The New Face of Talent for Start-Ups

Jon Barker has spent the last 15 years growing some of the world’s leading tech companies. He heads up people operations at Status and before this spent 11 years at Google.

Jon discusses the current lack of scaling experience in the UK and the opportunities ahead.

Over the years, I’ve received thousands of calls, messages (even cakes*) from people offering to help me tackle challenges around people and talent.

Out of the recruiters, software solutions and consultancies I’ve worked with, a few have been groundbreaking, some have been decent, and more than a few have been worth avoiding.

They shared an attribute: the clear ability to help me solve one problem (like hiring engineers in Europe) but not the next (implementing a rewards platform).

As an example problem – if I’m a founder looking to grow an engineering team in the UK, I can find an executive search firm to hire the leaders and a recruitment agency or platform to find some candidates. I’ll need at least 3 software providers for basic infrastructure, a coach, a consultancy to help with training and development, as well as some basic organisation design help.

To fix all of those individual issues I’ll have to find, vet and negotiate with all of these providers. There’s no company out there where I can get all of that with the genuine expertise and experience on hand.

One day, I found myself having coffee with Ash talking about the gap that exists in the market for a service that could offer full people support to start-ups and scale-ups.

What he envisaged, was an advisory on all aspects of people operations backed by experts with experience on the frontline of high-growth organisations. The basic outline of what would later become leap9 started to emerge and Ash asked me if I’d help.

The market need is simple. Ten years ago, high growth Tech firms in the UK were few and far between: Google was hiring (but at a relatively low volume compared to today) along with Skype and a handful of other firms.

Today, the UK has 72 Unicorns (source: dealroom) and we’ve seen £27billion+ worth of investment in the UK Tech scene since 2013.

As a result, there is a very small group of people that have experience in helping a business grow 10x in the UK over the past decade. The demand for those people far outweighs their supply, and so dozens of start-ups go without them.

With that challenge in mind, I agreed to step onboard in an advisory role with leap9 because I was excited about Ash’s vision to support the growth of the next generation of Google/Amazon/Facebook businesses.

*yes, someone sent a cake. In fact, over the years I’ve been sent cakes, sweets, cookie and muffins – all with the intent of making their application or pitch stand out!