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Ash Staines, co-founder at volunteero

StartIn: Hello and welcome on our Spotlight series. Ash, can you give us a quick introduction about yourself?

Ash: I am a 32 year old entrepreneur and cofounder of Volunteero. My career up until now has been in finance working for 6 years at Goldman Sachs as an equity trader. After volunteering for a number of organisations, I felt there was a real need for better technology to support the sector. What started as a passion project is now my full time role and we now aiming at building the defacto volunteering app.

StartIn: And shifting to your start-up, can you give us a three-sentence overview what you are doing?

Ash: Volunteero is a platform helping organisations manage and recruit volunteers. Our clients save time and are able to improve their volunteer engagement. Volunteers have one place to go to find opportunities, apply and then manage their day to day volunteering activities.

StartIn: That’s cool! Starting a platform is not easy, you usually face the chicken-egg problem, as one side (volunteers) is only wanting to join the network, when there is someone from the other side (volunteer organisations) already on board. How did you overcome this chicken-egg problem?

Ash: We realised the biggest issue is in the management of volunteers. The process is manual and time-consuming for staff and this leads to a poor experience for volunteers. The first 3 years of our journey were focused on building a superb standalone B2B volunteer management product. This enabled us to build a client base of around 100 organisations across the UK. This meant that when the time was right we could build the public facing side of the app and we already had a decent supply of volunteering opportunities when prospective volunteers found us and downloaded our app. In short we built the supply side fire.

StartIn: What is your business model behind volunteero and are volunteer organisations willing to pay for your service (as they generally face scarce budgets)?

Ash: Voluntary organisations pay us an annual licence fee. This fee varies depending on the number of staff and volunteers they wish to support. Price is always a challenge but when the value we provide far exceeds this, we still create a compelling reason to invest. Clients see around a 15-20x ROI from the time saved, their volunteers are up to 3x more productive and now they can attract more volunteers. All of this with one platform. Charities are in the business of delivering as much impact as they can with the money they have, we help them in this goal.

StartIn: What’s your long vision for your start-up, and concretely what are your plans for the upcoming 12 months?

Ash: We want to be THE volunteering app globally. The Airbnb or the Uber of Volunteering. Over the coming 12 months we would like to demonstrate good improving traction from the marketplace, hit £1m ARR, increase our international presence and potentially raise a series A round.

StartIn: For the end, do you have one piece of advice for students finishing up their studies and thinking about becoming a full-time entrepreneur?

Ash: Go work for a startup, there is no better way to learn and you will soon know if this is the life for you. It isn’t for everyone and better you figure that out in a way that minimises your risk and in the worst case, offers a fantastic learning experience.

StartIn: Thank you very much for sharing your story!

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Are you currently hiring / looking for investors?

Not actively raising but keen to build relationships with investors ahead of a future raise. Please get in touch