Our story about founding a Talent Acquisition agency specialized in helping SaaS businesses – TalentBee
It was the 6th of December in 2021 when our two co-founders, Saara and Samuli sat down on their rooftop terrace in Mauritius, grabbed pen and paper, and started drafting a business plan. Founding their own business had been their dream forever.
Samuli and Saara had already many times drifted into discussing the many similarities between recruitment (she works there) & sales (his expertise).
This time it happened naturally, too.
Combining the recruitment and sales processes in some way felt like an idea that should guide their intentions to start their own business. They didn’t know yet how.
Passion for solving the problems of fast-growing SaaS businesses
Another thing that felt natural, was working with SaaS businesses changing the world one idea at a time.
These loose ideas started to link up. As Samuli had previously worked & talked with many SaaS companies, he knew that these businesses were always having challenges on where to find the best talent.
Saara, on the other hand, used to work as Talent Acquisition Lead in a SaaS company called Sellforte and was having the same struggles. The dots started to come together.
Many SaaS founders I had talked with were having similar sounding challenges on where to find the best talent. -Samuli, CEO
Based on their thoughts & discussions with a lot of SaaS founders, Saara and Samuli were sure this would be a big enough problem to solve.
They decided that they will be launching a talent acquisition agency to help SaaS companies to make sure they find the right people for their growth.
The Best Possible Workplace for Talent Acquisition Professionals
Saara and Samuli wrote down a few things that they wanted from their business on paper on that day. Here are the main points:
- We want to create the Best Possible Workplace for Talent Acquisition Professionals.
- We want to be the number one partner for SaaS companies when they want to make their talent acquisition a true competitive advantage.
- Project business is shit, and we want to be a strategic, long term partner to our customers.
On that day, they decided to start working on the idea. They set a goal to have the first version of the business plan ready by the end of the year.
We set a goal to have our first version of the business plan ready by the end of the year. -Samuli & Saara
"The big decision: are we so sure that we will resign from our well-paying jobs?"
In December, Saara and Samuli had a lot to do. They worked all the weekends & most nights on the business plan. They can remember the enthusiasm beginning to grow moment by moment.
They worked on the following things:
- What kind of goals would we have for our business
- Name ideas for our business
- Timeline on launching the business & when we resign from work
- Why are we doing what we are doing?
- The problem we are solving
- SaaS market & is the market big enough
- Competition and what others are doing
- Our services & how we help our customers
- Our team
- Sales & marketing = where we get our first customers
- Financial plan
On the 26th of December, Saara and Samuli had a remote coffee with two of their friends working in the same field and presented the business plan to them. They talked for hours and got a lot of feedback to work on.
Damn, I was scared and nervous to share the news with the CEO & COO at Advance B2B, that I was going to resign from my job as their Head of Sales. -Samuli, CEO
Then it was time for the decision. Are Saara and Samuli so sure that they would resign from their well-paying jobs?
The answer was not easy. But it was a yes.
TalentBee would launch in August – Around six months to prepare everything
What was the first thing we worked on during the spring to make sure that we would be launch-ready in August?
Most companies start from their product or the problem they are solving, and TalentBee decided to start with people. Our vision from the start was to build the best possible workplace for Talent Professionals, so Saara and Samuli decided to do research. They started interviewing people matching TalentBee's ideal talent profile and asking them what that kind of workplace looked like.
After making a list of 20 people they wanted to talk to, luckily almost everyone wanted to help.
Saara asked the following questions from every one of the Talent Professionals she interviewed:
- What would the best possible workplace look like?
- What are the top 3 most important things to you in your work?
- If you could outsource anything in your job, what would it be?
- Is there any company you would like to join? If yes, why?
- Is there any recruitment agency you would like to join? If yes, why?
- What kind of salary model would you like to have?
- Would you be motivated about ownership of the company?
- What should we do to increase the value of Talent Acquisition work?
- What would make you change your workplace?
- If you would join us, who would be the first hire you would make?
Next Up: Understanding TalentBee's dream customers
Before thinking about TalentBee's services, Saara and Samuli wanted to talk to potential clients, too, and ensure they understood their world as well as they could.
First, they did the first version of TalentBee's Ideal Customer Profile, found around 15 companies that fit it, and asked for a chat. For their luck, SaaS startup people seem to love to help new entrepreneurs, too, so it was surprisingly easy to get time from people’s calendars.
Here’s what they asked the SaaS Founders or Talent Acquisition Leads:
- Their role in the company
- How are they measuring their success?
- What are their biggest challenges regarding talent acquisition?
- How are they making talent acquisitions now?
- If they needed a partner, where would they find one?
- How would they evaluate when choosing a partner?
- What is good with their current partner?
- What could be better?
- Who else should we talk with?
This gave them a pretty good understanding of the market and its problems. Customer research will, of course, continue all the time. If you want to learn more about doing customer research, we recommend reading this great article by Advance B2B.
Helping pilot customers with recruiting to tech roles
They wanted to test TalentBee's solution in real life, and have a few pilot customers. Mainly for three reasons:
- Get feedback about our way of working
- Get some excellent references for when we launch
- Get some potential customers when we launch. It’s easier to sell when you have shown your value already.
Saara and Samuli reached out to a few interesting SaaS companies and got the pilot customers they dreamed of. They did a few free projects, some of which also paid money. Here’s what the pilot customers thought about working with TalentBee:
At Swarmia we build a tool that help engineering teams to accelerate their growth. We raised Seed funding round of 8m€ and needed support on tech-recruitments and choose Talentbee to help us in these. They had clear process for profile definition and in the end it was really worth it. The list of potential candidates I got was a spot on. We have done most of our recruitments in-house so it was nice that someone was leading the process and saved time from me as a founder. - Otto Hilska, Founder & CEO, Swarmia.
We had just raised our 7,2 m€ seed round of funding and needed help with our recruitments. We worked together with Talentbee and we were extremely satisfied with the cooperation. We especially valued their understanding of SaaS businesses & their ability to challenge us in more technical roles in our DevOps team. - Kai Virkki, CTO & Co-Founder, ONEiO.
Talentbee’s understanding of SaaS business & focus on finding only SaaS talent helped us a lot during our cooperation. They really helped & challenged us to define the needed profile for our marketing team. The partnership was managed well & we are happy with the end results. - Mikko Merikanto, COO, GBuilder
Saara and Samuli had to accept that they wouldn’t find a third Co-founder – But look what happened
Saara and Samuli wished to find a third Co-Founder, but it was harder than they thought.
here were a few reasons for why they wanted to find a third founder:
- Being a couple and running a company is hard. Finding someone to balance it all will help a lot.
- Skills: They were missing some crucial skills from the team to offer the best possible experience for our customers.
Here’s how it went.
Fail number 1: They had long discussions with one potential founder and had worked on things together for a while already. Eventually, she decided that this wasn’t the right time for her.
Fail number 2: After the first time didn’t work out, they found another potential Co-Founder. They had a lot of discussions and also started to work together. However, money was too big a risk for him at this stage.
They started to accept that they wouldn’t find a third co-founder for TalentBee.
We needed someone who could do Employer Branding, and Siiri had a lot of experience in that. We offered her one third of the business. -Samuli and Saara
Finally, there was surprise success. Saara and Samuli noticed that a person called Siiri had just resigned from Finland’s leading Employer Branding agency, Emine and thought she might be a great employee for TalentBee.
Saara and Samuli needed someone who could do employer branding, and Siiri had a lot of experience in that. Saara contacted her to ask if she would be interested in working for TalentBee.
She went through the recruitment process, and Saara and Samuli loved her. While working on the job offer for her, they thought that they should offer her a role as co-founder.
You should've seen Siiri’s face when Saara and Samuli offered Siiri the option to join us as a Co-Founder. She was taken by quite a surprise!
Even though Saara and Samuli had worked on the business idea already for six months, they offered Siiri one third of the business. They think it’s the only way to ensure we are all equal.
This is where the fun begins.
This was June, and we had only a few days before the summer holidays. Siiri was ready to take on, in her own words, a wonderful but somewhat terrifying challenge that would await after the summer vacation.
We set up the starting day in August. Did some planning. Had a proper summer holiday. No work. That’s it. That’s how we got here. This is where the fun begins.
Want to join as an employee or a customer?