60 second start-up: Onfido

0-5 seconds: Sum your business up in a sentence:

Trust is the backbone of the new global economy and we are in the business of helping companies to build trust with the people who matter most to them. 

5-10 seconds: What's the business model?

We are disrupting the ‘traditional’ background checking model by removing human error and using technology to automate (as much as possible) the background checking process. 

As long as the client has the consent of an applicant, the process is quick and painless. The client simply visits our website, enters the applicant’s name and email address. They then choose the checks they want to carry out and pay the associated fee.  

They don’t have to commit to anything upfront or pay an ongoing retainer fee. Our clients love this model because they don’t like being locked into lengthy contracts or go through a cumbersome process. 

Most of our client’s business models, especially those in the new sharing economy, are built on the fact that they can run comprehensive checks on their providers, business partners and employees, quickly. 

Our unique pay-as-you-go model has been built to serve our customers’ needs. We help our companies to build trust with the people who matter most to them.

The pay-as-you-go model means customers can leave anytime therefore it also provides the team with a great incentive for us to work hard to provide the best service, every time.  

10-15 seconds: Who are your competitors?

Our main competitors are HireRight and Sterling BackCheck. 

Traditional background checking companies are heavily reliant on labour intensive processes whereby checks are processed completely manually by human data processors. 

We remove human errors from the process by automatically aggregating and delivering data and only intervening when there is a problem.

We believe that pre-employment screening should no longer been seen as a headache for HR and Compliance departments and that by offering a platform that allows companies to take control brings together the best of lower costs and faster turnaround times along with the assurance that screening is compliant and carried out thoroughly.

15-20 seconds: What's your USP?

Whereas traditional employment checks have been based on manual-based systems, we have introduced technology into the process to make it faster, more cost effective and less prone to human errors - one of the reasons why HireRight went bankrupt was due to the company missing fundamental details during background checks. 

Our technology allows us to provide background checks with the fast turnaround times and at an affordable cost. 

We’ve built background checks for the new global economy, whether you are operating in traditional services or innovating new shared economy models, our tools put the control back in the hands of our clients, providing them with the confidence to quickly start building trust with the people that matter most to them.

20-25 seconds: How have you funded it so far?

We have received a total of $5.4m (£3.8m) in funding. Our seed funding came from Oxford University, Said Business School and angel investors. 

Our Series A is led by Wellington Partners (investors in Spotify and Dropbox) with participation from CrunchFund (Airbnb and Uber) and a number of high profile angels including Brent Hoberman (cofounder, Lastminute.com); Nicolas Brusson (cofounder, BlaBlaCar); Greg Marsh (cofounder, Onefinestay); Spencer Hyman (cofounder, Artfinder); Dan Cobley (former MD, Google UK). We’re excited by the calibre of our investment and feel these people are the right people to help Onfido scale and penetrate Europe and the States. .

25-30 seconds: What were you doing before?

We were part of the Oxford Entrepreneurs Society at university (Husayn: President, Eamon: Vice President), and in many ways we view Oxford Entrepreneurs as our first start-up. We had a business model to raise sponsorship, members who we saw as our customers and events that we saw as our products. 

We were able to achieve quite a bit including raising £52,000 in sponsorship (during the height of the recession) and arranging prizes such as a visit to Number 10. It also helped open up a network of contacts, many of whom later became customers.

Also, the three of us had interned and worked in the City which is where we first experienced the pain of the existing background checking process as applicants. It’s safe to say we weren’t fans of ‘the city’ and before long we all left as we knew the entrepreneurial path was more suitable for us! 

30-35 seconds: Where did the idea come from?

Having been through the slow, cumbersome and frustrating background checking process as applicants, we knew there was a problem. We also knew from speaking to HR departments at Oxford Entrepreneurs that background checks was a huge pain point for them. We set out to use technology to solve that problem, and that’s what we’re on our way to achieving.

35-40 seconds: What's the smartest thing you've done so far?

Surround ourselves with experts. 

We’re not ignorant to the fact that we’re young which is why we have made sure to build a world-class board of advisors and investors. We constantly surround ourselves with those who have been there and done it before, such as Steve Bailey (founder and CEO of backgroundchecking.com which sold to Experian); Alexandra Kelly (founder and CEO of PowerChex which sold to HireRight); and Simon Heath (Chief Talent Officer at Geometry Global). 

40-45 seconds: What's the stupidest?

Picked a name that was unintentionally similar to some of existing companies – we used to be called VerifyRecruit!

45-50 seconds: If your business was a biscuit, what would it be?  

A KitKat - because it’s well suited for (the) sharing (economy).

50-55 seconds: Which idea are you a bit jealous of? 

I wrote into a business competition. My idea was for people to share their videos online. I did this when I was 15 (around 10 years ago), The idea was YouTube! So naturally, I’m a bit jealous. :) 

55-60 seconds: Where are you going to be in 12 months' time? 

We will be the backbone of the sharing economy. We will be carrying out checks in 35 countries and continuously investing in our technology to ensure it always over delivers and delights our ever-growing global client base. 

Visit Onfido to find out more about its data-driven background check service. You can also follow them on Twitter or like their Facebook page. 


Check out our previous 60 second start-up: iCracked

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