STARTUP INSIDER: Six Questions For The Loop

When you’re starting a new business, the elevator pitch is key. This week, we’re talking with Pip Jamieson from The Loop.

In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.

The Looop is a career networking and portfolio-building site for creative professionals, like a multimedia version of LinkedIn. Creatives can promote themselves online by creating a free online profile; including portfolio, showreel and resume, and gain access to the best full time and freelance jobs across advertising, design, tv, film, animation and more. The aim of the site is to help connect creatives with one another and with industry, with the eventual aim of bagging them that dream collaborator, job or client.

What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?

Our business model is highly disruptive to the existing creative industries recruitment market, by disintermediating recruitment agents and widening the creative talent pool. We have a highly engaged community which has allowed us to attract over 7,100 clients — including Google, MTV, the ABC, Animal Logic, Apple and the Sydney Opera House — who use the platform to hire full-time and freelance talent. With limited resources internally we have what we call a Tier 1 strategy, in that our sales, marketing and business development efforts are focused around attracting the top creative talent and leading creative businesses. This includes, for example, partnerships with leading universities (many of which now include The Loop as part of their curriculum), creative events (including VIVID and Tedx) and recruitment service partnerships with the sexiest employers. By focusing limited resources on quality, not quantity, we find word of mouth and viral take up of lower tier creative professionals and business is far greater as they feel they’re networking and recruiting from within a high standard of professionals.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned about seeking or managing finance?

When it came to seeking investment, the best piece of advice we were given is that raising money from investors is the easy bit; getting the right investors is the challenge. Investors that bring more than just money to the table, but support, contacts and expertise.

Way back in 2011, when The Loop was first raising investment, we had an offer from a couple of investment bankers. It was one of the weirdest meetings my business partner and I ever had. It was on the top floor of an amazing tower overlooking Sydney Harbour. When we entered the room he made us sit at a table and refused to sit down unless he was looking at the water, because he said money and luck flowed from the water. He then whipped out his cheque book and offered to write us a cheque there and then. Yes he was that much of a wanker.

No bones about it, we could have really used the money, as our cash reserves were quite low. But my business partner Matt and I trusted our gut and made the call that we’d wait to see what else was out there. I remortgaged my flat while Matt borrowed money from his parents.

In hindsight it was the best move we ever made. Soon afterwards we raised from six of the most amazing investors we could ever dream of, whose advice, support and contacts have been invaluable.

How often do you revise your elevator pitch and what do you consider when doing it?

I think we might be one of the rare examples of a start-up whose elevator pitch has remained true to its original form. We were lucky enough to develop a solid business model from launch, so we have never needed to pivot.

It think the bigger challenge has been sticking true to this, and not getting distracted by the myriad of ideas that swirl around a startup office. Every now and again we’ve got little overexcited about an idea, and meandered off course, with not always the best outcome. So now every time we brainstorm ideas we ask ourselves: does this idea ‘Foster the best possible connections within the creative community’? If not we scrap the idea. We have learned that the key to success is focus, focus, focus.

What differences do your mentors make to you?

My mentors are invaluable. I think when you’re a start-up founder, it’s important to recognise your strengths and weaknesses and plug any holes with a support network of mentors of complementary skills to your own. The challenge is when you get conflicting advice from mentors, so I think it’s important to stay objective and supplement any advice with gut instinct.

What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?

Act like a Weeble Wobble in that “Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down”! Start-up life is gruelling with insane highs and insane lows. But when you get knocked down you have to bounce back, because in the end if it were easy, everyone would be doing it!

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