Genevieve George is an award-winning entrepreneur in the real sense of the world. Her start-up company, OneShift, has been recognised as one of the Most Innovative and Best New companies on the planet at the Global Stevie Awards for Women in Business which Gen herself has been awarded Young Female Entrepreneur of the Year, Shoestring’s Top 50 Female Entrepreneurs under 40 (she was ranked number 6 above the likes of actor Rebel Wilson and Kikki K’s Kristina Karlsson), Future Makers 25 under 25 winner, 2013 winner of The Australian Business Award for Innovation, Enterprise and E-Business and recognised in Anthill 30 under 30 2013 awards. And that’s just to mention a few.
And all at the ripe age of 23.
OneShift is an online recruitment service that is kind of like a dating agency where prospective workers and businesses can meet, check out each other’s stats and requirements and find a perfect match. Both job seekers and businesses can sign-up for free to the site. Job seekers list their credentials along with what type of employment they are seeking – part time, casual or permanent, then interested businesses are able to review that job seeker at no cost. If a business likes what they see they pay to contact the job seekers. Such a simple model but now such a successful business. OneShift now has over 280,000 users aged from 13 to 60. Job seekers are anyone from high school leavers saving up for Schoolies, mums re-entering the workforce or those travelling and looking for short contracts. One Shift is seriously disrupting the traditional recruitment industry and Genevieve (Gen) George is at the helm leading her dynamic, savvy team.
The business model is doing so well because we have captured a fast-moving market.
Within a few minutes of speaking with Gen, I could see why this gal is so successful. Fast talking, to the point, passionate and on purpose, Gen puts most women twice her age to shame with her business acumen and sheer determination. When I finally nail her down for an interview she is just off the back from a two-day trip to New Zealand where she faced back to back media about OneShift’s launch into the NZ market. “I’ve just done interviews with the New Zealand Herald, the morning show over there and loads of newspaper interviews. Most importantly we have signed up 95 businesses and have 250 job seekers listed already,” Gen explains matter-of-factly. She adds, “The business model is doing so well because we have captured a fast-moving market. We match your business to job seekers in your area with the qualifications you are looking for, and you get results straight away. It’s a no risk model – you know what you are getting before you pay.”
Gen certainly has her finger on the pulse. But the question that begs an answer is … how did she do it? For Gen it all started during a gap year overseas trip and some cash flow challenges.
“I was on working holiday – I start working in a month however in the meantime I wanted to earn some extra cash and make the most of my time. I remember I was standing in a local coffee shop looking at the noticeboard. I had the skillset, I needed something but only for a short period … there was just nothing that matched. The idea came to me that wouldn’t it be great if job seekers could advertise what work they needed and businesses could find them quickly. The jobs might be a one-off or casual for a short time,” explains Gen. The concept of OneShift was born right there and then.
When I started I was 21. I had no mortgage, no kids, no tie downs so I was able to throw myself wholly into launching the business.
“When I started I was 21. I had no mortgage, no kids, no tie downs so I was able to throw myself wholly into launching the business. I threw together a WordPress site, put up posters at the local university and went into businesses. When I had 300 uni students and clubs using it, I put together a hilarious business plan to raise capital.
“I needed money to take the business to where I wanted it to go so decided to approach my Dad who is notorious for never having handed out money us kids [Gen is one of four children] – we were never given an allowance rather we had to earn it ourselves. So I literally hoped on a flight with my dad – I trapped him on the plane – and by the end of flight he invested in OneShift.”
With capital behind her, Gen set about launching the biggest shake up to the recruitment industry Australia has ever seen. OneShift site launched June 13 2012. Within six months the site had 50,000 users. Gen was soon approached by a leading player in the recruitment industry to join forces – a move that has seen a mutually beneficial relationship blossom. Gen says, “Programmed [Integrated Workforce] approached us and bought 27.5 per cent of the business. That investor is very strategic have been in labour hire business for years. Together we’ve now entered new markets including New Zealand.”
And with 167,000 likes on Facebook and good engagement rates, OneShift is certainly a company that is moving with the times, no doubt due to its young and savvy CEO. I ask Gen what it is about OneShift that really gets her motivated and striving for greatness.
“People value their time. They want to work smarter these days and have more time with their friends and family. What we have created is a way to do that – we allow people to access more time. Job seekers are now looking for flexibility in their careers, many want to work part time. There is a moving trend to more part time work – people no longer stay in a job for life. Everything is so instant these days, it’s important to stay relevant.”
What we have created is a way to do that – we allow people to access more time.
And OneShift is certainly staying relevant in the market. There online database of job seekers has proven some interesting insights to the current market. Gen divulges, “Our database covers industries from hospitality to retail to medical, radiologists – the model is relative to any industry. Our database has shown us that 5 per cent of our job seekers have visible tattoos and 42 per cent of job seekers have completed or are currently completing a university degree – years ago everyone went to uni. These days it’s acceptable to learn on the run.”
And Gen can attest to ‘learning on the run’. Like many teens she embarked on a university degree obtaining a double degree in law. While studying, Gen took on part time work to pay her way through schooling. “When I was growing up I wanted to be a chef, but then thought I’ll just do property ‘cause my dad’s in property. I worked for Knight Frank [commercial real estate agents] for six months then went on a gap year.” The rest, as they say, is history.
So without formal ‘entrepreneur’ training, what does Gen think is her key to success? She says, “I think my key to success is a double-edged sword. Of course am still relatively young but I’m fresh to the market and have a different point of view and am able to question things. I’m able to be nimble and adaptable which is so important in the online space – you can’t be the norm.
“My success has come from working out how I can save time. It’s all about working smart and playing hard. I have a great team around me – there are 40 of us. Our success today has come from passionate people – we live and breathe it. And its lots of fun!”
With the OneShift concept so relatable to other markets, where does Gen see the businesses’ future? “We will keep launching in as many markets as we can. This is so fast-paced and exciting – I make decisions every day, meeting so many different people keeps me going … I’m just here to help. For me it’s asking how do you enrich somebodies life. It’s all about creating that lifestyle to be able add value to people’s lives so they get what they need.
“It’s about giving people choice.”
Gen’s inspirational business tips:
Ask yourself, what’s the worst that can happen? Success is that you tried, that you had the courage to do it.
Don’t be afraid if you crash and burn.
It’s long hours and you may get paid nothing – it’s all part of the journey!
Just experience life – you are never going to have this time again.
To find out more about One Shift head to www.oneshift.com.au.