They are Physics graduates, but they knew nothing about running a business. This is the realisation dawning on the owners of Magnet.me, now that they are expanding their business to the British Isles.
Lots of good ideas are born out of frustration. Four years ago, Freek Schouten, Vincent Karremans (who studied Law & Economics in Rotterdam) and Laurens van Nues were frustrated by not having a clue where their best
chances lay in the job market. Sure, there were career events where multinationals and consultancy agencies profiled themselves. But that’s not where you were likely to find trendy start-ups.
And that’s how they hit upon the idea for Magnet.me, a company designed to provide students and those soon to graduate with a better understanding of the career opportunities open to them. A ‘matchmaking’ process formed the basis for their enterprise: people looking for work or an internship create a profile on the site Magnet.me, while companies can also add their profile (for which they pay a fixed monthly rate, depending on the service they offer, but it’s free for start-ups). Once a match is struck between company and student, the latter receives a networking request. This means that it’s always the job-seeker that keeps the initiative.
Magnet.me was launched in 2013 and two years on, 780 organisations have registered alongside 32,000 job-seekers. Their computers identify 3,500 matches each day, and send out as many network requests. A total of 800,000 matches have already been made. With the expansion of the service into Britain as of 5 October, chances are that the number of matches will rise.
Reflecting on how far they have come, the now successful entrepreneurs conclude that they were clueless when they started out. Van Nues: “We’d studied physics, but we didn’t know the first thing about sales or marketing. Product development, design and programming were all new to us, unexplored territory.” Along the way, they’ve recruited some of the required expertise: industrial design engineers and computer scientists to do the programming. The rest came down to chatting with people, searching on Google and reading books.
They signed up for a sales course and witnessed sales begin to rise. It meant more to them than just more business – in fact, it made them aware that self-improvement could help make their company more successful. They also improved their homepage and saw an increase in the number of visitors that created a profile. “That was a high-five moment”, recalls Schouten.
Expanding to Britain brings a wealth of new opportunities, as the British job market is more bureaucratic and conservative. ‘It’s screaming out for innovation,’ adds Schouten. It also presents Dutch students with fresh opportunities. But expanding into Britain naturally brings challenges – the company had to adjust to the not-so-direct ways of British culture, where everything revolves around extreme politeness and continuously saying ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’.
Name: Laurens van Nues, Freek Schouten, Vincent Karremans
Study: Applied physics, applied physics, Law&economics Rotterdam
Product: Match making
Mission: To let students and graduates explore their full professional potential through connecting them with every possible future employer in the
world. Enable every organisation to attract the talent they need to reach their goals.
Turnover: Around a million euros
In 5 years: ‘We expect to have expanded abroad and to have helped our clients even better with innovations.’