The story of our recruitment investment company.

Looking back, the Isotope of “then” couldn’t be more different to the Isotope we “now” all know & love. But everything starts somewhere & for us, it all started with a bit of good luck really – success within recruitment generally offers a decent income but sometimes good fortune smiles upon budding ‘6-figure’ recruiters and you learn something a little extra.

Isotopes ability to offer recruitment investment was born out of such good luck – I had a chance opportunity to forgo hard-earned commission in exchange for a tiny equity holding in a start-up recruitment company. It all seemed like a little bit of a gamble at the time (& my family were polite enough to point that out) but it paid off handsomely and the principle was established. Jam tomorrow. Deferred gratification. Speculate to accumulate etc. Look out Warren Buffet, step aside Gordon Gecko!... I was hooked.

Six months after the first ‘equity swap’ came another gamble and another collective chorus of ‘are you mad?!’ from colleagues & family. 3 months after that, a third & a fourth and then at last, just when the naysayers might have been right – the sun really did start to shine on Isotope. The first recruitment start-up came up trumps & the Majority Shareholders wanted that tiny equity holding back. This was the first ‘capital exit’ for Isotope & with it, the first time I thought… is there more we could do to support these recruiters?

Anyway, let’s put that first ‘capital exit’ all in perspective - the first ‘tiny equity’ was 7.5%

And the first ‘capital exit’ was just £15,000. But it seemed like a fortune & the almost overwhelming temptation to place a ‘tiny’ deposit with Aston Martin was finally overcome and the money remained with Isotope & ‘available’ to look at better ways to work with these entrepreneurial recruiters. For me, that Aston Martin would just have to wait.

Looking back fondly at Isotopes progression so far, the real upside of this steady accumulation & very steep learning curve was that, as a business, we grew.  Four years on from our first investment & it all seemed perfectly normal – the idea of Isotope backing a hunch & rolling the dice but even now, believe me any dice rolling is carefully considered! But there was something I really couldn’t shake. I kept considering what else we could offer an entrepreneurial recruiter. As a recruitment investment company, could we offer more than just the ‘capital’ needed to start a business? If the last few years had shown us anything, it was that the best way to really help someone, is to provide more than ‘just’ money. It is to provide the tools, the expertise, the support, the guidance, the infrastructure; the human element that makes business successful. That is what an effective recruitment investment company really does.

To do that, I knew we needed to grow.

My hunch was telling me that the only way to successfully build Isotope into the business I imagined it could be, would be to recruit the right people in the right positions within Isotope. So, I spoke with a few people I already knew & a few I didn’t, on the hunt for a team of experts that could assist Isotope is providing the support, tools & expertise to recruiters who were fixated on the idea of starting their own agencies.

After countless conversations, a myriad number of meetings & our fair share of croissants & biscuits, our team was ready. Which mean that, from an idea that started at my kitchen table many many years ago, Isotope now enjoys the freedom to offer a “launch & support” model to enthusiastic, experienced & entrepreneurial recruiters looking to start their own recruitment business.  After all, with all our teams’ capability, experience & humility, we know that our success is based on trying to do more than just to provide a couple of mouldy tools to a few talented recruiters – we are here to help, to guide & to support our recruiters in any practical & holistic way that we can. It is a philosophy that has worked & if you think that that is the type of support you might appreciate then why not get in touch? You never know, we might just be that bit of good luck that you need?

There I was, sitting at my kitchen table feeling pretty happy having just secured a hefty chunk of commission as a result of some hard work. In those days I was even more impatient, keen to make my mark & focussed on the next opportunity & I didn’t hide it well! After sitting down with my (then) boss, the opportunity to forgo that commission & receive a tiny equity position within a recruitment start-up was offered to me – all I needed now was a recruitment investment company. But what to call it?...

At this stage it was a very simple model. Isotope continue to identify business opportunities &, as a result, Isotope had the opportunity to hold a tiny equity position in these budding businesses. Despite the “simplicity”, we began to face challenges that you didn’t expect & we had to draw on professionals around me to help. But isn’t that part of business? Know your own strengths & look to others for support in those areas you might not feel as confident in. It was just, for me, those areas were rather vast!...

2 years in & we had our first ‘capital exit’. This was proof that the model worked & the confidence we needed, to know that investing into recruitment start-ups was not only something we could do, but it also something we enjoyed. The only thing now was, can we do more?

With the momentum well & truly with us – nothing could go wrong! Or could it? The answer was a resounding yes. At the start of 2018 we experienced our first “real” business struggle; complicated investments, a tricky recruitment duo & the humbling realisation that not all investments work out. The best thing we could do is learn, grow & work with the philosophy we had; effective support is as much about the right tools as it is the right people.

Nagging frustrations that my philosophy didn’t sit nicely with my current employer (a feeling I am sure you guys know very well), the gradual realisation that “numbers” had become more important than nurturing & the loss of the humility that Isotope Capital holds very dear; something had to give. Isotope had been personally ready to offer more to the recruitment world for a long time, but now we felt professionally ready. Two feet, one jump – we were off!

Covid-19. A year that nobody will ever forget. But could a global pandemic stop 'our guys'?

Amazingly, our clients rode out this wave. With zero fixed costs, no real overheads and a personal drive to just keep making placements, our team grew (with the arrival of some important people into the business) & our clients turnover continued to grow. Yes, we were all cautious, we all worked a little harder and we all took nothing for granted. But, as we recorded our highest number of new agencies launched, it was clear – there is more security in running your own business than there ever will be working for someone else.

Continued growth, progress, professionalism, nurturing, development, anticipation, enthusiasm, potential & resilience.

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