A tech start-up backed by David Haye found itself on the ropes as it tried to deliver a knockout pitch to the former world boxing champion.
Fast-growing recruitment app Syft has attracted capital of almost £9m in the last two years, including investment from Haye.
But co-founder Jack Beaman told BusinessCloud his crucial meeting with Haye did not go according to plan.
“I went to meet him in a pub, of all places, down in Pimlico – and it was probably the worst pitch that I could have ever done,” Beaman laughed.
“Every 20 seconds someone would come up and interrupt us to try and take a photo while we were trying to raise money!
“I don’t think anyone in Pimlico understood that they should stop interrupting our pitch and let us try and win him.
“But luckily he liked what he heard and he’s been an investor ever since. That was a rather surreal moment.”
The Hayemaker invested an undisclosed sum in Syft. Last month, a year on from that pub pitch, the flexible staffing platform secured £6.1m in Series A investment funding from Spotify’s first investors Creandum, PROfounders Capital and Colle Capital.
Launched in November 2015, Syft connects employers in the hospitality, warehousing and commercial industries with fully vetted and trained workers.
By connecting employers directly to workers and removing the middleman, it claims to save its clients 55 per cent in temp worker fees while also ensuring that workers get paid at a higher rate than the industry standard.
The start-up has enjoyed rapid growth in recent months, increasing its full-time workforce from 30 employees to 60 in the span of a few weeks.
The platform currently operates in Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool and London and is on track to have 7,000 workers on-board by the end of the year.
Co-founder Novo Abakare added: “I think even though we’re a tech platform, what we do is quite relatable so getting people like David Haye involved isn’t as difficult as it sounds because everyone can relate to what we do quite easily.”
Looking ahead, Beaman warns that Brexit will make recruitment an even bigger challenge for businesses in the UK, particularly those in the hospitality and events sector.
“It’s always been hard to employ people in hospitality anyway but it’s now about to get extremely hard,” he said.
“Increasingly, we’ve got a central role to play in being an extension to people’s full-time workforce in the UK and giving people a far easier and accessible way to get workers at short notice.”
Syft recently appointed world-class Silicon Valley veteran Tom Dignan as CTO as it eyes worldwide success.
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