Graduateland acquires its Spanish competitor Tyba

Graduateland acquires its Spanish competitor Tyba

I’m excited to share the happy news that as of a few days ago, Tyba.com became part of the Graduateland Network.

Yes, we bought the Madrid-based job platform, which includes both Tyba.com and the job boards on a couple of handful of tech blogs, including Tech.eu and Startup Explore. You know, like we have partnered up with universities to get a broader reach, Tyba found other partners that fit their niche.

This acquisition makes a lot of sense for Graduateland. And why is this? Because it sets the scene to further improve the service we provide for you, awesome users and awesome recruiting companies – and here’s how:

 

More jobs from an attractive employer segment

Graduateland and Tyba launched their respective services roughly around the same time about 5 years ago.

Where we have built our product from the perspective of the users – students and graduates – Tyba’s point of departure stems from the other side of the job interview table. The focus of the Tyba network has been startups and tech companies, and over the course of the last years many thousand of said companies have recruited and presented their companies via their platforms.

Startups and tech companies are part of an attractive segment of employers – I am of course strongly biased, since I see Graduateland as part of both one and the other.  

Anybody who has been involved in the startup community knows that these young companies are also a nurturing ground for future talent, as they often use internships as a way to groom candidates for subsequent junior and entry level positions.

Additionally, startups and tech companies are very likely to have an international mindset, most likely also have English as a main language at the office, making them truly relevant for all you international users, who are looking to kickstart your careers in an international and fast-paced environment.

I’m positive that all these extra job positions and employers will ensure that match-making in the Graduateland universe will boom! Imagine a dating app that grows its user base: more ladies and more gentlemen equal more kissing on park benches.

 

More content equals efficient employer branding

A highly relevant value the acquisition of Tyba brings into the Graduateland Network is the abundance of super quality content that their team has spent creating over the better part of 5 years. Creating beautiful employer profiles has been part of the Tyba strategy, and they have been travelling across the European continent to interview, film, and photograph founders, startup staff, and office spaces in order to provide users with a glimpse into the world of their prospective employers.

Leveraging this high-quality content on the Graduateland portals supports our current strategy of increasing our focus on employer branding. I have outlined our thoughts on this in a separate blog post.

Employer branding is the initial step of efficient recruitment, and showcasing their work environment enables companies to distinguish themselves, attract unique talent, while at the same time making career exploration easier for job seekers. If this is not in tune with what we at Graduateland want to work on, then I don’t know what is.

Let’s tune back to our dating analogy. Better content about employers is like being able to dig into a multitude of photos, gain insights into hobbies and cooking skills, so narrowing down your target isn’t just superficial left and right swiping.

 

Keep your friends close

Tyba has been on our radar for several years.  As an ambitious entrepreneur you, of course, know your competition, and in Tyba’s case I’ve known them personally for a few years. Since they have received VC funding from a Danish VC fund they have visited Copenhagen several times, and often that has resulted in a coffee and a quick touch-base about what both our companies were up to, and if anybody pivoted since our last coffee.

Naturally a few cards were held close to the chest but the dialogues were always interesting, and as a company founder you truly enjoy discussing trends and frustrations with someone who also spends 18 hours a day navigating the same industry.

Alongside the periodic meetups we have always kept an eye on the Tyba site. We have always considered them way ahead of us with their sleek design and mighty content team that travelled the continent and met with all the cool startups. To some extend they were like the mechanical rabbit on the dog track that gets you to push on a little bit harder.

Finally, the Tyba guys have been the ones that have claimed the fame in the international tech press where Graduateland has mostly been like the annoying little brother that tags along when the big boys want to go out to play. So whenever Tyba has raised venture funding “the much smaller Graduateland” got mentioned, but never really as a serious threat. Well, we got our TechCrunch backlinks, so we were happy.

 

The original Tyba founders will continue with another recruitment venture, source{d}, which they launched roughly a year ago. Godspeed, guys, I’m sure you have come across a fruitful business idea.

Rounding off, I hope that you’ll get as much (or more) out of this new constellation as I think you will, whether you’re a job-seeker or a recruiter. At the end of the day, we’re doing it all for you guys.

Want to take a look at our press release? Here you go

The year that passed. Hail 2016!

The year that passed - Hail 2016!

The end of the year is nearing. That always calls for reflections on the year that just passed, and like any Jason Statham movie it has been been action packed and with a narrative containing equal amounts of nail biting challenges, and triumphs that make you wanna punch holes in the air.

If you have 7 minutes, please read on.

 

Bumpy ride ahead

A few key employees had their last days at Graduateland this year, and naturally as a small and well-knit team this posed some challenges – how to not lose momentum, how to transfer their insights and competencies to the existing team, how to not let the organisation suffer from bad morale, and ultimately how to find replacements.

Also changes in management on the very top level (new CEO, from one co-founder to another, and new CTO, from co-founder to first employee) were events in 2015 that had to be coped with, and we yet again had to ensure that momentum was not lost, and that the organisation (and investors) perceived it as positive things.

Events like these naturally make the cold sweat run down every company founder’s back. It’s impossible to predict how the organisation will be able to absorb the news, and it’s impossible to predict how quickly you can regain previous strength. Of course you can chose to view it as the glass half full, but to safeguard against risk you have to consider the worst.

But events like these also pose the opportunity to break with old habits, and challenge what was the de facto way of doing things. If you want to jump a curve on your company’s trajectory it may be just what you need.

 

The helicopter view

Realising that you have come to a crossroad forces you to rise to your helicopter view, concretize your visions, and make decisions. And the decisions you make on a vision level make the tasks of identifying strategies more straightforward. You figure out what to do, and you can prioritise accordingly.

At Graduateland we now have three fundamental pillars, which support our overall vision of building a successful career network that kickstarts great careers; the Product Pillar, the Distribution Pillar, and the Business Pillar. These would have made sense to have had the last five years but they have just now been made explicit in the organisation because we found ourselves at one the aforementioned crossroads.

We use these pillars to group the key activities we do, and we can therefore easier get an overview of our overall performance. For the Graduateland team members it has also become obvious how everyone’s roles depend on each other. Creating a nice product is only satisfying if we distribute it efficiently, generating a healthy revenue is only possible if the product delivers value to its users, we can only spend money on paid marketing (and on salaries) if the product converts visitors to paying customers, or if the sales team fine tune their pitches, and build sound customer relationships and so on.

In conclusion, the last 12 months have thrown many obstacles in our direction, but we have managed to dodge and duck, and come out on the other side stronger than ever. And not just that – we have actually redesigned and rebuilt our entire product (not only for users, but also for employers and universities), we have initiated a structured SEO strategy, which drives traffic from all over the world, and our business side has hit all the sales targets that had been set up.

All this with a team where the average seniority is just over a year. No bumps in the road what so ever.

I have to admit it’s pretty awesome being the captain of such a crew. All sails are set, and the wind is in our back. There is nothing but blue ocean ahead.

 

2016

Blue ocean, you say… isn’t that when your company is operating in a space with low competition? (Read the book Blue Ocean Strategy for more info about this concept).

Yes, that’s what blue ocean means. But notice the ‘ahead’. That allows me to consult my crystal ball, and imagine what will happen in the upcoming year. That’s also something the end of the year encourages you to do.

Therefore – let me paint the picture of Graduateland anno 2016, and take you by the hand for a stroll into the blue ocean of permission recruitment.

 

Graduateland’s Permission Recruitment

As described in a previous blog post, permission recruitment is the communication between candidate and company that both parties appreciate, anticipate, find relevant and personal. Like with traditional marketing, that to a large extent has moved from communication that interrupts the audience (popups, spam mail, print ads in magazines) to more targeted and often relevant content (influencer marketing, targeted Facebook ads, content marketing) we want to transfer those concepts to recruitment.

Recruitment should not be pushed from employer to candidate unless it satisfies certain criteria; it should be relevant for the respective recipient, and the candidate should welcome it (relevant + anticipated = appreciated) And then we’ll enable the personal stuff via our product.

We spent 2015 building the skeleton, the next to-do’s on the product roadmap are the flesh and intestines (okay, a bit gross metaphor), and the permission recruitment will be the stuff that floats through the veins. This will be the pulse that is the blue ocean of online recruitment.

Engagement in the Graduateland universe will undergo some substantial upgrades. In no way neglecting what we currently have – it’s a beautifully designed job portal with great content in the shape of jobs, employer profiles, and articles – but what jumps curves in recruitment is the interaction with the opposing party.

Bridging the gap between company and job seeker (and by vice versa) will challenge the conventional way of recruitment. As it is now, recruitment of students and graduates is channeled through the traditional job post. The company writes a job description, the candidate applies with a cover letter and a CV, and rarely any other communication happens. There is one shot, and this determines whether the candidate is invited for an interview.

There is definitely room for improvement. If you want to date someone you don’t just send your proposal, and lean back and wait, do you? No, you try and build a relationship, try to uncover whether there is a mutual interest, and then you make your move.

 

Let’s imagine for a moment…

At Graduateland we want to enable job seekers to communicate directly with the company of their dreams. We want to let candidates know about the company via enthusiastic blog posts written by current employees, and we want candidates to be able to know whether the company can live up to the expectations of the ambitious youth that we have today.

At the same time, employers should be able to build relationships with an audience of university talent, on a more personal level than merely sending out their job posts with a request to apply.

I imagine the Graduateland of 2016 will facilitate these types of communication.

I imagine that employers will be able to build talent pipelines with candidates that are relevant, and that the dialogue will be initiated prior to the upload of the specific job that the user ultimately will be considered for.
These talent pools will be set up so that employers can define who should be in what group (imagine your well-organised folders in your Dropbox), enabling them to communicate according to target group.

When communication will be targeted it will be relevant and appreciated. When communication can only happen if it fits with the candidate’s preferences it will be anticipated.

This is permission recruitment and if employers chose to take it serious it will be personal and meaningful.

This will be the most efficient recruitment I can imagine.

 

Building bridges

When job seekers browse prospective employers they might chose to interact with a number of them, either follow them, show their interest, request to become part of a talent pool, or submit an unsolicited application. This will notify the employer about a potential candidate, and a dialogue can be initiated.

The touch points should be much more than just the application of a job. Imagine you have employers on one side of a river, and candidates on the other side, and that there is only one bridge – the job application.

Graduateland is in the business of building bridges – we’ll build bridges that enable dialogue via something as oldschool as an internal inbox system, invitations to career events, company presentations, or case competitions, questions and answers on the employer’s company page, and just the general possibility to stay updated on either the company or the candidate.

Increasing transparency will enable everybody to make better choices, which will result in more relevant and efficient recruitment. Everybody wins.

So why is this blue ocean? Because as far as I’m concerned nobody does this. There are throngs of online recruitment services out there, but truly bringing the two main parties together is a nut that still has not been cracked. There are no services that have the pulse that we’re aiming at. 

I’m truly excited about what 2016 will bring, and as any business owner the holidays are a paradoxical time when you both have to enjoy some much needed time off, but also accept that the pace of your business goes down a notch.

However, it’s also a time to gather your thoughts and put pen to paper. Therefore the time to finally write this blog post.

I’m looking forward to invite you into the future of recruitment.

See you on Graduateland.

Patrick

Permission Recruitment

permission recruitment

Selling products = selling a workplace

Product marketing and recruitment are similar in many different ways. In both cases the company has something that it wants to ‘sell’ to the end user; either it’s a product/service, or it’s a job role in the company.

The fundamental means of reaching the prospective end user are also comparable. Promotion of both products and vacant job positions are advertised via various marketing channels (niche websites, banner advertising, offline marketing, print ads etc), and everybody has an interest in being as targeted as possible.

If you are a marketeer and you are trying to sell a product there are several parameters that can make life easier for you. These are price, quality, convenience, the customer’s habit etc.

And then there is the brand.

The brand is the fairy dust that can justify selling the product at a premium (just think of designer clothes), make even discount products sell (many television sets are sold as both no-name and with a known logo – guess which ones sell), and make you walk yet another block for a cup of Starbucks coffee when you could get a very comparable cup in the local cafe next door.

This brand effect is undoubtedly also something we experience when it comes to recruitment. Employers with known company logos simply get more job views from the list of search results (this can only be because of the familiarity of logos, since job titles and job teasers rarely differ much), and comparable jobs from known and unknown companies generate a substantially different number of applications. Job seekers choose brands over non-brands.

This shouldn’t come as a big surprise since this has spawned the entire science of employer branding. Employer branding is the latent and long term efforts to make future recruitment swift and effective.

 

From interruption to permission

Seth Godin digs into the history of marketing in his book Permission Marketing. He explains how product marketing has evolved from Interruption Marketing to Permission Marketing, meaning that efficient communication to potential customers to a large extent has been trending away from interrupting the audience with banner ads, spam emails, and billboards and into a relevant and anticipated communication with people who genuinely want to engage.

This is also the trend within recruitment.

Historically recruitment has been using the same channels as product advertising. Banner material in newspapers, posters in the local supermarket, and later the online job boards where employers could promote their vacancies.

With the touching points of social media and recruitment (anybody said LinkedIn?) we are seeing how advertising job positions evolves from the equivalent of shouting from the rooftops to engaging in dialogues with potential candidates. However, it’s a balance on a knife’s edge, and anybody who remembers BranchOut will know that integrating a recruitment element on top of Facebook is a great way to build traction and distribution, but also something that blurs people’s personal and professional spaces. BranchOut it no longer in service, should you ask.

In my opinion nobody has yet solved the delicate balance of engagement between job candidates and employers, without ending up with one part taking over and interrupting the other part.

Any employer that has been trying to recruit candidates for vacant position during the last couple of years has experienced what happens when there is a substantially larger supply than demand. The very tangible results are mountainous piles of applications from applicants who are trying to break through the noise. This is hugely time-consuming and thus not an ideal process for an HR department. Relevance is always relative and getting too many applications will inevitably make the least qualified candidates irrelevant, though they could have been interesting, had there only been a handful of applications on the recruiter’s desk.

Looking at the university recruitment scene (especially in the UK) the market has seen so much competition between the players that offer access to the country’s university students that we’re seeing a true race to the bottom – competing on price, not on quality. The operators of the university career portals offer access to the students and graduates at insanely low rates, enabling companies that want to promote their career opportunities (or their products or services) to reach thousands and thousands of people for only a few hundred GBP.

Both are examples of highly interrupting communication.

This is what Graduateland wants to solve. Enter Permission Recruitment.

 

The Permission Recruitment Manifesto

The Permission Recruitment Manifesto that Graduateland operates according to evolves around two fundamentals; 1) there must be a mutual interest in the communication and 2) the communicated content must be essential in kick-starting great careers.

Let’s elaborate.

1)
The two main stakeholders in the Graduateland Network are our users (students and graduates) and the employers (with the universities playing a pivotal part in getting those two stakeholders to meet). When either part starts engaging in the Network we quickly try to uncover what that user or employer is looking for, being either some form of career opportunity, or the ideal candidate for a certain role for now or in the future.

Getting to the core of each party’s interests allows us serve the ideal content on a silver platter. Insights about the preferences of career aspirations of our users give us a huge advantage when it comes to communicating on behalf of recruiting employers, since we know that a marketing internship in either London or Paris is exactly what the candidate is looking for, to exemplify.

Similarly, knowing that a respective company is looking for candidates with a specific educational background, accompanied by handpicked language skills and relevant work experiences makes selecting the relevant audience for any recruitment promotion a walk in the park. With this knowledge it’s a fairly straightforward technical task to group applications by relevance. This is our perception of permission.

Naturally, we have an interest in expanding the horizon of both parties, under circumstances where it makes sense but staying true to our Manifesto we need to get the consent from both parts for the match to be facilitated. Clever suggestions are generated via intelligent analysis of user behaviour of both the user and similar peers, but technicalities in this context deserve a separate blog post to do them justice.

Building innovative ways to gain an understanding the preferences of job seekers and recruiters is one of the core focus areas of Graduateland’s product development now and going forward.

2)
From the early startup days, through the stages that have lead Graduateland to become the company it is today it has been critical that what we communicate revolves around content, which is career related. It permeates our brand and the moment we compromise on this principle we’ll be opening up a gate that we cannot be sure to close again.

It’s no secret that it’s an attractive group of individuals that have chosen to engage in the Graduateland Network, and naturally we have had our share of opportunities to promote content that has not been deemed ‘career related’ according to our subjective evaluation. That’s how we roll.

And yes, I said subjective. This is what users and employers trust us to determine. This is the pact that we enter when we build an online universe and real people of flesh and blood decide to spend their precious time signing up and engaging.

The Permission Recruitment Manifesto is about making the recruitment experience more about signal and less about noise. This should be the perception from both sides of the job interview table.

Imagine a world where a marketing campaign is not considered a success when there is a 3% response rate (leaving 97% either apathetic or frustrated). Imagine a world where the marketeer isn’t so condescending that he expects that his flashing banner ad should interrupt your limited time.

Enter 2015 and a world of permission communication. This is Permission Recruitment.

Becoming the Category King

category king

Do you remember when everybody was setting up MySpace pages and making friends with the co-founder Tom? Did you chat with all your buddies via MSN? And remember when BlackBerry phones were known as CrackBerries, because everybody had them, and couldn’t take their hands off them? And more recently, who remembers Ello, the hipster social network that had insane growth, had to restrict user signups, but eventually ended up crashing and burning with 90M inactive users?

Something happened to these companies, and they went from being the de facto winners to yesterday’s news.

 

Become the Last Mover

Anyone who has spent one week at a business school has heard of the term first mover. There is a the yin to that yang.

The last mover is the company that closes the door to a given industry. Irrespective of who the first mover was, when this first mover initiated the market, and how many followers subsequently entered that market. The main goal should always be to become the company that end on top at the end. Being the first mover is only a means not a goal.

The ‘last mover’ concept is something that tech pioneer, Peter Thiel, discusses in his book Zero to One as the ideal means to obtain monopoly in your respective market. Monopolist in this context should be perceived as the optimum state that a business can reach, so definitely a good thing.

Naturally there are advantages to being the first mover. These include getting a headstart to a market, while your competitors are scrambling to get started. You can build up brand awareness, leverage economies of scale, and implement switching costs.

Being the first mover is, however, not only rainbows and sunshine. Educating your end users, spending resources on the initial research, and testing a new product on a new market can prove difficult and expensive, making it more appealing just to be the company that copies what you do, hoping to overtake you eventually.  

But irrespective of which strategy you pursue the ultimate goal is to become the winner. Become the company that has the product, brand, and position the market that will discourage future ambitious entrepreneurs. What sane person would try and start the next internet search engine? Who would try to start a new Facebook (when even Google can’t succeed)? Can anyone successfully launch a new social slash professional network when LinkedIn has +350M users? These companies have definitely closed the doors behind them and become the last mover. They are category kings.

These three companies (Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn) are truly global, extraordinarily established, enormously capital injected, and consequently some pretty intimidating players to use as inspiration.

 

Where is Graduateland?

However, while their audiences and markets are global, we are reasonable and humble enough to define our markets a bit more narrowly. At least for now. The last couple of years we have been developing our home market of Scandinavia, primarily Denmark and Sweden. We have both players on each side of the market place (job seekers and employers), an equilibrium that has proved difficult to obtain in Norway, where there is such a high demand for skilled university talent that they see no reason to use an online job searching tool.

 

Customer care vs. innovation

In Denmark and Sweden we have become market leader, the category king of university recruitment. The competition in the two markets were prime examples of what Clayton Christensen describes in his famous book The Innovator’s Dilemma: enjoying status quo too much, focussing more on pleasing current customers than staying innovative, and finally not acknowledging that new competition would ever enter their market. Without realizing it they most likely thought they were the last mover but they didn’t keep on their toes to make sure the door stayed shut behind them.

 

How to stay ahead

Since we are conscious about this situation (I guess writing this blog post proves this) we can be much more proactive when it comes to staying ahead of the competition. Meanwhile we want to expand the market we operate in, which most likely will result in fighting several battles across each local market.

The fortunate thing about building an online product is that there is so much scale in the development. Building a feature for one stakeholder will immediately make it accessible to everyone in the network. Thus we can make some sound prioritisation based on how much value the feature will provide, and how many will most likely use it.

 

product prioritization

This graph from Intercom illustrates how to prioritise product development. Basing product decisions on how much value a feature adds, in combination with how many users will actually use it make up the two primary parameters when deciding upon what to build. The greener the better. We have been inspired by this method, and apply it when making product related decisions.

 

Rules of engagement

product development

Building an online business it’s no secret that the core product plays a pivotal part. Especially one that relies on the engagement of users, which ours does. Without the engagement of the student and graduate users our portals are not very valuable to anyone. Not to downplay the role of the company segment, but getting users engaged is something that requires something magical. Getting an audience of university students and graduates to spend their precious time and energy on engaging with OUR site requires being successful with ALL of the following manoeuvrings:

  • Distributing the product to the screen in front of the user – making sure that the user lands on the page whether being located in Spain, Sweden, or Singapore.
  • Selling the experience in 7 seconds – online users’ attention span is not much longer, so the value must be explicit from the moment they land on the site.
  • Actually delivering on the promised value – one thing is what the landing pages promise, another thing is what the user actually experiences when exploring the portal.
  • And keeping them interesting, meaning that the site has that X factor that convinces the user to actually spend his or her time on it. This is where you need that secret sauce.

 

The challenge of operating a ‘marketplace’ where our fundamental value proposition is to facilitate the matchmaking of our two parties, is that we need both parties to sit at the table at the same time. The challenge is also to communicate in a straightforward way to two different target groups with different needs at the same time.

We need both the students and the companies to get great user experiences, and we need to balance the scale in terms of our product.

The prioritisations that happen in the product department spring from this. There is a constant focus on serving both parties with features that play together with how the other part engages, which naturally depends on what features were launched last.

Having just released a new version of the employers’ recruitment tool – the Graduateland Recruiter – we have now turned towards the Graduateland portal that the users – the students and graduates – use.

We’ll use this blog to inform about interesting releases, but without revealing too much we’ll be diving into some pretty interesting features for users in the near future. A new home page, a redesign of the job search section, notification and inbox features and some other stuff.

This is one of our weapons to maintain our position in our primary markets, and our way of gaining new territory. Relentlessly building the best online experience for our target audience. Tracking, benchmarking, testing, evaluating, tweaking, optimizing, improving. Lots of hyped verbs to the rescue.

Continuing to keep the product ahead of the game will be a vital component in keeping our company ahead of the game.

Expect a blog post about why excellent customer service is another vital part. As well as a blog post about why building the most competent, enthusiastic, engaged, ambitious team is also key.


Consequently – lots of exciting stuff coming up.

 

Thanks for reading.

Enter a mature Graduateland

graduateland blog

Hi!

And welcome the blog – at least the second version of it. New enthusiasm, new communication competencies, therefore also a new and reborn blog!

My name is Patrick, and I’m one of the co-founders of Graduateland. Going forward I’ll be publishing blog posts across a variety of topics, mostly related to our company, but also sharing thoughts about trends, public policies, and general opinions and advice that we find fit for our audience. Other team members will also contribute across their fields of expertise and passion. The ambition of the Graduateland Blog is for it to become our channel of communication, and hopefully somewhere that people, who find Graduateland interesting, can keep themselves updated.

Enough intro – let’s dive into the first topic; Why big things are happing at Graduateland!

 

Startup companies go through phases

The main transitions are often when the company simply morphs from startup (as the inherent meaning of the word refers to the fact that the organisation ‘just started up’) to a somewhat established business.

This doesn’t have much to do with whether the company performs better, nor the size of the company. In my opinion it refers to the company’s perception of itself. Is the company still trying to find its place in the world? Or has the company figured out what to do, how to do it, and is successfully doing it? These are things that indicate that you’re not ‘starting up’ anymore.

The durations it take for companies to outgrow the startup phase vary, and some companies may never leave the startup phase – if you can consider Apple a startup the definition is impressively broad.

It may not be attractive to lose the label, since the startup ecosystem is perceived sexy, trendy, and fast-moving, much to the contrary of the bland SME segment.

 

The first phases

The first phases startups go through are the ones that relate to the fundamentals of starting, building a team, identifying the product/market fit and so on. Thus a lot of explorative phases. At at time you’ll reach a point where the company ‘operates’, meaning that it has found a viable business model, generates revenue, and like a hamster in its wheel starts treading its way forward.

Unfortunately, in a hamster wheel you are never really questioning the direction you are currently headed. You are just working, working, working.

This is a phase that a visionary company can only occupy for so long. You can get consumed by the operation mode, forgetting to question status quo, and consequently risk losing the innovative advantage that qualified you for a spot in the market in the first place.

Graduateland has been through these phases over the last 5 years. We have learned the hard way how to build a killer team, having been forced to make some hard staff-related decisions along the way. We have learned how to foresee when to hire, and have become much better at hiring the right people for the job.

Our perception of our place in the market has also varied over time since the company was founded. We have always known that we wanted to build a great solution for students and graduates, but the way to expand geographically, in order to reach a truly global audience, was previously constrained.

It took some time to realize this, partly because our business was actually going pretty well. Why would you question whether what you’re doing is not ideal if you’re not facing obstacles? If it ain’t broken…?

As we learned that we could improve key elements of our expansion strategy a number of new focus areas were introduced. This is the phase that Graduateland as a company is in currently.

 

Founder phases

Another dimension that to which phases can be applied is related to the mentality of the founders. Do these people thrive at starting businesses or do they want to take a venture all the way (to an exit, to an IPO, or to a stable business that ultimately (hopefully) becomes a profitable cash cow)?

Perhaps the time spent in the industry reveal new and exciting business opportunities that also makes sense to explore?

In Graduateland we experienced a bit of everything. We were initially five founders, and naturally after five years of working tirelessly building Graduateland we realized that we perceived the years ahead slightly different.

Having started an exciting side project one year ago (Ontame.io), and realizing that we could actually build a potentially successful business here, we were forced to challenge some of the fundamentals, which had previously been left unquestioned. For the core founding team, could we actually end up doing something else than Graduateland?

It was of course a luxury problem – having two race horses, which both had the chance to accomplish something great. What to do?

 

New roles

To make a long story short – we have now decided to divide and conquer. Graduateland co-founder and initial CEO, Jens, is taking the role as CEO of Ontame, and I have taken over the role as CEO of Graduateland.

The decision actually makes a lot of sense. Jens has nurtured Ontame together with another Graduateland co-founder, Morten. And both of these ambitious entrepreneurs thrive at taking a company through the explorative phases of a startup, whereas I can’t imagine anything more exciting than taking a health and stable company, with a killer team in place, to new heights.

I’m imagining a football team that has learned to play brilliantly together. Now we’re heading towards the Champions League final. This is when it gets truly exciting!

Graduateland is entering an insanely thrilling period now. We have matured during the last years, have built the fundamentals of a highly complex platform, and are now extremely enthusiastic to keep building a great online experience. And ultimately kick-start even more great careers.