Inspirational Female Entrepreneur: Kirstie Kelly | Co-Founder of LaunchPad Recruits

What inspired you to join a tech startup?

In my early career I joined a group of university pals who were building a tech consulting practice in the Home Counties. I watched them build a brilliant team, amazing product suite and a dynamic culture (although often a little left-field!) I was truly happy in the role and felt like a part of something exciting. I wanted that feeling again.

What is the greatest challenge and the greatest reward in being your own boss/ the most senior female employee?

Kirstie Kelly - Co-founder of LaunchPadWill Hamilton (the founder) and I set out with a very clear view of the impact we wanted to achieve – helping organisations to hire great people who fit their culture. But second to that aspiration, we wanted to build a successful business that we'd be proud of. We're both hard on ourselves, and take our commitment to our investors very seriously – we're here to deliver them a return, first and foremost. So whilst my greatest reward is seeing the business grow, the biggest challenge is taking time to stop, look back and pat yourself on the back. There's no time!

What motivational tips can you give to our members about goal setting and managing both successes and failures?

Our Senior Team has all worked in corporate business, so know how it is to work in a structured, process and results oriented environment. However, we also knew that we wanted to avoid falling into the trap of developing policies for policies sake and wanted to eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy to be sure we remained truly agile, fast moving and reactive to the market.

We decided to take the principles of Gino Wickman's Traction to help us set structured goals, measure everything, and use facts to help tell the story of what to change. Using data to evidence success and failure helps to reduce some of the emotion associated.

How have you benefited from mentoring or coaching?

I'd love to tap into a network for coaching. Will is a part of the EO, Entrepreneur Organisation for Founders, and I'd love to find the equivalent for co-founders! I’m not necessarily looking for a Women in Leadership programme – more for a diversity of thought and ideas.

Informally, my network from the original tech start-up group have become my mentors. Now senior leaders in PwC, Deloitte and others, they've experienced both sides (corporate and start-up), and have seen me develop along the way too.

What advice can you give about the benefits of networking?

I can't stress enough the power of your network, but it can be a challenging and intimidating thing to master. In fact, it's often dominated by very senior players.

Networking for me is all about open-minded connection and ‘give and get’ should be your commitment to every conversation. Give your attention, get some knowledge and offer a connection. Tell your story (even if it's the 50th time you've done that!) and don't try and sell. Smart people will already be considering how they might help you – just be your interesting self! And don't be afraid to keep in touch.

What are your tips for scaling a business and how do you plan for and manage growth?

Agility is the name of the game, in my opinion. Quickly find your niche or differentiation and get out there and sell. Often we see businesses with amazing concepts and products that don't understand how to build a sales function.

It’s worth remembering that your approach needs to be repeatable, so it’s helpful to use technology to manage your sales operation from the outset. A CRM system is essential.

You should also measure everything. The moment you can identify a pattern of customer behaviour then you can start to properly forecast growth and determine the level of investment you need to make to accelerate.

What does the future hold for you?

For LaunchPad Recruits, we're clear about the potential of the business, the IP we're developing and the customer appetite for a globally-minded partner. We're respectful about global growth and have seen some businesses get it wrong by not understanding the new geographies and sectors they are stepping into. Trying to conquer the whole of the United States at once should be left to Beyoncé!

For me personally, I have a huge sense of pride for the organisation we've built, although I wonder if we'll ever feel satisfied that the job is well done – probably when I deliver the return we've promised! At that point, I wonder whether Will and I will have a view of the next problem we want to solve.

We feel strongly about our quest to bring fair people decision making into businesses, so will no doubt try to think of other ways we could make a positive impact on the world. The options are exciting and endless!

Read other Inspirational Female Entrepreneur profiles by clicking here.