#SelfStarterStories: From preparing government archives to becoming the founder of a recruitment platform
This week's #selfstarterstory features Caroline Pegden, Founder of TempaGoGo
#PickYourselfUK caught up with Caroline to learn more about her entrepreneurial journey.
What was your last job?: I was a Civil Servant - the Head of the Programme Management Office at the National Archives, in Kew.
Amongst other things, I was in charge of leading a programme to prepare The Archives and UK government departments to preserve digital records for generations to come, and present them to the general public. We looked at AI and machine learning to see if it could help - who would have thought that The Archives don't only deal with parchments!?
When did you choose to PICK YOURSELF instead of waiting to be chosen by someone else?: First, because life is short - you realise it when you have 2 small children growing in front of your eyes - let's not wait until retirement to dream our dreams!
And second, because I came to the realisation that recruiting temporary staff was really painful and quite old fashioned - why should online platforms be limited to grocery shopping, flights booking and insurance comparison websites?
I noticed that while there are 1.3 million temporary agency workers (as many as NHS workers), the majority (75%) of UK companies are struggling to recruit temporary staff, and that it's even harder for SMEs to compete in the 'war for temp talent'.
SMEs have little time and money. And they don't want to waste time ringing around recruitment agencies, hoping they have suitable and available candidates!
So, I decided to create TempaGoGo, an online platform to take the pain away from temporary agency recruitment, and make it much simpler for companies to grow flexibly.
On our platform, accessible from desktops and mobiles, SMEs can now find and work with multiple agencies at once, receive candidates' profiles, compare prices, and hire the staff they need, all in one place, 24/7.
No more time wasted on the phone. No more CVs scattered in your mailbox. No more confusion on agency margins!
What was the most challenging part of starting a business?: Launching a marketplace: it's a bit of chicken and egg challenge when you have to ignite the supply side (i.e., for us, the recruitment agencies) and the demand side (i.e., for us, the SMEs looking to hire temp staff) at the same time! We decided to start establishing our network of agencies first, before launching to SMEs.
What is your favourite business book and why?: Funnily enough, it's not really a business book, but it inspires me every day! It's called "Black Box Thinking" from Matthew Syed: keep experimenting; practice, practice, practice; and embrace failure as a positive - there's no better way to learn and improve!
Do you do everything yourself? What do you outsource?: We're a husband-and-wife team and at this stage we've been the "Jack of all trades" for our business. The only things we have outsourced are our accounting and legal activities.
What is your favourite marketing tool ?: Journo Link - to get email alerts when journalists are looking for real life stories from entrepreneurs, and the extra bonus is that it's free! I managed to be featured on a Forbes article which was really exciting!
How do you market your business?: Because we're an online marketplace connecting SMEs with recruitment agencies, we have two very different audiences.
We reach out to recruitment agencies through cold calls, and in-person meetings, often arranged following a connection on LinkedIn.
For our SMEs, we're using a mix of different channels: cold emails, Google and LinkedIn Ads, SEO, networking events (e.g., Chamber of Commerce), trade shows, "Meet the buyer events", PR (for example, replying to #journorequest).
When you first launched, how did you get your first paying customers?: Through cold calling and by offering our first customers credit to use our platform - so that they could start using our platform for free, and see the benefits for themselves.
That reduced a lot the barriers to entry: zero risk to give TempaGoGo a go!
How did you get your first traffic to your website?: I posted articles on LinkedIn, Twitter, sent emails to our network and people I had met in the pre-launch phase.
We also organised a launch event in partnership with Hounslow Chamber of Commerce, our local Chamber of Commerce, who is very active in West London.
Nominate one person/friend who believed in you from the start, and what would you like to say to them today?: My co-founder and husband, Phil Pegden - he's there to support me when I need it, he believes in me, and inspires me. Thank you - I wouldn't have done it without you!
What would you say to someone who is toying with the idea to start a business but haven't yet?: What's the worst that can happen? Just give it a go!
There's plenty of resources and support out there, often free!
Don't hesitate to ask people for their time and to share their experiences (rather than their advice), it's incredibly helpful and insightful.
If you could have dinner with one entrepreneur, who would it be and why?: Sir James Dyson, because he showed an immense amount of perseverance, determination and grit when he was trying to get his bagless vacuum cleaner right - 5 years and 5,127 prototypes!
As he said: "There were 5,126 failures. But I learned from each one".
To continue following Caroline’s journey, please follow her on the channels below:
Caroline has qualified for the #PickYourselfUK Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year award 2018. If you'd like to enter yourself or nominate a small business entrepreneur for this award, please submit your story below.