Tom Pickersgill admits there was no specific ‘light bulb’ moment that led to him and his co-founders to create Labour-as-a-Service (or ‘LaaS’) platform Broadstone. It was simply a desire to disrupt an “archaic” industry.
The three entrepreneurs had been working in facilities management, looking after clients in the security sector, and realised that the sector needed to be changed for the better. “Our old jobs opened our eyes as to how much heavily regulated industries were reliant on antiquated processes,” says Pickersgill. “It was only a matter of time before the whole problem unravelled.”
Three years and £850,000 in funding later, the Manchester-based scaleup has now set its sights on a Series A fundraise and outlined plans to expand into the US and other sectors.
Tom Pickersgill, Nick Groves and James Doyle launched the Broadstone app in February 2018 with the mission of democratising recruitment. The entrepreneurial trio wanted to make it easier for workers in regulated markets to find work and employers to find trusted workers at speed.
“Recruitment is an archaic industry that nobody had tried to disrupt,” Pickersgill says. “The needs of job seekers have evolved but recruiters carried on with their ‘old school’ practice.”
The entrepreneur argues that people don’t want to go into a branch to find work; they want flexibility to look for employment when they need to and preferably on a phone. Likewise, employers want to find trusted workers at speed, rather than wading through piles of CVs.
Enter Broadstone, which Pickersgill proudly describes as a high-end and intuitive ‘Labour-as-a-Service’ platform.
“Think of it like the Airbnb of the recruitment space,” he says. “Like Airbnb we support both sides of the market – for Airbnb this is the homeowner and the guest, for us, the employer and worker – and we help to match people to the best employer based on a set of criteria, just like Airbnb matches guests with available properties based on their wish list of options.”
Since the launch of the platform in early 2018, the scaleup has built partnerships with more than half of Britain’s top 30 security companies and engaged with over 24,000 licensed security officers.
The results “speak for themselves” but Pickersgill insists that the company refuses to rest on its laurels. “The services sector is worth £120b per year in the UK alone, so we have a long way to go,” he says. “This is just the start of our story.”
Wonolo, Syft and Zen are Broadstone’s closest competitors, although Pickersgill is confident that the company’s experience in operating within the regulated industries is a strong differentiator.
“These markets, particularly in the facilities management sector, are desperate for the flexibility that our platform can offer,” he says. “We are effectively challenging decades worth of human-led temporary staffing.”
Growth Pickersgill says he’s “hugely proud” to be part of the fabric and tech ecosystem in Manchester, describing the city as supportive, innovative and “an amazing place for us to be based”.
“It is our mission to make Broadstone one of the tech darlings of Manchester and hopefully achieve unicorn status where we can challenge the big titans of the industry – like Adecco – with our model,” he says. For the year ahead, Broadstone has outlined ambitious expansion plans and is already in talks with venture capital funds to raise a significant funding round to drive its global growth plans – starting with the US.
“We also want to step into new sectors – like care, logistics – and increase our workforce management partners – to make the idea of LaaS a reality in other sectors,” he says. “We are working on building out our management, bolstering the engineering department to make our product a high-class solution that is adopted on a wide scale. We also want to move office and increase our overall headcount five-fold by this time next year.”
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