During his time working at Accenture, James created an app that went viral by the name of ‘what’s my value?’ and after seeing what was then a side project become very popular, he started thinking of ways of building a platform around it, a platform for people to discover important career information and job opportunities anonymously and on their own terms. And now what started as a side project is now CareerVidi.
Hi James, thanks for doing this. How are you doing today?
I'm great thanks; the latest version of CareerVidi went live last week so the last few days have been a very exciting time for us.
Can you give us some background about yourself?
I left university in 2008 and took a year out to go travelling before getting started in the real world! During this year I decided to start a business called 'Everyday Models', which involved selling advertising space on individuals’ clothes and possessions. Though admittedly we hadn’t considered the context at the time, the idea struck a chord because it provided a way for people to make some extra cash during a time when they were afraid of losing their jobs. Within a few months we'd been approached by BBC and CNN wanting to produce stories about us!
After 2 years and working with a number of clients, I sold my share in this business and went to work as a management consultant at Accenture before starting my second business CareerVidi in 2012.
Tell me how you initially got into the business?
While at Accenture I started a viral web app called 'What is my value?' which enabled people to find out how much they could earn in other areas of employment. The application proved to be very popular and signed up 20,000 users in its first week; this eventually led to the development of CareerVidi and securing our first round of investment.
How did the idea for CareerVidi come about?
The idea came about through ' What is my value?', after seeing how popular this project was, I started to think about building a platform for people to discover important career information and job opportunities anonymously and on their own terms.
What is CareerVidi? And what are you trying to solve with it?
Searching for a job can be time consuming, overwhelming and risky (if your current employer finds out what you’re up to). We make the process simple by using people's LinkedIn profile as a CV, providing accurate matching for jobs, and a platform for people to discover other information such as their value on the job market anonymously and discreetly.
How have you been able to fund it so far?
After building the initial prototype on a shoestring, I was able to raise £100,000 from angel investors.
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs looking to raise funds for their start-ups?
Testing an idea, particularly a web technology or mobile application is a lot easier than most people think. Most entrepreneurs dream up the optimal all-singing-all-dancing product and are put off by how expensive it is to produce. My advice would be to scale your idea back to its most basic form, and invest a small amount of money to produce the minimum viable product.
Investors like to see commitment, traction and proof where possible, and if you are able to demonstrate this even to a small extent, you are far more likely to convince them to part with their money for your idea.
About the first few months, how excited were you, tell us about how those months felt, what happened?
The first few months took a lot of getting used to, going from working in a corporate environment to a start-up required a level of discipline and a change of attitude. I found myself getting very little sleep, and testing the product to death in the early hours of the morning. However, once we’d launched and saw membership levels starting to grow, the feeling was incredible. We were covered in TechCrunch and Wired which led to a great surge in membership levels; this made all those sleepless nights start to seem worth it!
How did you initially get traction?
Before we launched we made contact with every influential blogger in our industry and asked them to review our product, this coverage enabled us to build an initial user base without spending money while giving the bloggers a unique insight into a new and interesting product. After this, we contacted mainstream media and offered TechCrunch exclusive coverage of our launch.
What would you say has been the highlight of your entrepreneurial journey so far?
It’s a bit of a cheesy answer but the highlight of my experience has been the interesting people I have met over the last year. I’ve met some brilliant entrepreneurs, investors and journalists through LinkedIn and Twitter, I hadn’t realised how useful these channels could be for meeting new people.
What should we be expecting from yourself and the CareerVidi team for 2013?
We are looking to expand beyond LinkedIn to other APIs in order to leverage people’s social graphs to help make career decisions – it’s something we are very excited about so watch this space!
Lastly, what advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today?
The best advice I’ve been given is to network, make connections and keep a record on each person you meet. Whether its face-to-face or via social media, you should stay in touch and build your network before you need it.
On Saturday 9th March we will be hosting, alongside Brightside, ‘Get Up Start Up‘ where you will be able to apply and be approved for a Startup loan of between £2,500 & £10,000 to help you get your business started!