Tech Innovators 2014: The Backscratchers serves as the future for skill acquisition

Whether it is for a short project or full-time position, The Backscratchers platform connects companies with selected talent and agencies.

Designed especially for the creative industry, Tech Innovators 2014 business The Backscratchers is looking to bring companies into contact with the requisite tools and resources to execute projects.

Headed up by a team of creatives themselves, the start-up is a graduate of the Springboard accelerator and has already engaged with a number of impressed users.

The Backscratchers

Based in: London

Founded in: 2012

No. of employees: 3

Company founder: Jody Orsborn                         

The Backscratchers founder Jody Orsborn

Founder profile:

Jody Orsborn is an entertainment industry professional with over ten years of experience. She was previously head of marketing and promotions for Squeak E. Clean Productions. Orsborn has organised events for brands like Microsoft and Toyota, worked with artists like Kanye West and Mumford and Sons and is a judge for Glastonbury’s Emerging Talent Competition.

Background business profile:

Companies are finding an increased demand for staff skills beyond their core business. Finding the team or freelancer with the right skills is often time-consuming, costly and inefficient. We’ve stepped in to solve that problem by connecting companies with hand-picked freelance talent or agencies for projects. The talent is industry-approved and covers 40+ creative and technical disciplines.

Inside track:

‘I always needed what we did,’ explains Jody Orsborn. ‘I was always working on a project, or event, or record release which, when it came to the moment where I needed the right animator or website builder to work with, there was no good resource to go to.’

Orsborn ended up using services such as LinkedIn and Facebook, or shouting out to friends. And while that worked in Los Angeles where she had an established network, when she moved to London she was back to square one again and in need of an alternative.

A competition to put together a business plan while completing a masters saw Orsborn and her team with a £5,000 top prize for what was the foundation of The Backscratchers. Despite a job offer back in the US for her ‘ideal music industry job’, Orsborn was drawn by the potential of what had been created.

A third, and more technical, partner was found in the form of a published author, illustrator and ex-EY consultant. The beginnings of The Backscratchers was a skill swap website, based on the idea of needing people.

‘But that wasn’t the core problem, you knew that there were people you could connect with but you’d then have to sort through 10,000 different designers,’ she adds.

The Backscratchers sees itself as challenging basic recruitment, online resources such as and the individual networks people have – a resource that often quickly becomes over used.

With the likes of Red Bull, Sony and the BBC now using the platform, its a surprise that The Backscratchers have done no marketing to date. Despite many businesses having internal resources, the team have noticed that expertise is being sought outside that spectrum.

‘A business might have a great social media team, but not someone who specialises in Vine,’ she says.

Recent milestones:

  • Acquired clients like BBC Worldwide, Unilever, Sony/ATV Publishing, Time Out London and Red Bull
  • Completed projects in the UK, US, Spain and Germany
  • Graduated from the Springboard start-up accelerator (now Techstars London) and BBC Worldwide Labs
  • Orsborn was chosen as one of the UK’s Top Women Entrepreneurs by CNBC and a ‘One To Watch’ for Tech City News’ International Hall of Fame

Upcoming milestones:

  • Currently in negotiations with another major media company 
  • Expanding its team of ‘fixers’ and ‘connectors’ globally

Recent technology:

The Backscratchers have developed tools to support the role of the ‘Fixer’. These include building a bespoke database, portfolio and project management system.


From needing a simple email template or promotional video through to developing an entire social brand strategy, the business connects companies with projects with the right talent or agency to do them.


  • BBC Worldwide Labs
  • Springboard (now Techstars London)


  • Giovanni Donaldson – corporate development director at Virgin
  • Bryan Henning – head of global research and investment at Barclays Wealth 
  • Springboard – start-up accelerator, since acquired by Techstars
  • A selection of other angels

Contact details:

4 Elder Street, London, E1 6SE



View all 23 companies contained within Tech Innovators 2014

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter was the Editor for from 2012 to 2014, before moving on to Caspian Media Ltd to be Editor of Real Business.

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Digital Innovation