From startup to Hireup: making an impact every single day

Nominations for Tech Fast 50 2018 are now open! We caught up with Jordan O’Reilly, Co-founder and CEO of Hireup, our 2017 winner, to explore a year filled with opportunity and insights.
#1 What have you enjoyed most about winning the Tech Fast 50 last year?

It has created a dialogue with our users – people with disabilities who are seeking support – and with support workers.

Many people have found out about our platform through the award. Pointing to our relationship with Deloitte and the success we had in the Tech Fast 50 has really captured the attention of great new employees.

It’s a great conversation starter with all our stakeholders – from Government right through to all our people in the disability sector. The most enjoyable thing about the experience has been the wonderful recognition and validation that comes from being part of such a great program.

#2 How did Hireup start?

I had a little brother with a disability who relied on direct care and support in his life and I saw how important it was for him: the difference between a really great day out there, learning skills and being an active member of the community, compared to being really isolated. I trained as an Occupational Therapist at University, worked as a support worker for many years myself and got to see how disempowering the system could be.

In 2013/2014 my sister and I sat down and said: what if we could build a technology platform that connected the best care workers and support workers in the country with the half a million people who experience a disability?

It was bittersweet winning the Deloitte Tech Fast 50 for me personally because my brother really loved technology and he is sadly not with us anymore and not here to see the work that his life inspired. I often reflect back on the notion that we had developed this technology company in Australia from such humbled beginnings and from simply wanting to do better for our brother and people like him. His legacy will continue and his memory will stay alive in the work that we are doing. That makes me very proud.

 

#3 A year on – what has been happening in Hireup?

More growth which is great! We’re an online platform that is facilitating a community of people seeking support as well as some of the best and brightest support workers in Australia.

It just makes me so proud. The bigger the community gets the more stories we hear every day of people who might not have otherwise had support in their life or might not have thought that was accessible. And now they’ve met a support worker and are going out and achieving their goals and increasing their level of independence and achieving what they want to achieve in the community – whether for example that is work or social participation.

To give a sense of how we have grown, the team were around 50 employees when we first applied and now we are just under 100. Our community has grown to around 40,000 registered users – both workers and participants seeking support. Ultimately it’s a community growth story.

The other exciting thing that has happened in the past year is that the concept of “good for purpose business” – that was one of the unique things about our win last year. We were one of the first disability specific businesses but also a for purpose business. Businesses that combine the two is the way of the future – the bigger the social issues that emerge, the bigger that we need businesses to step up and play a big role. You can do both: build good, sustainable businesses that are also really social at their core.

 

#4 What challenges have you faced and what opportunities are you seeing across the tech landscape?

Capacity is often the biggest issue. I really get the human side of what we’re doing but it has been a huge challenge to work out, how do you create a business? From marketing to tech to product, all of these areas are needed to grow a business.

The constant challenge is reinventing yourself and relearning ways of doing things – especially when it is growing so fast. It’s critical to start off with the passion for an idea and the commitment towards it. It has been a relentless pursuit of: let’s make this thing happen – because it comes from such a deeply personal place. I have found that when I give myself permission to not know things I get to go out and meet the people around me who know how to solve challenges or provide solutions.

Last year I was able to go to America and look at the future of technology. The most exciting thing is the realisation that we are still at the dawn of the digital revolution and we can use this technology to solve some of the problems we are seeing in our lives. In terms of what that means for Hireup, the next really exciting thing is voice activated technology and wearables.  I’m really excited to see what these new technologies mean for Hireup and how we can stay on the cutting edge to stay ahead.

 

Have you got what is takes to join the ranks of Australia’s most innovative and forward thinking Tech companies? Deloitte’s 2018 Tech Fast 50 nominations are now open! Find out more here.


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