Job-matching startup OneShift has been acquired by recruitment company Programmed for an undisclosed amount, but for founder Gen George the realisation she’s sold the business she built from the ground up “hasn’t set in yet”.
The deal has been in the mix for the last 12 months and was finalised in time for the end of this financial year. Programmed took an initial 27.% stake in OneShift as part of a $5 million investment deal in 2013, which George said at the time was to “help us grow OneShift into a thriving global business”.
As of June, Programmed now owns 100% of OneShift, with George, her chief financial and technology officers and a small team heading off to work on George’s two other startups — small-business focused recruitment startup Skilld and advertising tech startup tamme.
“This was part of it all from the beginning, just one piece of the puzzle,” George told StartupSmart.
“It was more about the bigger picture and having an impact. It’s not about something tangible, it’s bigger than that.”
“In six months time it might set in, and I might look back and go, ‘oh god what have I done’, but the deal is really great for both sides and I’m looking forward to the future.”
With George focused on both running OneShift and preparing it for acquisition, Skilld was “put on the backburner”, and George is keen to put more focus on the budding business, which she founded in mid-2015.
“We want to develop it further and scale it internationally, but to do that, we realised we needed to build an adtech platform as the available ones didn’t suit our needs,” she says.
That’s where George’s most recent venture, tamme, comes in, having only become a standalone business in the past few weeks.
The advertising platform is targeted at double-sided marketplaces, eschewing the traditional focus on “vanity numbers” such as cost-per-click, and instead looking at “actual conversions” by tracking user behaviour and supply and demand in suburb-sized squares anywhere in the world.
“When we were looking at expanding Skilld, we wanted to use our advertising spend in places where we could get direct outcomes. We didn’t care about vanity numbers — all we cared about is if someone converted or not,” George says.
“We wanted something that could automatically do that at a scale, and anywhere in the world within a 1.2-mile radius.”
Building a new startup like tamme was greatly aided by having a real-time “living breathing” market to test on thanks to Skilld. According to George, early tests carried out on the Skilld platform have seen increases of 400% in advertising effectiveness despite only 20% of tamme’s platform being active.
George also runs women’s business group Like Minded Bitches Drinking Wine alongside Showpo founder Jane Lu, and she will continue to work on growing the network alongside leading Skilld and tamme. The group now has over 40,000 members and hosts events in 25 cities globally, a level of growth George “didn’t expect”.
Being at the helm of OneShift while establishing and growing her other ventures involved a lot of “figuring it out as we go” says George, who believes the skills she learnt growing OneShift were invaluable for establishing Skilld and tamme.
“I was learning every day and the experience with running Oneshift paid off. Skilld had 60,000 users in the first six months of operating, where OneShift had just 10,000,” she says.
“We stuffed up a lot, but we also learned a lot.”
For other startups facing the daunting world of acquisitions, George advises it’s all about finding the right partner, and determining the “value” for both companies.
“Try to find a smart partner who can add growth to the business and work with them for a while before heading down the acquisitions path,” she says.