SuitLink: Edward Johnson

The social network's founder tells us about balancing a full-time job with running his business and the challenges that come with overseas developers

Name: Edward Johnson
Company name: SuitLink
Location: Greater London 
Date launched: 16/06/2015
Website: www.suitlink.com

Tell us what your business does:

SuitLink is a LGBT and Ally professional network. We connect professionals from all over the world on an online platform that helps people find jobs, recruit, network, collaborate and organise events. We aim to promote LGBT equality in the workplace.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

I wanted to meet other like-minded professionals when I first started working in London. I know that not all companies are pro-equality so I wanted to see if a network that connected everyone would help improve this.

How did you know there was a market for it?

I spoke with friends and colleagues first and they all agreed that the network was needed. After this I did some of my own market research, discussing the idea and platform with potential users of the service.

What were you doing before starting up?

I was working as a campaign manager for a digital marketing agency. I still work as a team leader and manage the website throughout the night. Sleep doesn’t really feature very heavily in my schedule anymore.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

Yes, it’s something I have always aspired to do. I can remember trying to sell ideas to my friends and family when I was five years old.

How did you raise the money?

The company is entirely self-funded and at present we are not generating any revenue.

Describe your business model and how you make money:

We don’t make any money yet; but after we build up a larger user base we plan to do so via a targeted advertising model. Our priority at the moment is to create the best community possible and we don’t want to be distracted by making money.

Our potential user market is big and, hopefully, our network will continue to grow. Regardless of growth the services we offer will always remain free.

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

Freelance development costs and unreliable developers. We had to hire developers overseas to cut costs but had to keep swapping developers because they always seemed to let us down or ‘disappear’. Finally we hit gold with a superb developer based in Romania!

What was your first big breakthrough?

The first big breakthrough was the first time a user successfully found a job through our platform.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Don’t get too tied down with detail and perfection early on. A product is unlikely to launch in its perfect form (even companies like Apple who must spend millions on testing have launched products with faults before now).

Just take the leap of faith. If the concept is good and it works, then the bugs can be ironed out.

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

Collaborating with global corporations to help improve equality in the workplace and managing a social network with millions of professionals helping us to spread the word about equality.

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