Female Entrepreneur Startup Interview: "The MBA was the Stamp of Approval for my Fundraising"
Swiss born female entrepreneur Virginia Raemy is fairly relaxed about her new role as founder of start-up Talentpuzzle. “Its fun, I am enjoying it, I can be creative, and I can take full responsibility, and have no boss”.
She has reason to be content. She just received a couple of hundred thousands pounds of funding from the Venrex Fund and the Aspire Fund.. “And I have 2 smaller angel investors on board, because I was running out of cash at that time", she says in a rather laid back manner.
Start of the Company: No US Partner But on Her Own
The idea for the company came about at the end of December 2008 and started its activities in the summer of 2009, after the hedge fund were Virginia assumed a financial role went under.
With 40.000 pounds of her own capital, she started the UK version of ‘proven concept’ recruitment portal Bountyjobs, but not as a franchise but totally independent as the people from Bountyjobs had indicated to Virginia that they had no interest in starting in the UK.
The proven concept is a disruptive model that puts the employer in first place on the website by starting a tender process for agencies, who then can decide themselves whether they are interested to help fulfil a vacancy. When a vacancy is fulfilled, Talentpuzzle sends out and invoice and keeps 25% of the commission earned by the agency.
The Route to get an Investor on Board
In order to get things going, Victoria wanted to get outside funding. With a working platform, some recruitment firms as clients she started to contact investors. Even though she had no transaction, no placement made, no income and no success, she could show a proven model in the US to convince potential investors. And she could use the word 'disruptive' when describing the business model.
She called upon her network for introductions. Many networking events, business plan presentations, pitching opportunities and conversations followed. She updated the business plan along the route, but the numbers stayed the same.
What do you need as an Entrepreneur looking for Investment?
"Lots of stamina", says Virginia who encountered at least 20 NO’s before she was courted by Venrex, a seed capital investor who also invests in Smython and many offline companies.
Her advisers gave her the credibility to the outside world, and she gave them some equity in return.
Aspire Fund matched the Funding
When Venrex approved the deal, she was able to use the possibility of the women focused Aspire Fund to match the funding. Each put in couple of hundred thousands pounds, while two angels invested alongside.
The Aspire Fund liked the idea from the start, however "its due diligence process with them was long and thorough, before they actually committed the funds", Virginia says.
Who is in the team? Any Adviser or Mentor?
The first year Virginia was by herself with a couple of outside advisers, who received equity.
Currently, she is looking for a mentor who has HR industry knowledge.
Is she offering Hockey Stick returns to Investors?
“Actually, the numbers are put in very conservative”, says Virginia. And she did not take any salary the first year. Her background as financial expert has helped her in drafting her own financials in the business plan. Up till now, Talentpuzzle has done 10 placements, while there are about 50 vacancies on the site.
Any competitors for Talentpuzzle?
In the last year, two UK companies have started a similar concept. But Virginia is not worried at all, as she finds “that there is room for more parties to divide the market share”. In her opinion, the first mover advantage benefits Talentpuzzle, and the marketing efforts of going to trade exhibits, using the HR press routes and lots of networking with start-ups and PR agencies has proven important in this respect.
And the Exit?
“In three years” she says quickly, “that should be sufficient to grow the business for an exit. Although”, she adds, “it will probably be 5 years.”
And did the MBA help her as an entrepreneur?
“It was a stamp of approval”, the female entrepreneur says and adds: “It made the fundraising much easier.”
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