Entrepreneur profile: Richard Collins, ClickIQ

Talent attraction platform ClickIQ recently raised £2 million in just eight days, with the scheme 100 per cent oversubscribed. Here, co-founder Richard Collins discusses the growth trajectory of the company to this point.

When was the company founded and what’s the vision?

ClickIQ was launched in May 2017 (but Blackstone Point, the parent company, was founded in May 2015) by myself, Richard Collins, and Beverly Shaw.

We exist to free recruiters up to focus on what they do best – hiring great people. We do this by providing the smartest tool for the job that automatically manages and optimises talent attraction.

Our technology plugs recruiters into an extensive online recruitment pay for performance advertising network and intelligently manages budgets to reach the best candidates in the most cost-effective way.

It places the job ad on the right media, at the right time, at the lowest cost per click, ensuring there is no wasted spend. It is also able to target both active and passive job seekers.

What is the background of the founders?

Beverly, co-founder and chief operating office, is a strategic marketeer with more than 25 years of experience and a proven track record of building global brands.

As European VP of marketing and UK deputy managing director of Expedia, she launched the Expedia, Hotels.com and Match.com brands in the UK and across Europe, and also held several senior marketing positions for organisations such as British Airways and Coca-Cola.

As for me, I am a serial entrepreneur with 22 years’ experience of working within the online recruitment and digital media industry.

Most of my career has been dedicated to using technology to revolutionise the recruitment marketing industry and improve the applicant attraction process. I have previously been managing director of JobSite, worked within a recruitment consultancy as head of digital marketing, and established the largest agency buyer of online advertising and search engine marketing, which I sold to WPP.

How much initial investment did the company need to start and where did it come from?

The original business (a careers site in the criminal justice sector) was started off the back of a client, however, once we pivoted into ClickIQ we raised enough seed capital (£500,000) to build version 1 of the product using local third-party developers. Once we had proven the model – by winning blue chip clients – and had developed version 2 of the platform based around client needs and their experience of using it (including a new UI), we then undertook the most recent round. This helped us scale the business in reaction to new customer demand and to build version 3 (adding additional functionality around reaching passive job seekers and further automation).

What was the source of the latest round of investment?

It was organised by our investment director and funded through his network of angel investors, who are a mix of successful entrepreneurs and fund managers in the city.

Talk about the investment process.

The investment process was very simple, and James Eden, our investment director, handled it all. We produced a presentation document detailing the business plan along with a financial model. We then held one-on-one meetings with each of the investors, which James had set up, all of whom agreed to come in.

The money was raised in just eight days in a scheme which was 100 per cent oversubscribed and spread across 13 high-net-worth fund managers and entrepreneurs, so we’re very proud of that. It’s hugely encouraging that the investor appetite was so high.

What do scale-up companies need to be aware of to ensure an efficient fundraise?

Our advice is to find someone who can manage the investment process for you, as otherwise the time impact can have significant detrimental effect on the day to day and success, this is amplified for a small company, where the founders are trying to do everything.

What exactly will the money be used for?

Scaling up – particularly the account team – so that we can onboard all the new clients coming in. We also have invested in the development of the platform and in marketing – we do a lot of events to help try and educate the market about the changes happening in the world of recruitment advertising and how they can prepare for it.

We are already advertising clients’ jobs in multiple countries and will now look to put people on the ground, with a focus on English speaking countries (US, Canada, Australia) and key European markets (Netherlands, France, Germany).

How will you control your cost base?

Managing costs is through monthly reporting versus budget. The art is getting the balance between what you thought was needed when the budget was written, but being flexible to react to how things change – as we are inventing completely new stuff it is sometimes impossible to guess the impact. So, you need to be flexible but controlled.

What advice would you give to scale-up companies seeking to follow the same route of investment?

Find someone good to represent you and to do the leg work. People buy people, so be human – a flowing discussion is better than death by PowerPoint. Also, raise on the back of success, don’t wait for the money to run out – so after big wins, awards etc

It’s important to be flexible to react to the opportunities and needs of the business, but remain controlled at the same time. Don’t wait to achieve perfect, good enough will work.

Finally, try stuff, and don’t worry about failing, just recognise it for what it is and move on quickly.

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of SmallBusiness.co.uk and GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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