14th September 2017
An occasional series featuring haysmacintyre’s clients who are leading developments within the creative, media and technology sectors.
On this occasion, Pip Jamieson fills us in on The-Dots, the creative community’s alternative to LinkedIn and accounting and tax client of haysmacintyre.
The-Dots is an online platform and network enabling creative specialists to showcase their work and connect with others and making it possible for employers to find them. In this interview we learn about the value of mentoring and the changes facing how we work.
What led to The-Dots being founded?
Although I studied economics and mathematics at university, my career took a creative turn, including setting up MTV’s operations down under and in New Zealand.
At the time, there was no online platform supporting those in creative careers or the employers seeking out those creatives. While LinkedIn works for those on a linear, white collar employment trajectory, it’s not the right solution for those who work on a ‘by project’ basis, perhaps with several projects on the go at one time, or with multiple jobs or portfolio careers, as many in the creative community have.
I quit MTV to fill that gaping hole. I hadn’t started a business before, although the MTV launches had similarities.
What business achievements are you particularly proud of?
Amongst 25 to 35 year olds in the US, over forty percent have more than one job, or intend to job hop, so the need satisfied by The-Dots is only going to increase and I’m proud of every new member and every new client who joins us as we support that step-change in how we work. We are growing ten per cent month on month, supporting hundreds of thousands of individual users and thousands of companies.
The creatives who use The-Dots to curate their career highlights may be working in advertising, film, fashion, publishing, tv, design or start-ups – or all of these – and they want to showcase their work and their collaborations. The-Dots is their professional calling card; we are on the road to delivering a creative equivalent of a wiki IMDb – and we’re only two and a half years in.
Helping connect diverse talent; our International Women’s Day and Pride ‘leaders’ initiatives are part of this.
Tell me about The-Dots culture.
My team is the best, across tech, sales and product. When taking people on, we’re looking for a values fit, not a cultural fit. A cultural fit can lead to a homogeneous work force and I believe passionately that diversity is good for creativity and for business.
Our core value is positivity: let’s share our challenges, but bring me solutions. And we are a non-blame culture. Blame has no space in entrepreneurship; if there’s nothing going wrong, then there’s no innovation going on.
Have you experienced any setbacks?
Start-ups aren’t easy; they are a ‘rollercoaster ride’. Edison was right… it is all about the 99% perspiration and the business will take over your life, and you must let it to succeed, but that’s not a setback, it’s just how it is and you must embrace it.
What are your predictions for work?
In this age of automation the future of work is subject to huge disruption. But, machines don’t have common sense, empathy or creativity and I’m proud to be working with a community – our creatives – who have a career longevity, a career future as we know it, longer than most, because their contribution can’t be automated. We are all innately creative, and as robots step in to process driven tasks, we will all have to revert to our human qualities and embrace our creative talents to work and be productive.
What advice do you have for those seeking to build a business?
Just do it… I mentor many entrepreneurs and I know fear of failure is an issue for many. You have to give it your whole existence, give it everything – and have support at home… there is no work life balance for an entrepreneur… it’s a blend.
Do you have a mentor?
So many. I believe it’s a core strength of female entrepreneurs that we are more willing to ask for help, acknowledge our weaknesses and seek to plug any holes we may have in our experience or knowledge. I apply that approach to myself and my team. We operate in a learning environment, where transparency is key; you can only fix a problem if you reveal it and bring in people who can guide you.
Pat Traynor is a mentor, colleague and shareholder – and LinkedIn’s fourth employee in Europe – he works with us four days per month and is an invaluable source on how to grow a business; Sir John Hegarty is chairman of The-Dots board and a shareholder… he gets the future of our business and John Down, our COO.
It is a two-way street; I have other mentors for whom I play a role in supporting their goals, around diversity and in resolving any unconscious bias issues.
Do you have a business person you admire, a business hero?
Sir John Hegarty is an icon. Sheryl Sandberg, Martha Lane Fox, Kathryn Parsons – are all high profile female entrepreneurs who are inspiring the next generation.
Also, Marina Willer at Pentagram and Nishma Robb at Google.
What are your future goals for The-Dots?
25% of members are based outside of the UK, so we have huge potential for growth overseas, and we are finalising our roadmap for international expansion. Right now, we are in scale-up mode, ramping up community member and client numbers.
I spend a lot of my time in client meetings to inform our product development. We’re developing The-Dots to enable clients to vet candidates more easily through tagging. Also, we’re expanding to encompass not only creatives, but creators as well; the ideas people as well as those who execute those ideas.
Why did you start working with haysmacintyre?
I was introduced to haysmacintyre by Sarah Turner, founder of Angel Academe and a funding syndicate that has invested in The-Dots. She introduced me to Tash (Natasha Frangos, haysmacintyre’s head of creative media and technology), who immediately understood the concept and just as quickly showed us she understood us and could get the job done. (Angel Academe is an award winning angel network supported by haysmacintyre.)