Star of the Week

Verity Batchelder has worked for some of the biggest names in tech but jumped at the chance to change direction when she turned 50.

She’d held a series of senior roles at the likes of Amazon and Yahoo but concluded she wanted to use her experience to have a positive social impact and not spend the rest her life working for other people.

Speaking at TechBlast’s latest Going 4 Growth roundtable she says: “I had a bit of financial stability and I also wanted to make a difference. I just couldn’t face going back into another sort of corporate cutthroat ecommerce role.

“The role I’d enjoyed the most was when I was at Snapfish. I launched Snapfish in Australia and New Zealand. Snapfish is web-based photo sharing and photo printing service and I absolutely loved it.

“I was obviously the first person in that region and I was supported by the US team and one of the founders. I really enjoyed working directly with founders and actually growing something from scratch.”

A chance meeting with fellow ex-Amazonian, Constantine Karampatsos, resulted in them launching a tech business called Good Life Sorted, which connects older adults and their families with vetted and trained helpers who offer companionship and a range of home help services to older adults at home.

“We’ve been going about three years and we’re growing about 3x year-on-year and we are making a difference, not just to the elderly people themselves that we visit but also actually to the helpers,” recalls Batchelder.

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“We have about 1,200 customers and about 400 helpers, so it’s about three to one generally. Our model is recurring so it’s not just sort of random visits. So far we’ve delivered over 70,000 hours of help to our customers.

“We match up and introduce the helper and customer and then usually the visits are regular, whether it’s daily, weekly, fortnightly or whatever.

“It’s all managed through an app. The helpers have an app. We’ve built the technology because in order to make this scalable, we can’t be managing this on a hands-on basis.”

Growth

Batchelder says all the companies she’s worked for throughout her career have chased growth.

“For entrepreneurs and for people who have that burning desire inside, growth is the thing that gets you up in the morning,” she says.

“I was at Amazon in the late 90s, where you made it up as you went along. Every day was treated as if it was the first day of the business.

“At Yahoo we had a phrase which was ‘we’re laying the tracks as we go’. I think there’s that element of no fear and that you’re excited by the unknown.

“You’re excited by the ‘what if’ and that’s what inspired me through my career and then I got to the stage where I wanted to do something new and start from scratch.

“I think I just reached that point. More recently I’d worked for JK Rowling’s online operation Pottermore, and a business called Tails.com, which is a leading subscription dog food.

“Every step I’ve taken in my career has been about taking the technology and the customer sort of evolution as it’s grown and done the next thing.

“Amazon was the start of ecommerce, Tails.com was an early pioneer of the ecommerce subscription. What I’m doing now is the start of the gig economy in trying to solve the care problem we have in this country and around the world.

“I wanted to give back, do something that was actually going to use my skills and experience to make a positive difference to people’s lives.  That was what inspired me to launch Good Life Sorted with Constantine.”

£1.8m investment

The tech startup has already raised £1.8m in investment and Batchelder believes the growth potential is limitless.

“We’re creating a whole new industry, a whole new army of helpers and the challenge there is when you’re creating effectively a new job or new job role, you need thousands and thousands of them,” she says. “It’s like a paid volunteer.

“It really solves not just the elderly loneliness problem but also actually the sort of middle aged person wanting to be useful.”

  • Verity Batchelder has been chosen as TechBlast’s Star of the Week.
  • If you’re interested in taking part in TechBlast’s Going 4 Growth roundtables email [email protected]