Firstly, tell us a bit about you?
I’m Anna, co-founder of TaskHer, a marketplace platform connecting modern homeowners to verified tradeswomen. I live in London with my co-founder and partner Paul, and our two year old daughter Cleo. I’m also pregnant (for good measure), so currently juggling a lot of plates on the start-up rollercoaster! My background is in marketing, and I’m big into design and interiors.
Tell us about your business, how did you come up with the idea?
At the end of 2020 we were planning some improvement work on our property and I was charged with finding contractors. Every few days a tradesman would turn up to give us a quote, and would turn directly to talk to Paul. It was driving me nuts, and so I decided I was going to find a female kitchen fitter to see if the experience was different.
There was little to no ability to book tradeswomen online, nothing centralised around finding a tradeswoman for people who were looking for a female – regardless of the reasons why.
TaskHer launched early 2022 with our MVP – a booking platform which connects homeowners quickly and simply to tradeswomen with the expertise they need. Everyone on our platform is verified, so we know they’re highly qualified and expert, ready to do fantastic work.
TaskHer’s also totally free for tradeswomen to use – something that’s really important to us, as the booking site is part of our wider plan to play a significant part in addressing the gender imbalance in skilled manual trades.
What is your main inspiration and driver for your business and how do you create positive change in the world?
As we dug deeper into the statistics around women in skilled trades, we were really shocked. There are over 35K women in the UK working in skilled trades which only represents 5% of the UK trades workforce. The lack of representation of women in trades paired with an outdated way of booking tradespeople online through the current online directories available, meant we had a business idea – and one with a purpose we were really passionate about!
Our mission is to create an innovative, online experience and model of booking that empowers both a new generation of modern homeowners and tradeswomen.
Our marketplace platform allows customers to find, book and pay verified tradeswomen easily and completely online, all whilst supporting the women blazing a trail in the male dominated trades industry.
For tradeswomen, TaskHer builds opportunities and empowers them to build their own businesses, whilst receiving confirmed bookings from customers who are actively looking to support women in trade.
What were the initial challenges you came up against and how did you overcome them?
Just the little fact that neither of us had any experience or connections in the trades world!
We knew our skillset of marketing and marketplace management would be key to building our business, but were very aware of our lack of direct trades experience and established a panel of skilled and experienced tradeswomen who advise us on everything from the problems tradeswomen face, product testing, building our community and establishing fair rates of pay.
What was the first win that made you feel you were onto something?
We launched our Instagram to do some Fake Door testing and were amazed at the reception from both women in trade and potential customers. We were getting messages every day saying ‘FINALLY!’ – so we knew we’d hit a nerve.
What has been your best investment?
Our brand. We spent a proportion of our initial investment on making sure our brand really spoke to both customers and tradeswomen. We are so different from anything else in our vertical and I’m so proud of that. Our messaging is so important, we are pushing against the gender disparity in the trades industry which isn’t a small thing, and really want to make sure we aren’t alienating all of the excellent skilled tradesmen out there who support women in trade. We aren’t an ‘instead of’ company, we are an ‘as well as’ company.
Have you made any mistakes or faux pas? If so, can you share with us?
Oh loads. That’s part of the fun of having a startup. I think personally my biggest mistake was underestimating what people mean when they say the ‘startup rollercoaster’, I thought it was just a fun turn of phrase! Initially the highs and lows really hit me hard, after 20 years of working full time for other people it was a huge misjudgement to think I could work in a similar way when running a startup! One day you’ll have incredible news about an investment opportunity, the next your whole site will go down and you’ll be freaking out for the day. I’m used to it now, but it took a few months!
What’s your experience of being a woman in the start-up ecosystem and what in your mind needs to change?
On the whole it’s been positive, but we have been actively targeting VCs and angels who are interested in the future of work or supporting female founders – by their very nature they are supportive of what we are doing. We are only at the pre-seed stage of our fundraising though and my understanding is that it’s still really hard for female founders to raise funds the further down the line you get. There are some fantastic women in institutional investing who are working to change this with funds geared to follow-on funding for female founders but they are still the exception and not the rule.
What’s been the greatest lesson you’ve learnt since starting your own business?
Keep focussed on the purpose of your business. It’s your north star and if you keep your eye on it you’ll be heading in the right direction.
With the future in mind, where would you like to be/where do you see yourself in the next five years?
I hope I’m still heading up TaskHer and chipping away at the gender disparity in the trades! Our plans for the TaskHer marketplace are for us to expand the range of trades we offer which are bookable online, and to also expand geographically within the UK and then worldwide.
We are also working on plans to tackle the barriers to entry for girls and women when it comes to entering the trades, with a series of training academy partnerships. These academies will see TaskHer rebranding a career in the trades as an aspirational choice for girls and women, as well as providing both a supportive training environment and a flow of newly trained tradeswomen into the TaskHer marketplace.
What books, podcasts or resources would you recommend?
How I Built This with Guy Raz is an excellent podcast which delves into the stories behind some of the world’s best known companies and their founders.
What advice would you give anyone about to start a business?
Just because you’re a business founder it doesn’t mean you need to be working every hour of the day to prove a point. Manage your time and enjoy the flexibility!
Finally, where can we find you/how can we support you?
About your author
Leah Williams is the Blog Editor for Found & Flourish, working with Founder Lara Sheldrake to ensure every piece of published content is empowering, inspiring and well presented, just like the women we work with.
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