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Leaving her job at Accenture for the uncertainty of a startup, Alex and her friend Jules started Hassle.com. The pair got through the challenges, the mistakes, and the lack of investment to build a company that sold for over £20million. They’ve repeated the process with Resi, a disruptive architecture and planning business. Alex looks at the lessons for other startups and those wanting to emulate them, as well as how the tech sector is performing, the sharing and gig economies, and what the future holds for brands and consumers.
Alex Depledge is an entrepreneur and businesswoman. She is the co-founder and former CEO of Hassle.com, and since selling the company has gone on start a new venture, Resi.co.uk.
After studying for her Master’s at the University of Chicago, and working on a political campaign whilst in the city, Alex returned to the UK to work as a consultant at Accenture. She specialised in customer and channel execution before joining her friend Jules Coleman to start an online business.
What became Hassle.com started life as a rather modest booking page allowing users to book all manner of services. Over time, and after various mistakes, few customers, little interest from investors, and a lot of effort, the site evolved into Hassle.com. They focused on domestic cleaning, worked tirelessly to gain new investors, built the brand, expanded, and eventually sold the company for £24million. Jules and Alex have since gone on to establish a new business, Resi. Aimed at disrupting the architecture sector Resi removes much of the cost and bureaucracy associated with small, domestic planning projects like extensions.
With a lot of lessons learned in a short time, Alex considers what her experiences can tell both would-be entrepreneurs and big organisations seeking to adopt a startup mentality. She compares disruptors and established players in areas like transport and energy and examines the differing approaches to things like focus, speed and complacency. She also looks at the vital importance of a strong brand (and whether the brand should be comfy, stretchy or scary), how to scale up a business without losing the culture that made it special, and how to respond to customer needs.
Alex has become an active voice within the UK tech sector. TechCity Insider named her Entrepreneur of the Year and she’s chaired the Coalition for a Digital Economy (Coadec). She was also a founding member of the sharing economy trade body SEUK, contributed to the government’s independent review into the sharing economy, and worked with Department of Trade and Investment to identify the next top UK startups.
With a direct, refreshingly ‘non-techy’ approach, Alex also looks at broader areas within digital and technology. She compares how the UK and elsewhere measures up against the dominance of Silicon Valley. She looks at the threats and opportunities automation and AI offer, including the future for workplaces and workforces. She also shares her experiences and opinions on women in technology, the sharing and gig economy, and the future of the tech sector.
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We’ve all had that feeling that we could be entrepreneurs, if we just had the time. Or the funds. Or the skills. Alex tells you that all you need is to be brave. With zero experience of coding, she and a friend built an app in her bedroom and turned it into a multi-million pound business. Alex’s talk is eye-opening, frank and at times very funny. It’s also truly inspiring, in an ‘anyone can do it’ way that’s more believable than any other entrepreneur I’ve heard. JLA Agent Georgia Sharp
JLA Speakers Breakfast