The Business Owner: Pip Jamieson, The Dots

The female founder talks about the importance of vision and how she's impressed with the government helping small businesses

The Business Owner: Pip Jamieson, The Dots

Founders: Pip Jamieson
Location: Shoreditch, London
Proposition: LinkedIn for the creative industries.
Size: 12 employees

How is your business different from what’s already out there?

The Dots was born out of a genuine desire to support and champion the creative community. We recognise that the creative sector has different needs and networking preferences to those in the corporate sector, currently serviced by Linkedin.

Creatives can find it challenging to promote themselves and network, as well as connect with tangible commercial opportunities.Until The Dots, there was no single platform that harnessed the creative talent of top professionals across a myriad of creative industries.

We have finally given them an effective way to promote themselves, network, collaborate and connect with opportunities; I guess that’s why we’ve grown so quickly.

How did you finance your business?

I seed funded the business personally and just closed a £1.5m investment round supported by advertising legend Sir John Hegarty, and funded by a powerful consortium of angel investors from Hambro Perks, Angel Academe and Coral Reef.

What is the most important thing to keep track of in business and why?

Vision. The only thing worse than a start-up pointing in the wrong direction is a start-up pointing in different directions. If you’re all pointing in the wrong direction you can quickly identify it’s wrong and change tack.

But if you’re pointing in different directions it’s hard to work out which way is right and which way is wrong.

However, as you scale you can’t be across everything so you need a team aligned with a vision and direction – that way they can make brilliant decisions independently that move the business in the right direction.

What is the biggest day-to-day challenge you face?

Having a work-life balance.

I basically don’t have one but work is my life (and I love it) so maybe I actually have a life-life balance.

What marketing techniques do you use to attract new customers?

Organic search listings are our most effective engine of sustained viral international growth. For example if you search ‘Creative Jobs’ we’re always in the top search results.Performance in organic search listings is driven by the following:

Performance in organic search listings is driven by the following:

  • Off-platform: Links from other sites.
  • Platform Technical Performance: Having a platform that is fast, user-friendly, mobile-friendly and that is easy for Google to ‘crawl’ (i.e. search) & index.
  • On-platform: On-platform content, internal linking within the site, and keywords.

The Dots is a Google organic dream – we have tens of thousands of users regularly updating the platform with relevant content.

These users also link back to their profiles on The Dots from their personal websites, therefore driving rankings.

However, there are a number of things we can do to further drive search rankings including constantly evolving our technology for Google and building inbound links via PR, talks, entering awards, strategic partnerships, article, syndication & branded content syndication.

Do you think it’s important for small businesses to export, any tips?

It really depends on what type of business you run and what your definition of success is.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with running a great, profitable business that only operates in the UK if that’s what makes you happy!

For me personally, however, my vision has always been global and the great thing about running a tech business is the cost of international expansion are lower.

That’s why we raised investment, so we could get the product to the point where we can expand to the US, Europe and beyond.

When I brought my business across from Australia, UK Trade and Investment were incredibly helpful with making introductions, so my top tip would be to reach out to them.

What’s the business app you couldn’t do without?

I love Audible and podcasts.

You wear many hats starting a business; strategist, HR manager, marketer, product developer, salesperson – it’s a never-ending learning curve.

However, finding time to sit down and read is challenging so instead I walk to work every morning listening to business books.

Describe your company’s culture in three words:

Passionate, driven and positive.

Positive being the most important. Start ups are an insane roller coaster ride of highs and lows.

So you need people around you that are naturally positive, ‘can-do’ types.

What would you like the government to do for small business?

Having previously run a small business in Australia I’m actually super impressed with what the British Government does for small businesses; things like EIS, start up loans, maternity leave tax rebates and equity crowdfunding are amazing initiatives that weren’t possible in Australia.

Saying that, anything that reduces the bureaucratic burden on small businesses would be amazing – we just set up an employee share option plan and it was way more bureaucratic than it needed to be.

Who’s your biggest small and medium enterprise hero?

This is a slightly soppy response but it’s my father Peter Jamieson.

Dad used to run record labels when I was young and from as early as I could remember he’d take me to his office, let me hang out with his team and do the photocopying.

It sparked in me a passion for business, for managing a team and working on something you love – he is now and always will be my ultimate business hero.

Where do you want the business to be in three years?

Our vision is to become the leading professional networking platform for the creative industries globally, equivalent to LinkedIn for the corporate sector.

We’re also on a mission to generate one million commercial opportunities for creative professionals by 2018; helping build a stronger, more profitable and diverse creative sector.

What’s your top tip for keeping it lean and making profit?

Seed fund your businesses personally. For a while there is nothing scarier than watching your life savings disappear It keeps you focused on the bottom line at all times!


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