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Brave New Talent – The Company You don’t Watch, But Should

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Sarah Brennan

Sarah Brennan is a recognized HCM industry analyst and advisor focused on improving the impact of technology on people, business and the future of work.  Sarah Brennan has been named a top global influencer in HR Technology by more than 50 publications and shared her insights at speaking engagements around the world. As Chief Advisor at Accelir, she partners with HR Technology vendors and investors as an advisor, interim CxO role and on engagements focused on growth strategies, product roadmap & market education/evangelism. She also works with corporate teams enhancing talent strategies.

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  1. Jerry Albright December 12, 2011

    Talent Communities are a pipe dream. The idea that you are going to assemble some sort of social “drumming circle” outside your virtual door is pure nonsense.

    While we might all just LOVE the idea of people hanging out discussing the niceties of our employment brand – it simply is NOT happening.

    Talent Community Definition from a Former Talent Community Member: Some web site I checked out while I was looking for a job. They kept sending me “content links” which were kind of interesting at first…..but then weren’t…..then I got a job somewhere else and blocked them.

    1. Sarah White December 12, 2011

      I agree with you Jerry…One of the things I liked about the vision for BNT is the content/discussions aren’t just about the brand – more the industry. Recruiters have to get their ego out of it if they want it to work, especially in the US.

      Its not always about you, your brand, your company. Sometimes its about a concept, a product or a thing and you pull them from there. And for the love of god, market without doing insane campaigns like you are vistaprint.

  2. Jerry Albright December 12, 2011

    These guys are free to laugh in my face a few years from now when they are in a position to prove me wrong. I hope they can. I just don’t see it.

    1. Sarah White December 12, 2011

      I hear you & totally see where you are coming from. I think when you see what they have lined up…you’ll be pleasantly surprised that it isn’t the TC crap we keep hearing about that is nothing more than automated marketing campaigns and conversations with recruiters. My guess is that it still will only fit large, multinational corps…especially those with an asian/indian focus

  3. James Mayes December 12, 2011

    Thanks for the comments Jerry. You’ve got a whole bunch of experience, always interesting to hear. I recall from a previous debate you prefer agency recruiting as you can pick and choose which roles you get to work on – my bet is for employer teams who “have to fill”, this approach has benefits. Indeed, we’ve already had some good numbers coming back from clients who get measurably better results at both the interview and the offer stage, so there’s something of value even at this early stage.

    Regards the future, Sarah’s spot-on to allude to grander plans. The things we want to do around skills, niche interest, industry sectors and more will appeal, especially to those businesses for whom long-term talent planning is key. Catch on Twitter sometime soon! J.

    1. Sarah White December 13, 2011

      James, I think the other thing to point out for those of you across the pond is in the US, people keep talking about community in one breath and email marketing campaigns for jobs in the next – almost defining the group you gather as nothing more than a marketing list to recruit from. More experienced presenters talk on community, but still keep the focus on recruiting or on a corporate interest. The market has been a tad tainted here on this topic despite Maren and others best efforts.

      And, quite honestly, this isn’t the solution for everyone….But I’ve yet to see one that is!

  4. Master Burnett December 12, 2011

    Sarah – many thanks for the great overview.

    Jerry – I fully agree with you in that the vast majority of what we have seen with regards to talent communities have been largely ineffective. 99.9% make an assumption that employment opportunities alone are enough to drive long term engagement and that the employer doesn’t need to invest time in driving engagement. The end result is a dead community that does little more than serve as an alternate apply path for active job seekers. I am uber critical of recruiting/hr technologies and have been fortunate enough to see lots of concepts thrive and fail. The vision at BNT is wicked in scope, far more evolved than any I have encountered elsewhere. Executing to it will be a challenge, but in time it will demonstrate what next generation talent communities can do.

    I look forward to keeping you informed, understanding criticism is a key component of strategy!

    1. Sarah White December 13, 2011

      Thanks for the feedback Master. I think that like you, seeing the full vision & goals of the organization, I have a different perspective on what it will become…and honestly, am not sure if Talent Community will even be the right word for it based on the market place confusion of community & pools that seems to only get further perpetrated when presenters get on stage and use the terminology as if its the same. Hopefully over the next 12 months the brand positioning will be strong enough that it can truly create some differentiation in the market place and that pool (CRM) vs community (BNT) concept won’t seem so lame.

  5. Manish December 13, 2011

    Great to see this discussion going on here . I am yet to experiment in detail on this platform but somehow was not able to get the thing in the first go. Sarah and Jerry, it was good to read this story with your comments included.

  6. Sarah, thank you for writing this. Timely and insightful. As community manager for BraveNewTalent, I obviously think about this stuff a lot. A lot of people say to me that recruitment is transactional, it will always be transactional, and there’s nothing you can do about it. I agree with the others that ‘talent community’ as we understand it has not been done widely, properly, yet (and my idea of what a community is and is not is much, much stricter than most).

    ‘Jobs come and go but your career is for keeps’ is the most succinct way I can put it when it comes to part of the engagement piece – but there’s so much more to it and the ‘grander plans’ mentioned above for clients and talented individuals are all part of it too.

    It’s possible ‘talent community’ may be the wrong phrase in the long term, especially if it continues to be abused as a buzzword by people who are not serious about driving real engagement and changing a lot of the things which are currently wrong and bad in the world of recruitment – and beyond. Fortunately we are serious about this stuff.

    Thanks again, Sarah, for starting a great discussion and thanks Jerry for your comments as well.

  7. Lucian Tarnowski December 14, 2011

    Thanks Sarah. I really appreciate your comments here. I am certainly looking forward to taking BraveNewTalent from vision to execution. I am also looking forward to developing our Silicon Valley office. We are all hugely excited about Master joining the team and he will be the first of many in our Valley office.

    Jerry – I fully appreciate your points on community. I would quite agree with you on the vast majority of so called ‘communities’ – most are more broadcast channels or databases rather than genuine communities. To me the problem lies with Community ROI. If we measure ROI only in recruitment terms – cost per hire, time to hire, etc we will not realize the value of a community. To me this is a two way street. Communities must first offer value to the community member and second to the community owner.

    At BraveNewTalent we feel the best way to offer value to community members lies in developing the skills and career prospects of followers. Recruitment ROI will follow this.

    I feel we are at a unique time of change in the industry and we are working hard to be a part of this change. The BraveNewTalent product is still cooking but watch this space..!

    This is the release we just wrote about Master joining us:

    Thanks Sarah!


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