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How focusing on a unique part of the problem led to 13,361 per cent growth: With You With Me

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With You With Me (WYWM) is a workforce technology platform that helps upskill veterans through training, education and recruitment. In 2019, WYWM won Deloitte’s Tech Fast 50 and Tech Fast 500 programs because of its explosive growth rate of 13,361 per cent. We sat down with co-founder Luke Rix to discuss why they founded WYWM, the key to achieving rapid growth and their top tips for running and scaling a tech business.

Tell us about how With You With Me started.

We started with the sole mission of solving veteran underemployment.

I’m one of the co-founders along with Tom Moore. Tom and I were best friends growing up and went to university together.

When we graduated, I went to the corporate world and Tom joined the military. For him it was a rite of passage. His family has fought in every war since WW1. Tom served for about seven and a half years and did a tour of Afghanistan as an infantry officer.

When he got back, he suffered some pretty bad injuries and was medically discharged out. When you lose that community and that sense of purpose, it’s quite tough.

But the thing that made the transition even more difficult for Tom was that he applied for hundreds of jobs and did dozens of interviews, but no one valued the skills that he built in the military.

He sat down with our other co-founder, Sam Baynes, and explained that we needed to change the way that companies view veterans.

So we wanted to solve the transition problem, focusing on the employment aspect. If you get someone a good, purposeful job, it will go a long way in solving the other issues that come with making a large career transition.

What are the main mistakes people make during recruitment?

It is a two-sided issue.

First, employers are too focused on an individual’s past experiences as opposed to their potential in the future. We advocate for potential based hiring. Even if they haven’t done a particular role in the past, the question is are they able to be upskilled and learn the role based on their aptitude.

Secondly, what does an individual think they’re capable of. In the early days, we saw that many veterans didn’t even know what their transferrable skills were. People thought their skills were confined to what they did in the military, whereas we’ve learnt that individuals with the right aptitude can do jobs they may not have even considered.

This not only goes for veterans but anyone making a career transition – whether it be parents returning to the workforce after parental leave, or students leaving university and entering the workplace for the first time or even people losing their jobs due to automation.

Why is WYWM different from other tech companies?

We’re focused on a unique part of the problem. It’s a significant problem that’s growing in the market: how do individuals find out what they’re good at?

There are a lot of companies out there that do profile testing and a lot of companies that do skills matching and a lot of companies that use tech to help with recruitment and training and upskilling.

What we’ve been able to do is bring that all together.

So you have a lot of organisations using HR tech focused on helping you find people faster or recruit people who already have skills. But there are not many organisations that are actually building talent and that’s what we’re really focused on.

What are the biggest challenges associated with founding a tech company without a tech background?

Tom and I both did business degrees. Tom was in the military and didn’t serve in a tech role but what he did learn was the ability to learn new skills and continue to upskill.

While neither of us have tech backgrounds, Tom has spent a lot of time learning about tech and so have I. My advice to others without tech backgrounds is surround yourself with the best people. But it’s important you upskill as well.

How did WYWM drive and manage a growth rate of 13,361 per cent

It was very difficult. I don’t think anyone grows that quickly without challenges and friction points.

We managed by bringing on good people and adopting our method of hiring.

We’re 72 per cent combat veterans who are new to tech and business.

It’s about finding the right people and then going along with the journey. You have to deliver at the moment and then build on your success to grow further in the future.

What do you look for when hiring?

We base it off the methodologies that we use.

We look at an individual’s potential to be successful. Part of it is looking for people who went through similar experiences. But we’re more focused on who we think will be successful in that role and will continue to be successful in 12-24 months – and that’s difficult.

The role today will be different in 24 months time. For example, if we hired someone three years ago they would be coming into a team of 10 people. Now we’ve got 60 people in the organisation, so they would have a very different role.

So they need to have the ability to grow with the business in order to stay successful.

It’s about finding someone who has the right potential in the role, the right potential to grow in the business and the ability to continue upskilling.

How do you conduct recruitment?

We use our own platform. We’ve got a candidate pool of diverse candidates: veterans, people with autism, people who are shifting careers, and anyone we find externally.

We conduct aptitude, cultural and psychometric tests and then we go through some technical interviews depending on the role.

The final part is the cultural fit, which is incredibly important, to see if people are aligned with our values.

How do you assess cultural fit?

Part of our platform allows us to identify what the team needs. It’s about testing individuals but also the team they’re going into: what is the team like, what is the growth stage of that team and how can the team be complemented.

If that team has a lot of creatives, they might need some execution people and vice versa. It’s not just based on the individual, it’s based on the team and where that team sits in the broader part of the organisation.

What are your top tips for tech businesses hoping to grow quickly?

We have three values here: be transparent, be curious and be fierce.

Being fierce is important for anyone looking to start or run or scale a business because you need to try things. You’re not going to be a disrupter unless you go out there and give it a crack.

I know there’s a lot of advice on how to set up the perfect business model but I just encourage people to try things. You’ll never start a business without getting out there and doing something.

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Ann Wen
Ann is a journalist at Dynamic Business with a background in commercial law and research. She is interested in SME tax law, public policy and Australian innovation.