THE EXPERIENCE OF STARTING A NEW E RECRUITING PORTAL

I am one of the co-founders of Recruiting portal www.reffster.com incubated in Sept 2007 and have recently divested from the website, though not from the e recruiting idea. My co-founders and I have a copy each of the software /IPR and while my ex partners will henceforth run reffster .com, at some stage I plan to use a modified version of the software on a different Business model idea. Simultaneously there is a best practise oriented partnership brewing with another set of senior professionals, which includes Strategic HR outsourcing, Exec Search and other Talent Aquisition and Retention initiatives.

It has been 6 months of entrepreneurial experience following 24-years of  corporate life that took me through various Functional roles and General management experience in PepsiCo.  These 6 months, however, have given me the headiest experience of my life with ample adrenaline rush and roller coasters. I thought I should share my learnings from the e-recruiting domain as well as on how ideal partnerships should be formed in start-ups if more than one co founder exists.

Let me first share my impression of what I believe is necessary for the success of any new recruitment portal in the market. The key for any new portals’s success in my opinion will lie in a service offerring where clients perceive significant value vs. alternative existing channels of recruiting. Presently alternatives as we all know range from subscription based portal models (where Reach largely depends on those who put their Resumes on the net — where the client at times has to wade through thousands of Resumes), to brick and mortar value added Search where often the “right fit” candidate materialises only if the company is willing to pay high fees to quality recruiters.  Most portals are not expected to  “physically” value add (as Search consultants do by screening candidates) though there are niche portals in the US that offer a concierge service to subscription based high-end candidates with no charge to companies . 

The key to success for any new portal in my opinion will lie in providing “value added” services of reaching AND screening candidates vs Job descriptions and Ideal candidate Profiles –done entirely through technology play.  Without cutting edge technology , a portal which also aims to physically value-add will not be able to handle scale –something that in my opinion is desirable for any mass oriented portal in todays globalised world. If a new portal aims to replicate Naukri, Monster or Times–all very successful ‘vanilla’ platform models– that would not work since the space is already clutterred. If it aims to go beyond ‘vanilla’ and also value add that recruiting vendors do, then that will limit scalability with clients. Therefore a  100% Tech enabled value add led by new-age technology that matches Profiles with job descriptions to get ‘the right fit’, could be an idea that is innovative — and if another idea on the Sources of Revenue (from candidates rather than companies) is implemented, perhaps disruptive as well to the way existing portals operate.

Let me share what I believe are best practises in partnering with other co founders. There is undoubtedly a need to have shared values apart from only shared interests between co founders.  Chemistry too is essential! Also  –whether it is a bunch of college mates getting together or professionals getting together — co founders ideally need to have complementary skill sets which will ensure an effective relay race as the business starts off, churning of ideas and leveraging of each others strengths. All this is well known. In addition , I would urge all budding entrepreneurs who plan to partner to also spend quality time–as they would do building up their business plans — to carve out strategic and operational Roles at the outset. I would strongly advise co-founders to work out a Founders agreement during the incubation phase where future situations and how they would be tackled are thought through. Perhaps –and it would be interesting to get reader comments – it may not be a bad idea to also have a “First among equals” leadership Role assigned to one of the co founders at the outset for operational and strategic business decisions that will need to be taken after the launch( eg a casting vote in Board meetings) , though there would obviously be guardrails in place to ensure that consensus is enshrined for key strategic decisions e.g. exits, new partners, changes to Founders agreement etc. I know of successful SMEs who have co founders largely of the same age/experience who assign the “First among equals” Role by rotation each year through majority vote. The Founders agreement should be incorporated as part of the Articles of association of the Pvt Ltd. If well thought out governance procedures, Roles for each co founder and way forward for future situations has been well defined before the launch, it would definitely help the start up team during the ups and downs of the roller coaster that every start-up inevitably faces. The VC/seedfund fraternity would also welcome it.

I can be contacted at rjatar@gmail.com.

Ranjit Jatar

http://www.linkedin.com/ppl/webprofile?action=vmi&id=12354187&authToken=OLSU&authType=name&trk=ppro_viewmore&lnk=vw_pprofile

13 Responses to “THE EXPERIENCE OF STARTING A NEW E RECRUITING PORTAL”

  1. Vijay Saxena says:

    I beg to differ with your above statement ranjit. It looks obvious your views expressed in this forum relate to your past entrepreneurial stint.

  2. Srini says:

    Hi Ranjit,

    Extremely insightful post. Thank you for that.

    Coming to the e-recruitment portal : if the co-founders don’t have any technical expertise, how to go about product development. Is it better to go for (1) outsourced product development or (2) to hire good product development team to build the product on our own.

    I believe, you went for the first option. Can you give us an idea of approximate cost that a start up should allocate for this. If you can share the cost of your software..!!

  3. Ranjit Jatar says:

    I need to clarify since I have been getting queries about my post. I somehow seem to have given an impression that my Post and query about best practices in partnering/co founding has something to do with the past. Actually thats not so. It has to do with the future -since , as mentioned, there are a group of senior professionals planning to come together and handle a couple of verticals in the Talent Mgt space.Mindtree is an excellent example of 10 founders with corporate experience who got together. So did Infy though many years earlier when governance was not talked about as much. It is in this context that I made a post about my beliefs in governance ..and queries about best practices followed in the internal decision making process….

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