Chapter 4 - So you think you can help? This way please.

Author: 

Demos Demetriou

Chapter 4 - So you think you can help? This way please.

Dad The Advisor

I have been in business for 23 years (that really does make me feel old). I have learnt a lot from the people around me, especially my Dad in my early years. He built a big business in the textile industry from nothing. It took him 20 years and he spent half of that time travelling to Romania to build his business. Real dedication and an inspiration to me over the years. A true supporter, even of this Medium blog. Thanks Dad (Mum and Sister too of course).

I remember my Dad helping me come up with a price list and margin calculations for my first computer business at the age of 16. Ahh, those were the days! You bought, you sold and your business grew by recommendation. Local and organic, before the Internet days. Dad was my trusted advisor, the one I went to when I needed business advice. Don’t get me wrong, I still do the same today but that is not enough.

I Need Help

I do wonder sometimes if I need mental help with what I am trying to do. Don’t send the men and women with the white coats just yet, hear me out! So, after being in business myself for a quite few years now, our journey with the App has made me realise how much more we need to learn and adapt to build this business quickly. All of my previous businesses have been smaller and niche in some cases. Some have done OK, but nothing compared to the scale we want the Marlin App to be.

We are looking to scale quickly internationally and to become a market leader with millions of users. I know, I know all App start-ups say the same: “It’s the best App since sliced bread”. This really is a great idea that fixes a really broken industry by bringing two parties together and eliminating the third party. It has happened in other industries and it will happen in recruitment too.

We want Job Seekers to get the best opportunities from Employers looking to hire without the lack of transparency and high fees an agency brings into the mix. For us to do this, means raising money from investors and bringing in people who have done this before. It is clear - we need help, proper help. There are many who have done this before but finding the right advisors is the issue.

Chris (who I will introduce shortly) said when I first met him, you may well have a “Tiger by the tail” (I think we have a Marlin by the tail but let’s not split hairs). In any case, have you ever tried to catch a tiger by the tail? I haven’t but it could be a challenge (probably a disaster) without the right help. That is my point this week.

Advisors This Way

So towards the end of last year I was recommended to Chris Metalle. I have to mention Derek Horne who initially introduced us. I am thankful for his introduction and I hope in time he will get a cracking opportunity on the App because his experience is excellent. That’s if he does not become a conservative MP. He is currently running as a local candidate in the 2019 elections because of his frustrations by some out-of-touch politicians. Well done Derek, I wish you every success.

Back to Chris, he has been involved in all things finance for a long time and advises businesses, he helps with strategy, finance and general business issues. He has been a great help to us and also introduced us to Mr. A who as you will know from previous posts, could be one of our investors in the future. Mr. A has also provided some invaluable advice. It would be good to have him on-board officially but until then we will keep pushing on.

A bit of a rant: As part of the fundraising, Nargis and Stephanie have connected with some companies who claim they “have all of the contacts to raise money easily”. Now you should know how I feel about ‘middlemen’, our App removes them in the recruitment industry so if you don’t know how I feel, take a wild guess! Now as a ‘middleman’ if you are so confident in your offering, why do you have to insist on a large retainer and a commission if successful?
I am all for a commission and the long game, but I am struggling with this retainer pricing model, it is too short sighted. If 100 start-ups all pay a nice retainer then do you need to bust a gut to secure the funding? Not really! ‘Middlemen’: if you offer high retainers please take note, targeting start-ups who are trying to raise seed money, may not be the best strategy… Rant over, I feel better now.

So Chris was our first advisor. He has made some great suggestions, challenged us about our business and has been instrumental in getting all of our financial figures together. Our newest advisor which I am very happy to tell you about is Amber Lippiett. Amber has joined us as a Marketing Advisor who will work on our top level strategy and help our investors understand how we will grow so quickly. Her track record is excellent and she really understands what we are trying to achieve. She also understands that as a start-up trying to raise funds, we do not have an endless money pot for a marketing budget. She has been a great support so far and our team look forward to working with her.

The Meeting

A lot of this journey is unchartered territory for us, so we feel it is important to bring in the right people that can help us achieve our goals. My recent meeting illustrates this. Grant Goss and Kevin Ronaldson from Clarus Fortior recently met with me. Grant approached me on LinkedIn to talk about their business growth consultancy. With their experience and connections I have no doubt their advice would be invaluable, but right now it could be a bit of a stretch. The time spent attending an all day meeting every month could be a challenge because at this stage I am being stretched in a few different directions, and at times I feel like a contortionist. I am still thinking about it though!

If you are a more established business looking to scale and have the resources, you should reach out to Grant and Kevin. Their knowledge and experience is excellent and they are genuinely nice guys which is always a nice thing to see in business. I hope that when the time is right for us we can also work together.

Finishing Up

I can really see the benefit of advisors especially when they are involved in other businesses because they are looking at our business from a distance, which can help with the overall strategy. I am also aware that not all advisors are suitable and it takes a bit of navigating to find the right ones that are aligned with what you are trying to achieve. As with everything in a start-up this is just another challenge, a challenge that we will conquer.

If you have used some good advisors in your start-ups please mention them here. They will appreciate the publicity and hopefully we can help other founders with the advisors that they need.

Thanks for reading. Until next week…