Even with a ton of competition, it’s not at all impossible to launch a unique, in-demand business. Consider the experiences of Derek Szeto, CEO of Wirkn, an app that helps young job-hunters identify and apply for positions more quickly, and the guest of this week’s BusinessCast podcast.
A serial entrepreneur, Szeto founded of RedFlagDeals.com, which grew to be Canada’s largest bargain-shopping community before being sold to Yellow Pages Group in 2010. He also serves as entrepreneur in residence at startup accelerator Kinetic CafÃ©. So he knows some things about launching successful ventures in even the most challenging competitive environs.
That’s a good thing, because Wirkn operates in a crowded space. There are countless recruiting and headhunting firms out there that are competing heavily to connect job-seekers with employers. And LinkedIn and its imitators have amassed a huge user base online. Yet Szeto believes that Wirkn’s market (young people) and platform (mobile) make it stand out.
Want to know what Szeto believes is needed to disrupt a busy market? Read on:
1. Have a clear mission
From the start, Wirkn’s core purpose was about more than selling stuff: there’s a social element at play, too, and it’s one thing Szeto thinks makes the company unique. “What really excited me about the opportunity is that it can really help youth unemployment,” he says. “That’s a big topic these days, since the recession. Employment rates for youth have skyrocketed. We want to be part of the solution, and we think mobile will be a big part of it.”
2. Look to serve more than one need
Part of the beauty of Wirkn, Szeto says, is that it doesn’t just seek to solve a single issue: it aims to help both employers and potential employees. And having a dual purpose makes any new offering all the more appealing. “We wanted to bring to market something that fulfilled the needs on both sides: the needs of employers and the needs of employees,” he explains.
3. Enlist someone who knows the pain points
The idea for Wirkn came from a man who knows firsthand how hard it is to match supply and demand in the job market: Francois Jobin, former vice-president of HR at Aldo Group. “He’d been brewing on this idea for 12 years at Aldo and 25 years overall, as he’s seen the shift in the retail from full-time to part-time jobs,” Szeto explains. “At the same time he saw that youth weren’t engaged as they used to be. He thought there was a solution we could build.” Having Jobin—who understands the pain points of the modern labour market more than most—on the roster gives Wirkn credibility and invaluable insight into the problems it’s trying to solve.
For more of Szeto’s thoughts, check out this week’s BusinessCast, which you can listen to by clicking the button above or download by clicking on the iTunes logo below:
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