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Finding the Fit

In its 2005 report "Creating Success from University spin-outs", the British Venture Capital Association (BVCA) ranked 15 factors that universities and spin-outs find challenging to deliver.

  1. Recruiting exceptional management to execute the business plan
  2. Identifying management with the required skills and level of experience
  3. Recruiting management having successfully created wealth for investors

In other words, finding and keeping the right management team is the most important aspect in defining the potential success of a venture.

The Executives Register

It’s not news that the right management team can make the difference between success and failure, as John Dodd of Sittingbourne Enterprise Hub explains, “One of the biggest problems we have encountered in the South East of England is getting start-up companies with a good product and clear market to form the right management team early enough to grow the company. Some innovators are reluctant to open the doors to others with perhaps more experience of growing a business and this can hinder growth and lead to a great idea withering on the vine. But those that see this as pivotal will have the best chances of succeeding. I strongly believe that a good team built early around an idea will give it the best chance of success (profitability and/or exit) and getting some grey hairs and young ‘can-do attitude’ on board will often lead to money!”

The Executives Register is a recruitment service for companies within the CommercialiSE framework, including Universities, Spin-outs, SMEs, Enterprise Hub companies and Finance South East clients. For qualifying clients the Executives Register service is free of charge and is solely focused on assisting new knowledge- and technology-based businesses within the CommercialiSE framework.

The Register works by seeking and pre-qualifying candidates for recruitment by its client businesses, as Colin Hayhurst explains, “Early stage companies obviously grow as a result of the people – getting the right mix of personalities and skills is essential for growth. But until you have a more developed company it’s difficult to attract the right calibre of person.”

Commercial recruitment agencies operate on the basis of a percentage fee of the final salary agreed. Of course, staff joining start-up companies often work for a reduced salary, or even for free initially, so traditional agencies are less interested in placing candidates in start-ups, which is where The Executive’s Register comes into its own.

Young, high-growth companies are not for everyone however. Colin’s job is to find those that have both the skills and the desire to work in young companies. “Our clients are seeking people for senior positions with strategic roles,” he says. “So we have to be sure the candidates we put forward are capable of performing those roles in an entrepreneurial environment, which can be very different from a big corporation.”

Specifically, candidates on the Executives Register will all be:

  • Willing to work hands-on in a business
  • Well motivated with a strong drive to succeed
  • Experienced in SME business
  • Experienced in growing a knowledge- or technology-based business
  • Experienced in a relevant industry
  • Be based or prepared to work directly in the South East

The process involves a lot of work to screen candidates before they are put forward, as well as working closely with the client company to make sure they understand the role they are trying to fill.

“Our role is to understand the clients’ needs as well as the candidate’s,” explains Colin, “and we take a lot of care to get the right fit. We’re a member of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, so we are bound by their Code of Professional Practice. But, in addition to that, I think we have a real understanding of what entrepreneurial companies look for.”

Contact: Ally Charles


Published: 12th April 2008

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