Over the past week I’ve explained Just Digital People’s business model and where it fits into Australia’s Startup Economy probably five or six times to different people.
This morning I explained it to a first-year university student (not a typical one, because most first-year uni students are not asking me that question).
He asks: “So what do you do? Do you go out to startups and say: ‘Hey, I can help you to find people?’”
I laugh, and reply: “one of the issues with start-ups is that they either don’t have any money, or they have money but they don’t make any money“.
When you have a business that makes money, you can put a value on your time. You can say: “It costs me this much to put my attention on this activity, and when I put my attention on this other activity (whatever it is that the business does) I make this much money.”
So you can quantify the cost. You can say: “I can make double the money it costs me to pay JDP to find me the right person, by focusing on my core business while they do it.”
It’s easier to quantify the value of attention in a services – including a SaaS business – than it is in a product business (especially on the R&D and development phases of a new product). But even so, when your business is making money, your time has a quantifiable value.
For those businesses, the value proposition is pretty clear: “we pay these guys to do this, because our time and attention is more valuable elsewhere“.
For a startup that is pre-revenue, there is no way to quantify that, so it can look like using a recruiter is just all expense with no appreciable value.
For startups with investment money to burn and no revenue model, it’s difficult to justify using a recruiter, because the money is quantifiable, but the opportunity cost is not.
Some startups -especially ones started by people who have worked with us before – already know from experience the value of outsourcing that part of the equation.
One area where we engage with startups is where they get present to a speed-to-market issue. This typically happens when they can’t fill a role for an extended period of time. These ones can be a challenge. They may be looking for a rare species of developer (like a senior iOS developer who wants to join a startup in Brisbane), or they have very little brand strength in the market.
In the case where a startup has little brand strength in the market, they can borrow that from us. We make people aware of them as a company, and explain the value proposition of working there – in the cases where we’re clear that there is a value proposition.
In a talent-short market, which is the market of today, companies are competing for attention of developers.
Just Digital People acts as a concentrator of attention on both sides of the market – job seekers can have one conversation around multiple opportunities, and a company that is hiring can access and filter through multiple developers via a single point of contact.
There is a saying about Free Software (something that Red Hat is on track to make $5bn this year selling) – “it’s only free if your time is worth nothing“.
If you have unlimited time, then you don’t need a recruiter. Otherwise, the value of using a recruiter is directly linked to the value of your time; and obviously also to the effectiveness of the recruiter.