Amanda: using flexible work as a chef to achieve her dream

24-year-old Amanda Canever moved to London at the start of this year, after a year-long stint in Dublin. Originally from Brazil, she moved over to Europe in 2018 seeking a new, creative environment. “I’ve always loved the European lifestyle,” she said.

Amanda is a self-confessed food lover – she studied culinary arts at university and has five years of experience working as a pastry chef. However, she always dreamt of starting up her own business as a freelance food photographer. Ultimately, Amanda wanted photography to be her main job and source of income – no mean feat. “In the kitchen, you don’t have time for yourself. The hours are really long,” Amanda explained, reflecting back on her time working as a full-time chef. “Every week you have a different day off, so it was impossible to plan anything.”

How does Amanda approach flexible work?

Luckily, upon moving to London, Amanda found a solution that enabled her to continue to work flexibly as a chef and begin to start her own business – Coople. She knew that working as a chef on a freelance basis would be much more flexible and would fit around her lifestyle. When she downloaded the Coople app, she realised she could book casual shifts working as a chef. This offered her some financial stability and a work schedule that was completely malleable to her wants and needs. It also gave her the spare time she was seriously lacking.

This flexibility meant she could finally start her freelance food photography business. She had the time to dedicate to it, and crucially, no strict bosses that she had to ask for time off. She also didn’t want to give up entirely on her work as a chef. With Coople, she could easily balance the two.

At the start of this year, inspired by London’s creativity and photography scene, she took the plunge. “It’s challenging, but I love a challenge,” she explained. “I’ve always loved the artistic side of food and capturing it in my photos. Now, being a chef is my side business – my photography takes priority.” Typically, Amanda books in for two chef shifts a week on Coople, and spends three or four days a week focusing on her business; always changing up the days to ensure variety in her work life.

Balancing photography with a chef career

This flexibility is her favourite thing about Coople. “I can arrange what time I’m going to work, and how I can fit it around my photography – that’s the main benefit,” she explained. She tends to book Coople shifts a week or so in advance. Time management is key for Amanda, but Coople lets her manage her time in a way that truly works for her. “The most challenging thing for me is creating a good balance between the two facets of my work, but Coople has massively helped with that.”

Now, less than a year since its launch, Amanda’s freelance photography business is thriving. While Amanda gets to work for a variety of clients in a job that embraces her creative side – and all on her own terms.

“Now I balance my work using Coople, my lifestyle is much better. I can plan everything as my schedule isn’t always changing like it did when I worked full-time as a chef. And my personal life as a freelance chef is the best. I get to have so many experiences, and make lots of different contacts at the same time.”

Check out some of Amanda’s beautiful work through her Instagram account: @caneveramanda

New trends as the Human Cloud comes of age

New trends as the Human Cloud comes of age

With technology fast reshaping the worlds of work and talent acquisition, it is little wonder that Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) events are always jam-packed.  This week hundreds of people gathered for the 2019 conference on Collaboration in the Gig Economy. Conversation buzzed as attendees discussed the evolution of work and considered the newest and most effective ways to manage staffing. In amongst it all, Coople founder Viktor Calabro participated in a panel discussion on new trends in the Human Cloud.

The world of work is evolving fast

Work is no longer solely defined by permanent jobs where people are employed directly by a business. As we found at our recent Breakfast Roundtable, millennials are looking for more flexibility in how they work, seeking life-style appropriate hours in locations close to home. At the same time, digital-first businesses such as Uber have disrupted traditional employment models, looking for on-demand staff who are not direct employees. With both of these factors in play, it is little wonder that 30 per cent of companies are now hiring temporary labour across all job levels, according to the SIA Talent Study 2019.

With the world of work shifting fast, organisations need to explore new staffing models. Enter the Human Cloud; the fastest growing segment of the gig economy.

What is the Human Cloud?

The Human Cloud is made up of online staffing firms that connect people to businesses looking for flexible workers. For staff, this means flexibility when it comes to where and when they work.  For employers, it means instant access to skilled workers, with user-based ratings helping them to select reliable and experienced teams.

The Human Cloud is not a new phenomenon, however, it has reached a new level of maturity – it is actively helping organisations tackle skills shortages and scale up staffing during peak seasons. According to SIA, the total Human Cloud spend reached an estimated $82billion globally, growing by 65% in 2017. But, with its popularity booming, what is next for the Human Cloud?

Investing for success

One of the biggest opportunities for online staffing platforms is boosting service innovation. The panel discussed different approaches to this with some focused on looking to new vertical sectors such as marketing. However, as Viktor told the crowd, Coople is concentrated on perfecting the skillsets of our workers. From chefs to mixologists or wait staff, we plan to be the best at providing the most talented people in the business.

Regulating the Human Cloud

The issue of worker rights in the gig economy has been an issue of contention over recent years, making headlines on numerous occasions. However, as we have discussed, the world of work is changing and regulation needs to evolve in line with this. Many panellists called for government recognition of the demand for flexible labour from businesses and workers. However, all agreed that, within this, the rights of workers must be protected. As Viktor reminded the audience, Coople is focused on creating a world where working flexibly is simple, safe and satisfying for workers and businesses. We are committed to being part of the solution.

Looking to the future

One of the biggest questions around Human Cloud businesses is when they become profitable. Many of these organisations are scale-ups carving out roles in a relatively new market-place. However, at this early stage,  Viktor suggests the goal should be winning market share rather than profitability. However, he does note that there is a huge opportunity to boost innovation and new services which will be drivers for future profitability. For Coople this means a hybrid ‘Tech and Touch’ model where we bolster our online platform with on-the-ground support to onboard and assist customers.

The way that people work has changed radically over recent years and will continue to do so. However, in line with this, businesses have evolved their talent acquisition processes. More of them are looking at online staffing platforms that quickly provide skilled staff with the right experience while ensuring that worker rights are protected. It is this type of Human Cloud solution that will continue to evolve with the market to ensure that both businesses and workers get the best deal.

Meet the Masters: Waiter, Austin Ventour

Meet the Masters: Waiter, Austin Ventour

Welcome to the latest edition of the ‘Meet the Masters’ series, where we interview experts across the hospitality industry. In this edition, we interview the head waiter and bartender of the Village Vanguard in Stratford, Austin Ventour. Austin gives us his perspective on why he is passionate about working as a waiter, as well as his thoughts on the industry today.

Introducing Austin Ventour

Austin Ventour is the head waiter and bartender of the ‘unconventional’ bar and restaurant, Village Vanguard in Stratford, London. He is more commonly known, however, for his role in the BAFTA award winning TV series, First Dates. He has plenty of experience as a waiter, including working for restaurant chains such as The Breakfast Club, as well as independents and loves to model in his spare-time.

What made you want to become a waiter?

I used to visit my dad when he worked in an office and I just thought of having to sit down all day, and having to wear a suit wasn’t for me. Especially the suit part, although I found out later in my career that some high-end restaurants require you to wear them. My first waiter job was at Jamie’s Italian, the thought of interacting and serving people just suited who I was. I can normally tell what people need at the same time they realise they need it and that’s what makes a good waiter. Working in retail can be a bit monotonous and an office can be repetitive, but when people come to a restaurant they come to have quality time with each other and you have the chance to get to know them, and I like that aspect of working in a restaurant.

“I can normally tell what people need at the time they realise they need it and that’s what makes a good waiter.” 

How did you get your break in the industry?

I started my career in waiting when I was 20 at Jamie’s Italian and worked there for two years. I left that job but the old General Manager, Jason who is one of my biggest saviours in life, put me in touch with The Breakfast Club. I got an interview and then secured a job there and then after that, I got scouted for First Dates. So, if I  look back, I owe big thanks to Jason.

What are your views on the attitudes and quality of waiters in the industry today?

Sometimes I see people who are really good, but I would put it out there that I could easily be one of the best waiters that I’ve ever known. For the ones that are good I can see they are more enthusiastic and passionate about delivering a good service and I found that a lot of foreign people are more like that.

I believe some people are born with the gift of being able to please people and then some people just don’t have it. As I said, to make a good waiter you need to be able to sense what people need to deliver a seamless service for your diners; however, when I am having an off-day I’m the first to make mistakes.

What is the best way for a waiter to climb the career ladder?

Find somewhere where you love to work and find somewhere you believe has good prospects and just stick it out. Make friends with everyone and don’t be a teacher’s pet because I think in 2018 no one really likes that any more. When you get a job, you have to stick at it and wait for the break. I think if you have waited two years and you haven’t been promoted, maybe try somewhere else or at least tell your manager you want an opportunity. There’s no point ever leaving without saying something.

“You have to stick at it and wait for the break.” 

It’s also important for waiters to have work flexibility. Without a doubt, that is the main reason I am in this industry. People have different needs though; some people may want to work on the weekends and some people may only want to work during the week. Typically, not many people want to work weekends, but restaurants are at their busiest on weekends, so you’ll need to be able to alternate to give the restaurant the flexibility to then be able to give you flexibility.

Where is the best place to work as a waiter?

The best place I believe is Sweden, just for the fact that they get an hour every day to drink tea and eat cakes. Who wouldn’t love that? You could also say America, but I think you have to work harder to earn the same amount of pay. The majority of the pay is based on tips, so you have to work really hard, but if I was to work really hard in the UK I may not necessarily get many tips, so it works both ways. In Britain, I think it is just hard to find staff, so it affects the quality because there is not much competition for jobs, which is great for job seekers.

Do you think there is enough recognition for careers as a waiter?

The only reason I got a job as a waiter at Jamie’s Italian was down to the fact that my friend worked there; otherwise, I would never have thought of getting a job in a restaurant. You can see restaurants are looking for staff, but a lot of people don’t know what the job entails, and they apply to just have a job. Also, if you wanted to become a waiter no one knows what path to take to be able to become one. If I wanted to work in an office, I think it is quite logical to seek a degree to be able to do that. At the end of the day, the only way to know what it takes is to just get a job and experience it for yourself.

“The only way to know what it takes is to just get a job and experience it for yourself.

What is your number one tip for an aspiring waiter?

You need to enjoy where you work. Pick somewhere which makes you happy and with some hard work you will prosper and build great experience. There are so many opportunities in London and with some good experience you could be working at a top end restaurant like Galvin at Windows, or you can even take your skills to another country.

Check out Village Vanguard on Facebook and Twitter.

Find waiters and waiter work with Coople

Coople are partnered with many highly regarded hospitality clients and offer a range of flexible waiter jobs in London.

Meet the team: Ignat Kostadinov, Head of Training & Quality Assurance

Meet the team: Ignat Kostadinov, Head of Training & Quality Assurance

We sat down with our Head of Training & Quality Assurance, Ignat Kostadinov, to talk about his journey to Coople and how he intends to revolutionise the world of work.

Tell us a bit about yourself

Originally from Bulgaria, I started working as a waiter at the age of 17 for La Pastaria. I liked the social aspect of working within hospitality and knew I wanted to pursue it further.

I moved to the UK when I was 22. I started out working with agencies which meant I was able to see the standards in the level of service between different businesses within the industry. My first full-time job in London was with the Marriott, in Regents Park as Head Banquet Waiter. I then moved from the Marriott to Le Meridien where I worked my way up to Manager of banqueting and room service. I wanted to expand my experience and utilise my skills in another area, so moved into recruitment where I worked for Summit Recruitment as Training and development Manager.

What do you do at Coople?

I head up face-to-face training and on-boarding to ensure that all staff are vetted for skills and experience. My hospitality service training involves social events, corporate events, restaurant service, room service and bars. I also run Customer Service training for office specific roles.

What do you love about your job?

I enjoy training and coaching people so that they can achieve what they set out to in their careers. There is nothing more satisfying than nurturing and getting the best out of people. By doing this we are also able to improve the quality of staff within the on-demand recruitment industry – which is fantastic.

What is something you want to deal with and fix within the industry?

I want to improve the housekeeping model to make it work for both the client and the worker. With the introduction of flexible working opportunities being provided by Coople, housekeepers will be able to work the days they want to, while the client being fully staffed.

What interests do you have outside of work?

I love to spend time discovering new areas on foot. Getting out of London is great and I love being able to explore what the rest of the UK has to offer.

Favourite place to eat, favourite place to drink in London?

Favourite place to eat in London: Galvin at windows
Favourite place to drink: Aqua Regent Street

Meet the team: Michael Perry, Head of Hospitality

Meet the team: Michael Perry, Head of Hospitality

We caught up with our Head of Hospitality, Michael Perry, on his hospitality background and journey to Coople. We also got insights into his plans to shake up the industry, as well as his favourite drinking and dining spots in London.

Tell us a bit about yourself

Originally from Wolverhampton, a lovely town in the West Midlands, I have worked in 8 different cities in the UK.  I started out as a part-time barman while studying A-levels. I then went straight into full-time management with Revolution bars group in 2002 as Deputy GM and I worked my way up to GM, Area Manager and then Regional Operations Manager where I was responsible for 35 Revolution bars across England. As a result, I have personally experienced all aspects of operational challenges and pain points of management and recruitment within bars and restaurants.

What do you do at Coople?

I am responsible for driving new business in the bars and restaurants sector while supporting client’s needs with fast and effective account management. With my hospitality operations background, I provide solutions for clients in a fast and efficient manner to minimise the impact on their operations.

What do you love about your job?

I am passionate about people, the industry and growing people’s careers through people management and being able to do that at Coople is great. I love the energy of a start-up company, everyone has the same passion and the same drive to change how the world works. Our technology and offering not only helps people get access to flexible work but also supports our clients by sourcing affordable flexible staff on-demand.

What is something you want to deal with and fix within the hospitality industry?

As recruitment challenges get tougher in the industry, I want Coople to partner with as many businesses as possible to help support the industry to help them maximise revenues by filling temporary roles.

What interests do you have outside of work?

I am a Chelsea fan. I enjoy following the football and taking in all that London has to offer.

Favourite place to eat, favourite place to drink in London?

Favourite place to eat in London: Hakkasan
Favourite place to drink: A good traditional London pub

We also spoke to our Head of Training and Quality Assurance, Ignat Kostadinov, on his background and journey to Coople. Click here to read Ignat’s story.

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