The second half of last year saw one young e-business crash after another and was in stark contrast to the preceding 12 months when, it seemed, dotcoms could not fail.
After consulting work in a number of e-businesses, including the ill-fated Boo.com, Robin Derrett, former European HR director of retail outlet Gap, set up a consultancy to support start-ups, venture capitalists or incubator companies involved with dotcoms.
Derrett runs thehrpeople.com with co-director Tanya Sinclair, who worked with him at Gap as UK recruitment manager. It also offers interim HR management and outsourced HR services. Current clients include the idea-to-IPO incubator Gorilla Park, Shell Internet Works, the Ministry of Sound and e-Kingfisher, the e-channel of the major retailing group.
Why did you decide to set up thehrpeople.com?
Robin Derrett While working in dotcoms I realised the need for quality HR support. Many receive no HR support until it is too late. I like the feeling of providing an HR contribution early and really making a difference. It's an opportunity to reinvent HR's service to business.
Tanya Sinclair We realised what dotcoms want isn't the standard service - they need someone to stay with them and execute it.
How does your relationship with the client work typically?
RD Usually clients are in the 50 people or less category and are usually an e-business. We go on site for six to 12 weeks and put in the HR infrastructure: performance management, contracts, payroll, organ- isational structures, compensation and benefits packages and recruitment. We only recruit for the customer on its own site - we are not a recruitment agency and need to remain separate from it.
TS None of our client relationships have been the same so far. At Gorilla Park, I went in as a compensation and benefits specialist and ended up looking after recruitment and an HR office. With e-Kingfisher, it wanted a rapid expansion and we put together a preferred supplier list and got on with hiring. For the group's B&Q channels, I did a specific generalist role and set up the HR department.
We have lots of ways we can support clients. We also offer what we call HR direct where a client retains our servi