Tell us about yourself?
I’m Dan, rugby lad, marathon enthusiast and father -to my little cocker spaniel, Jecca. I worked in talent acquisition for 15 years and as of 2019, I launched my first startup, gigl.
What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?
People don’t realise how much of their life they have to give. A lot of people think – yes it’s hard work, but the reality is it’s everything all the time. It’s 7 days a week, 24/7. I think people often think they want to be an entrepreneur and have a startup thinking it can just be a Monday to Friday gig. I think people expect it to be hard, but the misconception is how much more than that it is.
When I first founded gigl, I was doing another job as well, so I was basically doing two jobs. But now I’m easily working more hours per week than when I was juggling gigl in the early days and my old corporate job.
Even when you’re off, you’re never off. It is wired into your DNA.
If you could go back in time to any moment from your journey, and give yourself one tip, what would it be?
Get to market faster. No matter what you think you know, until the market confirms it, it doesn’t matter.
The complexities that were built into the tech of our first app build is one of the things that’s held us back. Whereas if we had gone out with a really simple product, we’d have had the same outcome but six months quicker.
In a nutshell, be true to an MVP, don’t try to create more. Ultimately the users will show you and tell you if you’re correct.
What makes you stand out as an entrepreneur?
Looking at a massive problem, looking at how people are attempting to address that problem and being 100% confident that there’s a better way to do it.
Ever since I was 10 I’ve always been interested in business. Always been interested in how things are made. I love a factory tour. I want to understand how things are made and how businesses work.
I had a sweet and stationary shop at school, I got in trouble for my bangers racketeer! Those little fireworks, they look like mini dynamite sticks. For a 12 year old boy there was nothing more exciting! In America you can get ones that are tied to a long strip, so I’d buy those, take it apart and sell the individual bangers in packs of 10 for £1. One strip would cost £2, so I’d make £8 per strip and sell 20 or 30 strips a week!
Then I decided to sell eggs, so I bought some chickens and hand reared them in my bedroom. After I was caught, they were moved into my parents’ shed. Outside our house I set up a stall and ended up with regular customers. Wasn’t quite up to getting into supermarkets at that stage.
Had a lawn mowing business, but that was time intensive, so I scaled that back by the time I was 14.
There was my game business – a few of my friends were into shooting and basically I found out I could buy what they’d shot from them and then sell it on for profit to pubs and locals. Became a mini butcher for a while.
I think it actually took me longer to become an entrepreneur than it should’ve. My parents went ballistic when they found out about all the stuff I was doing.
What are some of the best working habits you’ve gained over the past couple of years?
Delegation, delegation, delegation. Find someone who can do it better, as good or nearly as good as you. Because if they’re doing it, you have time to do other things. I still struggle with it, I don’t know if I like asking people to do things for me. But delegation 100%.
Give us a bit of insight into the influences behind the company?
After working in the hospitality industry for as long as I had, I knew it in and out, and I knew all the crazy inefficiencies behind it.
15,000 interviews -that’s what spurred me on. I didn’t understand why people were still asking for CVs in the hiring process -specifically for customer facing roles. It makes no sense. You hire on personality and potential, CVs say none of that.
I also just had to take a look at our increasingly digital world. The future of the workforce is Gen Z, and they live and breathe the digital. They need to be engaged from the start of the hiring process, and having to send out lengthy, 2 page CVs, on top of another lengthy cover letter (before they even get an interview, mind you) is not the way to do that.
Where do you see your business in five years?
Global. Everyone will have caught onto the mission by then.
What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you in getting there?
Money. The reality is, we’re a tech business, if we rely on profit to create growth, it will be too slow. We’re also going into a very challenging funding environment, so this will be the ultimate challenge.
Talk to us about your biggest success story so far?
The massive increase in new employers that have come onto the platform. Six months ago I could list off every single employer on the app, now I couldn’t tell you even half off the top of my head because we’re growing that fast.
Oh and hitting number 61 on the UK App Store.
Then there was the girl who applied to Hard Rock, she had no work experience, no CV, and she got a job within 24 hours. That right there was proof of concept in its purest form. Exactly what we’re trying to achieve.
How do clients and customers find you? Are you much of a sales person yourself?
I would say I’m always very active in everything, I hate networking, but I love business networking, networking opens doors. I’m constantly in go mode.
Sales department, marketing department, referrals are going through the roof, there’s a lot of noise at the moment around what we’re doing.
What one tip would you give to fellow startup founders?
When you can afford it, hire people who are better than you. They may not have the passion and the energy, but they’re going to have the expertise. As a founder you’re a Swiss Army knife, they’re a scalpel.
What do you hope the future brings both personally and for your business?
I wouldn’t want to go back to a corporate setting. I love that I’m learning new things everyday, I love that I get to work with cool people, I love that uncertainty is opportunity.
For the business, being recognised for our impact on society as tech innovators. We have plans to implement a system that allows for payment via gigl as a security measure, to ensure that workers always get paid.