Success is not measured in the money you make, but in friends you’ve met along the way.
While adhering to this kind of thinking in business will teach you that skipping along yellow brick roads often ends in scraped knees, bruised egos and, if you’re really unlucky, a swift plummet straight to rock bottom; in digital marketing, this, cynics might say, slightly wishy-washy attitude might actually be closer to sound, actionable and pragmatic advice than you would expect.
Digital marketing, especially when talked about in relation to as growing and vibrant a market as startups form, is all about making friends. There are a number of reasons for this:
- Friends know stuff and are willing to share the goodies
- Friends have other friends, they talk, they endorse and they make introductions
- Friends can help, and keeping them busy working with you prevents them from working against you (ideally)
- Friends know you, they are your peers, and can explain what’s wrong with you with much more authority and actual insight than a simple acquaintance would, giving you honest and informed feedback
- Friends don’t let friends pivot too soon
This is why hubs like startupjob.me, where you can mingle with startup employees and job seekers, can be a great boon to everyone involved. Here’s how.
The Friend Bait
Site startupjob.me was created by entrepreneur and developer Frank Denbow in 2014, and it offered a way for companies from New York, Boston, Bay Area, Los Angeles and Seattle to find perfect employees. Job seekers could apply with no cost, leave a resume and other pertinent details, and, after a review, be listed as a viable candidate in a monthly report to hiring companies. Companies could also register for free, but would have to pay a handsome sum of $5000 if they actually hired someone referred by the service. Finally, you could also sign up as a curator, help with the review process, and earn a commission from each hiring you facilitated.
The price companies would have to pay if they hired someone seems quite steep, but there are some interesting beneficial effects that it produced, to be elaborated on in the appropriate sections; however, let’s for a second forget about the site’s potential, or lack thereof, to actually create revenue, and consider the other benefits it brought to each of the parties involved – job seekers, companies, curators and the site’s owner.
You are tired of submitting your resume and getting turned down? Well, this service allowed you to automate the process, and it got your resume in front of people you might not find or reach otherwise. It served as monthly reminder to potential employers that you are available, and of course, ultimately, it helped you get hired.
The price companies had to pay might have acted as a deterrent to hiring in some cases, but it did have a beneficial effect. Namely, one of the major issues with finding a job with a startup is their unstable nature. Not only are a lot of them not guaranteed to be around for much longer, even the ones that are, often go through restructuring, which might result in your position becoming obsolete or unsustainable. This means that sometimes, being hired only meant being pulled off the market, going through training, and ending up without a job once again.
However, with companies being prepared to pay that kind of money just to have you in their ranks, you might be safe to assume that they are relatively stable, and committed to making and keeping you a member of their team.
What participating companies are getting, on a monthly basis, is a detailed rundown of the employment pool in their area of interest, and a steady influx of contacts deemed to be a good cultural fit. The fact that they don’t have to commit financially until the moment they hire someone is a decent incentive for them to at least try the service, and get a free and valuable insight in the market they are catering to.
Likewise, larger companies are fully aware that, when you consider the price of recruiting and training a new employee, $5000 actually may not be all that steep. It is quite acceptable really, when you consider the fact that you can wait for the appropriate candidate for as long as you want, before actually hiring one. In essence, it came down to having a constant lead generator without having to pay until you are actually able to pursue one and turn it into an employee.
If getting to know the state of your market of interest, and potentially even earning some money along the way sounds like something you might be interested in, position of a curator on startupjob.me might seem like a dream come true. Your job entails going through resumes on one side and company profiles on the other, and matching up the need with supply. Looking at it from a purely financial perspective, it boiled down to volunteer work with a possibility of a decent payout, however, that is not the main appeal of this position.
What you got was being placed at the fulcrum of the exchange of information, and it was your job to extract its most meaningful parts and organize them. That kind of insight can be indispensable when working in volatile and dynamic markets, and you got it for free.
If your business comes from relationships, relationships should be your business.Doug Ales
Looking Beyond the Profit
Charging job seekers at signup would ensure a steady income flow, but it would also significantly reduce the number of people willing to submit their resume. Lowering the cost that employers had to bear might also result in more upturn, but it would reduce their commitment to any single employee, which, again, is not conducive to making friendships.
Namely, Frenk Denbow used the industry insight and connections created through the website to formulate ideas for future endeavors; to find gaps in the market; learn about the common mistakes and how to avoid them; and most importantly, to create friends. This helped with his work on other projects, like StartupThreads, and garnered him a lot of promotion in relevant circles, which naturally, provided a great boost to his personal branding.
What this illustrates is how profit doesn’t have to be your all and end all consideration when starting a project. Time spent on learning about your industry and peers is by no means wasted, and always finds a way to help you reach your goals in the end.