Build a better mousetrap, be obsessive: Found’s co-founder on the key to challenging Seek
Fri 14 July 2017 - 9:00 amEntrepreneur | Featured | Profiles
Despite being in the online job market for just one-tenth the time of SEEK, Found has begun nipping at the heels of the incumbent platform.
Established by Andrew Joyce and Peter Marchiori in April 2015, the Sydney-based start-up has attracted a total of $4.5 million in funding for its mobile platform, most recently closing a $2 million round at the end of June. When it comes to traction, however, the proof (as they say) is in the pudding – having launched in February, last year, Found’s job app has been downloaded 350,000 times by job-seekers, resulting in approximately 280,000 sign-ups.
According to Joyce, the app has resonated with job seekers because it addresses inefficiencies in the online job market.
“Pre-Found, none of the platforms had committed to mobile to the degree that we have”, he told Dynamic Business. “Although an increasing number of job seekers prefer mobile over desktop, platforms are still requiring their users to, at some stage, complete a process that isn’t supported by mobile – for example, uploading a resume, completing pages of forms or using a site which doesn’t work with a mobile browser. We never ask a candidate do something that can’t be done on a mobile, within our app.
“Additionally, other platforms lack even a basic awareness of who you are as a candidate, including your history, location or experience. Consequently, when it comes to building a profile, discovering and applying for relevant jobs, and tracking progress with employers, job seekers have had to do all the work themselves, whereas we help them with every step of the process – and they are never required to answer the same questions more than once.”
On the other side of the equation, Joyce said Found is able to “massively speed up” the recruitment process for employers.
“Gone are the days of having to place a job ad and – over the application period – manually sift through CVs from any and all candidates, regardless of how suited they are for the role,” he said. “Although the local market is dominated by Seek, based on a number of conversations we’ve had with business owners and HR professionals, many feel they’re being ‘held hostage’ (job ads can be over $300 for a single posting) and are desperately looking for alternatives. We let employers search our database of 280,000 candidates and proactively connect with the best candidates or, alternatively, place ads targeting the demographics they’re most looking to hire, meaning the candidates are of a higher-quality and a better fit for the role.”
The co-founder’s Uber experience
Found is the second venture Joyce and Marchiori have established together since 2013. According to Joyce, their partnership has endured because they have “extremely complementary interests and skillsets”. He added, “I believe this is critical for any founding team. Although we share the same vision for Found, we work in (and on) very different parts of the business on a daily basis. Peter is focused on developing and building the best possible offering, while I look after sales and marketing, fundraising and customer support”.
With Rifirb – Joyce’s first startup with Marchiori, founded in August 2013 – the duo supported Uber with their rollout across Australia, Asia and the Middle East.
“Uber had yet to introduce their BYO phone policy; instead, they were providing drivers with dedicated iPhones, ‘locked-down’ to only run their driver app,” Joyce explained. “Rifirb sourced and refurbished pre-owned devices, provisioned them with Uber software, and supplied them (along with car kits, chargers, etc) to Uber’s local offices. Plus, we took care of the ‘break-fix’ side of things. We began assisting Uber in Sydney, where they had only two employees, but ended up working with them further abroad – as far north as Japan, and as far west as the Middle East.”
Although Rifirb scaled rapidly off the back of Uber’s roll-out, turning over $25m in its first year of operation, Joyce said it wasn’t a business he and Marchiori believed ‘had legs’ beyond this specific opportunity. They made the decision to wind-down Rifirb in July 2015, and focus on growing Found, due to – Joyce explained – the challenges associated with a) being an ‘inventory-intense’ business (i.e. “lots of money tied-up with rapidly depreciating assets”) and b) the rapid evolution of mobile devices (i.e. “older models were relatively easy to service, repaid and refurbish…whereas with the new ones, there was a significant risk of complete device failure”).
Adapting to next-gen candidates
To give a sense of Found’s success to date, Joyce pointed to a recent article on SEEK in The Australian, which revealed the market leader processes nearly 1.5 million mobile applications per month. He said the fact that Found is already processing 300,000 applications monthly, “just goes to show that if you’re able to focus obsessively on your target market and ‘build a better mousetrap’, success will come”.
He continued, “Our target market – jobseekers aged 16 to 35 – use technology in a fundamentally different way to previous generations – and their expectations of the experience that a platform should deliver are much higher than in the past. We don’t believe that other platforms (or the employers who use them) have kept up. Over time, it’ll be key for businesses of all shapes and sizes to adapt their hiring to the current generation (if they want to be able to attract the best staff).
“Speaking more generally, if a start-up is to achieve success, it must have 1) a great product that solves a big problem, 2) sales and marketing operations, which effectively build awareness, generate demand and create customers, and 3) access to capital to support the business until it is self-sustaining.
“We have a great team who continue to deliver on the first two points, and are exceptionally lucky to be receiving assistance with the third from our very supportive group of investors, which includes advisory board members such as Tim Reed (CEO of MYOB) and Stevan Premutico (Founder of Dimmi). Having a group of people who you can trust to provide useful input on high-level strategic decisions is absolutely critical – especially when they have ‘war stories’ to prove it”.
What’s next? “Watch this space”
Joyce said he and Peter are at an ‘exciting point’ in Found’s growth trajectory, having gained traction with major employers and recruiters, including Randstad, the Australian Defence Force, David Jones, Hyatt and Hilton plus ‘loads’ of smaller businesses.
“Additionally, we’re starting to build real brand-awareness in the job-seeker space,” he said. “We now have almost 10% of Australia’s under-20s workforce signed up, with a total of 280,000 candidates. For us, it’s all about continuing to develop our product and grow the marketplace. Whether that means taking Found overseas or branching into…all I can say is watch this space!”