In 2009 I quit my dream job at MTV to co-found The Loop (www.theloop.com.au) with my colleague Matt Fayle. Akin to a beautifully designed, content rich and more creative version of Linkedin, The Loop (www.theloop.com.au) quickly grew into the leading professional networking and recruitment site for creatives in the region, with over 65% of all Australian creative professionals registered to the site, 70% of which return each day.
This highly engaged community enabled us to secure two rounds of investment, a Commercialisation Australia Grant and over 8,000 corporate clients - including Google, Foxtel, MTV, Universal Music, ABC Network, Animal Logic, Apple, Sydney Opera House, all the major Ad agencies including Publicis Mojo, Saatch&Saatchi, Frost*Design, Collider and who use the platform to promote their brand, attract clients and hire talent.
Multi award winning – including bagging Best Enterprise in the 2011 AIMIA Awards - the site has revolutionised how creative practitioners and companies connect, collaborate and hire.
The story of The Loop started when my Co Founder Matt Fayle and I resigned from our dream jobs at MTV in the middle of the GFC to launch site - our friends and colleagues thought we were mad. And, at times, so did we.
Matt and I met at MTV in 2005 when we started work on the same day in the newly formed MTV Digital and Strategy Department. With a shared love of business, digital media, music and Sauv Blancs, we quickly became great friends. As time went by our careers went in different directions. I was posted to Auckland New Zealand to launch MTV NZ, while Matt took the Director of Digital reins at MTV Australia.
I’d always dreamed of escaping a large corporation and becoming my own entrepreneurial boss. It was more a flight of fancy than a dream. To be honest, I didn’t think I’d have the guts to do it.
However, in late 2008 Matt approached me with an idea. Being the “digital guy”, he was constantly being asked by friends & colleagues for advice on the best way to build their own websites to showcase their work online and promote themselves to potential employers and clients. On the flip side, I was finding it increasingly frustrating finding fresh creative talent, being overly dependent on word of mouth. Incredible people were slipping through the net – that is how the idea for The Loop was born.
What followed were numerous evenings brainstorming ideas, business models and really trying to work out if our flight of fancy could become a viable business. The more we researched, the more we realized the concept had legs.
There was an appetite for creative professionals to promote their work online and connect with employers. They were already using platforms like Seek, LinkedIn, Facebook, Behance and Vimeo, but each of these had their various limitations for creative professionals. Advertising on Seek was frustrating for creative employers because they were inundated with irrelevant applications. LinkedIn was genius at connecting, but very corporate, and didn’t include multi-media profiles. The intrinsic need to keep one’s personal and professional life separate meant promoting yourself on Facebook is not the best career move. And while sites like Behance & Vimeo were great for showcasing creative portfolios, they had no industry connectivity.
Our vision was to create a platform that seamlessly connected talented creatives with commercial opportunities. We didn’t want to simply be a portfolio site; we wanted to give our community a real, tangible, professional and commercial benefits from having their portfolios on The Loop either by landing them a perfect collaboration, job, client, development opportunity, creative workspace, or perhaps all of the above.
In February 2009 we took the plunge, resigned from our jobs, started working from home and sunk our entire life savings into making The Loop a reality. Having been used to big-budget projects at MTV, the scariest thing, was having to build, design and develop the website on a shoestring. We wireframed the site functionality on Matt’s bedroom wall and after a few false starts outsourced development to Vision Tech Digital lead by the incredible Asanka Dewage and enlisted Robbie Powell (formally of Moon Communication, now at Moffitt.Moffitt) to create a visual brand identity for The Loop.
Then, on December 1st 2009 we launched the site at 1 in the morning and within a week we had 600 people signed up.
About three weeks after launch, a graphic designer on the site emailed us to say they had just been headhunted by an amazing agency through The Loop. I can’t describe what a buzz it was to know that not only was the site up and running, but it was working.
Every week brought in a new high. Like the day we overtook Seek in the organic search results for “Creative Jobs”. The day we hired our first employee. The day Google signed up to hire talent. The day we raised investment. The day we partnered with incredible brands such as Apple, TEDX, AgIdeas, Vivid Sydney. The day a number of universities made creating profiles on The Loop part of the curriculum. The say we secured a Commercialisation Australia grant. So many magic moments!
In May 2014 I exited The Loop and acquired the international technology rights to the platform – The Dots was born
A special thank you to everyone who has helped us on this incredible journey.