Brave New Talent: Lucian Tarnowski

The founder of Brave New Talent on his plans for global domination in the recruitment sector

Name:Lucian Tarnowski
Staff numbers:5 full time, 9 part-time
Company description:Recruitment social network

Tell us what your business does is an online service connecting potential recruits or ‘talent’ with employers via a social network. Individuals create their own personal profile on the site and connect to employers of their choice. Users also have the option of accessing the site through Facebook so they can present a professional profile. The service is free to access for talent and generates revenue from subscribing employers who create employer profile pages and foster communities of candidates.

Where did the idea for your business come from? I noticed a growing disconnection between generation Y and employers. I wanted to create a bridge for this disconnection using social media.

How did you know there was a market for it? I saw how consumer brands were adopting social media marketing plans. I knew that in time, employer brands would follow suit. Recruitment is such a large industry – £240bn billion annually. At a most basic level recruitment is about relationships and therefore social media and social networks are going to have a big impact on the industry.

What’s your USP? In a nutshell, we allow employers to see and engage with a community of talent before they apply to the company.

What were you doing before starting up? I graduated from Edinburgh University in 2007. I have always been entrepreneurial minded. Since 2003 I have run Take Heart, a charity supporting practical IT education projects for blind and handicapped students in India. 

Have you always wanted to run your own business? Yes, I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur since I can remember. I joke that I am completely unemployable. I am 100% certain that I will be a career entrepreneur and won’t be my last business! My mother tells me I have always been this way inclined. My whole family knew I would run my own business ever since I was a child.

What planning did you do before you started up? Lots of planning, debating, meeting people, brainstorming, etc. This is helpful to distil a business idea. However, my strongest advice to anyone thinking about making the jump is just do it! It is a whole load of fun but comes with many many challenges along the way.

How did you raise the money? We initially raised £120,000 in seed angel funding and an RBS bank loan of a further £100,000. We have just recently (February 2010) secured a further £350,000 of investment from experienced private investors to fuel further growth. We now have a world class board of directors in place and things are looking up in 2010. Good companies always get funded. However, it is never easy. Fundraising is a difficult and complicated process at the best of times. I was fortunate in that my last round was relatively easy. However, my advice to anyone fundraising is keep going and don’t give up – be agile in your business model, listen and respond quickly. I have been rejected so many times but this should never put you off.

What challenges have you faced how have you overcome them? I would say that every major mistake I’ve made has been regarding people. Who to trust or hire etc. However, for the business our major challenge was, that until now, the market was not really ready for our model. Only now are employers beginning to look for a social media solution. This has made building and growing the business a real challenge. Finally, despite being a tech entrepreneur I have had more than my fair share of troubles with that side of things

How have you promoted your business? Only now are we starting to market the site to jobseekers properly. This was because we just didn’t have the cash for this in the past. We are now about to launch our opportunities (jobs) function which will drive a lot more users. In terms of what I have learnt: never bother with any print advertising for an online proposition. You want to shorten the distance someone has to go to click on your site.

What about staff?We have five full-time and a part-time team of nine highly experienced individuals, as well as other developers, designers, testers and PR support. We also have a high-powered UK and India-based advisory board. We are currently expanding the team with this investment round.

What has your growth been like? We are now in a healthy position with more client orders coming in. We have a great pipeline of clients and are on the cusp of a big change in the recruitment industry.

Where do you want to be in five years’ time? I want to be a global talent network that owns the social recruiting brand. My aim is that it will be famed for flipping both the recruitment model upside down as well as creating an education platform. Somehow I don’t think I will stop until I achieve this! I am on the Global Entrepreneur Program where we receive full support from the UK government (UK Trade & Investment) as a ‘Technology Company of Exceptional Potential’, which means they think we could be the next £1 billion company…

Finally, I have just been made Europe’s youngest Young Global Leader (YGL) by the World Economic Forum. This is the greatest honour of my life so far and will mean that I have access to the world’s smartest people over the next five years. I hope to maximise my own impact here and hopefully improve the lives of as many people as possible in doing so. Watch this space!


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