The Dots: Pip Jamieson

The entrepreneur discusses launching her 'LinkedIn for creatives', bad hires, and landing leading companies BBC, Spotify and Condé Nast

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Name: Pip Jamieson
Company name: The Dots
Location: London
Number of Employees: 11
Date launched: 25/09/2014

Tell us what your business does:

Best described as ‘LinkedIn for creatives’, The Dots is a professional networking platform designed to help creative professionals and companies showcase work, network, collaborate and connect with commercial opportunities.

We recognised that people working in the creative sector have different needs and networking preferences to those in the corporate sector. By joining The Dots, users can showcase their work and portfolio, as well as network with like-minded people and – most importantly – connect with commercial opportunities (be it a job, collaborator, workspace, course or client).

Where did the idea for your business come from?

When I worked as the head of marketing at MTV, I was finding it really hard to connect with amazing creative talent and service providers. At the same time my colleague, Matt Fayle, who was digital director for Viacom in Australia, was constantly being asked by creatives for advice on setting up and running online portfolios.

After discussing the challenges that both of us were experiencing we realised that the common factor in all these cases was that they all wanted their online presence to lead to something. If you were a creative business you were trying to build your brand, promote your projects, connect with clients, service providers or hire talent. If you were a creative individual you were trying to build your personal brand, find collaborators, find a job or a freelance opportunity.

Our vision was not only to create a platform that was easy for creative individuals and businesses to promote their work online – but most importantly connect that work to some form of commercial outcome – connecting our users to a client, job, collaborator or job – essentially helping them make money.

How did you know there was a market for it?

Creative sectors in the UK are thriving. A recent Government report highlighted that the UK’s creative industries are worth £71.4bn to the local economy – generating just over £8m an hour. Therefore, we plan to launch The Dots in the UK first before branching out within Europe and then the US and beyond.

What were you doing before starting up?

Prior to starting The Dots, I worked in the creative industries for over 13 years, which included senior roles at MTV Australia and New Zealand. In 2009, I co-founded Australian platform The Loop, which the team and I developed and grew into the leading professional networking site for creatives in the region, with over 67% of Australian creative professionals registered on the site, of which 71% returned each day. I love this industry and I’ve always had global aspirations for the platform – so this year I decided to exit the business I started in Australia to acquire the international right to the technology – and The Dots was born.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

When I was part of the team that launched MTV in New Zealand, I had my first taste of growing a business from the grass roots and I absolutely loved it. From that moment on I knew that I had found my place in the world and I was determined to build my own business

How did you raise the money?

The Dots has so far been self-funded, due to the technology having originally been developed for my previous business. During that time, I secured $2m in seed funding, which has since been used for product development and scale.

Describe your business model and how you make money:

In terms of business model, The Dots operates on a freemium basis: it’s free for individuals and companies to join and set up a profile. Users can then either choose to pay to headhunt talent or advertise jobs, workspaces and courses on the site, or earn free credit by inviting new individuals and companies to join the platform. This cost varies depending on the opportunity, but typically an advert for a full-time job will be around £150.

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

I made a really bad hiring decision; but the experience taught me that having a rock solid hiring process is key.

What was your first big breakthrough?

I remember the first time someone landed a job on the platform, it was the most amazing feeling, not only was it up and running but it was also helping people to connect and find their perfect job role.

More recently it’s been an honor having so many incredible UK brands join The Dots for the launch including: BBC, Net-a-Porter, Spotify, TATE, V&A, Vice, Jamie Oliver Media Group, AKQA, Liberty, Condé Nast, Sony Music, Barbican, Engine Group, VCCP, Virgin Group and Wolff Olins.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Starting a business is an incredible rollercoaster ride of highs and lows, so staying positive and persevering through the hard times is key.  I think in the end a lot of start-ups fail as they hit a tough patch and call it a day.

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

There are exciting times ahead: following the UK launch, we plan to expand in Europe and then the US in 2015 and beyond. This will open up further opportunities for creative professionals looking to work overseas and will also widen the talent pool for companies.

In terms of long-term vision, The Dots is set to revolutionise how creatives and businesses connect, collaborate and commercialise; helping to build stronger, more profitable and diverse creative sectors around the world.

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