Pinpointing Entrepreneurial Success

It takes a particular type of person to be a successful entrepreneur, especially when you are trailblazing a new path. Passion, drive, hard work, not being afraid of failure and the confidence to go with your convictions, are all essential ingredients; as of course is a great idea and some business know-how to make it a reality. Tom Hacquoil has all of those traits and Pinpoint, the business he has set up with fellow software developer, Tom Luce is starting to make waves. Gwyn Garfield-Bennett went to meet the ebullient Tom Hacquoil and heard his views on Jersey’s entrepreneurial culture

As is the case with many digital ideas, Tom Hacquoil’s business is a disruptor, ‘Pinpoint is essentially a software to help businesses hire right’, Tom launches into the interview with his characteristic plain speaking, ‘and we have this belief as an organisation, that most businesses just get hiring completely wrong. Over the past ten years, the market has shifted, so that the power has moved from the company to the candidate. Recruitment is a selling problem, not a buying problem, and most businesses still treat it like a buying problem. You’re not buying people, you’re selling them on the opportunity to work at your organisation.’

 

There’s no doubt that the global skills shortage has for many businesses, shifted the hiring paradigm, and Tom believes that solutions for this have been missed because global technology hubs, where the software to solve it could have been developed, don’t have the same problems. ‘Most of our competitors are born and bred from Silicon Valley, or New York, or other technology hubs. And the problem that they and their peer group have in terms of business is all selection. Because if you're in Silicon Valley, and you post a developer job or a marketing job, you get 300 applicants a day because they're so talent dense,’ says Tom.

‘The problem is that the rest of the world and Jersey being a good example, doesn't have that problem, we have a sourcing problem because I can't get five people to apply for my job and nor can any of our clients in the UK etc. So we've got a different perspective and we're leveraging that perspective to address a different problem, and that's working very well for us.’

Pinpoint helps with selection, but its differentiator is sourcing and part of the premise is that the traditional recruitment agency model is broken, ‘There's  a place for it and we think the place for it is super high end recruitment like head hunting executive level.’ Says Hacquoil.  ‘Sourcing is all about getting candidates through the door, making them want to work for you. It's about making it easy for them to apply to you. It's about making that experience fantastic.’

Pinpoint is aimed particularly at those candidates who aren’t actively looking but have the right skills.  Many businesses don’t know how to reach them but Pinpoint uses targeted advertising on behalf of its clients. It achieves this through digital marketing, which Tom says is not the domain of HR executives – even if the business has that skillset in-house anyway.

‘So you can create a job in the pinpoint platform, you can press advertise, you give us a budget and then we’ll automate the whole thing. So we'll do the ad creative for you we'll do the targeting for you, we'll implement the Facebook pixel and the  LinkedIn insights tag on your career portal which we've built for you. So we are literally like an outsourced engine for candidate flow. And that's the winning ticket right now. That's the thing we're doing that nobody else is doing anywhere to our knowledge.’

Pinpoint isn’t an overnight project, the two Toms had been developing it as a sideline for a few years? Developing talent piplines has been Tom Hacquoil’s passion for some time. He has run the Digital Jersey Coding course for several years, helping re-train and train entry level coders for the burgeoning digital industry. It’s also quite probably a symptom of his own history. He set up his first business when just 16, a web design and software development company. He’s proud of what he and his team did for their clients, but is the first to admit he was ‘an utterly clueless business person.’ Despite that business eventually closing, he has no regrets, ‘I wouldn't change it for the world, because I think I learnt more doing that than any other thing I could possibly have done.’

That early business had grown quickly and the young and inexperienced Tom made the classic business mistakes of making poor hiring decisions and not having any cash flow provision, so when a client pulled a big project, they had no cash to weather the lull. Another local business magazine recently interviewed him and incorrectly reported that he had been bankrupted, that’s one error Tom is quick to correct, ‘ I have never been bankrupt, I took on all of the businesses' debts  myself personally and paid them off. I landed on my feet as Calligo at that time, were a client of that business and Julian and the team there obviously thought highly enough of me to offer me a job, which was very much appreciated.’

You can read the full feature in our March issue