I spent some time over the break reflecting on 2013, which was a fantastic year for RecruitLoop. We’re priming to sprint into another.
I shared the note below with our team, investors and advisors. In the spirit of transparency, I wanted to share it with our community. I’ve withheld only a few sensitive numbers and plans.
To all our community (recruiters, friends and followers): Thanks for your support through 2013. We’re pumped with some exciting plans for the year ahead, and look forward to sharing them with you.
2013 In Review
It’s been a massive year of growth and change at RecruitLoop.
We started the year with a team of 3 based in Sydney. Traction of <relatively smallish number> roles launched in the previous quarter. And anecdotal demand for our model in international markets.
We finish 2013 with a dedicated team of 7 in Sydney, San Francisco and the Philippines. Regional representatives in Saudi Arabia and Sweden. <Multiples more> roles launched in the last 3 months of the year. And demonstrated momentum outside Australia, in the US, Middle East, and now UK.
Our overall goal remains unchanged: To build a global marketplace of expert recruiters, working on-demand.
We are disrupting traditional recruitment agencies. But more importantly, creating a new market for companies to get expert support when hiring. Companies who have never had access to this type of support. They now make better hiring decisions, faster, at incredibly affordable cost.
Despite a consistent overall direction, we’ve had some major learnings that strengthen our model:
1. We add genuine value to recruiters.
We set out to disrupt recruitment agencies, based on pain we’d all experienced. It turns out individual recruiters had experienced similar pain! Under traditional models, they faced hours of unpaid/wasted work. Complete lack of flexibility. Antagonism from clients fed up with their fees. And industry trends (eg the rise of LinkedIn) that make it harder to justify those fees.
With RecruitLoop, they have a more sustainable, fairer way of doing business. Our online tools and platform allow them to compete with larger players on a more even playing field. They have flexibility in when and where they work. Recruiters are now proactively bringing business into RecruitLoop. Several have hired assistants to help with marketing and business development! And we’ll soon be announcing a partnership with <redacted>, who see value in hourly work through RecruitLoop.
For recruiters, we want to be the #1 network and community to build a sustainable business online.
2. We are building a deliberately curated marketplace.
Online marketplaces for labour are evolving. The 2 largest players recently merged, and Freelancer listed in Australia. These are generalist platforms to outsource a range of tasks online. Their margins range from 5-10%.
Our platform is vertically focused on a high-touch, high-value activity. This means we can add more value to the process through our tools and software. But it also means the stakes for outsourcing are higher. Clients expect quality outcomes and consistent experience.
As a result, we’re increasing the ‘curation’ in our model and taking more ownership of client experience. Recruiters are carefully screened and on-boarded to ensure quality and fit. We’ve established rules and processes for quality control. We are building value in the RecruitLoop brand, platform and experience. This will justify our ongoing project margins of <ask nicely and I might tell you>.
Don’t assume curation means lack of scalability. We are building a very efficient ‘project management layer’ over the top of our online platform. This will let us systematise, and automate, a very ‘human touch’ experience for clients based on intimate knowledge of a best-practice recruiting engagement. This will become a strong competitive advantage.
Growing our core model.
- Monthly revenue approaches <redacted> in December, and grew 5x since Jan-13.
- We launched <redacted> roles in 2013, with <nearly half> in the final quarter.
- This is 9% QoQ growth (December is seasonally a quiet month). And 212% annual growth vs same quarter in 2012.
<revenue chart redacted>
Building the team.
One of our first priorities after raising seed funding was to build the US team. Our first two key hires both left public companies (Amazon, Groupon) and moved interstate (Seattle, Chicago) to join us in San Francisco. Jenn (affectionally known as our HoG – Head of Growth) and Nima (Sales and Operations) have hit the ground running and are adding massive value. They’ve taken the challenge of working in a lean, globally distributed team in their stride.
Rounding out the growth is our fantastic support team, based in the Philippines. Medelene and Sherry work closely together, covering everything from online support, sales support, research and recruiter on-boarding.
Our major move was into the US market in March. Transparently, it took longer to build client momentum here than we’d planned. In November, US projects comprised only 15% by volume. But we’re now seeing strong growth prospects, and excellent feedback from live and potential clients. Our top US client represented <insert large number> of project fees in Nov-Dec.
We’ve also been active in the Middle East (led by Seral, as Regional Rep). More recently, we’ve had solid interest from recruiters in the UK. This is likely to be our next market focus, given the maturity of recruitment there. It will be a lean market entry, led by another regional rep (Matt Trustrum), to avoid diverting core focus from the US and Australia.
Engagement from recruiters is one of the best signs of health for our marketplace. We measure engagement through the number (and %) of ‘proactive’ recruiters, who bring in clients to RecruitLoop. In November, 22% of projects came from recruiter referrals.
To drive this further, we’ve held physical meetups and events. Paul is providing 1:1 online coaching sessions for their BD strategies.
To grow the community in 2014, we’ve very recently confirmed a partnership with <to be announced shortly>. Details forthcoming.
PLANS FOR 2014.
2014 will be a huge year. There are 3 pillars to our strategy: Growth, Community, and Product. I’ll share a proper outline of our plan for 2014 in the coming week.
Drivers of growth.
Growth is our top priority in Q1. We have 3 themes for growth:
- Inbound. The goal is to grow traffic to our website, and convert leads into customers, through organic inbound (i.e. free) channels. We have initiatives for improving website conversion, blogging, publishing content, and email marketing.
- Outbound. The goal is to build an efficient and low-cost sales model, where we proactively identify and contact target companies. We have initiatives for low-cost prospecting / lead-gen, email marketing, then picking up the phone (ideally, only to a warm lead).
- Referrals. The goal is to have more proactive recruiters bringing in more projects. We are launching a <awesome thing> to drive these referrals in January.
<Some other awesome plans redacted>
It was a huge year, and we’re all excited for 2014. Personally, I’m feeling more confident about our ability to build RecruitLoop into a meaningful global company, than I have at any point before now.
Thanks for your support and contribution so far. I’m always here to chat – just email or call with any questions, ideas or feedback.