AS A freelancing advertising director, Australian-born Simon Chapman found sourcing customers both difficult and expensive. After moving to Wicklow with his Irish wife in 2009, the father-of-two came up with the idea for Quotefish. The 44-year-old's company allows freelancers, contractors and others to bid for business easily online.
"Remember the days when a knock on your neighbour's door would get you the number of a handyman? There was always someone for the job, but no one really questioned if they were getting the best price or service. Comparing quotes and references is the only way to make sure you are getting the best you can.
But I found myself questioning why customers must always do the work to find the right business to give their money to. Shouldn't the business be the one who finds the customer, and deliver the type of service and price that means we'll use them again?
That's where Quotefish comes in. Consumers post their work requirement on the site. Then local businesses pay a small fee to provide a quote for the work and receive the consumer's contact details. Once the work is complete, the consumer leaves a rating and review of the business for the next user.
I have mainly funded the idea myself, but have also had help from family and some funding on an Enterprise Ireland accelerator programme. The biggest challenge to getting the business up and running was not giving up but I had the belief and motivation to stick with it.
Now we have over 120 business categories. Builders, tradesmen, web designers, lawyers, accountants, panel beaters... almost anything you can think of is available on Quotefish. The service is great for young people and first-time homeowners who have little, if any, experience in dealing with tradespeople. Everyone wins.
Businesses instantly know when someone needs their services, and by providing quality workmanship they receive positive reviews and thus more work. Consumers save time and money by having businesses approach them, and can make better, more informed choices through the information provided on the Quotefish website.
I had to ensure a certain level of quality, so we rely on Facebook checks and the services of another new Irish business, Trustev, to help validate the people and businesses that use the site. When you sign up for Quotefish using your Facebook account, either as a business or a consumer, Trustev securely verifies your identity to ensure you are a real live human and not a fraudster.
This greatly reduces the risk of anyone trying to take advantage.
Within a week of launching we had over 100 businesses signed up, and are planning on launching internationally within 12 months. The UK is next, then mainland Europe.