Elevator Pitch: TechDirect

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 Sascha Kara and Paula Barry, founders of TechDirect.

In 128 words or less, explain your business idea

TechDirect is Australia’s first marketplace for tech talent. We help companies find specialised IT contractors in a fraction of the time. Using our platform, CIOs can search our database for specialised skill sets and recruit them directly. The CIO saves costs on recruitment fees and gets full visibility over the candidate pool through our marketplace setup. The tech on the other hand is empowered to set their own rate for their work.

TechDirect is solving the tech talent problem in Australia. As CIOs know, it can take months to track down tech talent in Australia. It’s also costly, with recruiters charging up to 20 per cent of the salary in commission for full time staff, and up to 40 per cent salary as commission for contract roles.

What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?

Now that we have over 75 talented IT specialists on the platform and we’re adding more each day our key challenge is to change the status quo on tech hiring in Australia.

We want to offer CIOs an alternative to the typical recruitment channels and also help promote talented Australian tech professionals. We’re largely been growing on the back of word of mouth, but we’re now investigating digital marketing to further buoy that.

We’re a bootstrapped business, and we make money off every role we help place. But we’re also looking at other funding routes including angel investment and seed funding.

How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?

We’re unique, focus only on Australian talent and allow for heavily specialised searches. This is a hiring platform for verified tech professionals producing quality work. For example, we allow you to search for something as niche as AWS DevOps specialists.

While we are a marketplace, we aren’t trying to drive down the earnings of tech talent in Australia. They actually set their own rate.

We find that by reducing the margin many third parties clip in the hiring process, we can offer companies affordable techs, but also empower techs to charge a rate suitable to their skill level.

The main differences are that our clients have access to our database of specialised techs; and they are able to negotiate terms that both parties are happy with.

What’s the biggest challenge facing your business?

The way companies hire techs is ingrained and changing this process will take time.

We’re heartened by the fact that we already have CIOs raving about us, but we know its a long road before we’re the leading means of hiring tech talent in Australia.

More broadly, we are also concerned about ensuring Australian technology workers have the right skills for the job. Our platform should help us produce data that could be useful for the market in helping pinpoint where the jobs are, and where we need to upskill workers.

What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?

Aside from our own platform, we would probably say LinkedIn.

Not only do we use this as a way to promote our platform, we also use this to get background information on both candidates and clients. We can get a clear idea of work history and endorsements. A LinkedIn check is the first step in our process for on-boarding new tech talent to the platform.

What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?

Work with people who compliment your capabilities. For example, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Wozniak was technically brilliant and Jobs was a gun salesman who could sell a vision. Together they made a great team who complimented each other perfectly.

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