Alice Kahrmann interviews Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna.

Ah yes, the dreaded search for a new job, the endless application forms, the myriad considerations; time vs. money, hours vs. perks, perks vs. location, no I certainly can’t travel that far... And then there’s the sheer volume of information on the web, almost a site for every niche it seems, which is where in 2011 founders Andrew Hunter and Doug Monro spotted a gap in the market; create one ridiculously high performing search engine that in its Google-esque manner would crawl the web, raking in thousands of jobs from every single search facility going, wrap them up with all kinds of handy iconoclastic features such as Jobsworth (more of that later) and hey presto you have Adzuna, the jobs listing aggregator that’s gone in three short years from a ‘tiny little start up in Clapham’ to a thirty strong team spanning eleven countries.
 
So here I am talking to co-founder Andrew Hunter, self proclaimed ‘internet marketing stats nerd,’ marketing guru, Oxford Brookes graduate, ‘Doug’s a proper Cambridge boy,’; calm, amiable, a man you think you think you could trust basically. ‘My business idol who I’ve never met is Steve Woszniac from Apple because he always got on with things and really executed perfectly, but in a nice way, quietly. Steve Jobs was the face and the front of that business but Woszniac was the guy who was pushing away in the background and getting things done, I try to emulate that in my work as much as possible.’
 
Hunter met co-founder Monro in 2004. Ten years of friendship established a relationship strong enough on which to hang a business partnership; ‘Doug was working for eBay at the time largely responsible for the acquisitions [Monro the Managing Director to Hunter's Marketing Director] and I was the first hire for Gumtree in the post acquisition world.’ This blue-chip company provided the hothouse, leading the pair to ruminate on the possibilities of a site that could ‘list every available vacancy in the UK as well as other markets.’ ‘A Herculean Task in a very fragmented industry,’ Hunter admits. Nevertheless Adzuna or ‘A Google for jobs if you will,’ has carved out its space. ‘The concept of job aggregation isn’t unique, where we add value beyond the aggregation phase is with statistics and data. About half of the jobs advertisers in the UK don’t put a salary next to the vacancies which is pretty frustrating for job seekers.’ Which is where Jobsearch comes in, the facility that estimates based on aforementioned data, just how much the role might be worth.
 
‘People want great information,’ Hunter says, ‘they want to be armed to help them make good career decisions and that comes from company reviews, understanding what current employees think of working at a particular company, all the way down to rates of pay, supply and demand, where can I get a pay rise, which industry, so we’re really working hard on statistics to differentiate ourselves from other aggregators.’
 
A strategy that has more than paid off because Adzuna’s reach has extended even to Westminster, to the IPad/Smartphone of David Cameron himself ‘We’re not allowed to say which,' Hunter laughs. The company is ‘currently working on labour market data’; that’s the Number Ten Dashboard to you and me, the statics centric app that gives DC, ‘a daily download of what’s going on in the UK economy, what the opposition are saying about him on Twitter, and what’s happening in the job market. We layer Adzuna data on top of Office of National Statistics data, to give an overview of what’s happening in the job market, where are the flourishing areas vs. the black spots, so hopefully he finds that useful, we’ve been to No.10 a couple of times.' 
 
‘The Umbrella of eBay, Thomas Cook 'where Hunter also worked ‘was a monster of an organisation,’ experience that was vital; ‘working for a blue chip company in the early days of your career can be important because it helps you understand rigid processes that people go through.’ Hunter prefers being part of a small team ‘because you can effect change more easily; ‘if someone’s got a good idea we can do it tomorrow. I love that culture.’ Despite being at the helm, Hunter still gets his hands dirty; ‘hopefully not micromanaging’ he laughs, rather lending a hand where  needed, ‘controlling growth strategy, rolling my sleeves up, mucking in on a press release or a Google ad words test or a bit of link building for SEO.’
 
But back to the job market itself, Hunter is nothing if not a fly on the wall of the current incumbent system. ‘There’s a lot of confusion and subsequently a lot of wasted time; if you think of the actual components, there’s the company hiring, say Google’s looking for a head of marketing, often they will use a recruitment agent, and that agent will post on a job board, and they will acquire traffic from aggregators like Adzuna and we get our traffic from Google so you have five or six steps the job seeker has to jump through; quite an arduous roller-coaster. What I see is an increasing desire for job seekers to be connected directly with the company, 40% of traffic comes from mobile devices and that’s growing very day. People leveraging their social networks to find jobs, what used to be the old boys network; let’s hit up Daddy’s black book to see if we can find some connections to find me a job, now it’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc.’
 
Which brings us to Adzuna Connect, another facility designed to set the search engine apart. After connecting via Facebook, the user 'can see vacancies at your mates companies, then you start to see a dialogue, and if the company is desirable there’s someone to vouch for you when you’re applying for the position.’
 
These extras are clearly Adzuna’s USP’s, factors that have led to, ‘turbocharged growth over the last few years ’regardless of the industry you’re in, we want to pick this job niche and focus on abundance… Which brings us to the significance of the word Adzuna; "Zuna" means "abundance" in a number of African languages.” 
 
Abundance of course doesn't mitigate challenge, namely, ‘hiring developers was really really tough in the first two years. There’s a massive lack of supply for technical talent in the UK, a real gunfight; a good deal of the smartest computer science graduated coming out of university this year will go and work for a bank because they pay a lot more, they’ll start these IT grads on 60K 65K, whereas your average startup can only pay 30-40K for someone fresh out of Uni.’
 
Hunter and Monro got around the issue by ‘showcasing why it’s good to come and work for a startup like ours, through PR leveraging our personal networks, running competitions with universities etc.’ They now have an eight strong, small but very motivated team,’ kept fed and watered with the requisite startup diet of ‘beanbags and football tables; toys around the office that encourage a bit of social interaction.’ Clearly the pair must be doing something right as even yesterday (Sunday) Hunter was ‘doing this bike ride around London with four or five guys from the team.’ Hanging out with your boss on a Sunday, quite the endorsement.
 
Hunter’s mentor is his father; who 'worked in the airline industry for thirty or forty years.' He cites  his 'can do attitude, and willingness to take risks. His catchphrase and he still says it to this day is; ‘go out and do it.' You need to have that confidence as a young person to try something new and he certainly instilled that in me.’ 
 
Hunter ploughed his life savings into Adzuna; ‘everything I had went into the business; there were months, early days when business was doing pretty well, we were getting some traction but we weren’t even thinking about making money, it was all about traffic and user growth and we weren’t paying ourselves salaries and we didn’t really have much money to live on and there were dicey moments when I was wondering how I’d pay the rent next month.’

It wasn’t long before a first round of investment facilitated the paying of a small salary, to 'keep the pair and their partners in shoes’ though Hunter admits there were times when it felt like ‘Jeez I used to earn quite a lot of money and now that’s not happening.’ Fortunes that quickly changed however, ‘Raising money from Index Ventures, [one of the world’s top Venture Capital firms] ‘that was validation we were on the right track; definitely a punch the air, let’s buy some champagne moment.’ Other seminal moments were 'hitting our first million registered users, getting into the millions of unique visitors per month; those metrics mean a lot to me as I know how they coordinate into the business.’
 
Going forwards the pair are focused on ‘growing the site internationally,’ developing new websites ‘in France, Germany, the Netherlands.’ Adding a raft of new ‘Interesting stats and data products.’ It's all about lateral thinking; ‘Growing our user base and make money in the right way... Making our mums proud.’
 
‘It’s still pretty full on,’ Hunter says, ‘I didn’t have many grey hairs but I do now. There are moments when you think I’m going to be really rich here, I’m going to have a huge website and there are moments where you can’t sleep because things are going so badly. It’s different kinds of stress as you grow but I wouldn’t change it for anything, there’s absolutely no way I would crawl back to the corporate world and work for a beast of a company. This is where I’m supposed to be,’ he says with pride, and there’s certainly no doubt about that.

Alice Kahrmann, August 2014