May 18, 2022
Business
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5
 min read

My Next Small Bet

I love creating businesses. There’s something about taking an idea and turning it into reality. Not only that, as a permanent generalist I’m decent at a lot of things but can’t seem to specialize in one task or job role. These factors led me towards being an entrepreneur. What I’ve found in my short career as an entrepreneur is that I like taking small bets. These small bets either require little start-up capital or can be done in parallel with other businesses I’m involved with. In all these projects, there’s relatively little to lose and a lot more to gain.

Today, I want to introduce you to my next small bet.

The Impact Job:

Just over three years ago, my business partner and I launched WeHero, a business that provides corporate volunteering to Fortune 500 clients and SMBs around the world. Companies want to give back and engage their employees and we enable them to volunteer at scale. As this business has grown, we’ve learned more about the overall Sustainability, Corporate Social Responsibility, and ESG markets.

The overall social impact market is growing rapidly. We’ve seen reports suggesting the market is growing between 8% and 30% every year. As the market grows, companies struggle to hire talent due to the relatively immaturity of the overall talent pool. However, we’re seeing more individuals being motivated and interested in a career focused on giving back. These individuals want to focus on not only profit but also purpose.  As this market develops, we want to help it grow.

At the end of April, we launched The Impact Job, a self-serve job board to help match companies and talent in the social impact space. We aim to serve the developed world with a solution, from for entry level roles to VPs.

The Two-Sided Market:

Job boards are two-sided markets. Our challenge is attracting potential candidates to the platform and attracting jobs for that candidate pool. Building this two-sided market is a bit like building a bootstrapped business — you can’t grow too much in any one direction before allowing the rest of the business to develop.  

Our initial focus is attracting candidates who are looking for social impact jobs. The more candidates we can attract, the more companies will want to post jobs across our site. We’ve been leveraging a few main tools to grow our candidate pool, and we’ve added ~350 individuals to our email list since launching 15 days ago. Some of the techniques we’ve tested to grow the candidate pool are:

  • Google Ads
  • Posting in relevant LinkedIn and Reddit communities
  • Leverage our personal networks
  • To encourage deeper relationships, we offer free resume reviews to anyone who’d like one. Ultimately, we want to provide value to those looking for jobs.

We think this growth should accelerate as our community grows. We hope to add 500+ individuals each month.

Growing and managing a two-sided market is challenging, but once both sides reach velocity, they tend to be quite synergistic and help each other grow. We just need to tend the fire well in its early days.

The Business Plan:

My partner and I view this as a bit of an experiment. We enjoy serving this market through WeHero and want to continue offering additional services to people looking to get into the market. This is a relatively simple business model and we’re not building it with the goal of a meaningful exit. We want to build and operate this business alongside WeHero and invest 5-12 hours per week in growing and maintaining the business.

We’re launching with a per-job post fee and a few other add-ons. It’s relatively simple. That’s how we want it. Once we have some scale, we hope employers come to us, but we’re also planning to build a tool to reach out to people who have recently posted jobs on larger job sites (Indeed, LinkedIn, etc.) to see if they want to have their job on a board focused on this industry.

Potential Outcomes:

Depending on how the next few months go, I see two different outcomes:

  • Outcome A: We continue growing both sides of the market and eventually reach “terminal velocity.” We help a lot of people find jobs they’re excited about and help companies hire great employees. We have 10-30 paid job posts each month and capture a few thousand in revenue with high margins.
  • Outcome B: We struggle to build both sides of the market and never get to scale. We can’t attract candidates and companies aren’t willing to promote their jobs on our website. If we see outcome B starting, we’ll need to invest in more of a content community to build more credibility.

What We Don’t Want:

Before starting any new project, I always like to focus on what we don’t want this project to become. Yes, we’re doing this to make a small profit, but ultimately, this market needs a centralized location to help those looking for jobs. We want to be the matchmaker to help both sides. We don’t want this to become a full-time job where we’re managing job postings and speaking to candidates every day. There’s a reason we didn’t chose to launch a recruiting firm.

My Ask:

I write and share my thoughts to memorialize my current thinking and hold myself accountable. As I look back on some of my previous writing, it’s a reminder of how much I can grow and learn in a short period of time. While I have gathered a very small following, I don’t really have anything to sell, and share my thoughts with others to get feedback. My asks:

  • Do you know people successfully building job-boards?
  • Do you have any feedback or other ideas?
  • Do you want to help with this project?

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