Adzuna: Doug Monro and Andrew Hunter

Tech legend Doug Monro, who made his name as head of strategy at eBay, chats about his latest project

Few people in the tech space have as rich a pedigree as Doug Monro. Having made his name as head of strategy at eBay, Monro helped Gumtree grow from a cheap-and-cheerful backpacking community into one of the world’s top 20 websites, before joining Zoopla as chief operating officer and helping secure more than 1.5 million visitors.

So, when Monro left Zoopla to set up his own venture with former Qype supremo Andrew Hunter in July 2011, the UK tech industry sat up and took notice. And, so far, the attention has been justified. The new venture, Adzuna, is approaching 200,000 visitors just two months after launch, and has already secured a £300,000 seed investment from Passion Capital – backed by senior executives at blue-chips such as eBay, Skype and Virgin.

Adzuna’s proposition is relatively simple. The site is a job search engine which brings adverts from all the existing sites together in one place, giving job-hunters hundreds of relevant vacancies. Monro believes visitors will love the convenience provided by his fledgling resource.

“It’s a real pain for consumers to find all the job ads on the market. People will go to Reed, Monster, Totaljobs etc, and end up having to scour all of them. Adzuna brings everything together.

“A number of sites have tried to do this before, such as Trovit, but they haven’t built great user experiences, and look like affiliate sites. The only other all-in-one jobs resource out there at the moment is indeed.com, based in America – no-one in Europe offers the range we do.”

The groundwork

The travails of Greece have brought dire repercussions for thousands of companies the world over; but for Monro and Adzuna, they presented a window of opportunity.

“Myself and Andrew (Hunter) are based in London, but we also have a tech development team out in Greece. That’s been very interesting given recent economic developments, but there’s good talent out there. We’ve got very good at using things like Skype and Dropbox!”

Working out of an office in Camden, provided by long-standing friends at Forward Internet Group free of charge, Monro and his development team spent six months building Adzuna using proprietary software, backed up a raft of open-source technology, including free-text search indexing tool SOLR.

The development team have inserted a number of value-added functions, including a real-time wage comparison feature which allows the user to see the average salary of any job they search for. Another key feature is Adzuna Connect, which, according to Monro, “helps you get hired with a little help from your friends. By connecting Adzuna with LinkedIn or Facebook, you can see jobs at companies you or your friends are connected to, and get the inside scoop.”

Since development began in January, almost all the major jobs websites have agreed to provide Adzuna with feeds of their most recent jobs. For the smaller sites, Monro says, “we behave very much like Google and scour the web for the most up-to-date job listings from the hundreds of sites we find – or that our users suggest.”

The future

Adzuna now lists more than 100 different job boards, having established partnerships with market leaders such as Totaljobs and Jobsite. With thousands of jobs now listed on his site, Monro believes Adzuna will be turning a profit by the time the recent investment of £300,000 is spent.

Monro says the site will remain free to the end user forever; revenue will come through selling Google-style pay-per-click adverts at the top of the page and down the sides, together with a small selection of pop-up ads. However the founder is adamant that the site will not become bogged down by a proliferation of adverts. “Adzuna provides a clean, non-spammy design and user experience – we have less overt advertising so the user gets to the information as quickly as possible.”

With this careful, customer-focused strategy, Monro is targeting turnover “in the millions” by year three, adding: “There are 2.7 million people unemployed in this country, and we’ve got 427,000 jobs listed today. If we can fill a quarter of this we’ll be happy.”

Expansion and diversification are firmly on the agenda; Monro hopes to branch beyond jobs into all kinds of subject areas, and has finalised plans to introduce property and car  adverts before the end of 2011. He told us: “The UK, and the job market, are only the first steps for us. We ultimately want to build a worldwide classified search engine; indeed.com is in multiple countries, and we intend to follow suit.

“I would love to be the largest search engine for classified ads in five years’ time, maybe even a global success story based out of the UK.”

 

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