The Entrepreneur: Dylan Buckley, DirectlyApply

DirectlyApply is a leading job discovery platform, making job hunting simple and even enjoyable. We speak to co-founder Dylan Buckley about how his UK-based business has taken the US by storm.

About Us

Startups was founded over 20 years ago by a serial entrepreneur. Today, our expert team of writers, researchers, and editors work to provide our 4 million readers with useful tips and information, as well as running award-winning campaigns. We interview successful entrepreneurs from all over the UK, celebrating their achievements, hard work, and determination to get to where they are today. This article was authored by:

Company: DirectlyApply
Founder: Dylan Buckley
Website: directlyapply.com

With over 30 major features, including a free resume builder, diversity and inclusion checker, and salary comparison tools, DirectlyApply is a job seeker’s dream.

Founded back in 2018 by Dylan Buckley and Will Capper, the goal was simple, to make job-seeking as painless and straightforward as possible – by creating a one-stop-shop search engine for job hunters.

Dylan Buckley, co-founder of DirectlyApply, speaks to Startups about his pride in employing and training junior software engineers, the importance of modern cloud computing, and the challenges of operating a US-centric business from the UK.

The Business

Describe your business model and what makes your business unique?

DirectlyApply is a technology company that is focused on job discovery. We match job seekers with the roles and opportunities that are best suited to them.

Technology is at the forefront of business and we are making constant advancements to make the job seeker experience as efficient as possible.

We don’t like to stagnate and are always looking at ways to improve or advance from our current offering.

Also, although I am a software engineer, I have also worked in the recruitment industry in a number of different roles. Being able to take first hand knowledge of the positives and negatives that impact the recruitment market, as well as the nuances around job seeker behaviour, has been invaluable when building DirectlyApply.

What is your greatest business achievement to date?

Employing and training junior software engineers.

Other companies often appear not to be prepared to put the work in to train software engineers from boot camps, instead looking to only hire junior engineers with a year or two of practical experience.

We prefer to see the potential in people and put the effort into training them up. We have now trained four engineers from scratch and it's great to see how far they have come along and developed.

Other companies often appear not to be prepared to put the work in to train software engineers from boot camps, instead looking to only hire junior engineers with a year or two of practical experience. We prefer to see the potential in people and put the effort into training them up. We have now trained four engineers from scratch and it's great to see how far they have come along and developed.

How did you fund your business?

The business was initially funded by angel investment. However, we are now fully profitable and continue to grow on a month-by-month basis. We placed profitability over endless rounds of fundraising as the key to our success.

What numbers do you look at every day in your business?

As mentioned, We have focused on profitability over any other ‘vanity’ metric. So all our efforts go into ensuring we deliver the best results for our job seekers, which in turn means we deliver the best results for our clients and therefore increase our profitability.

To what extent does your business trade internationally?

99% of DirectlyApply’s clients and job seekers are in the United States. We have found that the US market is much more open and receptive to new entrants than the UK.

Where would you like your business to be in five years?

Continuing the journey of making the best job discovery platform for all job seekers while expanding our geographical coverage.

What software or technology has made the biggest difference to your business?

Like all tech startups, modern cloud computing – with the ability to deploy anything we want anywhere in the world – is still mind blowing to me, especially considering the state of that infrastructure just over a decade ago. I don’t think we would have been able to scale the way we have with the minimal funding we raised ten-plus years ago.


Growth challenges

What is the biggest challenge you've faced in business?

Finding enough time to do everything that is required, which is especially difficult when running a US-centric business from the UK, and especially when growing quickly as a business.

You need to hire to help take the weight off, but recognise that will also require your time. Everything is a balancing act.

What was your biggest business mistake and what did you learn from it?

There was a brief period when we weren’t able to instantly track the number of metrics that were crucial to our business success. We ended up losing revenue because of this and therefore made a point of always being able to prioritise tracking of key metrics over anything else.

What one thing do you wish someone had told you when you started on your business journey?

There are no shortcuts to good product design. It is very rare that a new product or feature will have the desired results the first time round. Sometimes it’s disheartening to spend significant amounts of time on a new feature only for it to have little impact compared to what you thought it would.

The key thing at that point is to keep iterating over and over again, improving on the incremental changes until you start seeing the desired results. The most successful products and features on DirectlyApply have been through dozens of iterations and it’s the combination of those interactions that make them successful.

There are no shortcuts to good product design. It is very rare that a new product or feature will have the desired results the first time round. Sometimes it’s disheartening to spend significant amounts of time on a new feature only for it to have little impact compared to what you thought it would. The key thing at that point is to keep iterating over and over again, improving on the incremental changes until you start seeing the desired results.

How has the pandemic affected the market you operate in?

We were fortunate enough to be able to position ourselves so that we continued our growth throughout the pandemic. Although we made an effort to focus on supporting job seekers working within delivery, logistics and supermarket retail, we never deviated from our central path of making the best possible job discovery platform for our job seekers.


Personal growth

Did you study business or learn on the job?

Although I studied Economics at university, the majority of the useful information I have picked up has been by learning on the job. From being an employee, or launching side projects to running my own business today.

I’ve learnt a lot from speaking with and meeting other people in similar situations and industries, either online or in person, and learning and taking from their experiences.

What would make you a better leader?

Being able to manage my time more efficiently which in turn would enable me to better delegate tasks.

One business app and one personal app you can’t do without?

As we have scaled our team, Asana has become a core part of our workflow for managing tasks and responsibilities.

A business book or podcast that you think is great.

‘The Innovator's Dilemma' and ‘The Innovator's Solution' by Clayton Christensen.

Finally, what’s the most important piece of advice you would give to an entrepreneur starting a business?

Launch/ship an MVP (minimum viable product) as soon as you can. Although you might think it a good idea, until you put it out into the market, you will never truly know.  

DirectlyApply was launched after having existed for 48 hours. We posted a link on Reddit and the overwhelmingly positive feedback gave us the confirmation we needed that we were onto a good/successful idea.

Launch/ship an MVP (minimum viable product) as soon as you can. Although you might think it a good idea, until you put it out into the market, you will never truly know.

Ross has been writing for Startups since 2021, specialising in telephone systems, digital marketing, payroll, and sustainable business. He also runs the successful entrepreneur section of the website.

Having graduated with a Masters in Journalism, Ross went on to write for Conde Nast Traveller and the NME, before moving in to the world of business journalism.

Ross has been involved in startups from a young age, and has a keen eye for exciting, innovative new businesses. Follow him on his Twitter - @startupsross for helpful business tips.

Leave a comment

Leave a reply

We value your comments but kindly requests all posts are on topic, constructive and respectful. Please review our commenting policy.

Back to Top