Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with James Lai, founder of MEETIG8.
In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.
MEETIG8 (pronounced mitigate) is an online marketplace that directly connects organisations with risk, compliance and audit professionals. MEETIG8 has been created to meet the growing need for organisations, especially in the financial services industry, to quickly find qualified risk professionals for short-term placements and projects, without going through expensive accounting firms or recruitment agencies.
What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?
In 2016, we validated the MEETIG8 concept with risk professionals in the industry as well as prospective clients and we received very positive feedback on what is a revolutionary way of delivering risk advisory services. Since December 2016, MEETIG8 started gathering sign-ups from independent consultants and clients through our landing page. The fully functional online platform is scheduled to go live in March 2017. I’ve taken leave from my role Head of Risk and Compliance Assurance at Westpac Banking Corporation to focus on getting it off the ground.
The growth strategy is to build an initial base of advisors and clients on the platform through brand-awareness campaigns utilising social media, traditional marketing and PR; and to leverage my networks to identify prospective clients and advisors and to get them to sign up. Next steps would be to get some runs on the board by starting to fulfil clients’ needs through placements for short term assignments.
Since the launch, MEETIG8 has received positive responses from within Australia and we also unexpectedly received a good level of international interest. It wasn’t part of our initial planning to focus on markets outside Australia in 2017, but we may have to adjust our plan sooner than expected based on demand from various markets. To date, MEETIG8 is self-funded. Once it has achieved a targeted level of traction, we will consider a first round of funding.
What’s the biggest challenge facing your business?
Like many startups at launch stage, our biggest challenge is to quickly fill up our platform i.e. registering businesses who’ll post jobs and registering qualified freelancers able to fulfil them. At this stage, it’s all about generating a good level of activity and momentum to get MEETIG8 off the ground and to a great start.
There’s a real need for MEETIG8 - it has a strong value proposition to clients who want to source talent quickly and at a fraction of the cost of the large advisory firms and to advisors who value flexibility and variety of work – I know this from first-hand experience. Once the ball is rolling, I’m confident it will run very well. How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?
There’s no other web-based talent sourcing platform for the risk management industry in the world. Traditionally, organisations’ needs for risk advisory services are either provided by the large accounting and advisory firms or recruiters who place short-term contractors. These traditional means are proving costly and time-consuming, and in some cases the candidates put forward are not the right fit. For the first time, organisations will have direct access to a pool of professional freelancers via MEETIG8, cutting out the middleman and giving them highly qualified professionals for a fraction of the price of the large advisory firms.
What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?
The Google app on my smartphone. I use it all the time for business and leisure. It truly offers all the knowledge in the world at my fingertips!
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
Develop a ‘thick skin’. Someone once said to me that if I have a great offering and value proposition, I should evangelise it with great conviction and keep cutting through to success with a ‘thick skin’ on.
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