London-based entrepreneur Adam Graham is the mastermind behind Just Fix a new urgent home repairs concept on a mission to shake up the stagnant home...
Adam Graham on the work-for-equity model tooling up his tradespeople startup Just Fix
News from The Drum on how Just fix has secured marketing services in exchange for equity.
Industry veteran Adam Graham has secured marketing services in exchange for equity of Just Fix, the tradesperson startup he is launching. Speaking to The Drum, Graham says the payment model gives the agency “skin in the game”.
Billed as Uber for tradespeople, Adam Graham is building Just Fix as a “progressive, real-time app-based solution with a slick user experience and a fast route to purchase”. He calls it ”an app suitable for the modern age”.
Slated for a June launch, Just Fix’s marketing will be solely handled by Truant, the indie agency behind Pizza Express’s refreshed brand repositioning and Pepsi Max’s Christmas campaign. Entering a crowded market requires hefty marketing budgets that Just Fix doesn’t have, but getting Truant to come in for a share in business growth gives Just Fix a better shot at competing.
“There is a more meaningful way of structuring the agency remuneration model that gives agencies more skin in the game and makes you totally aligned on the outcome, giving you much more upsides than the classic fee-based model,” says Graham.
With 22 years of experience in agencies, Graham had never used the equity model until now. “There has been a lot of talk over the years I’ve been running agencies about progressive models and structuring deals in different ways. But while we would often talk about these ideas, they would never happen.” The closest Graham has come to an alternative model is through bonus schemes, but he admits that clients have often abused the bonus and used it to get discounts.
Graham urges other startups to trial the model, but suggests it might not be suitable for mature brands where it is trickier to measure the return on investment. Just Fix’s KPIs, meanwhile, are to hit 3,000 tradespeople and 5,000 customers by end of year one. The ultimate target is to get £100m gross merchandise value by year five and a valuation of £100m-£150m.
Truant’s chief executive officer Chris Jefford says working with “owner-managed, disruptive businesses” is Truant’s sweet spot, calling it “a chance to poke the bear and stick it to the man”. Of course, there isn’t the safety net of a fee coming in from Just Fix, but Jefford says: “Having skin in the game really puts the emphasis on us making it work. We have considered it in the past, but it has never quite been the right time or fit. With Just Fix, however, this makes a lot of sense for us at this stage in our creative company’s story."
Graham says the partnership has been more collaborative than a typical client-agency relationship. He has done away with formal presentations, for example. “It has helped us work in a more agile and effective way.”
What is Just Fix?
Graham thought up Just Fix after getting locked out of his home following a family dog walk and realizing how clunky and painful the process of booking a locksmith was.
For his first phase of gathering consumer insights, he tested himself before polling consumers and tradespeople.
“The absolute universal truth across all customers polled was that we are busy and that we want an experience that feels like ordering an Uber or takeaway. It should feel innovative and modern, like the other progressive apps we use in our day-to-day lives.”
Transparency was the second core insight Graham gathered, with consumers saying existing fixer sites have “opaque” booking systems as they sell the lead behind closed doors.
The third piece of insight was around reducing the anxiety, which often comes with fixing urgent property problems. Graham, who previously worked on the Headspace meditation app, hopes to do this through user experience and language.
Launch marketing strategy
Articulating the product difference and brand identity is Just Fix’s first step, with Graham saying it was “difficult to get that sweet spot in the early stages” as the product kept getting compared to existing brands in the market. The app finally got some traction when it was compared to booking an Uber.
“When launching a startup, you need to make it really clear what problem you are solving, what makes you distinctive and why people should take note,” he says. “There is also a brand salience piece of work that needs to be done... how can we make people remember you in their busy lives.”
The first phase of Just Fix’s marketing plans will be focused on search, while the second longer-term phase will be on brand building. For this, Truant will be using a combination of digital, audio and addressable TV. Graham is leaning into addressable TV for its hyperlocal offering, using it to unlock cells of locations based on postcodes with enough fixers in the area to meet the demand.
“Your classic big national TV campaign has a lot of wastage for an app like this, but luckily with addressable only the people in the postcodes where we have availability will see our ads.”
Out of the gate, the app will be marketed as a solution to an urgent household problem, but Graham hopes over time it will become the go-to app for all our tradespeople needs.