How Did the Business Come About? What Was the Light Bulb Moment?
Earlier in our careers, during our consulting jobs at McKinsey & Bain, Alex and I experienced that finding great tech talent still remains one of the biggest pain points especially for traditional companies. We constantly heard businesses complain about how hard finding great tech talent is. This, in itself, is not too surprising given the tech talent shortage is a widely discussed topic.
When we looked deeper into how traditional companies identify great tech talent in the first place and how they go about in assessing their candidates, we made another observation: Most companies would either not assess their tech candidates at all other than looking at their CVs or they would send them through a lengthy, non-tailored process of take-home or on-site assignments. The outcome of the first case would be hires that are not fully meeting the job requirements. In the second case, the most senior members of the tech department that is hiring for new tech talent would spend a significant fraction of their working days in job interviews or on reviewing tests.
When we talked to the talents, on the other side, they would point out the many poor experiences they have had with recruitment processes, but equally also with staffing agencies. Very often even tech focused recruiters would not understand tech skills specifics or the professional preferences of these developers.
All this got us thinking about what it would take to help companies find, assess, and ultimately hire tech talent while at the same time offering a great experience to the candidates. That’s when we started expertlead, starting with a marketplace for vetted tech freelancers first, and then expanding our service to helping companies with the assessment of their permanent candidates.
What Challenges Have You Faced So Far and Overcome?
When founding a company, there are many challenges, such as winning over key employees right from the start despite the fact that the company is still unknown. Bringing game-changing products or services to the market despite limited financial resources is another key challenge for any tech startup.
However, the biggest challenge for us so far was the Corona pandemic. In an environment of unprecedented uncertainty, we had to make many important decisions in a very short time, such as closing the office overnight to ensure the health of our team. Furthermore, we also had to throw all our revenue forecasts and cost budgets out of the window within a few days and rebuild it from scratch in light of the uncertainty and new market situation.
It was a very intense time and I am very grateful that we were able to rely on the strong support and loyalty of our team throughout this exceptional situation. That was impressive.
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How Has Your Business Reacted to COVID?
Since the Corona outbreak in March 2020, basically the entire company has been working remotely. For us as a tech company, the change to a remote setting was quick to implement, but still brought some challenges in the first two to three weeks.
Today, however, it works so well that we have decided to introduce the hybrid working model
permanently, hence beyond Corona. Employees are free to decide from where they want to work. We will also hire more international employees who can work for us from their home country. At the same time we will not give up our office in Berlin as we want to keep a physical place for people to meet and exchange ideas. Also, we want to offer work spaces for those employees that do not have a great work setup at home or simply enjoy going to the office. We strongly believe that the future of work is about catering our team’s work preferences to get out the best in them – not about imposing anything on them, be it onsite or remote work.
The Corona crisis has accelerated the adaptation of Future of Work practices and has shown businesses in Germany and Europe that remote collaboration and recruiting works. Both are key drivers for our business model. Even if we have positively benefited from this shift towards remote work, we are aware of the horrific negative impact that Covid-19 has had on so many others.
What Are Your Plans for Growth This Year?
We want to keep the strong momentum we are seeing right now and significantly expand our client base both for our marketplace for vetted tech freelancers as well as for expertview, where we help clients assess their permanent tech candidates.
At the same time, we want to at least double our global community of self-employed tech professionals. We also plan to release several services and features for our community to support them in their professional lives as freelancers.
Lastly, we also intend to grow our internal team, especially the tech team, in order to enhance our existing technological products that we rely on in order to serve both our clients and our community. As we grow, we will build an even more international team than we have already today, collaborating with skilled people from all over the globe.
Also – without getting into any details yet – I can say that we are about to announce some big news that will mark another big milestone in expertlead’s history. So stay tuned.