As one of Tech North’s ‘Northern Stars‘ award winners in 2015, our MD Dominic was interviewed by them about his journey as a tech startup founder and his motivations for starting our business.
Geek Talent is all about labour market intelligence. Far more than just a basic CV website, our platform mines information from across the internet, pulling together multiple sources in order to show a fuller picture. Whether you’re looking for an employee, looking for a job or looking for raw data and analysis to include in your own product, we have the solution. We’ve made searching for talent as easy as performing a Google search! (Watch the video and read the full transcript below):
Full Transcript of Interview
- “Geek Talent is trying to solve a problem around recruitment and finding people online, looking at the wealth of data that’s out there around people, on places like LinkedIn and CV databases, online meetups and that sort of thing.”
- “As recruitment becomes more social, we’ve found that the value is really in the data and so we’re trying to use all of that information to help solve the skills gap we’ve got in the UK and worldwide eventually.”
- “To do that, we’ve created Career Hacker which presents all of the data around the labour market to students, allowing them to make a more informed decision when they’re picking the next college or university course to study.”
- “So there’s a very real skills gap. Fundamentally it comes down to there not being enough students studying the type of subjects that the labour market needs and the qualifications that are required. The bar has been raised by the labour market and the expectations of employers of what students need to work for them.”
- “Unfortunately, the British education system hasn’t kept up-to-date with that which has led to a huge skills gap which equates to hundreds of thousands of people that we need by 2020 and we physically can’t get them. What’s happened is, employers have been bringing people in from outside the UK to help solve the short term skills gap, but I’m more concerned with tackling the root cause and problems by matching up our education system with the labour market and what employers really want.”
- “STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, and it’s all these types of courses, skills and careers in Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Finance, Economics, Accountancy, Computer Science, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering are all bundled in together.”
- “The reason why STEM is such a key acronym that everyone is jumping onto is because it is the future of the economy. The job market is changing and these skills are seen as essential to the future world of work. The job market is changing in terms of the level we need our students and workers to be at. The level of education is going up and the level of skills they need is going up which means there isn’t really going to be the market in the future for unskilled labour which we had maybe fifty years ago.”
- “In the future, the bar has been raised in terms of education and skill level and STEM is the real growth area, not just for the UK but around the world. Fundamentally, we’re not training enough people to the level we need and the number of people who are both available and suitable for roles is actually going down, despite all the efforts to change things through teaching, marketing and advertising around STEM careers.”
- “It’s not really translating into changes in the education system still, so we’re trying to work collectively and collaboratively across all industries. For example, when it comes to digital, we’re working with the Automotive Alliance because digital is being used more and more to help improve manufacturing processes but also with things like driverless cars and changes to car ownership in the next five to ten years.”
- “They have a huge issue in engineering, particularly around retirement age, as their ageing workforce from the Baby Boomer generation start to retire and there aren’t enough new, young people coming into the industry to backfill that gap. For example, in the North East of England they need to find eight and a half thousand people in the next three years just to solve the retirement problem. They then need to find another ten thousand people to keep pace with the growth in the industry. If we don’t grow and we haven’t got the skills, then those companies are at risk of moving from the UK to where they can find them.”
- “Around 50% of the UK job market is online and so we use public, available profiles of people like CV databases, social network profiles and meetup groups, merge it all together and then use natural language processing to understand all of that data and give it some kind of context. We cut through all the noise and try to make sense of the data to make it easier to analysis and interpret in a useful format.”
- “What we’re trying to do is understand the value in the information that we have, provide that back to the education system and work with councils, local enterprise partnerships and inward investment teams so that we can become the data provider for skills and careers opportunities.”
- “We want to work with lots of partners to help power their websites and services so we can collectively reach more people, including the 2.5 million students in the UK who are somewhere between 13-24 years of age. We’re also putting our data into Facebook so students can talk to an internet ‘bot’ that will give them initial careers advice before signposting them to other careers services when they need more in-depth support and depending on their requirements.”
How was Geek Talent born?
- A team of ten based at Sunderland Software Centre, Geek Talent was born out of an idea and a realisation that there was a gap in the market and a problem to fix. Our MD Dominic built the initial version of the platform himself, then once he had a viable product turned to investors to help grow the company.
- Dominic said: “I started Geek Talent because my old job was working for a large multinational investment bank and one of my roles as part of a big IT team was to outsource UK-based software development jobs, project managers, business analysts into Poland and India. So I could see that I was actively outsourcing jobs from the UK into lower-cost regions around the world and I didn’t want to be part of that anymore. It was a realisation that the future of work was changing and thinking about where are students and graduates going to find these opportunities if they’re not in the UK anymore. This is a particular problem when it comes to multinationals as their highest cost base is people and so they look at alternatives to get the cost base down by moving teams around the world.”
- “I initially put my own money into Geek Talent. If you want to go for investment, investors want to see that you’ve done so far. If you go to them with just an idea, that’s great but they’re going to take a lot more of your business as equity in return for money. I started to build something first which eventually became Geek Talent and the search engine. Because I knew the future of work was changing, I started using remote workers to build the product and ran remote design competitions to test the theory. I then went out and met potential customers who didn’t know me and who I thought had the problem I was trying to solve to got their feedback. On the whole this was very positive with lots of some useful suggestions I then used to help me build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) which I could then show to potential investors.”
- “The first investor I met was on the train, a lady who was a property developer who understood not necessarily the tech side of things but got me and got what I was trying to do with Geek Talent and the overall vision and strategy of the business. She then introduced me to another person who was more in the tech sector and they both invested in the company, helping me to raise a few thousand pounds to start the company. Before that I was paying salaries myself of one of two people because I believed in the idea and because I was doing that, that made the value proposition better for the investors because I’d already put my time and money into the business for around 6-8 months before raising investment. You can do that without spending hundreds of thousands of pounds. The initial prototype was probably built for around ten thousand pounds. So, my advice to anyone with an idea is to go out and build something and then show someone it. Even if you’re not a technical founder, you can do that as well, by finding people to help build it for you.”
- “The future for Geek Talent is to be a key contributor to solving the skills gap in the UK and the world. If nobody talks about the fact we have a skills gap problem between education and employment, I’ll be a happy man! That’s our vision and that’s our mission so if we can do that over the next few years with partners and other influencers in the system, I’ll be very happy and will probably be doing something else hopefully.”
If you’d like to know how we can work together, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and please share this blog for other potential partners and decision makers to see it too.