Chapter 2 - We cracked it… I can’t believe it!


Demos Demetriou

Chapter 2 - We cracked it… I can’t believe it!

I managed to get 13 likes on my previous post! What did you think I was going to say? We have just found our perfect investor? We have just signed up our first million candidates? Afraid not, that is still work in progress.

Welcome Back

Firstly this week I have to say a huge thank you to everyone who has commented on the previous post or messaged me personally encouraging me to write another post. I have enjoyed the process so far and even if nobody even likes this blog going forward it will be something to look back at when we do sign-up our 1st million candidates. Optimistic I know but read on to find out why!

Building a start-up that brings change to an industry is hard. I mean really, really hard, unfortunately that is one reason why many start-ups fail. But if you get it right like Air BNB and Uber, it can benefit society as a whole. As a founder your start-up is all you think about day and night. There are highs, and unfortunately lots of lows too, but I have found it is the lows that really make you push even harder to succeed.

Maybe in my case they make me push harder because of my past. A very quick history lesson…

Some History

During the downturn of 2007/08 I lost everything, my business, home, marriage and almost my relationship with my parents (thankfully we reconciled over the next few years). It was a start-up family business that went wrong, big time. I was to blame, at the age of 28 I ran two newly opened restaurants, I was buried in debt of almost £1M but thought I could ride it out somehow, but it went horribly, horribly wrong!

The writing was on the wall with the bank constantly lending us money but I was foolish and did not see it unfolding the way it did. As it all began to crash it was a disaster, demoralising and a complete failure. I felt I had let everybody down, my staff, my family and myself.

It really was a dark time and one that taught me many lessons… about myself and the people around me! Once you have had that kind of experience it changes you, it has changed me in so many ways. For many years since that painful lesson I have reflected on the bad decisions I made and done things a lot differently apart from taking risks (within reason). Don’t get me wrong, as hard as it was, I now know it was part of my journey and one that has bought me to where I am now.

History lesson over… short I know but aside of my blood pressure increasing when I think of those days I never liked History at School, although I wish I did now. Isn’t that always the way though? For now at least I have to ask my colleague Steph who I am convinced knows more about History than Google! Try her if you don’t believe me.

The Beginning

When we have had difficult times building this start-up I knew we would always find a way, after all there is always a way, you just haven’t found it yet, right? But when you have been through tough times and come out of the other end it gives you the drive you need to find those solutions. I am not saying that all founders should go through that same ordeal, I do not recommend it! But it has helped me personally in many ways.

That said, even catastrophic failure is still not enough. There are many other factors but one of the biggest is that you need a good team to resolve those all of your start-up problems and yes you guessed it.. A big thank you to my team Steph and Nargis.

So, as mentioned in my previous post we have developed the Marlin App to change the recruitment process drastically, revolutionise it in fact. The way people currently find jobs and how employers hire is crazy in our opinion. Candidates put together CV’s with lots of information that employers often do not read and then employers are often bombarded with irrelevant candidates that they have to filter through. Did you know that the first CV was created in 1482 by Leonardo de Vinci (thanks Steph). Isn’t it about time we got rid of them? Sorry Leonardo…

We have seen this process and studied it well because we originally started as a recruitment agency in 2013, this agency specialised in private household staff. The one thing we found is that employers only really get a true feel of their potential hires if they speak to candidates and preferably meet them face to face.

For this to happen they only need to see the basics of their work history to see they have the experience, that is normally enough for them to take the next step. The rest is down to character and you cannot determine that from any CV.

At the beginning of Jan 2018 we initially had the idea of developing an App to improve the candidate registration process for our own agency business. Six months later we were developing the App to give employers direct access to those candidates plus many, many more.

At the beginning of this process we asked candidates what they thought. Their positive comments confirmed we were onto something that needed to be developed further. We are so grateful to those candidates who participated in that initial research.

As well as employers who use agencies, we want the Marlin App to be used by employers who cannot justify paying their fees and don’t want the burden of advertising nor being inundated with candidates — and are therefore happy to source their own staff.

It has been a very long process... My IT knowledge spurred me on to develop a prototype but I never stopped! The first version of the App is now developed and although there are many more features we need to add with the help of developers, we do have a working product and thousands of candidates have already registered. Now we are at the stage of raising capital to continue developments and to encourage more employers to use the App.

Fundraising Progress

Recently I have been meeting with potential investors and advisors about fundraising, those of you who have raised funds before know the feeling. The questioning can make you feel like you are being interrogated by MI5, but that is the way you can improve yourself and your product by improving answers to the questions you may not have been prepared for.

One investor asked me how we came to our current valuation and you can’t really say you thought of a number and doubled it! You need to have some proof of what you are talking about. In any case I trebled it because it seemed too low (just kidding!).

At this stage there are lots of conversations going on but we have not secured the funding yet. Believe it or not many investors have said it is too small an investment for them. Many have said that when it starts to grow to come back to them. Crazy right… I always thought that you bought in at the bottom and sold at the top but that clearly is not the way! Or is that just a nice way of saying I am not interested?

We will have to speak to many more investors to get the funding we require, but as Steve Rogers said “I could do this all day long!”. I have an 11 year old son so I am familiar with some of the Marvel films!

Finishing Up

So as we continue on our quest to build our revolutionary start-up I would love to hear from other founders who have made some great progress over with their start-ups. Add some comments about what you have achieved with your ventures and also add a link to your website.

As a founder there is nothing nicer than reading some success stories, that really is such an inspiration to me and others. It takes true grit to succeed and it is great to see what others are doing and the progress we are all making building businesses as well as inspiring others in the process.

Until next week keep going with whatever your passion project is in life. In the meantime why not clap for this article, it all helps. Till next time…

#progress #start-up #marlinapp #keepgoing #fundraising #investors