Logan Naidu is the CEO of Dartmouth Partners, a recruitment and talent networking start-up that aims to help manage people’s careers from Classroom to Boardroom. In this interview, Logan talks to me about growing his business and some of the key things learnt along the way.
Hi Logan, Thanks for doing this. How are you doing today?
I’m well thanks, busy!
Can you give us some background information about yourself?
I’m the CEO of Dartmouth Partners, a recruitment and talent networking start-up that aims to help manage people’s careers from Classroom to Boardroom. Before Dartmouth Partners, I was Managing Partner of a firm called The Cornell Partnership and prior to that I worked in corporate finance at PwC and JPMorgan.
Tell me how you initially got into business?
I fell into recruitment to be honest. I came out of PwC not knowing what I wanted to do and thought corporate finance was the wrong industry for me. In retrospect I was probably unhappy working in a large organisation and wanted to be my own boss- I think I must have been a pain to manage!
We set up Dartmouth because there is a clear and neglected gap in the market. Most firms want to chase big fees which usually means trying to win more senior work. We feel that looking after future talent and giving companies access to them is absolutely vital– they are our future leaders and CEOs.
How did the idea for Dartmouth Partners come about?
We spotted the opportunity, debated it for a few months, resigned and got to work! It happened quickly.
Tell me about the early days, the type of challenges you initially encountered?
It was scary but quite fun. We had an office that was still being built and didn’t really know how much work we’d have on. But we had a team that had worked together so there was quite a lot of (possibly nervous) laughter too.
How have you been able to fund it so far?
I took a small loan which has now been repaid. Thank you GH!
What advices would you give to entrepreneurs looking to raise funds for their startups?
I’m afraid I can’t really as it wasn’t something we looked into in great detail. But I’d say pick your backers carefully and make sure your interests are aligned. You want “Partners” as well as investors.
About the first few months, how excited were you, tell us about how those months felt, what happened?
We were super excited. We still are! We had a really good start to the business, clients seemed to warm to the business model and us. The team is a close-knit one, we get on really well. We do work hard but I hope we have fun too!
What are the most crucial things that you have done to grow your business?
People. We are a people-based business, and people are our asset. My primary concern is keeping the team happy, continually improving their individual and our collective skillset and hiring people that buy into a long term vision. If they don’t, then it won’t work. I spend a lot of time thinking through our corporate culture and how I set the agenda for that. The phrase “culture eats strategy for breakfast” is absolutely true.
What would you say has been the highlight of your entrepreneurial journey so far?
We’re only a year in, so it’s early days. We won a couple of awards last year, were listed as #17 in the Startups 100 list and I was nominated as one of the Top 30 under 35 running a business. Both nice things. I hope we’ll win more.
But the day to day highlight is working with people I like and doing something that I think does change lives. Having the right job and being able to enjoy your work – it’s important!
What should we be expecting from yourself and the Dartmouth Partners team for 2014?
We’re aiming to grow our client base and will look to hire into our team. The target is 100% revenue growth. We’ll be close. And to maintain the quality of advice and output that I think we’re known for.
Lastly, what kind of advices can you offer to entrepreneurs starting out today?
It’s all about the team. Do your research, take advice, execute. But the team around you will make or break you.
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