Chapter 20: Fail, change then repeat


Demos Demetriou

Chapter 20: Fail, change then repeat

Failure has never been so important than in a startup. Not catastrophic, close-the-doors failure; but just something failing. A project, an idea, a member of the team. When those failures happen it’s important to change things, re-evaluate and then repeat. It’s like groundhog day on steroids in a startup but it’s so, so important.

Some changes require a pivot in the business, other changes can be just a small change in some process. Whatever the change it’s massively important and without it it stops your startup from evolving and if you’re not evolving you are quite simply…dying.

We have experienced this process so many times. From our days as an agency to how the Marlin App has evolved. When we first started the App we wanted to apply it to a sector that we knew: private household staff. There’s a need for transparency and we have seen how beneficial it can be to employers with the private households who have already used the App. I have to be honest though, it’s not had the impact we had hoped. There are still many families out there who are too comfortable paying fees to agencies, we’re seeing some changes in that mentality, but it will still take a bit more time in that sector.

As this chapter’s title suggests, we took our own advice and made some changes around 3 months ago to really focus on another sector. There has always been a big crossover with the hospitality sector and the private staffing sector. We knew it was an area we would also be involved in but thought it would come a little later. We felt we needed more candidates on the platform to make it beneficial to employers which was what we were waiting for but a few months ago we made the change.

It turns out that Hotels and Restaurants are not happy one bit with agencies or job boards because of the fees they charge and time it takes…. hooray, our point exactly! Hotels and Restaurants that we are talking to have the same opinion. We all know timing is important sprinkled with a bit of luck. And you all know that I’m lucky to have a great team and the timing of certain things happening has been shown to me many many times over the years.

Is this the right time, and do we have that bit of luck? Well, given that two hotel chains Kew Green Hotels and Macdonald Hotels and Resorts see the benefit in using our App, plus with the recent on-boarding of Coya Restaurant Group in Mayfair, it seems the time has come! They all really understand the concept and think there is a need for the App. A way to make their lives easier and get people into work quicker. We’re also speaking to another restaurant chain who are also looking at alternatives to agencies and job boards.

Had we not really focused on the hospitality industry a little earlier than expected then none of these opportunities would have been available. So if the hospitality industry does fail us, which is unlikely given the problems these establishments have in finding staff, we will change things and repeat until we find a thriving sector of which there are many to choose from.


I recently met with Aaron Butson the Director of Business, Growth and Innovation at Havant & South Downs College. They were introduced to the App by another contact of ours Adrian Ingham at Your Centre which is an outsourced contact centre. The college are interested in using the App for their students to find work when they complete their studies. In the past we have always only considered experienced staff because that’s what employers (at least in the private household sector) always wanted. For hotels and restaurants though it can sometimes work well with a newly qualified chef who is looking to grow in a business. Given that only yesterday I read the news that Tom Booton has joined The Dorchester in London and, at 26, is the youngest Head Chef they have ever employed, it seemed the timing of my meeting last week was spot on!

What’s new

Unfortunately we didn’t make the shortlist of the Disruptor of the Year at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards but given the experience of some of the winners it’s no surprise that we didn’t make it. I’m not going to lie, we were a little disappointed but wish all of the winners the very best for the final. We think what we are doing is award-worthy and we will definitely be entering next year once we begin to really grow.

More and more conversations are happening with Hotels and Restaurants so we see that sector growing quickly for us this year.

We’re still waiting for an answer from the consultant I spoke about last week to join us. He has been busy recently jumping out of planes for charity so it’s understandable we haven’t had a final answer yet, but his contacts in the hospitality industry could be a huge boost for us.

After 20 chapters of writing on this blog I’m keen to get some feedback. Good, bad or ugly. As many of you know, I’m new to writing and have no doubt the content will improve over time but this will only happen with more feedback and experiences we have with our own startup.

Until then, enjoy the Summer sun…