When Ian Delisle and his partner, David Tanguray, were employed by a start-up that was rapidly going bankrupt, they spent hours job-hunting on the Internet. They found the task to be frustrating because the job sites were scattered everywhere.
Rather than wait for the inevitable sinking of their employer, the men, now both 27, started a client application that would allow job seekers to do a metasearch of the online help-wanted ads. "We were just aiming to do this as a sideline, a weekend job that we could do while working at regular day jobs," Tanguay says.
In 1997, they launched Wanted Technologies from the kitchen of Tanguay's two-bedroom apartment in Quebec. A year later, they had developed the first job metasearch tool, Wanted Jobs 98, which allowed users to query more than 40 job sites, accessing 2.5 million jobs throughout North America.
The start-up made its money from advertisements for human-resources-oriented sites; much of the marketing was done using free services. Now much more than a weekend gig, the company employs 20 people in its Quebec and Los Angeles offices. They received their first infusion of venture capital, $500,000, in early 1999 and, at the end of last year, scored a round of $3 million. Sales are projected at $1 million for this year.
The virtual HR industry is broadly defined; it can mean anything from creating job-search or training companies like Wanted Technologies to acting as a cyber-HR department for companies wanting to outsource those tasks.
Nevertheless, the opportunities for entrepreneurs are great because, at this point, they're ahead of the curve. Says Tanguay, who advises people to find a unique position and to start small but grow quickly by building partnerships: "You can't do it alone."
The basics: a high-powered PC, a Web site, a few phone lines, a fax machine, business cards and letterhead.
Total cost: $5,000
What they spent: Tanguay and Delisle used $5,000-half of it borrowed from a bank-to set up the business at home.
For details: Society for Human Resource Management, (703) 548-3440, www.shrm.org