Founders: Matthew Sampson, Adam Brown
Revenue: $2.9 million
Head Office: Victoria
Industry: HR & recruitment
Matthew Sampson was just 22 years old, with a mere 18 months of experience in recruitment, when he decided to set up his own recruitment agency.
If that decision appears slightly ambitious, Sampson’s determination to forge on when his business partner pulled out at the 11th hour before launch could be seen as reckless. However, he has since built a company with a revenue touching $3 million in just three years.
Sampson was working for a multinational recruitment firm when he realised that his clients could be offered an more individualised service. His research revealed frustration among clients – he targeted the civil and structural engineering industry – over the transactional nature of many agencies.
“I wanted to create a company that aligned itself closely with both clients and candidates, in order to develop longer term relationships and provide what would be considered a professional and comprehensive service,” he explains.
However, Sampson was well aware of his limitations at the time: “I was naive, though this naivety gave me unjustified confidence in my own abilities.
“While I believed I had a good technical grounding in my profession – recruitment, which in retrospect, I didn’t – I was certainly not prepared for the complexities of running a company.”
“I also found that my age sometimes challenged my ability to instil confidence in my business’ stakeholders. Whether it be banks, investors, potential clients or potential staff, there was often an immediate concern among them about my age and associated maturity and level of experience.”
Another major hurdle was a pre-launch split with Sampson’s then business partner, who had 10 years experience in the industry. The decision stripped Sampson of, he says “50% of the start-up capital, 90% of the technical experience and 100% of my confidence.”
Despite this, he went ahead with the business anyway. “Bravery, determination, ambition, persistence – they are key characteristics that are important to success, not age,” Sampson says.