Best friends, Edward and Richard, launched cheesegeek back in 2017. Cut to 2022 and they have grown a team of 16 and received investment from one of the UK’s leading Dragons.
After seeing a gap in the cheese market, Edward created cheesegeek with Richard quickly joining a year later as COO.
“We are a nation that makes a lot of great cheese. We make about 750 varieties in comparison to France who make around 400. 81% of Brits eat cheese once a week … yet there is a massive disconnect.”
Building their team to serve high demand
cheesegeek had already been growing steadily for the first couple of years but when Covid hit, the e-commerce side of the business saw an accelerated growth.
Between 2020 and 2022, the company grew from three employees to fifteen and from around 700 to 7500 sq. ft. The structure of the business was now stable which meant that the founders had reached a point where they could focus more of their attention on the marketing side of the business.
“We knew that we had reached a point where operationally and technically, we were in a great position. We knew we had an excellent product and operationally we could handle increasing demand – so the opportunity now lay within the marketing.
We needed a senior hire to set the direction and to become way more strategic in its approach.”
Outsourcing the recruitment process
Up until this point in their growth, Edward and Richard had kept their recruitment inhouse.
“Before YF, our recruitment journey was mainly focused on hiring more junior roles that had the foundations for success and could grow within the business.
This approach has been hugely successful; we have built an amazing team. However, for a more senior role we required someone with wider experience and a proven track record in e-commerce that could help us realise our vision and achieve our goals quickly.”
cheesegeek were looking to hire a Marketing Director. This was the team’s first senior hire and the role would be sitting on the leadership team alongside the two founders.
The position would have two clear objectives. They needed someone to hit the month to month revenue targets while also helping build a very clear long term strategy in terms of achieving sustained growth.
It was clear that this role was going to have a big influence over the company.
cheesegeek were keen to find someone with previous F&B experience who could help the brand drive towards long term growth over the next five years.
So YF started working with Edward and Richard on a retainer model. In order to showcase the brand and get the right people interested, a candidate pack was created. This helped to clearly outline the culture of the company and exactly what the role demanded.
The candidate pack was key in helping to attract and educate potential candidates about the brand, the business and the culture. This meant that any individuals placed in front of Edward and Richard were already well-informed, and prepared, streamlining the process.
“The beauty of working with YF was that they really understood what we needed from the role. We weren’t just looking for someone to fulfil the job spec, it was much more than that. We needed someone that connected with the culture of the team and that goes far deeper than reading a CV.”
“When working with agencies in previous roles, we always felt pressure to make decisions quickly”
YF set up various introduction calls with potential candidates and, due to always being in close communication with Edward and Richard, it became abundantly clear the qualities they were looking for. Fostering this close relationship meant that YF was able to find the ideal person for the job and the company at large.
Richard explains that although the process took time and there were challenges, particularly with a few potential candidates having to pull out at the last minute, YF kept up momentum and there was a clear sense of commitment all the way through to ensure they found the perfect candidate.
“Thanks to YF, everyone we met had a real understanding of the company and the culture they might potentially join, that made everything so much easier.”
As is often the case in startup culture, up until this point cheesegeek had been much more ‘reactive’ in their approach to recruitment. By working with YF, they changed their outlook and became more focused on long term goals.
The successful, new Marketing Director, who has a wealth of experience in a direct to consumer business models within high growth challenger brands, has been in the business for three months and is already having a positive impact in their ambitious growth plans.
3 things cheesegeek learnt when hiring for their first senior role
1. ‘Make sure you have a clear idea of the traits that fit well within your team’.
It is really helpful to crystallise the type of person you are looking for (ambitious, hungry, team player etc.) before starting the recruitment process.
2. ‘Aim high in your recruitment process’.
Consider investing more than you might have initially planned for when recruiting. Bringing someone on board that has experience in F&B and that can hit the ground running, will save you more in the long run that appointing someone on ‘potential’.
3. ‘Work with someone who is going to help you look beyond the CV.’
The job history is only one part of it. YF helped us read between the lines of the CV, they helped ensure that each potential candidate understood the philosophy and culture of the company.
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