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Interview with the founder of Fiks

Niels Geominy
Founder, Fiks

What is Fiks?

Fiks is an internship job board that was founded in October 2019. The company is located in the Netherlands and is managed by a team of three individuals who hold master's degrees. Their goal is to establish a significant presence in the Dutch internship industry.

In this interview, we have asked one of the founders, Niels Geominy, to share his story about Fiks.

How did you come up with the idea for the business?

We started this job board when we were at the end of our programs at uni and we had some trouble finding a fitting internship. Dutch university programs related to Business and Economics usually have a very high focus on theory and not so much on practice. However, students are required to have experience so you kind of have to figure out yourself how to get this practical experience in companies. There is usually not a lot of help from uni. Most universities have this job board that looks like you’re browsing the web before 2000, full of badly written job posts and usually full of outdated jobs as no one really maintains it.

Asking our peer students confirmed our bad experience with this internship search and we felt a job board was needed where these problems were solved. Since an internship during university time is usually the first time you start applying at companies we felt some personal help that the university was not giving was also needed. So we started Fiks. With Fiks we offer an updated job board with a main focus on internships for students in the Netherlands, both Dutch and international students. In addition, we offer a service via WhatsApp where students get personal help during their journey and get a message whenever a matching internship is posted on the job board. This combination of building a personal connection with all the candidates and sending them regular updates about new opportunities significantly improved their willingness to apply.

How did you build the product?

Product started out as a WordPress job board theme, which it still is, but we added a lot of code (PHP & JS). Basically used the theme as starting point as all of us never had built a website before. Now after 3 years roughly we’re much more experienced with code and have thus improved the theme we bought for a couples of euros in the past. We mainly developed everything ourselves where we occasionally did some Upwork job posts. We usually would end up rebuilding those features as the quality was very low. Me and one of the technical co-founders are in charge of the product and its development, where my technical co-founder is specialized in Python where he built the infrastructure for sending out the matching internships via WhatsApp to the candidates that signed up.

How big was your team when you started?

We founded the company with 4 people of which 3 still remain in the business. One person does business development sales and operations, one does mainly tech and I tie it all together being in charge of the business, the product, the strategy and day-to-day focus on web development and marketing. Right now we also employ two working students who help us part-time next to their studies.

How did you launch the business?

We launched with a free model and cold emailed thousands of companies if they wanted to participate in the trial. We got quite some companies to sign-up for this trial. This ended up being a big mistake. Offering our services 100 % for free attracted the wrong kind of customers who actually never planned on being actual customers. They wanted it for free. Even if we successfully helped them hire students they would still not renew their plans after that. So after one year we thought we were doing ok, but then churn basically set us back to 0. Although after one year we gained a bit of traction on the candidate side as students were really enjoying using our platform, the job posts on the website diminished significantly. Then we started another cold email campaign, mentioning it’s a paid service, attracting different businesses and since then it started to pick up again. One of our biggest learnings I think. Giving your product away completely for free attracts people, but not future customers.

How have you grown the business since its launch?

As we run a job board, which is a two sided marketplace, we always have to balance the growth between these two sides, which is quite tricky. We mainly grew the company side through cold email outreach, so very sales driven there. We grew the candidate side by using LinkedIn and actively trying to connect with students in the Netherlands. Then now the candidate side is mainly SEO, paid referrals from existing candidates, WOM and some growth hacking tactics we used to piggyback of LinkedIn posts from people telling the world they were searching for an internship.

What are the main marketing channels that work out for you?

Long term focus is on SEO, which has been picking up more and more. We compete with a lot of big companies out there, like Indeed, they have insane domain authority so even a shitty page from them will outrank us. So I’m trying my best to create the best page for a given query and also focussing on programmatic SEO and long-tail keywords, which are keywords we right now can easily rank in the top 3 for. We haven’t done any ads so far, but I will start this process soon to test Google Ads and later Instagram or TikTok as that’s where our main target audience hangs out.

Which tools do you use most often to help grow your business?

Lemlist is a big one, we use it for cold email outreach. Then Gmass is awesome too to send some personalized bulk messages to existing clients. We use Brevo for email marketing, Intercom for support and Expandi for LinkedIn Automation. We also fine tuned a model from OpenAI which helps us determine what LinkedIn posts are interesting for us to follow up on and send a connection request to ask if we can help.

What is the business model?

Business model is subscription based. All companies that sign-up on our platform choose a subscription, where the higher the annual fee, the less they would pay per hire.

What do your finances look like?

Finances right now are looking ok. We had some trouble with growth this year and our trying our best to get back to better growth figures, Currently doing 110K ARR. In 2 years I am aiming for 200K.