startup-profile-mike-larsenImagine if you could find out the truth, warts and all, of what it was like to work at a business before you applied to a position there.


That’s the premise that spurred Michael Larsen to create InsideTrak , a jobs site with a twist – former employees can comment on their experiences at a listed business to provide an insider’s insight to jobseekers.


In two months, Larsen’s site has amassed 40,000 job listings and 4,000 reviews. InsideTrak is set for an official launch in the New Year.


Larsen, an Australian who is based in Boston in the US, speaks to StartupSmart about how he’s looking to shake up the traditional jobs boards.


What problem does this business solve, exactly?


A core problem that’s been around for a long time is that people don’t really know what it’s like to work somewhere until they actually join a business.


They can ask friends or go on Facebook, but getting an authentic insight is hard. I came up with the idea for InsideTrak earlier this year – I thought it could be a natural extension of what TripAdvisor does but in a different area.


It’s good for jobseekers but it’s also good for employers, as it helps reduce turnover and helps them get staff who are knowledgeable about their company.


You were at Monster in the US, weren’t you? Bit of a risk moving to a start-up, isn’t it?


Yes. I left Monster in August to work on this full time ahead of our launch next month.


Monster has done very well in its area but we are seeing a shift in the whole recruitment model from a monologue to a dialogue. It’s as big a shift as seeing job ads going from print to online.


Jobseekers now have more power than ever and I think InsideTrak is a good reflection of where the market is moving to.


How has the start-up process been?


The biggest hurdle has been to aggregate job listings from different platforms. We send robots to crawl across different sites to provide links for our site.


We’ve partnered with a development house in Ukraine, which has the job of building the job source software and handling the features of the system.


In terms of revenue, we have cost per click advertising. It’s free to have your jobs on the site, but if there are, say 300 nursing jobs on the site, you can pay to have your own nursing job ad promoted. It’s a bit like Google Adwords.


It was a smooth process leaving Monster and then getting a couple of angel investors. It’s fair to say we’re in bootstrapping mode now, ahead of raising a more formal level of funding next year.


There’s six people working on the site and we are completely virtual. I’m in Boston, I’ve got a guy in Pakistan and there’s someone else in Sydney. We’ve never been in the same room yet!


How have you got around that?


It’s been a challenge for sure, but you have to build a trust base to ensure everything runs smoothly. The tyranny of distance can be a problem when you want something done quickly, but it also means that someone is always working on the business at any point during the day.


We basically use Skype a lot for project management.


How did you get angels to invest in a concept before its launch?


I pitched the concept as an extension of TripAdvisor, which everyone knows and understands. They could see that this model could work well in other areas.


If you look at the market in Australia, it’s dominated by the traditional job boards – Seek has 70% of the market. Launching something that is unique and can disrupt the market is attractive to investors.


In the US, there’s a site called that, it’s fair to say, pioneered this model, but they do it a bit differently to us. They scrape jobs form anywhere, such as large job boards, where we only use jobs directly from recruiters or employers.


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