Just as it’s taken millions of years for us humans to evolve, you don’t plant a seed today and get an oak tree tomorrow — that takes 150 years for it to grow into a majestic adult tree. Just as the humble oak tree, we need to evolve as a team, a business, a founder and an industry but hopefully not to take as long as 150 years!
As a start-up founder, it’s easy to get caught up in the buzz and measure your newly-found awesome tech company against the likes of Uber, Air Bnb or the many other darlings of Silicon Valley. Their slick operations are constantly growing, raising money and have a queue of employees, investors and suppliers dying to work with them. As a start-up, it’s how you see your own company someday and can be a valuable comparison when you need inspiration. That may be how it will be, but that is a far cry from how they started. You do have to keep your feet on the ground as a founder and also stay focused.
It’s almost hard to believe that these colossal companies started with basic platforms and worked hard to get their first lot of customers. Take Uber: they used to call taxi drivers to arrange transport when a user made a request on the App. Hard to believe, right? They really went back to basics when they were trying to capture their first customers, but it worked, as was the reason they are successful today. Mind you it depends how we measure success. Uber has lost billions, been marred in all sorts of issues and recently had a disappointing start to its stock market debut. I guess that’s a conversation for another time.
Reading all of the huge success stories, massive funding rounds and an avalanche of users joining every month is a huge inspiration to founders like me, but it has to be taken with a pitch of salt. Yes, there are some great companies out there that have grown really quickly, raised lots of money and scaled. There are also lots that haven’t that are still growing and are even profitable, but we don’t hear much about them.
When we started the Marlin App, as you all know we had some great feedback and many of our users saw the need for change in the recruitment industry and a real interest in our product. Once we had that great feedback, we naively thought that raising capital would be fairly easy and then the rise to rock star status was imminent. We had a great idea and surely there are lots of people who would be willing to invest. Well, you’d think, right? But unfortunately, things just don’t work like that most of the time.
The thing is we are in a queue. There are thousands of new start-ups with the next best idea chasing that same money. We thought that we would easily find an investor or group of investors that would be able to help us grow. To grow though, you need some roots. We have the beginnings for sure, but we have so much more to do. Maybe this is a bit harsh given the massive progress we have made since launching, but for me, that’s how it feels.
On that basis and after many team meetings, our focus has now shifted a little. Don’t worry, we’re not quitting or diversifying into the agricultural sector, hear me out…! Yes, the investment is important, but so is proving that what we have developed is the future and that it will change the recruitment industry for the better. For this reason, we are focusing more on growing the community, improving the App and getting us into revenue generating territory so that the investment is more appealing. When the funding does finally come, our growth really can happen in a big way.
Yes, this will take a little longer and we run the risk of someone bigger raining on our parade, but don’t worry we have umbrellas, so that won’t be a problem. As I have always said, competition does not worry us one bit. It’s a good thing, and if that’s what it takes to change an out-of-date recruitment industry then bring it on!
As the title of this blog post says we need to evolve. It will make our purpose clearer, gives our community more time to see the benefits and eventually make our proposition shine bright to investors as a great investment.
I recently was invited to do an interview with a podcast focusing on start-ups. I am not ashamed to say this was my first interview of this kind. I was a little nervous, excited and also very proud. Upon reflection, I think there is more I could have said but knowing it was the first gives me confidence that future interviews will improve. I’ve no doubt I will cringe when it comes to air, but it was a great experience and the host also made some really valid points based on his own experience building his own company. It should be broadcast in the coming weeks and I will certainly let you all know about it when it’s out. Nargis can’t wait to shout about it on our social media channels which she has now perfected.
Steph is now back from her adventure to Everest and I look forward to dedicating the next blog post to her journey. Knowing that she was just 30cm or so away from the edge of a fatal drop may give you an idea of how much of a challenge it was. I’m sure getting her experience into words will not give it the justice it deserves, but I will certainly give it my best shot.
As always thank you for taking the time to read these ramblings. Till next time…