Career matchmaking business 10 Minutes With has just raised $4 million so that it can expand into the US by the end of 2014.
Backed by a group of private equity and venture capital investors, Manfredi Di Cintio’s business pairs graduates with a variety of what it describes as ‘leading executives’ via 10 minute-long videos. The content has been produced so that students gain a better understanding of what specific roles such as an internal auditor mean.
The business has linked up with organisations such as Hiscox, Telefonica and the London School of Economics and now wants to create a platform where it is matching businesses and students across the world.
As a business leader well-versed in fundraising, international expansion and product development, Di Cintio tells GrowthBusiness about his approach.
(1) What does the business do, and how does it differ from other services on the market?
10 Minutes With was created to inspire students and match them to their ideal jobs worldwide. The platform helps students learn directly from the experience of senior executives across Europe, Africa and Asia. Not only can students proactively reach out to companies, students can also be handpicked by recruiters based on the students’ pre-defined characteristics and skills.
The main difference between 10 Minutes With and other platforms can be summarised as follows: (i) an educational angle, (ii) a focus on graduates and (iii) a global approach. There are several local websites catering to the needs of graduates in certain countries but nobody really caters to the need of an increasingly mobile population of graduates.
(2) What was the inspiration for the business?
10 MinutesWith was inspired by my own experience as a young professional. After spending five years working in a consulting firm I only developed a partial understanding of what many of the people were ‘actually’ doing. What does it mean to work in leveraged finance? What does an internal auditor do?
The best way to understand it was to have these same people explain it on video. He then remembered his university times and how he wished videos like these were available to students. This is how the first version of 10 Minutes With was born – a simple concept with a global potential.
(3) How has the offering adapted since it was launched?
From a video offering perspective we initially published videos with business professionals across different sectors and functions across Europe. Over the past 12 months 10 Minutes With has expanded both the range and the depth of its video and non-video content. Sectors range now from engineering to IT, legal and non-profit. Regions span from Europe, to Africa and Asia. Videos are shot in English and Chinese and always subtitled in English to make them accessible to everybody. Since June 2014 the website is also available in Chinese.
From an overall product offering perspective 10 Minutes With has expanded across the value chain and now offers job postings and a talent search database to match demand and supply of graduate talent globally. While 10 Minutes With’s focus remains on educating and inspiring students we realised in fact the importance of assisting them in making the first steps towards their dream career.
(4) What kind of responses have you got from employers?
Employers have been involved since day one in the design and development of 10 Minutes With as they recognise 10 Minutes With’s disruptive potential in the graduate recruitment industry.
There has been relatively limited innovation in the graduate recruitment space: companies still rely heavily on on-campus career fairs to attract students and graduates. A constant presence on campus requires significant resources and time. Furthermore, due to capacity constraints and budget restrictions, companies can only showcase a handful of the roles available.
10 Minutes With helps companies interact with students in a more efficient and effective way: not only companies can educate candidates about all career opportunities available at their organisations but they can also help candidates make the right career choices. This results in more motivated employees and a lower turnover rate.
As of the end of September 2014, 10 Minutes With featured interviews with over 200 executives across 160 global fast growing businesses. We intend to double our company coverage by the end of the year.
(5) How have you gone about achieving growth to date?
The key to a strong sustainable growth is building a solid high quality platform that meets your clients needs. In 10 Minutes With’s case we continue to have a daily interaction with our multiple stakeholders – companies, schools and students – to understand their needs and develop new functions that can minimise the inefficiencies of the graduate job market.
Our efforts have been rewarded by very strong growth across all metrics:
- 150+ schools including 24 of the top 30 European schools
- 170+ companies including 40 Fortune 500 companies
- Over 100,000 registered students across Europe, Africa and Asia with plans to grow to 500,000 by year end.
(6) Why did you decide now was a good time to raise funds, and how difficult was the process?
Since the conceptualisation of 10 Minutes With we strived to grow our geographical reach as we truly believe that the market for graduate talent should become as global as the education market itself. In order to consolidate our present across several growth regions, open the US market and develop more targeted products (including mobile applications) for our customers we decided to open our company to new shareholders.
Since the beginning of the capital raising we have been favoured by the strong support of both existing and new shareholders: the educational nature and uniqueness of our service resonates well with most experienced executives as at some point each of us faced the challenges of picking the right career.
More on the fundraising process:
- Five habits of effective business fundraising
- Top five reasons why investors don’t invest
- The need for seed
(7) What advice would you give to entrepreneurs looking to raise a sizeable growth round?
My advice to entrepreneurs looking to raise capital would be to always back their vision with a clearly spelled out execution plan. To achieve growth, finding the right team is also paramount as every new person you hire at an early stage can really make the difference. We have now built a very strong and dedicated team that spans different time zones allowing 10 Minutes With to be operational 24/7.
Manfredi Di Cintio says much can be attributed to the team at the company
(8) What does the next year have in store?
A year is a very long time in the life of a start-up: over the last few months we have built a terrific momentum that enables us to constantly raise the bar.
Our primary goal for the next few months is geographical expansion: we aim to partner with an increasing number of schools and companies across the globe in order to offer the most value to our thriving student population.
From a product perspective, we will focus predominantly on developing interactive mobile applications and tools to facilitate the matching of graduate talent across the globe.