‘We’re on a mission to put the job seeker first,’ shares Sam Franklin, who, having studied economics at Emmanuel College and graduated in 2015, set up a company this year and is now its CEO
Tell us about your time at Cambridge…what were your highlights?
I loved being on the committee for Emmanuel’s May Ball. I’ve always enjoyed building products and experiences, so it was great to be involved in hosting a huge party with a £100k+ budget. I miss having squash courts a few minutes walk from my college room. It was a luxury compared to London, where courts are sparse and expensive!
I read an article that said ‘70% of people are unhappy in their jobs’ and that set off a spark
What did you do immediately after university?
McKinsey let me choose between starting in September, or April after graduation. No one ever says ‘I wish I started my corporate career earlier’, and so I travelled for 9 months. To readers that enjoy nature, I highly recommend Torres del Paine in Chile. It is the most stunning place I’ve been!
I worked as a consultant at McKinsey for 18 months. I left at the point where they were pushing me down a path of “how to be a better consultant”. I wanted to start a company when I left McKinsey, but I wasn’t quite ready. I didn’t have a team and didn’t have enough savings to stop working.
Instead, I joined a fast-growing startup called Nested. The CEO, Matt Robinson, had founded GoCardless and he convinced me that working alongside him would help me learn fast. He wasn’t wrong! During my 2 years at Nested I learned an incredible amount about how businesses are run and how to build products that customers love. I took on a lot of responsibility, from running a £20m fundraise to being the interim Head of People.
McKinsey was useful to hone skills such as telling stories and structuring problems, and Nested showed me what it’s like to be an entrepreneur.
Tell us about Otta
Otta is a job search experience for thoughtful job seekers who want to make an impact at the world’s most innovative companies. We have 2,000+ roles on our platform from leading companies such as Spotify, Monzo and Depop. We launched in August and have had users interact with jobs over 50,000 times.
Someone ambitious could be launching a product to millions of people by their mid-20s
What made you start this company, and what have been some of your highlights so far of being part of this?
I read an article that said ‘70% of people are unhappy in their jobs’ and that set off a spark. Could we build a product that helps people find the job they love?
When we explored the current options, it seemed that job seekers were being treated as second-class citizens. Recruiters are more interested in making money from placing you in a role. Job platforms sacrifice candidate experience by allowing companies to pay for your attention. For example, LinkedIn orders its search results based on how much a company is paying, rather than showing the roles most suited to you. We’re on a mission to put the job seeker first.
A highlight so far has been working on a product that users are excited by! I still remember the first time someone said “I much prefer Otta to Indeed and LinkedIn’.
Give us your honest take on start-ups: what should students be most excited about working for one, and wary of? What are the key challenges?
Startups are built to grow fast, and this leads to many opportunities to learn skills and develop. Someone ambitious could be launching a product to millions of people by their mid ’20s.
Unfortunately it’s hard to spot the companies that are going to be successful. My best advice is to seek out companies with funding from good venture capital funds. The VCs have done the hard work for you! They’ve researched the market, tested the business model and believe the founders are capable. We’ve tried to make this easier for you on Otta.
I’d advise you to find companies you like and reach out to them directly, even if they don’t have a graduate role published
What are your plans for Otta in the coming months?
We’ve just raised money from some of the leading investors in Europe, so right now my focus is on hiring talented engineers who believe in our mission.
One piece of advice to current students who are thinking about working for a start-up?
I’d advise you to find companies you like and reach out to them directly, even if they don’t have a graduate role published. If the company is small, don’t be afraid to message the CEO and show your excitement about the mission. Their email is usually easy to guess as email@example.com. We have some startups on Otta who advertise roles in advance, but the majority don’t have formal recruiting for graduates. So you have to be proactive.