On the up · 28 April 2016

How the founders of TalentPool recovered from a business nightmare and came out stronger

TalentPool
TalentPool founders Andrew Lavelle and Tom Davenport
When every entrepreneur’s nightmare came true for the founders of one young company, they knuckled down, powered on through, and came out the other side of it with a better business.

In October 2015, two years after launching their disruptive SME recruitment platform TalentPool, co-founders Andrew Lavelle and Tom Davenport were, in a way that was entirely planned, coming close to using up the last of their startup funding. They had spoken to investors about trying to raise some more capital, and were about to embark on the next stage of growth and then disaster struck.

every business goes through a phase when dependency on the founders has to stop at some point. Now, Tom and I could both go away for a week or so and nothing would happen, the platform would keep going, people would get hired, but that wasnt the case last year, Lavelle told Business Advice when we sat down with the pair at their base in tech incubator space the Rainmaking Loft.

one Monday, I found myself in the office completely on my own, said Davenport. Three-quarters of his team were seriously ill Lavelle with glandular fever and the remaining founder would have to go it alone for four weeks.

that month was definitely the most challenging of my life, Davenport said. It made university finals seem easy. I lost quite a lot of weight not because I was nervous, but through my absolute and total focus on getting it right. I didnt drink a drop the whole time!?

Having met while working as management consultants, TalentPool’s founders are no stranger to long hours, and Davenport was able to take twelve-hour days in his stride. That wasnt too bad the difficult thing was the pressure on me to get everything right, because I couldnt talk to Andrew, and a wrong call could have scuppered us quite badly, he explained.

His decisions turned out to be the right ones. The business not only survived, but went on to successfully raise an additional 300, 000 in April 2016. Yet the experience highlighted for both the importance of not going it alone as a small business owner.

we both have girlfriends and parents who we can talk to but that’s not the same as someone who’s been there since the beginning. Nothing beats having someone as a sounding board who really gets the business, said Lavelle.

Key to the success of the pair’s working relationship has been the clear division of responsibilities between the two. Davenport is responsible for TalentPool’s finances and operations, while Lavelle looks after the company’s innovative recruitment technology, which uses algorithmic matching to invite candidates to apply for suitable vacancies in a few clicks, doing away with the endless hours of searching and emailing CVs often associated with the graduate job hunt.

Yet it is not just the pair’s different areas of focus, but their contrasting perspectives, which they think make their business relationship so important to their company’s success.

though we agree on the core, Andrew and I have very different outlooks, so on almost everything else we disagree, said Davenport.


 
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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Hannah Wilkinson is a reporter for Business Advice. She studied economics and management at Oxford University and prior to joining Business Advice wrote for Kensington and Chelsea Today about business and economics as well as running a tutoring company.

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