Two ambitious young entrepreneurs from Hartlepool have successfully grown their new business through the coronavirus lockdown, creating six new jobs and taking on extra office space to allow for even more.
Phavour, based in UKSE’s Innovation Centre, is an innovative platform-based marketplace for freelancers, helping university students to find part-time employment, freelance work or one-off tasks.
Lliam Casey, 20, had the idea during an internship in Asia and Phavour became reality when he met 21 year old TV and film graduate Charlie Eve in a Hartlepool trampoline park.
“We felt that we had the combination of skills to make this a success,” said Lliam. “We were delighted with the early response then everything suddenly turned upside down as lockdown began. A lot of students are employed in the hospitality industry or offices and domestic premises which shut down immediately. Working from home ourselves, we had to adapt quickly and concentrated our efforts on linking students into home-working too such as design, marketing or IT.
“It was hard work but it brought results and we now have a team of eight that should number at least 12 by the end of the year. UKSE supported us by finding the extra office space we needed and even helped with furniture.”
Phavour has successful partnerships in place with UK SMEs and businesses as well as universities that can each have their own version of the platform. Matching students to jobs saves them time writing numerous applications as they can quickly find the specific tasks that suit them and their study schedules.
“Businesses and individuals have also been quick to see the benefits of having access to students who can provide high value support with a particular project or just an extra pair of hands,” said Lliam. “Everyone benefits from the speed, ease of use and highly effective matching process as well as the secure ratings and payment systems.”
Originally Phavour had tasks in areas including fitness, performance arts, beauty, engineering, social media, tv production, languages and computer science alongside gardening, dog walking, decorating, childminding and cleaning.
“We hope to see many of the affected areas coming back on stream before long too,” said Lliam. “Phavour is really moving job-finding into the digital age, following services such as banking, dating, music and photography.”
Joan Cook of UKSE, the Tata Steel regeneration subsidiary, said: “We have more than 50 businesses based in our Hartlepool Centre and it has been such a difficult time for them all. Like many others, Lliam and Charlie have worked extremely hard to keep Phavour on track and they deserve every success.”