“Manchester’s an agency town, there aren’t many startups there,” is something I heard from many people a few years ago. Not so much now. And one interesting development, has been those agencies creating their own products to sell and spinning out startups.
Volcanic is a great example. This Stockport-based firm launched seven years ago, initially doing general digital marketing work. They picked up some big-name clients like News International and Lloyds Bank, before deciding to build something on their own terms.
In late 2013 they started work on what is essentially a content management system (CMS) designed specifically for recruitment websites. Funding the development by building sites for clients, they gradually built up a healthy business with the platform.
Volcanic gives recruiters all the basics they’d expect from a CMS but adds recruitment-specific features that make it easy to add, edit and track vacancies and candidates. It also integrates digital marketing and SEO tools. It’s a central hub of operations for anyone who wants to advertise jobs online.
Matt Comber, who joined in 2014 to commercialise the Volcanic platform, says it now has around 500 customers and £2 million in annual recurring revenue, up from just £1,500 in 2014. He says the company works with around 15 percent of the recruitment industry.
Volcanic now has just under 60 staff, mostly in Stockport but with some in outposts in Malaysia, Australia and Mexico. The Malaysian office was a direct result of a UKTI (now the Department of International Trade) trade mission to Kuala Lumpur.
The company has received other support to help it get to this point. Taking part in a Goldman Sachs programme helped them boost exports. Comber says that 20-25 percent of revenue is from overseas clients now, compared to just 8 percent in September last year. Meanwhile, Volcanic also benefits from expert mentorship as part of the London Stock Exchange’s Elite programme.
Key to its international expansion will be plans to make the platform fully self-service. At present, Volcanic staff must set up new accounts before recruitment firms can get to work with them.
Job hunting in augmented reality
Volcanic isn’t going to stick just to its CMS in future. It’s developed an augmented reality platform called Point Jobs that will launch soon. This will help users explore the job market around them, and jobs will be free to list.
“The concept for Point Jobs came from those original methods of recruitment where agencies would advertise roles in their shop windows,” Comber told Recruitment International earlier this year. “The idea of knocking on doors with a set of CVs is highly outdated but the principle remains the same – employers and agencies are still keen to capture speculative applications.”
Like Formisimo and Dream Agility, Volcanic shows that agency land can be fertile ground for growing a tech business.
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