Evergrad: George Penman and Dan Manzi

On a mission to connect top graduates with small businesses, the young founders discuss their Tinder-like recruitment tool and escaping restrictive corporate environments

Name: George Penman and Dan Manzi
Company name: Evergrad
Number of Employees: 4
Location: Greater London
Date launched: 01/07/14
Website: www.evergrad.com

Tell us what your business does:

We use technology to dis-intermediate the graduate recruitment process and get students and recent graduates jobs in small and medium-sized firms. We only focus on smaller businesses so they have a level playing field, where the top talent is not sucked in solely by larger companies. By incorporating video CVs, a Tinder-like matching algorithm and social job sharing, we make finding a graduate job fun for graduates and cost effective for employers.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

As two recent graduates, we became frustrated by the fragmented and inefficient job market which only really catered towards the larger blue chip employers that everyone had heard of. We saw that this issue was increasingly being put on the government agenda and that there was a great opportunity to use technology to cut out the recruitment agent middleman.

How did you know there was a market for it?

We did extensive competitor analysis and scoured every nook and cranny of the internet to educate ourselves on the issues at hand. The most encouraging validation for us was a Department for Business Innovation and Skills report on the need for a nationwide web-based platform such as ours which catered solely to the needs of small businesses.

What were you doing before starting up?

Dan was completing a graduate scheme at infrastructure firm Balfour Beatty. George was completing his Masters in management at Manchester Business School.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

We both come from entrepreneurial families and have grown up learning our family businesses. This has definitely rubbed off on us both and meant that we found working in large corporate environments a little too restrictive.

How did you raise the money?

We both contributed to the start-up costs of the business from our own savings. We also received angel investment.

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Describe your business model and how you make money:

Our business model provides value by allowing employers to search for and match (a mutual like between a candidate and an employer) with our store of candidates before they have to pay a penny. When employers wish to unlock the contact details of all their mutual matches for a particular job, we charge just £100. This makes us much cheaper than our competitors, especially when you consider that graduate recruitment agencies usually charge 15%-20% of the hire’s first year salary in commission.

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

We have faced challenges in getting our product functioning as it should. Development has been arduous and complex but a large amount of patience, collaboration, coffee and Percy Pigs has enabled us to find solutions to the technical challenges we have faced.

What was your first big breakthrough?

Our first big breakthrough was getting an article written about us by the largest and most influential online student newspaper, The Tab. This kick started candidate signups and was a great seal of approval that boosted the credibility of the business instantaneously.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

You don’t always have to be the smartest person in the room. Even though there will be an intensive and initial up-skilling period in many different businesses, it is just as important that you know how to bring in the right people and expand your network so that you can draw on other people’s expertise. Basically leave your ego at the door and admit when you don’t know something or need to call in a favour from someone. And don’t try to blag jargon – it doesn’t wash!

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

We would love to have launched our platform internationally and to have diversified into other employment sectors. Either that or be sipping pina coladas in the Bahamas 🙂


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