Retained C-Level Search for a Small Tech Scale-up
The key factors behind selling senior start-up opportunities to candidates
Job Title: Chief Marketing Officer
Role Location: Remote
Sector: Betting / Gaming
Function: Marketing Strategy
Duration of search: 2 months
Consultant Name: Joe Misseldine
A fully remote, technology driven, B2C subscription-based start-up in the gambling space snowballed into a high level of profitability very quickly as a result of being the first business of its kind in the market. Through having such a market leading position and a lack of market competition, it could be argued that the business neglected investing on improvements to the marketing function in order to keep customer retention high and acquire further leads. As such, the subscriber base decreased and profits fell. The company still operated at a very healthy profit margin, but the CEO realised that an experienced marketing lead was crucial to revamp the whole marketing function and win back subscribers as well as finding new customers, which was a function that was always outsourced. The CMO needed to have a proven track record in devising marketing strategies that had a positive impact on subscriber growth, along with good knowledge of the gambling / sports betting industry.
I decided to gather in depth knowledge of the three key factors that are essential for candidates when they are pursuing roles with start-ups, these are centred around risk vs opportunity. Presenting this information to the candidate in a positive way helped them understand the risks but became excited by the potential.
Ownership structure & leadership team:
This company is 100% owner managed by the CEO / founder. Because of the absence of pressure from external investors for quick results, I advised the CEO to amend the brief slightly – The first month of the role would be dedicated to research and formulating strategy to ensure chances of success are maximised. This initial planning period went down well with candidates.
Company performance and future potential:
The product / service was widely adopted very quickly, amassing 20,000 customers. This was evidence that there was a strong appetite in the market. The risk element here was that the customer base had recently fallen 35% which does ring some alarm bells. It was important to sell this to candidates as an opportunity by explaining that another copycat competitor entered the market at a lower price, which pulled some customers away, so they adjusted their price model in reaction. The CEO created this role to address the fallen customer base and help build it, proving they are serious about making a big investment in a leader to change things for the better. Since the company is still highly profitable and cash-rich, the new CMO could join without any risk at all of sudden redundancy through financial pressure. With regards to future potential, the company only operate in the UK marketplace and a key business objective is to launch in international markets. Since there is no competition in other markets, there is huge potential for the incoming CMO to build a legacy and scale a team.
Due to the strong financial position of the business, a very competitive basic salary was on offer which of course always helps. I advised the client to draw up a bonus structure directly related to increased subscriber numbers through marketing activity, which was agreed. This gave an exciting incentive for further reward through good performance.
8 candidates were screened on the shortlist, 4 made the first interview stage, 3 were taken forward to presentation and the hire was made. The additional earning potential and lack of red tape in decision making proved to be the biggest pull factors.
“It is great to have peace of mind in the knowledge that all candidates that arrive at first stage will be fully briefed on my business and highly relevant for the role.”