Welcome to our founder lessons series. This week we have an exclusive interview with Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna, a search engine for job ads. The company raised more than £1.5m in funding through the UK’s equity crowdfunding platform, Crowdcube earlier this year.
Andrew shares how the company started and lessons learned since launch. He encourages new entrepreneurs to do something they believe in. He says if you stop believing in what you are doing, it’s time to move on and do something else.
Brief summary about Adzuna
Adzuna is a search engine for job ads, used by over 7 million visitors per month. Our aim is to list every job, everywhere by searching thousands of websites so our users don’t have to. We give jobseekers the information they need to take control of their careers by providing smarter search options and powerful data about the job market.
Q: Why and how was Adzuna started?
Adzuna.co.uk was founded in 2011 by myself and Doug Monro, formerly of eBay, Gumtree, Qype and Zoopla and is backed by leading Venture Capital firms Passion Capital, The Accelerator Group and Index Ventures.
The experience at Gumtree, Qype and Zoopla, allowed us to be deeply involved in the online ad market. We thought the emerging sites that were bringing ads together just weren’t innovating enough on the product side so we knew job search could be made better.
Online job ads are fragmented and too complicated to navigate. Users want to search all the ads in one place, which is what we provide at Adzuna – a one-stop shop.
Q: What has been the biggest success factors?
Our focus on using data to provide smarter search has been a key way of establishing Adzuna as a respected authority within the industry. Several years ago the UK Prime Minister started using Adzuna’s data to powers the Number 10 Dashboard, which was a huge vote of confidence and confirmed that we were heading in the right direction.
Data is only what you make of it though, which is why we’ve put time and effort into using this data to provide an excellent user experience and features that you won’t find on other job search sites. Tools like Value MyCV and Jobsworth are what have set us apart to the consumer.
We’ve also managed to get some fantastic investors on board, who bring so much value to our company in lots of different ways. Having investors that share our vision and we trust has definitely been an influential factor in our growth.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you have faced launching and running the company?
As Doug and I aren’t techies, putting together a development team that would have the capability to build a search engine on a tight budget was a huge challenge, and not one we always thought we’d overcome.
Thankfully we managed to convince one of the best developers in Europe, George Karpodonis to quit his job and join Adzuna. He’s built an A1 development team in Athens that are constantly making Adzuna a better product.
Another challenge has been translating the site into different languages has been a huge technical challenge – job titles, descriptions, employer names, currencies, locations… there is so much to translate and you can’t underestimate how important it is to get it right. Persevering and getting the right tech team in place has no doubt made overcome many challenges along the way much more manageable.
Q: Which do you think is most important: the right market, the right product, or the right team?
The right team is hugely important, which is why being based largely in London (we have an incredible development team in Athens and a partnership in Sydney) is such an advantage – as well a strong tech start-up community it is a truly international city, which has made expanding into other markets that much easier. That team helps build, promote and sell the unique features that differentiates Adzuna in a competitive market.
Final words for those chasing the startup dream
Do something you believe in. If you stop believing in it, it’s time to do something else. If you do something with someone you like that will also make it more enjoyable. Finally, spend less time at conferences, entrepreneur coffee mornings and networking beers and more time building the product.