14 Minutes of SaaS

14 Minutes of SaaS

E63: Polina Montano, Job Today Co-Founder – 2 of 3 – Luxembourg – Doyenne of Retail leaves her Shell

Polina Montano, Job Today Co-founder, in Conversation with Stephen Cummins on the 14 Minutes of SaaS podcast - 2 of 3 - episode 63

E63: Polina Montano, Job Today Co-Founder – 2 of 3 – Luxembourg – Doyenne of Retail leaves her Shell

Episode 2 of 3 in the mini – series (episode 63 of 14 Minutes of SaaS)

In Luxembourg by now – A multiple prize winning doyenne of Retail leaves her prized fashion store and works in an all conuming hard core retail position for Shell managing 6 petrol stations with accompanying mini-supermarket stores. Then leaves to do a masters in entrepreneurship and tech – and uses that as a springboard to apply her new knowledge and great idea to make the traditional world of hiring much more immediate, more local and much faster for companies and people looking for service and casual positions.

Transcript

Polina Montano

I won Golden retailer – like being the best in the country twice. And after that I decided … ‘okay, what else I can do?’ So while I was still running my petrol station business, I just said well … let’s just go and find something about learning about technology, because I was very much in the traditional sector of operations … of retail .. and going back to university was so good for me. It really like made a difference in making the world of technology accessible and exciting … really like opening my eyes on opportunities, on how much technology actually allows you to do nowadays. And already practically instantly I was excited about the possibility. How we can leverage such beautiful technology and innovation to improve the day to day lives of people and businesses maybe in traditional industries. And then the idea actually came along pretty fast.

Stephen Cummins

 

Welcome to 14 minutes of SaaS, the show where you can listen to the stories and opinions of founders of the world’s most remarkable SaaS ScaleUps.

In this, the second part of a 3-part mini-series recorded with Polina Montano in the WebSummit in Lisbom, she tells us how she left a very successful career in traditional retail industries to become an almost overnight success in the tech world.
The first notable one was V&J or the Stefanel boutique in Luxembourg? 1. What brought you to Luxembourg?  And 2. What was your interest in Luxemburg? Fashion? ..

Polina Montano

Oh, you make it sound so serious. I mean just for record …  Let’s just remember I was like 24. I wasn’t thinking so deeply. I went to Luxembourg for the best reason ever …  I followed my husband who got relocated, for some work .. because he worked in finance .. and I just followed him to the country. I already knew I wanted to do something for myself.

Franchising structures seemed like a great compromise  – you can still get the support of existing brands – the brand also gives you like a few procedures – kind of helps you set the business up – in the same time you experience a great degree of freedom in how exactly you run this location – and fashion obviously – young Russian girl 25 years old. I mean a fashion boutique was like a dream coming through … right? Like all of a sudden you have this beautiful shop – beautiful clothes. I mean what more could you possibly want? But guess what… it didn’t last too long?

Small Talk ends

Stephen Cummins

Yeah. It lasted less than four years?

Polina Montano

It lasted about two years – after two years of me running this shop, I got an offer from Shell – you know, the core company for gas stations etc back then – show or revisiting their retail management structures. And they decided to offer franchising as a formula and they decided that it would work very well for the group. And they actually at that moment offered me the opportunity – which once again took me way out of my comfort zone. Like I mentioned me being super happy with my little fashion store – like my little baby. It’s like a lifestyle business. Starting all over again. Southern you actually go over the contract or finding a chain of selling points which essentially is much more than just selling gas. It’s like having this little 24 hours supermarkets next to it. So it was quite an impressive structure – over more than 50 people staff – six locations, huge turnover like in terms of revenues for the year. But the opportunity was exciting and I just couldn’t say no. And I don’t regret it.

Stephen Cummins

And then you after all those years of experience and what I remember you calling a hardcore retail environment – with a lot of turnover, you know, lots of operational challenges. You went back into education and did a Masters in Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Luxemburg. How useful was that in turning your head towards seeking something completely yours – something you can seed from the beginning.

Polina Montano

I already knew that I was seeking to do something of my own. Running Shell and a chain of gas stations is really hard core retail business – it was running almost 24-7. And you have a huge amount of customers every day multiplied by the number of service points.

The show must go on no matter what. Excellence in that business is your operational excellence …. and operational excellence, if you boil it down, is having the right people in the right moment in the right time and once again multiply that by the number of places you need to manage.

Its not a very easy job. So I’ve been doing that for a number of years. I won Golden Retailer twice. And thought … Now What else I can do? …  so while I was still running my petrol station business I just said well, “let’s just go and find something about learning about technology because I was very much in the traditional sector of operations. Hopefully though going back to your new assets he was. It really like made a difference in making the world of technology accessible and exciting … really like opening my eyes on opportunities, on how much technology actually allows you to do nowadays. And already practically instantly I was excited about the possibility. How we can leverage such beautiful technology and innovation to improve the day to day lives of people and businesses maybe in traditional industries. And then the idea actually came along pretty fast.

Stephen Cummins

So, I mean we went into more depth before on this Polina . but tell me first very briefly what Job Today is. And then talk about the last year since I last saw you how things have changed.

Polina Montano

Sure …  Job Today is the fastest growing hiring mobile platform for scheduling jobs. And what we do is connect employers with available candidates around them in a matter of seconds. Job Today is a unique hiring solution which connects millions of young candidates to open vacancies with local businesses around them and by doing that we’re bringing hiring online for the first time ever for casual jobs. What many people don’t know or don’t realize is that a huge chunk of the hiring industry is still off-line today and it happens to be in particular in the world of scheduled jobs – then small business owners in traditional industries when we are not using online solutions and when not posting jobs online – the jobs essentially remain invisible or hidden to this young generation. It’s a win win win. Before you couldn’t get this immediacy which business owner needs when they’re not using online solutions those, jobs essentially remain invisible or hidden to this younger generation of job seekers so. It’s That’s how you create an impact in the labour markets. It’s a win for the young generation of people because they get access to those unique opportunities. It’s a win for businesses because they get access to young candidates and of course it’s a win for Job Today by making connection and being the connector.

Stephen Cummins

So, tell me about the last 12 months for you – and for the company in general .. how has that gone for you?

Polina Montano

Last 12 months. Well it has been exciting times. We definitely confirmed ourselves as a tech company. Anedwe see ourselves as a tech company. So we’re looking to make things available in a very short notice. So we’re really strengthening our product and technology teams, making sure our solution and our go to market strategy is really all about self-service – like we did not have sales departments and Job Today is literally just building a great customer experience and making the proposition like intuitive, really easy to understand that’s how you scale it. Maybe just to bring a few numbers into the game there … we are now about three years old as a company – we brought on board over half a million companies onboard and over 5,000,000 candidates on to our our platform in the 1st 3 years ……

So that’s the general direction of our company is heading at this point. We decided to build a brand and clearly communicating about what it is we do differentiate our proposition to the market. We believe it’s a very… very… very important part of our on the market strategy. And that’s basically, what I’ve been doing for the last six months. Like I have this great new challenge and great new responsibility to boost our brand communication and brand marketing for Job Today because ….
once again we are building a consumer product for hiring and its a consumer brand. It just we stand for instant and easy recruitment for casual jobs and that’s the message we want to get out there. You should be able to find great opportunity within 24 hours.

Stephen Cummins

Yeah, I’m interested in the fact that you don’t have a sales function. It’s because of course, you want something that’s low touch and that you got a lot of investments – partially I think in media exposure the investment might not be directly monetary.
I’m not quite sure what it was valued at. But you have a lot of media investors there that helps you get the message out in Spain and in the UK. Is part of the reason why you’re driven to make the platform kind of viral and kinds of self-sustaining because promoting the message – you can’t advertise forever to the extent that you might have done in the beginning.  And you want to build virality word of mouth and ease of use and ease of sharing it with other people is that partly why you’re still driven to build the product in that way?

Polina Montano

Exactly. I mean, yeah, building the brand is one of the biggest considerations – its how do you manage to stay top of mind? How do you also make sure that your preposition is easy to grasp and is well understood by your key audience. Its a huge market – 260,000,000 globally in the hiring industry via casual work like the service industry. It’s a huge market. If you look at society, it’s very difficult to find someone who would never work in casual jobs in their lives – investment bankers to software engineers at some stage in life had a casual job. And maybe at university in school. They all have been there. It’s really the bulk of employment elsewhere and I think the challenge is to deliver the message of the service to your audience and the masses that this is very important – because we can make hiring easier!

Stephen Cummins

The next episode is the last in the series. This time she will go a little bit deeper into what Job Today is … and also will talk about the future of work.

Stephen Cummins

You’ve been listening to 14 minutes of SaaS. Thanks to Mike Quill for his creativity and problem solving skills and to Ketsu for the music. This episode was brought to you by me, Stephen Cummins. If you enjoy the podcast, please don’t forget to share it with your network, subscribe to the series and give the show a rating.

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