March 21, 2012
On the jury this year will be Swedish entrepreneur and business leader Joakim Barneus. In 2001, Mr. Barneus co-founded the European branch of Monster, and served as European COO until 2002. He is also the founder of the student staffing company, Komet, which employs over 5,000 students, and helped develop the business-oriented personality test Validero.
You’ve developed the Validero personality test. What exactly does it test for, and how?
I had been working in recruitment for many years before working on Validero, which I helped develop alongside a trained psychologist. One thing I had noticed then was that most personality tests being used in recruitment were very academic, and very hard to understand. Most of all, though, they were only applied at the end of the process, after having screened through hundreds or thousands of applicants, so it seemed somewhat pointless. So I then thought about developing a new kind of personality test more suited to modern-day work life, with a focus on specific personality traits; making the process easier for both recruiters and applicants. We also try to apply the test during the initial stages of the recruitment process – before having screened through all applicants – in order to put personality more at the forefront when selecting future employees.
As the founder of a student staffing agency, what are some things you notice in common between those looking to enter the workforce, and those looking to start their own businesses?
Aside from lack of experience, there isn't much in common, as they are facing completely different challenges. With students, one thing I notice is that, though lacking in experience, they are often eager and quick to learn entire sets of skills in fields with which they are not familiar – financial management, customer service, IT, and so on. Students, I find, are some of the best talent for my customers, as they are very flexible in that way. When it comes to entrepreneurs, however, I think the problem is that many of them don’t have a clear vision for their revenue model. Second of all, they become enamoured with a certain idea or with a certain mindset. While many of them are well-organised in most areas, many often do not focus enough on their revenue model, and therefore do not have a good idea of how their company will make money.
What is one thing you expect to see at this year’s betapitch?
I think mobile startups will have a large presence this year, as that’s probably the fastest-growing industry these days – mobile applications, advertising, and so on – and therefore probably the easiest way to make money at the moment. As someone who has worked in HR for many years, I’d also like to see more startups in this field.
Finally, without giving too much away, what’s one piece of advice you would give to any aspiring startups competing in these year’s betapitch?
As I mentioned earlier, one thing I notice among many new startup companies is that they often have a good idea and vision for their product, or whatever they wish to sell, but do not focus enough on their revenue model, and therefore are not able to make as much money as they wish with their startup. So I would advise any aspiring startups to keep a clear idea of that as they develop.