We catch up with Oli Johnson, co-founder of Catapult, the on-demand hiring platform.

Oli Johnson is an ex investment manager who turned his back on the dog-eat-dog world of finance in 2012, to co-found Rainmaking Loft, a prominent shared working space company with bases in Copenhagen, Berlin and London.

Oli then went on to co-found Catapult in 2015, which is an on-demand hiring platform, based in London. Employers can bring in quality people in under an hour and employees get to set their own hourly rates and build their experience. We talk to Oli to find out more...

We came up with the idea when… Ben, Steffen and I came up with Catapult in 2015, having all previously been frustrated with the hiring and staffing equation that we’ve experienced both sides of we set out to create an efficient and effective model for on-demand hiring.

The biggest challenge is… Our biggest challenge is disrupting the established behaviours in the temporary staffing marketplace. We’re looking to provide as much education and support as possible whilst listening to feedback from our clients, and in turn create a supply and demand cycle.

The average day is spent… Being an early start-up there isn’t really a typical day as such. Some days are focussed on meeting current and prospective clients whilst others are spent on product development. The development of our product is an important facet of Catapult, and occasionally I’ll even spend a shift with some clients to better understand the product from their perspective.

The team consists of… Ben Dixon, Steffen Wulff Petersen and myself founded Catapult. The team is currently 15 people and we envisage growing in the near future.

My favourite quote… “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to reform (or pause and reflect)” which is attributed to Mark Twain.

I am where I am today because of… Good upbringing, support and hard work. But first and foremost just a whole lot of luck. And coffee.

I am who I am because of... My parents and my wife have probably had the biggest influence on my character.

The best advice I've been given... How you spend your time is a clear reflection of your priorities.

In five years I’d like to be… Running Catapult as the world’s most efficient staffing platform.

The thing no one ever tells you about running your own business online... Designing great products is incredibly hard! A seemingly trivial change in our user interface can have an outsized impact - either positive or negative. I’ve also come to conclude that if I think an aspect of our product is particularly intuitive to use, as a rule, it usually isn’t.

Our biggest mistake and what it taught us… London has a wealth of savvy and well capitalised investors, but also a sizeable group of stragglers that hang around the startup scene with different agendas. Telling which one is which isn't always easy and doing so poorly means a lot of wasted time for startups. Luckily though, the UK scene has matured a lot in the previous years and finding and getting in front of investors isn't as difficult as it was a few years back.

The biggest lesson from this has been that trying to find good investors who really believe in your product or service is essential. Good investors also bring along their friends and so create a virtuous cycle.

The most rewarding experience we’ve had to date… The most rewarding experiences to date have been helping businesses get out of tight spots by providing them with great people at really short notice. For some businesses, lack of staff can be a life or death matter and to help them in this significant way is really rewarding for us.

May 2016