So today on Founder Chats, we’ve got Enzo from Earnr. Enzo, tell us all about what you are working on!
Yeah, thanks for having me. Earnr is a companion app for side hustlers, sole traders and small businesses. We help people spend less time on admin and more time on the things that generate revenue or spark joy.
We launched a finance and tax product last year and we’re continuing to add more features that we see as admin. This includes insurances, legal support, and eventually access to capital.
Brilliant, so why did you start this business?
During the pandemic me and my co-founders came together and we started talking about how there’s so many startups out there helping people save money. These companies don’t solve the problem that a lot of people have, which is not having enough money to save. Instead, we thought, why don’t we make it easier for people to earn more.
That’s where we saw that actually a lot of people have a small side hustle, but they have difficulty growing it because of all the admin that comes with it, or they are scared of formalising their creative business.
Why don’t we make that easier? As a first step, just make it easier to earn extra income. And that’s how Earnr, kind of started.
Excellent – Before we get onto you as a founder and how you’ve found the journey so far, I’d like to hear about what you think ‘earning’ might look like in the next 10 to 20 years.
I’ve heard some people throw out pretty wild ideas about the ‘end of employees’ and things like that. Where do you see the market going in regards helping people earn and reduce the barriers to earning?
A lot of people don’t realize that the way people are earning income has been changing for years. One out of every four UK adults already have an additional income stream outside of traditional employment. That could be a small cake store or a dropshipping empire. This trend accelerated during the pandemic.
I think the way we will work will continue to change in the next 10 to 20 years. The traditional career will no longer be: “I’m going to start my career working for a big bank and stay there for 10 years”. Instead, people will have multiple income streams throughout their lives, at the same time.
You can be following your passion of being a standup comedian and then have an additional thing that you do just to make sure you make ends meet. This could be doing some gig work as an example. It won’t just be one income stream, it will be a combination of things.
Ok, and when you think about the move into that type of earning. What do you think is going to be the last factor to fall into place? Because obviously the technology already enables us to do this, opportunities are starting to get laid out with more access. Is it perhaps culture within businesses that now has to be more open to the idea of not having all of someone’s time?
I think businesses are only going to change when they’re forced to. If you look back 20 to 30 years ago, not a lot of people were using freelancers. As it became more difficult for companies to hire good people to do very specific tasks, companies started using freelancers more. Now we have a lot more people that are hyper specialized to solve specific, complicated problems.
Now as many companies are struggling to fill the roles they’re hiring for, employers will become more lenient with offering employees greater flexibility to live the life they want to live. Whether it’s working from home or balancing their time between different income streams.
Right, and I guess this is something we follow at Paperound. We have talented students ready to help businesses with very specific problems, in an on-demand freelance capacity, which is usually not the way to do it, but it’s worked really well.
Coming to you as a founder. What are some of the challenges that you’re facing in the business?
The biggest challenge we face is finding the right people for Earnr at the right time. Hiring, especially in the UK, is such a long process. Even if you find the right person, you often have to wait months as they work through their notice periods.
This means that it takes six months before a new person can be productive. This is especially tough when your business is growing fast.
Yeah, and what’s been the biggest surprise so far?
It’s very interesting to see how people use your product. We heard this before, but it’s funny how you can never fully fathom how somebody may interact with your product.
Users will always find a way of using your product differently, which is very interesting. We’ve now built many features that we never thought we were going to add.
As an example, we thought people would just want to do their tax return and that was it. But actually, there was this huge demand to understand all the different things that go into a tax return. They wanted to get more confident in this area, even though they were still not planning to ever do this themselves. That’s now something that we focus on quite a bit.
Wow, it’s brilliant when you get to tread down a path that you just didn’t expect to be on. I think that’s always a really fun journey to go on.
Obviously Paperound is all about helping founders be more productive and focused by giving them resource when they need it. How do you as a founder stay productive and focused?
Good question. I’m becoming more and more conscious of this as we grow. Where before I was trying to save as much money as possible, trying to do everything myself, I now try and focus on the three most important things each week. Everything that sits between number four to 10, I find a way to get this done either by outsourcing it or finding some help within the team.
That’s when things like Paperound are so great. When you have something that is urgent that can be outsourced, you can get a little bit of additional help to get that done. This way you can focus on what you’re best at as a founder.
Absolutely! Now we are all about helping students build their experience, especially those interested in working in small businesses and startups. What would you say to your student aged self about entrepreneurship and growing a company? Or what advice would you give to a younger person about building a career?
Try and get as much experience as possible, as early as possible. This doesn’t have to be working five days a week, but just doing like a couple of hours here and there can be very insightful.
I found that this early experience helps you understand what you find interesting and what you get enjoyment out of. Key things to think about before starting your career.
Also it helps to hone your skills and become much more efficient when you actually start working full time. Something I didn’t realize when I was a student is that you can get a real headstart in your career just from doing a couple of hours here and there.
Really good advice Enzo, and so thank you so much for joining us. If anyone else wants to check out Earnr, they can go to earnr.co.uk.