Matt Tomlins’ saw a demand in the market and made a product. It’s a classic entrepreneur story with a detour to Queensland. Tomlin’s business CoverCard was a recipient of Hot DesQ funding, Advance Queensland’s startup attraction program.
What did workers do before CoverCard? What sort of hassles did this present for both workers and employers?
The original vision for CoverCard came from co-founder Jon Gwynne. Jon is a boilermaker by trade and had a wallet overflowing with hard copy tickets and cards. He identified a lot of the problems we’re addressing for workers.
Worker ticket and licences have long been in hard copy format. Most people have a physical drivers licence, but many trades workers have wallets full of 5 or 6 similar small plastic cards.
For trades workers, these cards cover a wide range of qualifications they must have to do their job.
Many workers also hold trade certificates and other qualifications in hard copy format that are also not easily shareable. It meant that applying for jobs was often a time consuming and painful task.
Employers simply wanted to know the tickets and licences a worker holds to put them onto the short-list for jobs. They typically received many hundreds of resumes, all in different formats, generally poorly written and most not meeting the role requirements.
This meant that recruitment was often a timing consuming and painful task.
Can you throw us a few interesting anecdotes for how CoverCard has improved peoples’ lives and got them jobs?
We enable workers and job seekers to take control of their careers and give themselves the best chance of finding their next job.
We have a number of Job Active employment agencies sharing our info with their job seekers as they see its very valuable in helping their clients find their next job.
One of these is based on Christmas Island — our flyers took a long time to make it there by boat, we should have sent them airmail!
There’s a 30-second video of our worker offering here:
Cover Card looks to be targeted at tradespeople — are you planning to target other job types?
There’s 3.8 million blue-collar workers in Australia that have hard copy tickets and licences they need to do their job. This includes tradespeople but also other highly regulated industry sectors with similar challenges. For example, the security industry has quite specific ticket and licences requirements and our service works well in this industry also.
There are also big opportunities in other parts of the world — our infrastructure is built such that moving to another market is simple to do, we simply load the qualifications for that jurisdiction.
If you could wave a magic drill what would make life easier in a day of your life running CoverCard?
There’s some days that could do with a few more hours! We’re making a lot of progress with a small team. As our traction continues to gather pace we’ll look to raise investment to grow out our team and enable us to increase the pace of our scaling efforts.
What are your ultimate goals for CoverCard?
Building an integrated global network of blue-collar workers based on tickets and licences.
A previous report from recruitment firm Randstad found that whilst for white collar workers the most popular place for career info, jobs, networking and connecting with others is LinkedIn, for blue collar workers it is Facebook. There’s a big opportunity to fill this gap, not just in Australia, but globally.
What’s something you wish you knew before you started this company?
I’ve enjoyed tapping into the startup community here in Queensland and previously in Melbourne and Perth. I believe there’s always a lot to learn from those around us and there’s a lot of energy in the Queensland startup community at the moment.
I’ve learnt a huge amount along the way. Most importantly I’ve become aware of a huge range of online tools available to non-tech entrepreneurs that can enable you to get your business off the ground without coding skills. I was not aware that most of these existed before commencing our CoverCard journey.
For those who have a tech business idea or concept there really is nothing holding you back from testing the concept, building a basic product and kicking off your startup.
How do you think AI will impact the trades and therefore CoverCard?
AI is going to impact a lot of different jobs, including trades.
Repetitive tasks, such as in a manufacturing environment, will feel the most direct impact. However, many trades tasks are specific to the situation or environment in which the activity takes place, meaning that AI will take longer to impact on those jobs.
For trades workers its best to embrace technology (like CoverCard!) as it will continue to change and evolve whether desired or not.
To find out more about how your startup could relocate to Queensland visit Advance Queensland’s Hot DesQ. Round 2 opens in April 2017.