TalentPuzzle: Virginia Raemy
The founder on leaving the City and changing the face of the recruitment industry
Company name: TalentPuzzle Website:www.talentpuzzle.com Founders: Virginia Raemy Age: 29 Based: London Staff Numbers: 5 Date started: Dec 2008 Tell us what your business does: TalentPuzzle is an online tendering platform that connects employers and recruitment agencies. Employers post their jobs and can set the fee they are willing to pay when making a hire. Agencies apply to work on a role if they are happy with the fee on offer.
Where did the idea for your business come from? The current recruitment market is highly inefficient and suffers from a lack of transparency. The result is that companies, especially small and medium sized businesses, are often charged fees which are too high and unjustified. TalentPuzzle’s aim is to bring transparency into the process to empower companies to set their own fees and find talented recruits faster. How did you know there was a market for it? How will you differentiate yourself from the competition? I knew there was a market after speaking to a lot of potential users in HR, who reinforced my view that there was a need to improve the recruitment process. We were the first company to launch this service in the UK. Through 18 months of experience we can offer a platform which has been improved several times and which offers great usability to users. We have also built a good level of liquidity which is important for an online marketplace What were you doing before starting up? I worked in finance (M&A at Deutsche Bank and Citigroup) and then as an investment analyst at a hedge fund. I lost my job as a result of the credit crunch and rather then treat this as a negative I thought this was a great opportunity to try something on my own. Have you always wanted to run your own business? What appealed most about being your own boss? Yes, it has always been my dream to run my own show. I find it more rewarding to work for myself. Everything I put in, I get out as well. What planning did you do before you started up – did you do market research, put together a business plan etc.? I put together a business plan, spoke to investors, did a lot of market research and spoke to potential customers. This helped me reaffirm that there was a market for our product. I received a lot of questions on the market size and revenue potential for TalentPuzzle from potential investors. Based on my experience my recommendation for any aspiring entrepreneur would be to be very clear on those figures. How did you raise the money?I met with about 20 different investors. Finally I got investment from two seed funds and two angels. Yes, there were a lot of rejections, but I knew eventually someone would be as excited about the idea as I am. What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them? Our biggest challenge is to change people’s behaviour. We are offering a completely new service to the HR industry and there is always a lot of scepticism or inertia. People often don’t want to change and try something new. The only thing we can do is keep going and eventually succeed in convincing people that TalentPuzzle can make their lives easier. We are starting to see some promising success there. How have you promoted your business? What has proved successful and what won’t you do again?Sales teams, cold-calling, emails and marketing campaigns, as well as attending events and recruitment shows. Applied in the right mix, all of those channels work well for us. I wouldn’t just put all my cards on one particular channel. How much do you charge? How did you decide this? The service is free for employers. Once a candidate is hired we take 25% of the placement fee which is paid to the recruitment agency who made the candidate introduction. What about staff – how many do you have? We are five in total. I started with just myself and now I have a small team to share the ups and downs with. What has your growth been like? Are you where your business plan said you’d be? We are growing very rapidly. But what is more encouraging is that we are getting a lot of repeat business which is critical for building value. We have some very large companies (FTSE 250) who have started to use us and we currently have just about 1,000 recruitment agents signed up, all supplying CVs. We are on track to be profitable by March next year. Currently we are investing value in brand awareness campaigns. What’s the impact on your home life been like?It’s been great fun running my own business. My family and friends are very much involved and are all excited to celebrate the early successes with me.
What would you say the greatest difficulty has been in starting up? Patience. What was your first big breakthrough? Getting repeat business. What would you do differently? ie what have you learnt? I would find some “early adopters” – basically companies who commit to using us from day one. This would help to get endorsement, but also ensures that the product really fits their needs. What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs? Just do it! Where do you want to be in five years’ time? Do you have an exit plan? There are two options: either an exit within five years, or stay on and develop the business into other areas. We already have a subsidiary in South Africa and are looking to accelerate our international growth.