Member Case Study: CharlieHR

Member Case Study: CharlieHR

It’s easy to find that chunks of the day are swallowed by administration when you’re running a business. As a company grows, the nitty gritty of human resources absorbs an inexorably expanding amount of time.

The cloud can help, says Rob O’Donovan, founder of a human resources platform, Charlie HR, which provides remote hosting for many of the everyday workforce housekeeping that SMEs need – a booking system for time off, a team directory, an onboarding package for new hires, freelance management and document storage.

O’Donovan plunged into London’s start-up world with two friends shortly after graduating from university. The trio initially established an ideas incubator – The Eleven – which spawned a number of enterprises including Born Social, a social media management agency, Making Pretty, a design studio and Youth, an insight and strategy agency.

“My own background was in starting a number of different businesses, all under one roof,” says O’Donovan. “I loved doing the actual work – solving the problems we’d set up businesses to solve and being on the front line.

“But what frustrated us was all the day-to-day stuff of actually running the business – all the activity under the hood that you need in order to keep the car running.”

It was this frustration with “boring, everyday admin” that led to CharlieHR – which was launched in September 2015 but is already being used, for free, by thousands of organisations.

O’Donovan views cloud technology as central to CharlieHR’s proposition. The service is free at an entry level, so needs to be low cost, but is trialling premium versions with additional features costing a monthly fee.

“The cloud is cheaper. It’s much more secure than hosting systems on-site and it’s much more manageable,” says O’Donovan.

He says cloud computing fits neatly with broader changes in the workplace: “The way businesses are run these days is very mobile. People are on their laptops, moving around and they want to be able to access information such as HR constantly.

“Even if your entire office burned down – and all the computers and laptops went with it – you’d still be able to access this data because it’s hosted in the cloud.”

O’Donovan and his co-founders, Ben Gateley and Tom Carrington Smith, are keen to take their offering to the next level. They have plans to expand CharlieHR into a broader field of business services.

“We ultimately want to offer what we do to small businesses around the world,” he says. “It’s not just going to be about HR – it’s going to be about entire operating systems for companies.”

CharlieHR was recently chosen as one of the most promising tech start-ups in the country, by Tech City UK, a government-backed organisation intended to promote British enterprise.

O’Donovan says his ultimate goal is to give entrepreneurs the space to focus on the goals that prompted them to start businesses in the first place: “We just want to give people more time to do what they need to be doing to make their businesses a success.”