A few festive words from Jobbatical CEO Karoli Hindriks
Fun fact: Jobbatical has two birthdays. In summer, we celebrate the birth of Jobbatical 2.0, the anniversary of our successful pivot in 2019. But this week marks the original launch of Jobbatical 1.0 in 2014.
Ever since starting Jobbatical, I have made it a point to speak transparently about the many, many joys and sorrows of building a startup. Because building something big that you believe in so relentlessly is exhilarating, but some days it’s—pardon my French—an absolute sh*tstorm.
In all seriousness, you have to take all the bad with the good, and see what lessons you learn. If you’re lucky, those lessons make you better at what you do. So I’ve done what everyone does on their birthday once they reach a certain age: I’ve started reminiscing. And I found some damn good lessons.
2014 Jobbatical was a very different beast. We were already dreaming of an open world, but we were far from product/market fit. We’d built Jobbatical 1.0 on an idea I had, not on what the market was asking for. Looking back, that was the single biggest mistake I hope you can learn from: don’t start building tech before your value proposition works in a spreadsheet.
Eight (!) years later, Jobbatical has seen more highs and lows than I can count*.
*And I can count pretty high.
Through pivots and layoffs, through economic downturns, border lockdowns and failed experiments with business models, we’ve seen it all. It’s in those tough moments that we humans need each other the most. We need to notice our little wins when the big ones seem far away, and we deserve to treat ourselves when the big wins start rolling in. That’s why celebrating (with) each other permeates Jobbatical culture. Like the time I did a happy dance in Times Square when the team more than doubled a sales goal we really needed to meet. Or when we were sipping champagne from coffee mugs on the floor of an unfurnished office after closing a hard-won funding round way back in the early days.
Those moments throughout the years have strengthened bonds and laid the groundwork for more and more successes down the line.
People around me tend to say I’m the kind of person that never gives up, never takes no for an answer. And that’s almost true. I believe that in life you have to go after what you want, and be resilient and bold when you need to be. But there’s an equally important life skill: knowing when to give up.
Letting go of something you’ve invested a lot in is tough. By the summer of 2019 it was clear that there was something in the immigration and relocation “side-business” that had organically developed from client requests. It was also pretty clear that however optimistic I was, there was no hockey stick coming out of our core business, which back then was cross-border recruitment.
Did it sting? Accepting that we worked so hard on something only to admit that it didn’t work? Of course. Putting aside four years of work (€8m euros) and pivoting Jobbatical has been the hardest decision ever I have made as a leader. Yet it was the best decision for the company to focus on solving the biggest problem our clients had in international hiring: getting people into the country. That decision has taken us to the hockey stick growth we’ve seen this past year.
Fine, maybe this isn’t a very good metaphor. But what would you call a situation where you have two days of runway left and the funding round isn’t closed yet?
Or when a global pandemic and lockdowns hit just when you have found your product/market fit and the first signs of a hockey stick growth as a relocation platform?
Looking back at all the seemingly impossible situations we’ve found ourselves in, it’s really no wonder this team has become the absolute powerhouse it is now. Through the challenges, we’ve learned to navigate change and uncertainty, ironed out the kinks in our hiring processes, and nailed down a product and business model that puts us on track to change the immigration and relocation world for good.
Don’t get me wrong—it would be great if everything was smooth sailing from now on. But change and challenges will always come our way.
But we at Jobbatical have been working out our change-muscle. So we’re ready for whatever the world throws at us. Bring it on!
Happy birthday, Jobbatical!
2022 has been a tough year. Russia’s war in Ukraine has taken a massive toll and continues to destroy lives and futures. Please continue to donate what you can to humanitarian organizations and/or the Ukrainian military.