We chat to Jeremy Hindle, co-founder and CTO at Headstart App. He is a 28-year-old self-taught (polyglot) programmer who studied neuroscience at university before deciding that a medical career wasn’t for him.
Headstart aims to bridge the gap that young people currently experience when leaving education before they find their way onto the path of their most suitable career. This can be either at the point of leaving school or after studying a degree or professional qualification. Headstart aims to cater to all types of profession and looks to specialise in placing candidates where they are most suited and therefore will be happiest and perform the best.
What exactly is your business and how does it help people?
Headstart is beneficial to students because it allows them to find their dream jobs and discover work which they might not even be aware of which suits their interests and skillset. It also makes it incredibly easy to apply for multiple jobs with one profile saving students a huge amount of time.
Headstart is beneficial to companies for a few reasons but primarily because it allows them to directly reach out to candidates who they normally struggle to attract via push notifications directly to candidates’ phones. It enables a wider and more diverse range of candidates to apply for roles at companies whilst also saving them time by Headstart sorting applicants by suitability using its advanced machine learning based matching algorithms as they apply. This allows companies to spend 80% of their time engaging and assessing the top 20% of candidates for their specific roles and company.
What was your inspiration and motivation to get started in business?
My inspiration most definitely comes from playing with big data and a desire to solve big societal/cultural problems. This feeling has been a motivator for me whilst working at all my start-ups (and at other peoples). When Nicholas Shekerdemian (my co-founder) approached me with the early ideas behind Headstart, along with his passion, it was hard for me to resist the opportunity for us to try to solve something which is obviously very broken and that many have failed to solve in the past. The opportunity was very obvious to me from the moment we spoke for the first time (we talked for more than four hours).
I think I’m primarily motivated by the opportunity Headstart has to improve the quality of life for all people by placing them in suitable jobs. I feel very strongly that jobs should be offered based on meritocracy, capability and suitability rather than what grades/opportunities one is afforded in your childhood. Of course, these can coincide but traditional methods of recruitment are biased and poor to recognise the talent and capability of candidates.
How did your friends and family react to you starting a business?
Being honest, when you work as hard as you need to in order to make a start-up succeed, sacrifices have to be made. I believe I’ve lost a lot of my old friends in pursuit of my passions. That being said, the strongest friendships still remain and I know I can call on them if I need to. In short though, my work is my life, my colleagues are my friends and I love my job.
Of all my start-ups, this is definitely the one my family has been most supportive of. I think it’s because Headstart solves such a relatable problem. Everyone knows recruitment doesn’t work well, especially for first time job seekers, so I think they find it easier to relate to what I’m throwing myself into this time around.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced and how did you overcome them?
When your business is going well, you’ve got good traction and all your KPIs are looking great then things are easy. I think my biggest challenge was turning things around in previous situations when things haven’t looked so promising. It’s important to keep a level head and inspire confidence in the team you have invested in. Be a good leader by example and believe in your team to deliver at crunch time. Don’t panic, never panic, it’s a waste of time and energy.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start their own business?
Find a great team. Whether that be in your co-founder, your colleagues or your employees, nothing is better than a good team. Identify what you need to compliment yourself and the business requirements. Recognise what is needed to attract those individuals whether that be in equity or salary and raise appropriately (if required) and spend time finding the right hires. Your initial team sets your company culture; more than 10 people and you’re no longer in control of it. Set the tone right at the start.
How do you expect your business to develop in the future?
Well we’re growing very quickly right now. We have a strong foundation and, although extremely young, my co-founder has great passion and an uncanny knack for sales. All our recent hires are learning quickly and show great proactive behaviour and I’m very proud of our development team. I hope we can all be regarded as some of the best in our field in the coming years. I have no doubt we can deliver on Headstart’s promise to revolutionise the student recruitment space.
I’m looking forward to seeing what dice the recruitment industry rolls us and what hand we will play to suit. I’m also looking forward to being a trusted company for all students as we help them to find their way into their ideal careers.