After a 20-year career in recruitment, Mike Jurowski decided it was time to set up a new recruitment tool for people looking for employment in leisure and retail. Now Mike talks to BQ about entering his business into this year's If We Can You Can challenge.
What did you do before setting up your business?
I have worked in professional recruitment for almost 20 years and successfully recruited the roles of chairman, non-executive director and chief executive amongst other senior roles. For the last 6 years I have had my own company called Lorna Michaels Recruitment Ltd.
What inspired you to set up your business?
The recruitment industry has very few barriers to entry and in recent years there has been an explosion of new businesses being established. However, in my opinion the vast majority of these new companies do nothing different and tend to compete on price rather than quality. I believe that technology can significantly improve the process of matching employers and job-seekers and this is what led me to develop WOTJOB.
What makes this business different?
The intention has always been to harness the power of the mobile technology that most of carry around with us everywhere. An iPhone 6 has the ability to simultaneously control 120,000,000 Apollo-era spacecraft, the vehicle that first took man to the moon! By making effective use of the high-resolution cameras and instant messaging functionality we can introduce employers and job-seekers to one another in a faster, more efficient and cheaper way. The global recruitment industry is annually worth over £350bn and is ripe for disruption.
What inspired you to enter the If We Can You Can Challenge?
We are currently building some initial traction and have had a very positive response from both employers and job-seekers alike. Whilst we still face numerous challenges to fulfil WOTJOB’s potential and build a scaleable business, we recognise the potential that an opportunity like IWCYC can present in terms of PR, potential collaboration and competition that will help drive the business forward. I pitched WOTJOB at Newcastle Start Up week and received a lot of positive feedback and interest including from Brendan Flattery (CEO of Utilitywise plc).
Where do you see your business in three years’ time?
While our business is essentially a piece of technology, our aim is to create a new marketplace for people looking for employment in the leisure and retail sectors. This is challenging because we need to simultaneously develop the demand (jobs) and supply (Job-seekers) side. In three years’ time we would expect to have developed sufficient validation from the North East region to have been able to have raised several hundred thousands of pounds that has facilitated our growth into other major cities like London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
What has been the most rewarding part of your journey so far?
I am part of the Entrepreneurial Spark programme and learning to pitch has been a key part of this. I am now very comfortable presenting to a large audience and am currently developing this with video recordings as part of our Marketing and Growth strategy. I now enjoy quite enjoy pitching and helping others to improve and was personally thanked at a recent awards ceremony for helping a fellow entrepreneur to develop their pitch.
What has been your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge is persuading job-seekers to record a video profile of themselves. Many people are self-conscious and camera shy and therefore do not want to do this. I just see this as an obstacle to overcome on our way to success and have developed a few techniques to help with this.
Who/what gave you support or advice?
As mentioned previously I am part of the E-Spark programme which has been very useful. Of particular use has been the opportunity to collaborate with fellow entrepreneurs how they have overcome a variety of business and personal challenges. I have also spent some very productive 1-2-1 time with Justin Souter. Justin is incredibly well-read in start ups and new technologies and offers some very useful insight and challenge into how the business could evolve.
What advice would you give to someone looking to set up their own business?
Validate your assumptions! Just because you’ve worked in an industry a long time and think you know what customers want… you don’t unless you actually ask them!