James Jennings, Co-founder of Sourcr

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James is the Co-Founder of Sourcr, a recruitment marketplace that connects employers with freelance and agency recruiters across Australia. Originally a retailer with one of the UK’s largest brands, he moved to Australia in 2012 with just a backpack and a working holiday visa. Following casual work as a solar panel fitter and vineyard hand, he joined a global recruitment firm in 2013, recruiting senior retailers across Sydney and Melbourne.

Whilst learning much in his three and a half years in recruitment, James was often frustrated by some of the archaic practices in the industry. He quickly realised it wasn’t just recruiters that were frustrated, employers were too. Speaking with his Co-Founder, Chris, who had experienced recruiters as both a candidate and an employer, they identified a clear opportunity. Inspired by the way marketplaces have impacted other industries – increasing efficiency, lifting service standards and broadening availability – they tailored the marketplace model to recruitment and created Sourcr.

Can you tell us a little bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?

Sourcr is a marketplace that connects employers with the right recruiters. We want to empower employers to make informed decisions about the recruiters they work with by providing them with detailed profiles, including reviews and track records, on each recruiter. Right now, if I’m an employer and I want to choose a recruiter, I either need to ask colleagues and hope they know somebody who specialises in the role type I’m looking for, or I go to Google. Unfortunately, Google gives me the agencies that have spent the most on AdWords and SEO, they’re not necessarily the right recruiters for my role.

The career path for many recruiters is that they start in one of the large multi-nationals to learn their trade, then typically move into a specialist boutique or set up on their own. Many of the best recruiters are often in smaller specialists, but these agencies can’t afford to compete with MNE’s on Google. Our platform gives them the opportunity to prove their capability and give them a chance to compete. We’re also taking away the need to cold call to find work – our site has qualified jobs that employers want to outsource to a recruiter.

For employers, they set their own fee, with guidance from us if needed, and recruiters apply to them to work on the job. There are standard terms that govern all transactions on the site. This is completely different to the offline world where businesses receive lots of quotes at different fee rates, guarantee periods and payment terms. By flipping the model on its head with a set fee against a job and standard terms, it then becomes about which recruiter is right for the role, not which is the cheapest.

There are so many challenges that this platform can solve, but what really excites me about Sourcr is the impact these efficiency savings could have on businesses and candidates. The current time to hire in Australia is 68 days and the impact that can have on SME’s is devastating. The right candidates are out there and with the use of technology we can provide employers with the opportunity to access them.

Could you explain your business model to us? 

We work on a success only model. Our website is completely free for both employers and recruiters to join and engage with. When a candidate is placed, we invoice the employer for the agreed recruitment fee, retain 20% and remit the remaining 80% at the end of the candidate guarantee period. We believe this model has been a significant contributor to the large initial uptake we’ve seen and it also keeps us focussed on making sure the site delivers. If it doesn’t work, we don’t get paid!

What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next year? 

We’ll be launching our first product in early April so we’re currently finalising that and working on some additional features our members have asked for in future releases. The long-term vision is to have a holistic recruitment solution and that means plugging in other suppliers who have fantastic products and share our vision. We’re finalising agreements with psychometric testing and HR software providers. The products of these businesses, combined with the Sourcr platform will make it an extremely powerful recruiting tool and I’m really excited about the impact that could have on employers, recruiters and candidates.

How do you make ideas happen?

We’ve been learning a lot lately about confirmation bias and assumptions, something both my Co-Founder and I have been guilty of. We’re very much in the mindset now of getting out and testing our hypotheses quickly, learning and adapting. This formed one of our key values – ‘Listen, learn, adapt…repeat’

What does your typical day look like for you?

We’re pre-product now so it really is very varied. We spend a lot of our time on product, which involves working with our local PM and our overseas developers. A good proportion of our time is also spent on driving member growth. It’s critical to actually get out and talk to members, learn about their individual challenges and ensure what we’re building solves those challenges. We also attend 1 or 2 start-up events each week which is fantastic opportunity to learn and network. Finally, we aim to hit the gym at least 4 times a week – I think too many people in start-ups don’t take the time out to look after themselves. I let it slip in our first month because we were so busy and started to feel completely run down. A month back in the gym has completely changed my energy levels – it’s so important.

What challenges have you faced when starting Sourcr in Australia?

Raising capital is definitely a challenge. We were fortunate to be connected to some individuals who had the capacity to fund us and we wouldn’t be here without them. There are so many amazing ideas and businesses being created in the start-up scene, but so many can’t get off the ground because there’s a lack of funding. The government has made some moves in the right direction, but there is a lot more that could be done to incentivise capital to be redirected from over-heated markets into the start-up sector.

What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?

 Look for strategic partnerships. Find businesses that serve the same market as you with complimentary services and an aligned vision and work together. Working with an established business can add credibility to your start up, but more importantly, the packaged service can provide greater value for your customers and keep them coming back.

What organisations do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry, in Australia at the moment?

Weploy are doing something really cool in the temporary work-space. They have a database of screened and vetted candidates who are looking to take on work at short notice or on short-term assignments, for example, bar staff or receptionists. I used to work with one of the guys there and whilst they’re pre-product right now I know a lot about what they’re doing and if they can execute it right they’re really onto something.

There are a number of other Aussie businesses doing great things in the on-boarding space. It’s such a critical part of the process – too many businesses get the candidate to sign the contract and think the hard work is done. There is a shift now towards treating on-boarding as an employee experience, in the same way we view the customer experience.

What about internationally?

There are some international players in our space in the UK and US who have some fantastic products. Post & Place in the UK have built a similar marketplace to us, but provide additional recruitment services such as traditional jobs board posting and social media marketing.

I also think it’s worth giving a special mention to Randstad. Randstad are a huge global recruitment agency, but they have been very aggressive with their investment activity through their Innovation Fund. It’s fantastic to see such a giant being truly innovative, investing in start-ups and instigating change, not fighting it.

What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?

Too many businesses, particularly big businesses, have lost touch with their purpose. They’ve forgotten why they got into business in the first place. It’s great to see start-ups that are creating real change and reminding big business that you can be for-profit AND a purpose-driven, social enterprise.

Is there a particular charity that you support?

We’re currently talking to some charities before deciding on which one to partner with long term. Outside of that, we made the decision to offer reduced recruitment fees for charities and NFP’s. This comes completely out of our cut so there’s no impact on the recruiters’ earnings. We want to give charities and NFP’s the same access to talent to help them thrive.

 What  3 websites would you would recommend to our readers?



LinkedIn – follow the right pages and build your connections and it’s a great source for news and blogs

Do you have any opportunity for people to get involved with your idea?

Spread the word! The biggest help we could ask for is for readers to check out our website and if they like it, pass it on to friends and colleagues who may be looking to hire.

Chris and I are always happy to talk to anyone who has an interest in Sourcr and what we are trying to achieve, so give us a call!

We’re aiming to build a community of Australian idea makers helping each other. If you could have one question answered about start-ups, what would it be?

What are your top tips for pitching to investors?

What’s your favourite restaurant in Sydney?

Ms G’s in Potts Point Sydney. The place has cheeseburger spring rolls and the best ribs I’ve ever tasted!


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