Managing the HR function as a small business owner can be a daunting and time consuming task. So what if there was an App that could take the stress out of it for you and help streamline your processes? OneTouchTeam has come up with just that. We wanted to know more so we spoke to founder Stuart Hearn.

 

Explain what your business is and why you are excited about it

My business is called OneTouchTeam. I started working on the idea last December when I was working at my previous company, PlusHR, an HR outsourcing business. We kept getting approached by recent startups and small businesses who needed help to take on and manage their staff, but couldn’t afford an outsourced HR service. So we came up with the idea of building a low-cost software tool which gives small businesses everything they need to manage their own HR, without having to rely on external consultants. It’s like ‘DIY HR’.  It combines a simple HR system to manage staff records, holiday and sick leave, with online HR guidance and template letters, policies and forms to help keep on the right side of the law.

We’re really passionate about OneTouchTeam because it feels great to know that we are genuinely helping small businesses. HR can be daunting and time consuming if you don’t know what you are doing, and most small business owners simply don’t have the time to keep on top of employment law or to manage their staff admin properly. We regularly get emails from business owners saying how relieved they are to have found OneTouchTeam, and that’s what makes us get up in the morning!

 

And your personal background? What made you decide to go on your own?

I have a background in Human Resources, but I’m not a trained business person. I did a degree in Music and Human Resources (yes, possibly the most unusual combination of subjects!) and after graduating, I worked in HR for almost 10 years, eventually making my way up to HR Director. As an HR Director, I had to deal with a lot of corporate politics which I eventually grew tired of, and thought there must be a more enjoyable way to make a living. So I went out on a limb and resigned from my nicely paid, secure job and started an HR consultancy business called PlusHR, with a former colleague. Being an external consultant was like a breath of fresh air as we were able to work on really interesting HR projects, without getting involved in the politics of the organisations we worked for.

The idea for One Touch Apps started last year. After running PlusHR for several years, and growing it to a business employing 15 staff, I was starting to get an urge to do something new – I tend to get bored if I do the same thing for too long. I had become increasingly interested in how software can help improve HR processes but found much of the software on the market to be old fashioned and overly complex. So together with my IT genius friend, Mark, we decided that we could do a better job, and we formed One Touch Apps at the start of 2014.

 

And any influences from your childhood?

I think my first entrepreneurial inspiration came about when I was 11. I was really into doing magic tricks and I won a competition on the local radio to go to The Magic Circle with a local magician who was the top children’s entertainer in the country at the time. He then took me on as his apprentice and I worked with him as a part-time job whilst still at school. Apart from teaching me magic, he showed how to run a business – everything from marketing and sales, through to the accounts. When I became a teenager, I  started doing my own magic shows and experienced the first thrill of earning money off my own back and running my own very small business. So even though I ended up working for large corporates for many years after university, that early experience stuck with me and I always knew that running my own business one day was something that I could genuinely achieve.

 

Tell me more about your business partner. How did he come to be involved?

My co-founder Mark is our Chief Technology Officer. We met nearly 15 years ago when I was HR Manager for Sony Music and he was a software developer there. We worked together on a project to implement a new HR and payroll system and became good friends and have remained so ever since. In business, you have to be able to trust and rely on your business partner. I first discovered he was someone who I could rely on a few years back when my flat became infested with bed bugs and I had to find somewhere to stay for a few nights. Many friends were reluctant to let me stay with them in case I brought some of the bugs with me, but Mark agreed to put me up straight away, no questions asked!

Since our days together in Sony Music, Mark has worked in software development for both start-ups and for established eCommerce businesses, as well as managing a band in between! So he’s great to have as a co-founder as he understands what is involved in running a lean startup, but he also has the knowledge of how to build a secure and stable IT infrastructure, something you get from working in eCommerce which needs 24/7 up-time.

OneTouchTeam Dashboard

OneTouchTeam Dashboard

What makes you different from your competitors?

We’re a software businesses and brilliant software is about usability and reliability, and we focus on being great at both of these. On the usability front, we design software by coming up with customer ‘stories’ rather than writing feature specifications. For each story, we put ourselves in the mind of the user and write down what they want to achieve from that story and why it’s important to them. That helps us to build software that is intuitive and that genuinely helps you, rather than being fully of whizzy features and gimmicks that you don’t really need.

On the reliability front, Mark has brought the discipline of test driven development and automated testing to the party. So every single feature of the system is tested automatically every time we add some new code to the system to ensure that it still works as it should. It takes slightly longer to build software this way, but the pay-off is that you don’t have to spend time dealing with technical support queries and fixing bugs. Since we launched OneTouchTeam, we’ve had over 200 businesses sign up to use it and we’ve only ever had one technical support issue.

 

Have you encountered any challenges in starting this or any other businesses?

Our biggest challenge so far in One Touch Apps has been funding. Developing software is expensive if you want to do it properly, and there is a fairly long lead time before you are generating revenue. So you need money up-front. We debated long and hard about whether to get external funding early on, or whether to self-fund. With the help of a good business coach, we have made the decision to self-fund until we are generating a level of revenue that will be exciting to potential business angels. To do this I have invested all of my personal savings, which is always a risk, but you have to be willing to take risks when running your own business! Self-funding has also forced us to brutally prioritise and make sure we don’t waste a single penny, which is a very good discipline to have from the start.

 

Finally, where do you see your business in a few years time? What is your goal for the future?

​Our goal for OneTouchTeam is to have 10,000 small businesses using it within 3 years, and to be profitable within 12 months. We’re a few months in now and word is really starting to spread about the product, so we’re pretty confident that we can achieve that. ​We’re also working on an online appraisal tool for medium sized organisations, which is due to be released next spring, so we’ll have plenty to keep us busy for the next few years!

 

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