Interview: Saf Nazeer and Simon Hills from helpfulpeeps.com, the world’s most helpful network

We get the lowdown on their online 'pay it forward' platform designed to help people help each other
28th September 2015

Helpfulpeeps, a website designed to help people help each other, was founded by Saf and Simon who both left successful careers in the corporate world to pursue a life driven by purpose rather than money.

To fulfil that aim, they identified a number of challenges that they wanted to address such as:

  • Society’s over-reliance on money– Despite recessions and the mounting debt crisis society still seems to put ‘money’ on a pedestal and measures value primarily in terms of dollars or pounds.
  • Lack of a sense of community – Despite the internet revolution and the advancement of technology it can be argued that we are more disconnected than ever.
  • Barriers to charity based volunteering– In today’s ‘on demand’ world where everyone leads busy lives there seemed to be a number of barriers that prevents helpful people from getting involved in traditional volunteering be it lengthy forms to fill in or committing to a set number of hours per week.

What if there was an easier way? Wouldn’t more people get involved if you could help on your terms and around your schedule?

“Our vision is to build a global community with millions of people helping each other every day – we call it the karma economy”

 

TechSPARK: Why did you create helpfulpeeps?

The idea behind helpfulpeeps was to recreate the best elements of traditional community life where people helped each other out. To facilitate this we created an online platform that makes it easy to connect someone who wants help with someone who is able and willing to help for free.

TS: What’s the aim of the company?

We’re on a mission to create the world’s most helpful network. Our ethos is simple – ask for help whenever you want and help others whenever you can. We believe in harnessing our time and energy to help each other freely and in doing so create a better society. Our vision is to build a global community with millions of people helping each other every day – we call it the karma economy.

You can see more in the video below:

 

 

TS: What are your biggest successes to date?

We now have helpfulpeeps in over 40 countries around the world, with Bristol currently our most helpful city with over 1,000 members. The fact that we have managed to get this level of reach with no marketing budget and primarily through word of mouth is our biggest success as it goes to show that there are so many fantastic helpfulpeeps out there who support the concept of the karma economy.

Other highlights in recent months include getting accepted on to the Entrepreneurial Spark accelerator programme which provides us with support, mentoring, networking and office accommodation – a huge help to a small startup. We were also thrilled to get a retweet from comedian Adam Hills when we let him know our members had been giving each other a #LegUp on helpfulpeeps months before he started using the hashtag on his Channel 4 show The Last Leg – we’ve got a way to go before we can compete with his 238,000 followers, but it was great to get a shout out from someone with such a huge audience.

TS: Tell us about your product

Helpfulpeeps is currently a mobile-optimised web app with a simple user interface and flow. Users can either sign in via Facebook or with their email and a password. Once you’re signed up as a helpfulpeep, you can easily post a request for the help you need or browse through other users posts to see if you can help anyone out with their request.

Each time you help someone you earn karma (an incentive to encourage members to help more), which builds your reputation on the network. You also receive a thank you testimonial from the person you’ve helped.

We launched our minimum viable product (MVP) earlier this year and have been iterating based on user feedback ever since.

Helpfulpeeps_Payitforward day

Helpfulpeeps on the streets: Out and about on national Pay it forward day

TS: Can people get involved with any of the projects, if so how?

Anyone can join for free at www.helpfulpeeps.com and get involved straight away. You can ask for any kind of help as long as it’s legal, and the focus is on sharing our time and energy with each other freely.

It’s not a platform for requesting financial help or funding but there’s plenty of scope for local tech startups to tap into the community of helpfulpeeps, whether you’re looking for someone to help you out with a coding conundrum or just need some ideas for your kid’s birthday party.

We are also looking for ambassadors and community leaders to help us grow the network in their local area or industry – if you feel up to the challenge please email us at hello@helpfulpeeps.com.

“We feel there are so many advantages of being based in Bristol both from a personal and professional perspective. It’s a fantastic city with a great vibe, friendly/helpful people and a thriving startup scene”

 

TS: What’s the advantage of being based in Bristol?

We feel there are so many advantages of being based in Bristol both from a personal and professional perspective. It’s a fantastic city with a great vibe, friendly/helpful people and a thriving startup scene. We’ve also been really fortunate to have been based out of the Engine Shed and the E-spark Bristol Hatchery working alongside other startup founders on a similar journey to us.

TS: Which other tech companies or people do you admire in the region?

It’s awesome that IMDB is based out of Bristol. I also heard that the founder of mindfulness app Headspace is originally from the West Country which is very cool.

We’d like to thank Saf and Simon for letting us know more about Helpfulpeeps – we wish them every success! If you want to see more or get involved check out the Helpfulpeeps website, or check them out on Twitter: @helpfulpeeps. While you are there, why not follow us too! @TechSPARKuk