Graduating and looking for a job can be a pain, especially now when graduating with a good degree doesnt necessarily guarantee you a job. You need a great great degree and a wealth of experience and there's also the lack of job opportunities or sometimes simply connecting with the right recruiters and this is what Wikijob is looking to solve or should I say have been solving for the past 4 years.
Wikijob simply connects students and graduates looking for career opportunities with job recruiters from the likes of FTSE100, Times Top 100 graduate recruiters, Deustche Bank, Citigroup, Accenture, Deloitte, KPMG,PwC, Linklaters, Freshfields, Credit Suisse, Barclays in addition also providing tools that enable students/graduates to become more succesful with job applications.
Today I speak to one of the co-founder of the company, Edward Mellett.
Can you give me some background information about yourself
I’m Edward Mellett, I’m 28 and I run WikiJob.co.uk along with a couple of other seedling business including my new baby WikiFestivals.com.
How you got into business
After I graduated I started working in a recruitment consultancy. I was hoping to go travelling and when I heard the stories of people going into recruitment and earning lots of money very quickly, I was convinced it was the perfect opportunity to get some office experience on my CV as well as save some cash for an extended trip abroad (which I’m still working towards!)
After six month’s I realised it was actually very hard to make a lot of money in recruitment and I wasn’t enjoying the job (it’s not a bad job, and does offer great financial rewards for the right people, but at this stage in my life I wasn’t prepared to work hard or put in the commitment you need to really make an opportunity like this work). At this point I decided two things: it was time to leave my job and that I would never work for anyone else again. I wanted to be my own boss, have my own rules and explore my own ideas. I didn’t want someone asking me why I was two minutes late or checking to see that I wasn’t going home two minutes early. To me, all this type of office politics stuff was pointless and I didn’t want any part of it.
How the idea for Wikijobs came about
At this point (2007) I had an idea that lots of graduates were in the same position as me, relatively clueless when it came to work and incredibly clueless when it came to making job applications, going for interviews, impressing potential employers, etc. In 2007 sites like Facebook were still relatively new and although there were a lot of graduate job sites, there wasn’t really anywhere online that students and graduates could use to discuss jobs. Consequently I thought it would make sense to develop this type of website. A few days after leaving my job I met up with an old school/university friend and discussed my idea with him. As it happened, he has just about to leave his job at a large accountancy firm and wanted to start a business too. He was a very talented web developer so we decided that he would create a site and we would work on the idea to create a website for graduate job seekers together (this guy is Chris Muktar my business partner and co-founder of WikiJob).
Some of the key things you’ve learnt along the way Starting out
WikiJob we had no money, no concept of how to conduct business and in all honesty very little sense! Very early on we decided not to get funding (we bootstrapped everything) which I think may have been a mistake. Although it’s great to have full ownership of WikiJob right now, if we’d taken on investment and a business adviser we might not have spent 2 - 3 years without a revenue. Looking back could have made a revenue far sooner if we’d followed a few simple rules that now seem very obvious (rule number one, for example, is don’t wait for anything before you start selling advertising. Start selling advertising from day one!)
A difficult period starting the business and how you overcame it.
We spent all of our initial profits hiring a sales person very early on because we didn’t trust ourselves to sell. As it turned out, although a good person, this sales person didn’t deliver us any results and after five months we had to let them go. This meant we’d spent a lot of money and had nothing to show for it, and at the time this was all the money we had!
Although we lost a lot financially, it was during this period that I learnt two important things. If something isn’t working in your business, you have to extract it, or end it, immediately. With lots of things, but especially employees (and in particular your first one)
you really want things to work out. But as you try to improve things, you’re undoubtedly spending money and devoting time to something which will probably never work. If you spot a problem, extract it immediately. I also learnt that you should trust in your own abilities to do things. As a founder your passion will guide you through, even in areas of business which may be new to you or seem difficult to understand at first. In retrospect we should never have hired anyone early on and just sold things ourselves, which we did very effectively in the end!
The business now: your plans for the future?
Right now WikiJob generates over half a million user visits each month (predominantly from the UK) and helps employers, universities and consumer brands connect with, recruit and offer products to students and recent graduates. Over the past five years we have grown from nothing into one of the most successful graduate recruitment tools available - last year our turnover exceeded £500,000 and we would hope to double that in 2012 (we’ve doubled turnover every year of business so far).
There are opportunities to explore taking WikiJob abroad and growing internationally does appeal. We are also looking at new business directions including a site we just started for festivals (wikifestivals.com). I’ve always wanted to open a bar in east London - this is also something I’m looking into right now.
The great thing about being an entrepreneur and working for yourself is that anything can happen. If I stumble across what I think is a brilliant business idea tomorrow, there’s nothing to stop me jumping on it and running with it straight away. Likewise if I get bored of something, I can delegate ownership to someone else. In my opinion that’s just fantastic!