Final Stage: Eddie Lewis

Talking to Startups during one of our trips to Manchester, serial entrepreneur Eddie Lewis talks about his new talent sharing recruitment platform

Name: Eddie Lewis
Company name: Final Stage
Location: Manchester
Twitter handle: @FinalStageUK
Website: finalstage.co.uk

Tell us what your business does:

We are the world’s first talent sharing platform, designed for candidates who get through to the final stage of a job interview, but don’t actually get the job.

In the rejection email, unsuccessful candidates get an invitation to our platform whereby they can view other job opportunities from our clients.

This also means that said companies also get access to the talent pool in the platform, and can make immediate hires or arrange final stage interviews straight away.

So, it’s a cross-industry talent sharing platform.

Where did the idea for your business come from?, and how did you know there was a market for it?

It came from a previous business that we built and currently run called Ali-Quantum – which is a student-led graduate recruitment business.

We used to always get candidates to the final stage point with some of our niche clients, but we didn’t always have another potential position to offer them.

So if they didn’t get the job at the final stage, we’d just have to give them feedback and wish them all the world. We’d then see them go away and get another really good job.

That’s when we realised the need for a platform like ours.

What were you doing before starting up?

Before starting Final Stage we were just running Ali-Quantum.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

Yes, I’ve always been involved in setting up businesses, even when I was young.

I used to sell chocolate bars in school – I got suspended from school for doing that actually!

My first official company was a business called Lewis Landscapes – which was a landscaping business.

While in my gap year I worked door-to-door sales for EDF Energy and became the youngest sales manager in the company at aged 19.

Then after uni I worked in a few other 100% commission roles and laid the ground work for my first project – which was a student freelancing platform.

How did you raise the money?

We financed it from our other business., I’d say we’ve put between £10,000-£15,000 into it so far.

The whole platform has been built with that money.

Describe your business model and how you make money:

Its currently free to use, but once clients and applicants start interacting we’ll implement a subscription-based model and a monthly fee that’ll be much better value than traditional recruitment companies.

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

One of our biggest challenges is that the recruitment industry has been burnt by poor companies and it’s almost broken.

So our solution has been to come in and fix it, and its being received very well.

But we always get regarded in the same pot as the companies that broke the market, so it has been a challenge to get in touch with the right people.

As a tech platform, finding software developers and getting the site up within budget has also taken a lot of time.

Finally, I think running two companies at the same time has been really, really challenging.

Esepecially as my other company was making less money as our costs were going up because we spent so much time focusing on our new business.

This balancing act was very difficult. Trying to ensure you’re still doing enough to ensure you get a salary and get your other clients happy, while simultaneously building a business quick enough so it can launch when we needed it to.

Thankfully, we managed to achieve that.

What was your first big breakthrough?

I think our first big breakthrough was when we signed FDM Group, who are one of the UK’s largest graduate employers. We actually managed to place graduates before we signed them so we were able to prove to them that the platform works.

That was a nice breakthrough.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

You’ve got to do it yourself, don’t rely on anyone else for introductions or anything like that.

Only trust yourself because people always leave you down and their promises will nearly always fall through.

Just work longer, work hard and work smarter.

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

In five years we hope to have a very impressive list of clients and expand to other countries.

We want to give the whole world ‘talent sharing’ via our platform.

Startups met Eddie Lewis during a recent trip to Manchester in which we visited a range of co-working spaces, accelerators and start-up hubs.

Click here to read our ‘boots on the ground’ report of the city’s start-up cluster.