One of the best ways of communicating your business journey is by storytelling. You are about to begin a journey with Nicki and Rob. Their story is a modern day staffing fable.
Over the next five installments, this fable focuses on the excitement of setting up a new staffing business all the way to scaling that business. You'll witness the hurdles they face and the challenges they'll overcome. You'll join with them on their journey. It may inspire you to do something similar. It may confirm that you definitely will not. It may remind you of things you have seen for yourself.
This fable is for you. As Lumiere put it, “Go ahead, be our guest.”
— Dave Pye, Director, NextGear
Nicki and Rob were in the bar talking about the latest sales presentation they had seen from their managing director. He was as enthusiastic as ever. They knew he had every intention of making the business the best staffing firm out there. They appreciated his support.
They weren’t too sure about some of his leaders, but they earned a good living and loved most of the people they worked with. It was a good company with good people and a strong position in the market. They both thought that life in staffing was good.
But there was a thought that would not go away.
The presentation was the same as it was last year. Only the hyperlinks had changed. The presentation was a bit more colorful. The clients seemed to be the same although there were a few new ones. The rest of the team seemed onboard and the evening ahead looked great. But, the thought lingered.
There was something inside them saying, “It’s time to do this for ourselves.” The logic was simple. “If he can do it, you bet we can do it!” They had a quiet chat. Shared some chips and a Jack & Coke. Then they shared an idea that had been brewing for some time.
There was something inside them saying, 'It’s time to do this for ourselves.'
‘What if we started out on our own?’ What if we ‘gave up’ all of this and created our own business?’
Their confidence grew and they went to dinner. The evening was great. The boss thanked them many times for a great year. Even though he had a few Sauvignon Blancs too many, Nicki and Rob knew he was grateful for their contribution.
But, it was a contribution for him and his fellow leaders. It wasn’t necessarily for them. They had not risked anything to join. They had not put anything on the line. He had. He had done well. They had done very well. Their income was good. They were helping him to build his business through their work. Of course, this is what was expected with all staffing businesses. But Nicki and Rob wanted a change.
It was time. They knew they needed to go at it alone. How hard could it be? Nicki and Rob knew their market. They spoke with clients and candidates every day. They knew the issues faced on the sales floor. They knew what worked and what didn’t. They knew how to generate revenue and they knew they could do better.
After all, one of the key ingredients to a good recruiter is confidence. There have always been many hurdles to overcome from closing a candidate who has been offered another role at the last minute all the way up to deciding to start a new business. Confidence is what you need and Rob and Nicki had loads of it. Well, some of it. Enough to get going. Enough to do what they needed to do and believe in themselves.
They knew how to generate revenue and
they knew they could do better.
But, it was a big step. Or was it? Yes, it was. They agreed over a hungover breakfast that they could do it. It wasn’t the chips and the liquor talking. They could do it. They could create a business of their own. They would take the best bits of where they worked and leave the less good bits behind. Even at this very early stage of their thinking, the idea did not seem too daunting. Nicki and Rob went for it.
The deed was done as amicably as these things can be. The boss seemed surprised and disappointed. It took all of two minutes before he went into business protection mode. ‘Doing what?’ ‘Where?’ ‘With Who?’ ‘Called What?’ ‘With Our Clients?’
Too much information to digest. Nicki and Rob just wanted to get out of there. They felt a bit like they had cheated on their boss even though they told him as much as he needed to know. To be honest, they thought they did not know much themselves!
Nicki thought they had nailed a name for the NewCo, but then backtracked when she convinced herself that the name wouldn’t work well when they expanded. ‘Hold on’, said Rob. ‘Do we know if we will expand’? That particular conversation wasted an hour or more and was revisited many times in the weeks ahead.
Eventually, they agreed on a name. The registration process was complete. Lots of coffee was consumed and some sort of plan was put together. 'Perm and contract services?' 'Maybe just perm initially?' 'What if we get contract roles?' 'How will we finance it?' 'Will we need to?' 'What if we go outside our sector?' 'Will we place anybody initially to get some quick wins?' 'Won’t that detract from the brand?' 'What clients do we have to avoid?' 'Can there really be this many questions to answer just to get started?'
How will we finance it? Will we need to?
How will we finance it? Will we need to?
Both of them realized they were going to take a big hit on income for at least a few months. Luckily, they had had the foresight to save some money to help see them through. But it was worth it. They were going to own their own business.
Nicki and Rob had never been afraid of hard work. Calling candidates wasn’t an issue. Forensically searching through LinkedIn was what they were used to. But now there would be a lot more to do. They knew they would have to rely on their own admin abilities (“Do we have admin abilities?” thought Rob.) Desire and ability is a powerful concoction. They were ready to set the world alight one step at a time.
Nicki and Rob had never been afraid of hard work. Calling candidates wasn’t an issue. Forensically searching through LinkedIn was what they were used to. But now there would be a lot more to do.
They weren’t sure if they wanted a fancy office with free coffee all day and beers at 4:00. Or, somewhere cheaper, out of the main center to keep costs low. 'We don’t need to have a nice office. Just an office. We can use coffee shops to get going. Our clients will understand. Will the RPO type companies worry if we don’t have an office? That’s okay, we won’t use them. We'll go direct.' Rob was worried that might impact them later down the line. He put that thought to the back of his mind. There would be no ‘later down the line’ if they didn’t get rolling.
They settled on the security sector as they had previously made good, productive perm placements in that area. It was a growing sector. Even the Times had one of those 16-page pullouts on Cybersecurity. They were on the money if it was heavily featured in the Times. It was easy to get info on the security sector and candidates were happy to talk about developments. A niche is always good. Didn’t someone say it was better to be an inch wide, mile deep than spread too thinly? Nicki was sure she had heard that at a recent staffing event. Security provided security.
Nicki remembered a one-on-one meeting she had with her old boss and one of his acolytes at the ‘last place’ they worked in the industry. She thought this sector was hot. They wanted results. She thought ‘they’ could invest in it. They thought they could be successful very quickly if Nicki made a few perm placements. They had wanted to be more generalist in tech. Nicki realized then that she didn’t. She hoped she had not left it too late to create a niche.
‘What about a logo?’ 'Which bank?' More questions. They decided to ask John, a family friend, to do the accounts. Nicki and Rob now had a finance function. All the branding conversations began. The ideas flowed. Rob’s father asked him if he had anyone guiding him through the process. Rob was pretty sure he knew all that was needed to do. Pretty sure was pretty good as far as Rob was concerned. His focus was on ensuring that they generated revenue quickly. They were both confident it would be, and as luck would have it, clients were coming in already.
Nicki and Rob were on their way.
Back to Toolkit Grow Your Business With Bullhorn
President and Chief Technology Officer
As President and CTO, Matt leads Bullhorn’s architectural, technical, and software design and development efforts. He also directs the product management team’s work defining product strategy, and global customer support and success. Since joining Bullhorn in 2004, Matt has held a variety of leadership positions managing the growth of various technical and services teams, including Vice President of Professional Services. Prior to Bullhorn, Matt worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers, specializing in systems process assurance for such companies as Fidelity and State Street Global Advisors. Matt holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance from Boston University’s School of Management.
SVP, Customer Success
As the Senior Vice President of Customer Success, Tamsyn leads Bullhorn’s Services and Customer Success teams. She is responsible for the successful delivery of all products and services globally and is committed to creating and maintaining incredible long-term customer experiences in the Candidate to Cash process. Tamsyn has been delivering implementations for over 25 years with companies such as SAP, Ariba, Zuora and Apttus: specializing in HR, Payroll, Procurement and Quote To Cash capability. She trained as a software engineer after studying Maths, Statistics, and Computing in England.
SVP, Client Services & Support
As Senior Vice President of Services and Support, J.R. leads global client services, professional services, and support for all Bullhorn product lines. J.R. directs both the company’s customer service and professional service efforts around the world, engaging customers throughout all points in the customer journey, both proactively and retroactively, and delivering incredible customer experiences via transactional interactions and client engagements. He brings a broad range of customer service leadership skills and experience to the company, spanning performance management, employee and leadership development, organizational design, and strategy, all of which align to a focus on driving an incredible customer experience. Prior to joining Bullhorn, J.R. led call center optimization efforts for AT&T Mobility, directing the call center strategy for more than 100 contact centers. J.R. has spent 20 years working in the contact center space and held a number of key leadership roles prior to joining Bullhorn.
Founder & CEO
Art Papas is the Founder and CEO of Bullhorn, Inc, the global leader in software for the staffing & recruitment industry. Art was the original architect of Bullhorn’s flagship Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, which now helps more than 8,000 companies around the world run their businesses. Art is the Chairman of the Board at Career Collaborative, an organization that teaches unemployed and underemployed adults how to build careers that change lives and strengthen families. In 2014, Ernst & Young named Art an EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award Winner in New England. Prior to starting Bullhorn, Art started his career as a software engineer at Thomson Reuters. Art is a graduate of Tufts University, holding a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics.
SVP, Workforce & Revenue Cloud
As Bullhorn’s SVP of Workforce & Revenue Cloud, Ed drives the company’s middle office strategy and overall product offering. Ed joined Bullhorn as part of the Peoplenet acquisition where he spent 7 years as the President/CEO leading up to the acquisition in late 2017. Prior to joining the Bullhorn family, Ed has spent his career designing, building and managing technology solutions for numerous Fortune 500 companies. He has been a Partner in an ERP-focused consulting firm, a CIO for a global pharmaceutical company, a supply-chain leader for a retail company and the leader of a services company from its inception to $50MM in revenue. Ed was born in Florida but has spent the last 20+ years in Atlanta, GA. Ed loves to play golf, tennis and basketball and occasionally gets out kite boarding when the wind is just right.
Ed holds a Bachelor of Science in Industrial and Systems Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and an MBA from Goizueta Business School at Emory University.
Vice President of Product
Jonathan Novich is Vice President, Product for Bullhorn, the global leader in CRM and operations software for the recruitment industry. A staffing technology innovator, he has developed broad and deep product and technical experience consulting to staffing firms over the past 15 years. Jonathan has acted as an independent consultant for some of the largest staffing companies in the world and advised companies on acquisition targets.
At Bullhorn, he oversees product initiatives as more than 7,000 staffing companies rely on Bullhorn’s cloud-based platform to drive sales, build relationships, and power their recruitment processes from end to end. He graduated with honors from Princeton University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Computer Science and a certificate in Operations Research.
Brian Sylvester is Bullhorn’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) with more than 15 years of financial leadership experience. Brian leads Bullhorn’s financial, accounting, and legal functions. Prior to becoming CFO, Brian spent three years at Bullhorn in various finance & accounting roles. Prior to Bullhorn, Brian was Corporate Controller at Pegasystems, a global provider of business process management software where he scaled the finance organization during a period of 2.5x revenue growth. Brian began his career at PricewaterhouseCoopers in their technology audit practice.
Brian is a CPA in Massachusetts, has a Master’s of Science in Accounting from Boston College and a Bachelor’s of Science in Accounting from Bryant University.
VP of Global Enterprise Accounts and Strategy
Ryan Murphy is the Vice President of Global Enterprise Accounts and Strategy. He began his 10-year career at Bullhorn as a finance and sales intern, affording him a 360-degree view of the software-as-a-service industry and Bullhorn’s business model. Prior to his current role, Ryan served as an Enterprise Account Executive where he honed his customer-first leadership style and championed Bullhorn’s offerings to its most strategic clients. Today Ryan leads a team across the US, UK and APAC to execute on Bullhorn’s global business strategy and introduce its product to new industries and markets. Ryan has a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Boston University.
VP of Alliances and Business Development
Nina Eigerman is Bullhorn’s VP of Alliances and Business Development, responsible for the company’s technology and services partnerships. Prior to joining Bullhorn, Nina ran the Business Services practice at G2 Capital Advisors, helping agencies and their providers with capital market transactions. Earlier in her career, she was the President of Aquent Solutions and a consultant with McKinsey & Company. She also ran a full desk at a-connect, a global strategic staffing firm. Nina has a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard College and graduated from the MIT Sloan School of Management.
Executive Vice President of Corporate Development and International
Peter oversees Bullhorn’s international operations across EMEA and APAC in his role as Executive Vice President of Corporate Development and International. Peter joined Bullhorn in 2009 and was responsible for its highly successful UK launch. In addition to growing the international team to over 50 staff and establishing Bullhorn as the UK’s market leading recruitment software in fewer than three years, Peter has expanded Bullhorn’s reach into EMEA and APAC and achieved a user base of more than 10,000 international users. Prior to taking on the launch of Bullhorn in the UK, Peter spent 20 years working in the recruitment industry and held a number of senior director roles before moving into the technology space.
Chief People Officer
As the Chief People Officer, Kim is responsible for driving a highly effective people strategy, leading global talent acquisition, and directing training and learning programs while ensuring an engaging culture. Kim brings over 20 years of human resources management experience to Bullhorn. Prior to joining Bullhorn, Kim worked for Harvard University as the Director of Organizational Effectiveness and for E Ink Corporation as the Director of Human Resources. Kim started her career in the staffing industry as a recruiter placing temporary employees. Kim graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Syracuse University and has an Master of Science in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Chief Revenue Officer
As Bullhorn’s Chief Revenue Officer, Mike drives the company’s global revenue growth. Mike was one of the first 15 team members of Bullhorn Inc. in Boston and relocated to London in 2010 to start up the International team. In his 6 years in London, Mike drove regional expansion into the Netherlands, Germany, Singapore, and Australia. He has supplied cloud-based solutions to recruitment consultancies in over 50 different countries worldwide for the past 10 years. Mike was born and raised in the Boston-area where he grew up an avid sport fan. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Babson College.
Chief Marketing Officer
As CMO, Gordon Burnes directs the company’s marketing and business development efforts, including product marketing, demand generation, PR, branding, creative, and Bullhorn Marketplace. He brings a broad range of skills and experience to the company across the product, marketing, sales, and business development functions to help drive growth. Gordon was previously the IBM executive in charge of worldwide marketing for the Risk Analytics group, which became the leading provider in the industry over the course of his tenure. Prior to IBM, Gordon ran marketing and business development for OpenPages, which was acquired by IBM in 2010. Gordon has a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from Harvard College and an MBA from Columbia University.
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