Interview with Doug Monro (Adzuna)
Adzuna is a UK based search-engine for job ads, property ads and car ads.
I interviewed Doug Monro, Adzuna co-founder to find out more. This is the hundred and seventy sixth in a series of DW startup interviews. Big thank you to Doug!
How would you describe Adzuna in under 50 words?
Adzuna.co.uk is a search engine for classified ads which makes it easier to find the right job, property or car. We search thousands of websites so you don’t have to and bring together millions of ads so you can find them all in one place.
You met co-founder Andrew when you were both working together at Gumtree. What inspired you to put together Adzuna back in 2010?
We knew classifieds search could be made better and the existing, emerging sites that were bringing ads together just weren’t innovating enough on the product side. Through our experience at Gumtree, Qype and Zoopla, we were deeply involved in the online classified ad market, and with the maturing world of social networks and big data we spotted an opportunity to create a next-generation vertical search engine.
When you originally set up Adzuna, what was the main aim? Has it changed at all?
It hasn’t changed at all, if anything we’ve seen even greater potential and even more we can do with data and search to make things better for users.
Job, property and car ads are fragmented and too complicated to navigate. Users want to search all the ads in one place, which is what we provide at Adzuna – a one-stop shop. We then make the search experience better and empower our users to find the right ads for them, by layering on innovations in social and data.
Who is Adzuna mainly aimed at?
All active jobseekers, house hunters, car buyers or those with an interest in comprehensive data.
Would you say the main users of Adzuna are? Consumers or B2B?
Our number one aim is to be the best search engine in the world, helping our users find their perfect job, home or car better than anyone else in the market. We add powerful search, insightful market data and social connections, so users can find their perfect ad with a little help from their friends.
Our unique data is also used by the Prime Minister, government officials, journalist, economic commentators and analysts and other businesses on a regular basis to gain real-time, comprehensive insight on the employment, property and used car markets, but our users will always come first.
Adzuna seems really user friendly, has the site changed much since the initial launch?
We started with a bare bones search engine for jobs, and our social tool Adzuna Connect. Over time, we’ve added many more sources, lots more sophistication to our search and statistics to help our users make sense of the market, and expanded to property and cars, but the basic design and simplicity have remained the same.
Your employees are from a range of countries including Sri Lanka and Greece. Will this help in terms of your plans for international expansion?
We’re currently around 15 people, comprising founders, technical development & marketing. Management and marketing are in South West London and our core development team in Athens. We will be building the Adzuna international team in London, so our German team will be based in sunny Clapham. Having such a talented and diverse team makes for a really fun and enriching working environment, especially as they are all incredibly passionate & rock stars at what they do.
You have gone from 2 to 18 employees in 18 months. Did you expect this expansion when Adzuna originally went live in April 2011?
Your revenue is growing 50% a quarter. Did you expect such rapid growth in revenue?
Compared with our original plan, we took a bit longer to get to first revenues than we expected, but the growth since then has exceeded our expectations.
You received two different lots of funding amounting to £800K. What did you use this funding for?
We spent most of the funding on building the best classifieds search engine we can, and a tiny bit on telling people about it. We’re very frugal and have spent very little so far on Ferraris and Cristal.
Adzuna acquired Oodle.co.uk at the start of this year. What was the thinking behind this move?
Adzuna is taking the classifieds market to the next level by creating unique social tools and opening up data, and is the natural home for users of Oodle in the UK. This acquisition has accelerated our growth towards becoming the UK’s biggest classifieds search engine.
Do you experience much threat from competition?
There are a number of other vertical search engines that aggregate content in a similar way, but we are taking the market to the next level by bringing innovations in social and big data to bear. Some sites are very US focused or solely job driven or are simply out-dated or over-monetised. We’re focussing our efforts on our users, not worrying about the competition.
You’ve had a lot of press coverage including BBC and the Financial Times. What advice would you give to other startups in terms of marketing and press?
Startups like Adzuna generally can’t afford above the line advertising, but that doesn’t mean we can’t build a brand, and PR is a cost-effective way of achieving awareness. In my previous roles at Gumtree and Zoopla, I’ve seen how this sort of PR can be a key early part of the virtuous cycle of getting a consumer startup into the public consciousness.
Focus on stories that are right for your brand. For example as a job search engine, we aggregate nearly every job ad in the UK in one place, which means we’re uniquely placed to provide comprehensive, timely info on job vacancies. The stories we release about national trends in vacancies – stories that only we have the data to provide – help to position us as an authority on the UK job market.
You launched in Germany just two weeks ago. Have you received much feedback there yet?
German jobseekers have been crying out for better job search experience and so far the feedback has been fantastic. With our awesome social tool and powerful, free market insights, we aim to empower the 2.5 million jobseekers in Germany to make better career decisions like no tool has done before. On the data side of things, we also intend to reach out the German government and build a similar employment market data dashboard for Angela Merkel post launch! Based on what we have seen so far, we expect Germany to grow faster than the UK did.
You have further plans for international expansion following your launch in Germany. Can you tell us about your strategy for this?
We will be launching Adzuna into 4 more international markets in the next few months, and more before the end of the year. Our technology is incredibly scalable, and London, with its polyglot community, is a great place to base a global business.
Can you tell us about any developments to the framework of Adzuna’s site?
We’re continuing to invest in improving our user experience, adding new and innovative features and exposing data that has never previously been available to users to help them make better decisions. Watch this space.
What is the biggest hurdle you have faced or are still facing?
For the past few months our dev team have been working incredibly hard to build our international sites. Technically it has been very challenging but it has also been difficult to translate the site. From job titles and descriptions to employer names, currencies and locations it is vital to get the language bang on. That is why it is so important to have employees who have lived and worked and can speak the local language in each of our new markets.
Adzuna aims to become the leading search engine for classified ads, globally. How far away are you from achieving this?
We hope to grow our website traffic to at least 100 times our current size to truly realise our potential and help as many people as possible to find their perfect job, home or car.
What advice would you offer to any soon to be startup founders out there?
If you want to build something massive and amazing, get something small and cool out there that people can use and play around with as soon as possible. Don’t be precious about version 1, it’s not going to be perfect. Getting early feedback (from real people, not your mum) is absolutely critical.
Can you convince the reader to start using Adzuna in under 50 words?
Adzuna brings you every job, property and car ad in the UK in one place – backed up with a simple, powerful search, free market statistics to empower you, and social tools that help you find what you need with a little help from your friends. Try it today.
Finished reading? Check out Adzuna!