Shaper: Pip Jamieson

Show aired on 16th December 2017

Transcript

Elliot Moss
That was Cyrille Aimèe with Let’s Get Lost, a lovely way to start. Good morning it’s Jazz Shapers with me, Elliot Moss here on Jazz FM. I hope you are well. What is Jazz Shapers? Jazz Shapers is the place where you can hear the very best of the people shaping the world of jazz, blues and soul and right alongside them in the heart of the action we play someone who is shaping the world of business, we call them a Business Shaper. I am delighted to say my Business Shaper today is Pip Jamieson and Pip is the founder and CEO of The Dots and The Dots as she describes it herself is the LinkedIn for the creative industry. You will make of that what you will, but you will be finding out specifically what it is very shortly. In addition to hearing from Pip, you will also be hearing from our programme partners at Mishcon de Reya some words of advice for your business and then of course we’ve got the music and its fabulous today. In there is Marvin Gaye, so is Ella Fitzgerald and also this one from the one and only Louis Armstrong.

The fabulously recognisable voice of Louis Armstrong with That Old Feeling. This is Jazz Shapers as I’ve said earlier. Pip Jamieson is my Business Shaper today, she is the founder and CEO at The Dots, they put creative people together. They are people looking for jobs, people looking for people to fill jobs and much more. You call it the LinkedIn of the creative world and I am sure you’ve got reasons for that. Hello and thank you for joining me.

Pip Jamieson
Aww I am very happy to be here.

Elliot Moss
Tell me in your own words what The Dots is?

Pip Jamieson
Yeah so The Dots, LinkedIn for the creative industry is a good way to describe it. It’s a recognition that there is a whole new way of working that’s kind of coming forward so LinkedIn works if you have that very linear kind of suit based career, but the problem is, is I used to work on MTV and I was constantly surrounded by these amazing freelancers creators who were all working on a project by project basis more than like your CV based career. So the way The Dots works is people post projects and then they tag the full teams around that project. So you could put this show up for example and tag you as the host and then you as the sound editor.

Elliot Moss
That’s Dom she is pointing to.

Pip Jamieson
I’m pointing to Dom.

Elliot Moss
He’s a beautiful producer as well and he’s wearing a warm cardigan because it’s cold. Carry on, I didn’t mean to distract you.

Pip Jamieson
So it’s kind of a bit like a community driven IMDB. So people post projects, tag the full teams around those projects and off the back of that people promote themselves, network with each other, find collaborators and also find jobs.

Elliot Moss
So it’s a community essentially?

Pip Jamieson
It’s a community yeah.

Elliot Moss
And in that community people are able to find themselves a home for a part-time role, a full-time role whatever it is that they might be looking for?

Pip Jamieson
Yeah exactly and we work with around 6,000 businesses now that use The Dots to find talents so it’s everyone from tech companies like Google to fashion brands like Burberry to advertising agencies like M&C, Saatchi, Warner Music, Sony Pictures, so it’s that whole cross section of all the businesses that are set in the creative sector.

Elliot Moss
We will go back a bit in time in a moment, but what always fascinates me about the kind of site you have created is just how you manage all the stuff going on at once. Tell me about the fusion of technology and people. How many people work in the business and how much of it is really driven by algorithms and clever stuff like that?

Pip Jamieson
Yeah so I mean we’ve got a quarter of a million members, we are growing ten percent month on month. In terms of my internal team there is thirty two of us so we are tiny in comparison to the likes of say Facebook. But yeah I mean everything is data led. I mean the brilliant thing about having data on the actual teams is we have kind of what you call trust data so it’s really easy for us to then recommend other people for you to meet because we actually know who has worked together and so a lot of what we do is based around algorithms. We semi-hack the algorithm too because I am a female tech founder and we are rarer than hens teeth, so I am a big diversity advocate. So we are actually 61% of our members are female over 34% are gay and over 16% LGBT and we feature that talent more frequently just so that they, they get the jobs and the opportunities they deserve.

Elliot Moss
Stay with me to find out much more about The Dots and about Pip Jamieson, the founder and the chief executive officer at the said business. Time for some more music right now, this is Ella Fitzgerald, we’ve really got some proper shapers in today haven’t we, Ella Fitzgerald with Get Happy.

It is really hard not to smile when you listen to that. That’s Ella Fitzgerald with Get Happy originally famous, made famous by Judy Garland, you may have known that and the film I think was called Summer Stock. Pip Jamieson is my Business Shaper today, she is the founder and CEO at The Dots, a clever tech, a female tech founder in front of me and as you said they are as rare as hens teeth and now with many, many thousands of members and incredible people that advertise their wares on there both as individuals and companies looking for those people. You talk about being a tech founder, I mean your background is you have a first class, and that’s always impressive, a first class Master’s degree in economics from the University of Edinburgh, that must mean you’re very clever and academically sound. Where does the technology fit in? How did you, have you taught yourself how to code, do you code?

Pip Jamieson
Very badly so no. I have the most amazing tech team all in-house so I kind of like to think of myself as more the orchestrator. I kind of look at what the problem is and work with them to make what’s in my brain a reality.

Elliot Moss
And in terms of technology, because again very much of the moment everyone is talking about the fundamental shifts in our society that are happening right before our eyes. How do you ensure that you know what you need to know or is it more about I have a vision, I have a dream, help me deliver it. Is it more that?

Pip Jamieson
I have a vision and a dream and it is about helping it but it is also just about listening to what our community wants and what they need and that’s really what I obsess about and I think that’s actually the advantage of being a non-tech founder like everything I care about is helping deliver for that community. And what I find really exciting about the time we are in now is you know we are entering this age of automation and the robots are coming. But there is three things technology does really badly. It doesn’t have common sense, it can’t feel empathy or understand empathy and it can’t mimic the human capability to be creative and the reason I obsess about helping people who are creative fulfil their career potential is because they are the least likely to be automated. And actually on the BBC there is a site if you type your job title it will tell you how soon you are automated and you know a lot of finance roles and accounting roles, all those ones are going to disappear or at least be you know disrupted.

Elliot Moss
You’ve just made thousands of people’s eyebrows raise. Well I think I am going to go and check that after this. But in terms of your background, it wasn’t the natural, I mean before you set up something called The Loop over in, I think it was New Zealand?

Pip Jamieson
Yeah.

Elliot Moss
Yeah in 2009. Before that though you were in the Civil Service, you were in MTV, you were doing kind of different stuff. At what point did you go, you know what I’m going to set my own business up and it’s going to be this?

Pip Jamieson
Do you know what, I was never one of those people that was like I am going to be an entrepreneur not you know. It wasn’t even one of those things that entered into my head. I was literally at MTV and I just recognised that there wasn’t a professional place online that was designed for me and my friends like LinkedIn had been designed for that more traditional industry. And so I collaborated with a friend and we just started building the technology and it was simple to solve a problem that I was having at MTV and the kind of you know it started us brainstorming the idea in the pub and when we thought we had traction we quit our jobs at MTV, sunk our life savings and started the platform from scratch and the rest I guess is history.

Elliot Moss
Stay with me for much more to find out how the history of this business has unfolded and is now doing rather well with lots of funders as well, lots of people, lots of investors super interested in this and putting their money in. Stay with me for much more from Pip Jamieson, that’s the founder and CEO at The Dots. The latest travel coming up in a coming up in a couple of minutes, but before that you’re going to be hearing another person from our Future Shapers series and this person and their business are hoping that they will be shaping the future of their industry for years to come.

You are listening to Jazz Shapers. Every Saturday I get to talk to someone who is shaping the world of business. My brilliant person today is Pip Jamieson with a nice short name, short for Philippa right? As you’ve said to me before, only your mother calls you it so I am not going to call you Philippa. Pip Jamieson, founder and CEO at The Dots and The Dots is a very clever business as you’ve said yourself designed because there wasn’t something that you needed something and it didn’t exist so you created it. That act of creation Pip when you did it back in New Zealand, back in 2000 with your mates around the pub and you kind of started to talk about news cases and other things I am sure that people do when they are building a business, or maybe not. What made you actually do it? I mean because there is a major difference to me and I do meet lots of people who have great ideas outside of this programme and I am sure people listening now would go I’ve got a good idea. But the, it’s the thing that tips you over into doing something, what do you think, where did that come from for you?

Pip Jamieson
I was working at MTV, they tended to pay you in Jägermeister so I was kind of headed thirty and I was like I’m about to get a bit old for MTV, I am coming out of their demographic. So it was just the right time, the right place and the idea excited me so much, I was like I’ve just got to give it a shot and what’s the worst thing that happen? I can fail, but you know what no one is going to criticise me that I care about if I fail. What’s a friend going do, you failure? So I think a lot of people stop doing it because they are worried about failure and I think with me I was like, I would be more worried about not doing this and then someone later down the track is doing it and doing it well.

Elliot Moss
So looking back now and it is like eight years ago and that was New Zealand and then you brought the business here, and you created the business here in 2014/2015. What were the first two or three critical things that you did to actually create the business?

Pip Jamieson
Firstly a tech partner, so having to bring on a tech partner to help us make that a reality. It was also making sure that we had really good companies on board the platform from the start so people like the BBC were early users so yeah and then it was about building the community and learning from there and it was just grit determination, you just got to. When you are starting a business everything goes wrong, you’ve just got to keep ploughing through and keep building.

Elliot Moss
I mean you’ve got a very smiley and happy upbeat sense about you. Is that, do you think, is one of the secrets of your success so far?

Pip Jamieson
Yeah. I mean like I’ve seen so many businesses fail over the years who, it wasn’t because they didn’t have a great idea, but it was because they just didn’t have the perseverance to go through and I think being sort of, I always focus on positivity, it’s like a core value of my business and positivity doesn’t mean positivity for positivity sake, what it means is being focussed on solutions not problems and it’s just led to a really happy working environment for me and my team to like you know get through those hard times because there are always hard times when you are starting a business.

Elliot Moss
I imagine on of the hard times is raising enough dosh?

Pip Jamieson
Yes.

Elliot Moss
And you’ve raised, I think, around three million quid…

Pip Jamieson
Yes.

Elliot Moss
…something like that. How?

Pip Jamieson
Oh my gosh, banging down doors. So I, because I moved back from Australia and I didn’t know anyone here. I had been living down under for nine years so it’s kind of meetings that lead to meetings, that lead to meetings and actually one of my big lucks came when I met Brent Hoberman who started Lastminute.com.

Elliot Moss
Who was on the programme a few years ago actually.

Pip Jamieson
Ah there we go and Brent introduced me to the amazing Sir John Hegarty.

Elliot Moss
Who was also on the programme. This is great, keep going, keep going!

Pip Jamieson
And John who is one of the creative legends he just fell in love with what I was doing, totally got it and once we had the backing of John, it sort of comes easier. But I have had so many investor meetings and you know there are challenges about being a female entrepreneur. I mean only 4% of businesses that are backed by VC’s are female business so you do have a distinct sort of hill to climb, but I love a challenge.

Elliot Moss
Stay with me for much more from my incredibly positive and person who is up for a challenge in all sorts of ways. It’s Pip Jamieson, founder and CEO at The Dots. Time for some more music. It’s another classic, it’s Marvin Gaye with What’s Going on.

That was Marvin Gaye with What’s Going On. Pip Jamieson is my Business Shaper and has been for a few minutes and will be for a fair few minutes more and we have been talking about the challenges and the travails of setting up a business, especially as a woman and that 4% backed by VC’s that are female is extraordinary. That of course has informed your focus on you know appealing to a diverse group of people. To me diversity is nothing more than good business.

Pip Jamieson
Oh completely. Actually do you know what I love as I think the diversity debate has kind of finished in the fact that people do recognise that now. So everybody…

Elliot Moss
If there is no struggle, people don’t disagree do they?

Pip Jamieson
People definitely don’t disagree. There is just so much research now that diversity, across the board, and I am talking about gender diversity but also socio economic diversity and neuro diversity, there is so much literature that it is just good business sense and all the wonderful businesses we work with do want to change the ratio. I think where we come in at The Dots is we then help them do that because you know there are challenges to finding you know great talent out there and LinkedIn is very masculine, it skews massively more male than female and that’s why I am really proud that we skew for example more female than men. I got a bit of trouble with it on Twitter when I got a bit of abuse saying you know if you are 61% female that’s not very diverse, but you know when, it is LinkedIn is the other way around, I don’t mind if we are re-addressing the balance so yeah I am very proud that we are 61% female.

Elliot Moss
And along this journey you are now in, actually you’re quite a young person, but an old entrepreneur in the sense you have been doing this for seven, eight years. What have you learnt apart from the stuff that you have to learn about business, but about yourself?

Pip Jamieson
Ah, I’ve learnt that I love, I love continuously learning and I think that’s why I’ve literally been able to kind of come through this. I have learnt that I’ve got a really thick skin, I mean raising investment is a perfect example, you get so many no’s. You get no, no, no and you kind of feel like you have to have Teflon skin and…

Elliot Moss
And what do you talk, when you give yourself a pep talk, because we’ve all been there when you kind of have that rejection, what’s the thing you say to yourself?

Pip Jamieson
Success is the best revenge. Yeah and I’ve got an amazing husband who supports me a hundred percent. You know it’s this magic experience when I have had a really tough day I will come back and he’s there with a massive hug saying you can do this. Same with my team, I’ve just been really careful to build around me a team that is again positive and we are all there to buck each other up through the hard times and you know what I do is risky, but it is paying off and we will just keep ploughing through but we want to have a lot of fun while we are doing it.

Elliot Moss
Stay with me for our final chat with my fabulous guest today, that’s Pip Jamieson. Plus we will be playing a track from the blues man Robert Kray and that’s all after the latest traffic and travel here on Jazz FM.

A bit of blues here on Jazz Shapers. That was Robert Kray and Hi Rhythm with The Same Love That Made Me Laugh. My lovely laughing and smiley though probably very steely as well, Business Shaper today has been Pip Jamieson, founder and CEO at The Dots and we have been talking about all sorts of stuff and about the importance of attitude and about surrounding yourself both at home and in the way you work with people that support you. Going forward, I am assuming at some point you want to turn a profit, we haven’t talked about revenue, there’s this great thing about new web digital businesses, you have to get to critical mass before you make money. I’m assuming you are not turning a profit at the moment?

Pip Jamieson
We could be if we wanted to, but we are investing in scale at the moment so no.

Elliot Moss
And what, what does that actually mean when you say you are investing in scale?

Pip Jamieson
So we are investing in the technology itself. So I mean nearly thirty percent of our community is based outside the UK, we are scaling quite aggressively into international markets. Our revenue model is almost identical to LinkedIn so we make money through recruitment so companies paying us to hire talent and we make money through advertising, but recruitment is the main thing we do. So this is someone like Google finding individuals to hire at Google through the site, what’s really exciting is because we are starting to build up data around a team, Google is starting to look at hiring whole teams to bring in an organisation. So at the moment we are disrupting recruitment agents, but soon to be disrupting agencies themselves and I guess that’s why the Sunday Times called me the next big disrupter, but so yeah, that’s kind of what we are doing and in terms of we just hired the fourth employee of LinkedIn here in Europe, he was with the business for nine plus years and he has come on board as our Head of Sales and driving that side of the business.

Elliot Moss
Very cheeky. Going off and acquiring all these clever people. But is it a buzz to you when you look at these plans, when you see the opportunities that you’ve got and is it a buzz also disrupting. Is the disruption point important or is it just more doing what you think is the right thing to do?

Pip Jamieson
Yeah I mean we have, we have a good news channel on Slack. We use Slack at work, which is kind of a communication tool and the biggest buzz for me is when people get opportunities that wouldn’t usually get an opportunity. So I had a guy about three days ago who wrote me a poem because he is, he had been through a creative programme called Shift which took disadvantaged kids and trained them in the creative industries and I had been, so we had been heavily supporting him on the platform and featuring him on the platform and he just got a job a Warner Music and he actually sent the whole team a poem and it’s moments like that for me that mean the world because I mean you know what we do is really, really tough and there is hard days and good days and when you know you are actually making a really positive impact on people, that’s when I get goose bumps.

Elliot Moss
And in addition to getting the goose bumps which is lovely and is probably the most satisfying thing, from a pure financial perspective, at what point in the next few years do you hope to turn a profit based on the sort of size that you want to be?

Pip Jamieson
Yeah here in the UK we will be profitable next year, but then it will be raising further investments rounds to fuel international expansion. So looking this whole year actually for us is about developing a road map for international expansion. I was actually in Paris this Monday with Sadiq Khan looking at expansion opportunities to France, but we’ve got a number of clusters, big clusters outside of the UK that we are starting to explore. So regions will be profitable, but as a wise mentor once said to me, I’m going to be raising money for the rest of my life to expand into new regions. I mean LinkedIn is fourteen years old, they took on multiple rounds of investment, but they did sell last year for twenty one billion in cash to Microsoft.

Elliot Moss
That’s quite a lot of money. Is there anything that fazes you? It doesn’t seem like it to me, or are you one of those people that’s kind of the swan above the water and underneath you are actually kicking like mad.

Pip Jamieson
I think in the early days you know the hard times are really hard, but I think now I actually enjoy the bad bits, I know that sounds really weird and almost a bit sadomasochist.

Elliot Moss
I didn’t want to say, because you said it yourself.

Pip Jamieson
But in many ways I find that when things are hard, that’s when I learn the most and so that’s where I call on amazing mentors, that’s where I call on… I read a lot or I listen a lot because I am actually really badly dyslexic so physical reading is hard. But I find the bad times are actually the bits where I am growing and learning the most and it gets to the point if two things are too smooth sailing, I get a bit bored and so I have to always push the dial a bit further.

Elliot Moss
Listen, keep pushing the dial, you are doing a fabulous job it looks like from where I am sitting and I really wish you the best of luck and grow that business. If it’s twenty one billion in a few years you know I will look you up and I will ping you a note and you can take me for a cup of coffee.

Pip Jamieson
Well yeah Forbes did say are we the next LinkedIn, so that is my mission.

Elliot Moss
Well that would be pretty good. You are probably better than them as well. Just before I let you go Pip, what’s your song choice and why have you chosen it?

Pip Jamieson
So my song choice is Bill Withers, Lovely Day because I feel like this whole journey has been, I have been the happiest I have ever been in my entire life and my whole mantra is life is short, work somewhere awesome and I guess that’s one of the reasons I started The Dots so other people feel that as well. So yeah, every day is a lovely day.

Elliot Moss
Here it is just for you, thank you.

That was Bill Withers with Lovely Day, the song choice of my Business Shaper today, Pip Jamieson. She saw something that needed to be addressed. There was a gap in the market, she wanted to do something about it and she did. She has huge amounts of positive energy which I think has got her through the difficult times and helped to enjoy the really good times. And finally and really importantly, she has been dealing openly and aggressively with the issue around the lack of diversity and the lack of representation of people in the creative industries and that’s really, really good stuff. Do join me again, same time, same place next Saturday, 9.00am here on Jazz FM for another edition of Jazz Shapers. Meanwhile stay with us because coming up next it’s Nigel Williams.

Pip Jamieson

Pip has previously worked as a Fast-Stream Assistant Economist at the Government Economic Service; a Business Strategy and Development Manager; Head of Marketing New Zealand at MTV Networks; and Co-founder and Managing Director of The Loop, a professional network site for creatives in Australia.

She founded The Dots – a professional network ‘for the people and teams that don’t wear suits to work’ – in 2014.

Follow Pip on Twitter @Pip_Jamieson.

Listen live at 9am Saturday.

I am a female tech founder and we are rarer than hens teeth, so I am a big diversity advocate.

I have the most amazing tech team all in-house so I like to think of myself more as the orchestrator. I look at what the problem is and work with them to make what’s in my brain a reality.

We are entering the age of automation and the robots are coming. But there are three things technology does really badly. It doesn’t have common sense, it can’t feel empathy and it can’t mimic the human capability to be creative.

It started with us brainstorming the idea in the pub and when we thought we had traction, we quit our jobs at MTV, sunk our life savings and started the platform from scratch. The rest I guess is history.

When you are starting a business everything goes wrong, you’ve just got to keep ploughing through and keep building.

I always focus on positivity, it’s a core value of my business. Positivity doesn’t mean positivity for positivity sake, it means being focused on solutions not problems and it’s led to a really happy working environment for me and my team.

There are challenges about being a female entrepreneur. Only 4% of businesses that are backed by VC’s are female businesses so you do have a distinct hill to climb. But I love a challenge.

At the moment we are disrupting recruitment agents, but soon to be disrupting agencies themselves and I guess that’s why the Sunday Times called me the next big disrupter.