The Amazings helps retired people sell their skills and knowledge to the new generations. Read about a startup which is growing fast with the "help" of the financial crisis.
A social start up that helps people who are retired or about to retire, share their knowledge, passion and the skills they’ve gained throughout their lives. The Amazings has found a way to help retired people supplement their pensions, giving a real value to their knowledge and experience. We talked about this project last year, right after it was founded in 2011, in Hackney, London. A year later we meet Liam Fay-Fright, communications manager at Sidekick Studio, the company that has launched the Amazings.
How did the business go in 2012? Did you make any significant changes in your business model over the past year?
We’ve had an incredible year in 2012. We started with just a few dozen Amazings, and now have over 250 people offering classes across London. Each class has between 5 and 20 participants, so we have thousands of people taking part in the classes, and even more signed up on the site. The main changes have been developing the online infrastructure to keep up with demand. We now have a pledge function on the site, which helps ensure that there is enough interest in each class to make it viable. This means that a good number of people attend each class, which makes it lucrative for the teacher and fun for the participants.
The Amazings is extremely innovative and has a strong social value but is it also financially sustainable? Have you reached the “break even point” ?
The Amazings was born from the idea that there is a generation of very talented, experienced people retiring or on the verge of retiring who have incredible skills to offer. There is a pension crisis in the UK at the moment, and the business is based on providing people over 50 with a digital platform to make a little bit of extra money doing something they love to do. We’ve recently reached a point where the platform is proving profitable thanks to the quantity of classes offered. We invested a lot in the development upfront, however, so it’ll take a few more months to recoup that investment. It’s looking really, really good though.
What were the main challenges of starting such a business in Europe?
The financial crisis is actually a huge advantage for The Amazings. We have found the demand for the classes, particularly among people under 35, has been enormous. There is a big trend for nostalgia in the UK at the moment - which often happens during times of recession - so classes that celebrate skills that might otherwise be lost, like corset making or knitting, are very popular. Plus the class leaders themselves are signing up in droves because their pensions are being squeezed.
How many Amazings do you have right now and how many lessons do they teach a month?
We have over 250 class leaders, with more signing up every week. We’re averaging about 150 classes a month, depending on people’s schedules.
Do you think such a business could be scalable?
It’s fully scalable. We will roll out nationally in the UK in 2013 and have ambitions to take The Amazings global. The model will work well in cities where there is a demographic of both older class leaders and younger participants, we’d like to find a way to make it work in rural areas too.