For the past few years I have watched a London start up called Brave New Talent grow from concept to reality in the hands of Gen Y entrepreneur Lucian Tarnowski. The concept was simple – make it easier for people to identify, educate and engage talent that wants to work at their organization. The reality was much harder.
While a number of players have emerged in the Talent Communities marketplace, most are just add ons to another solution and few have really stood out during briefings as stand alone platforms that work without buying the rest of their technology (often job distribution). There has yet to be a clear leader emerge in this market segment – and where the Brave New Talent team is looking to make a major move.
As with any start up in a hyper competitive space, Brave New Talent faced some serious challenges:
- They were young. While its great on one hand, on the other hand, a team full of early 20 somethings has some limitations on business experience, credibility, realistic expectations from organizations, etc.
- Their product offering was new. Not only was the entire concept of talent communities new 3 years ago, they were really one of the pioneers pushing it. As we’ve seen with other complimentary product leaders (Avature in Recruiting CRM & Hirevue in Video Interviewing) it takes about 3-5 years for the market to accept the concept as more than just a fad and move past the early adopters.
- Too many good ideas. Its been my critique the entire time of BNT. They have SO many amazing smart people over there that they are always looking at the next great thing before anyone understand the current thing. Focus.
- Lack of Strategy. As a former Chief Strategy Officer for an emerging player in Talent Acquisition and current strategy consultant, I see how vital a few days of slowing down and looking at your strategy can be. In a start-up, entrepreneurial environment – its almost vital to do it outside the company with someone who isn’t so emotionally attached.
- No US Presence. Like it or not, we like someone on the ground in the US. We want to call someone in a timezone we are familiar with and have a conversation about what it can mean in our organization. In the start-up VC world, its can be vital to have some presence in the Silicon Valley. Even with an expansive global footprint (especially in Europe and India), Lucian’s frequent trips and having a marketing person on the ground for part of this year – just wasn’t enough for many weary US based buyers.
The last 3 months have been a clear turning point for Lucian and Brave New talent where he has been able to identify each of these areas of need and manage to take steps to correct them. The team has been rounded out by experienced professionals, the conversation around community is starting to take shape at events and on blogs, and they are starting to get more focused on a clear strategy. The announcement today of Master Burnett joining the team crosses off the remaining weaknesses and gives them that valuable “face” in silicon valley.
Identifying weaknesses and areas of improvement is not something every start up is willing to do. I’ve seen many startups founder because founders ego often gets in the way. Lucian has been successful at taking his ego out and focusing on the success of the company by surrounding himself with the smartest people he could find. (A plan that worked out well for Doug Berg at Jobs2Web last week.) If you sit down and listen to the end goal of this product, that it was much bigger than anything else we have seen to date in the world of Talent Communities. The reach this could have in 24 months is a true potential game changer in International Markets and with Master’s strategy guidance, a winning story to tell/sell beyond early adopters.
Get ready to see a very different Brave New Talent emerge and a global market leader finally taking shape in the Talent Communities marketplace.