Spotlight on Graduateland: Insights from CEO Patrick Lund
Graduateland, a Copenhagen-based startup, aims to build the best talent network for students and graduates. We met one of their co-founders for an interview to find out more about Graduateland’s journey and ambitions for the future.
Before Graduateland, an effective system that supported the recruitment of students and recent graduates didn’t exist. This value gap was identified by Patrick Lund and Jens Reimer and now it is a huge brand that provides superior service to great companies and talented job-seekers by covering 10 countries in Europe. Graduateland also has two portals covering the US.
The company offers online services by connecting current university students and recent graduates with employers. Students can create profiles and upload resumes that can be looked up by employers; at the same time, employers can post new job opportunities that the students can browse through and apply when relevant. The platform has user rate of almost 500,000 and it still continues growing with the sign up rate increasing rapidly since October 2015 because of a design update.
In our interview with Patrick, he reveals that unlike other entrepreneurs, he never intended to create a company. Coming from a family of doctors and engineers, his idea of a successful career revolved around a good education and landing a respectable job in a well-established organization. Patrick still believed that his future laid in a conventional career choice many months after creating Graduateland.
“At some point you realize that what you’re building is actually used by students all over the world, and you find yourself at a crossroad where you have to choose between doing startup, or finishing university. Believing in our idea the choice was fairly easy, and suddenly you find your career trajectory change dramatically.”
In the beginning Patrick and Jens needed help with the launch of the product. They convinced three more people with a background in e-commerce to become a part of the startup and strengthen the team. Morten Petersen, Jonas Reeh Petersen and Jesper Reeh Petersen joined Patrick and Jens, and that led to the beginning of their startup adventure.
WHAT GRADUATELAND IS ABOUT
Getting an overview of the recruitment industry is a chaotic process, making it difficult for employers to find the right talent and job seekers to find the right path for their career.
“If you metaphorically see the recruitment process as a river, with job seekers standing on one side, and the recruiting companies on the other side, then there is currently only one bridge – the job application. We want to create more touchpoints between employers and job seekers; communication should not only be facilitated via the classical job application.”
The huge number of job applicants passing through this bridge makes it difficult to get the right match. In short, there is a lack of efficiency in the recruitment process. Graduateland’s business model aims to fix this problem. In a couple of weeks, Graduateland will be launching a new functionality where companies can ‘poke’ candidates that they find relevant, but who have not yet applied for their job ads.
“Imagine that if you’re looking for a job, and you get a poke from an employer, who encourages you to check out their job ad, you’ll be very prone to take a look.”
The strategy followed by Graduateland is to create partnerships with universities in order to help the students, while at the same time enabling companies easy access to talented students and graduates. This strategy has been successful so far and has made a powerful brand. Graduateland is considered the official career portal of universities across 10 countries.
ACHIEVEMENTS AND CHALLENGES
Strong brand identity and reputation helped Graduateland to land universities in 5 new countries during 2015; the UK, Netherlands, Ireland, Latvia and Lithuania. It is clear that the startup is getting closer to its goal of being a global company but like anyone else in the business world, companies go through challenges. The main challenge of Graduateland is to create brand awareness on a global level as there is a high level of clutter in the online world today. Despite this, they have managed a 200% increase in organic growth during last year.
“We’re working a lot on our organic growth by creating a lot of relevant content, and trying to build the very best user experience, but the market for online job searching is also crowded, so it can be challenging to catch the spotlight.”
Graduateland has clearly discovered the recipe for success in today’s competitive world, as the company has been surpassing its sales targets so far. The startup’s been growing its sales at impressive 40% annually for the last three years. The sales for the year 2015/2016 are estimated to be €2 million (15 million DKK).
For the future, the startup intends to stick with the plan of creating more brand awareness and reaching other European markets. Patrick is confident that they are on the right path and will achieve all their goals eventually.
“We want to win the European market, and pursuing a very online driven strategy allows us to pair a scalable product and a scalable business model with a scalable expansion strategy.”
But success of the startup is not the only thing to focus on when one looks at the big picture. It has improved the recruitment process by helping both the employers and the employees. In short, it has become a central component in the startup ecosystem and acts as a pillar that supports the recruitment industry’s foundation.