An entrepreneur from East Sussex aims to revolutionise the recruitment industry and is risking everything on it – even if it costs him his own business.
Demos Demetriou has been working with UHNW (ultra high net worth) individuals and running Marlin Private Staff – a boutique international recruitment agency which specialises in recruiting household staff – for almost a decade.
But the 39-year-old and his team have now launched a brand-new innovative App for the private staff sector which will match candidates with their next position quicker than ever before by putting them directly in contact with employers. For the first time, employers can search for candidates worldwide and contact them directly through the Marlin App by instant messenger, phone or email, anytime – and with 0 per cent agency fees.
Demetriou is ‘cutting out the middle man’ as he puts it and although he acknowledges it looks like he is ‘shooting himself in the foot’ as it may harm Marlin Private Staff, he and his team believe it is worth the risk.
The Marlin App is free for candidates and, initially, the only money the 39-year-old will earn is from a low flat-fee subscription. Employers who sign up can search for free and then have the option to pay the £95 per month subscription fee on a 12-month contract which will give them access to all of the candidates that are registered on the App.
Or employers can pay just £295 for 30 days. This could potentially enable an employer to make contact and recruit a full household staff team made up of estate managers, personal butlers, private security guards, chauffeurs, personal assistants, private chefs and housekeepers for less than £300, saving the already mega-rich thousands on agency fees.
If the App is successful, it could do incomprehensible damage not only to Demetrious’ business but traditional recruitment agencies alike too, especially if it rolled out to other industries.
Demetriou is a Greek Cypriot, who was born in South London after his parents moved from the East Mediterranean island in the 1970s. He started his first IT business building and selling personal computers at the age of 16.
“For me, the recruitment industry as a whole – not just for private household staff – needs to change. It has been outdated for some time and needs a shake-up – a way to streamline and cut costs is needed.
“My interest in technology and my experience in the industry pushed me to do something that has never been done before and design a platform for employers to find quality, candidates directly at their fingertips with 0 per cent agency fees!
“It means essentially cutting out the middle man completely and putting the employer directly in touch with the candidate, who will still be screened by us. Personal contact details, previous work history and all of that can be directly filled in by candidates on the Marlin App, which, of course, is free for them to use.
“I know it looks like I’m shooting myself in the foot but I believe by charging employers a small subscription fee, over time, we can increase this and take a massive chunk of the private household staff market.”
The reason for the negative outlook on recruitment agencies is the business model itself has become outdated according to Demetriou and employers no longer wish to pay agency fees.
It might come as a surprise to many but he says even the super-rich, who spend time sailing and relaxing on their yachts or flying in comfort and luxury in their private jets, are showing less and less of a desire to want to pay any agency commission, which is typically around 15 per cent per new employee.
“I questioned the time it was taking us to assess candidates’ suitability and the costs that were being passed on to employers who are also becoming less willing to pay agency fees. We do a lot of work for UHNW’s all over the world, including in places such as the Middle East, Russia and right here in London too.
“These individuals will typically use estate managers or butlers to hire chauffeurs and private chefs for example and do not understand why they need to hire a recruitment agency and pay agency fees to fill these types of roles. Some have even taken to advertising on online job boards where all sorts of people could apply.
“That is why we designed the Marlin App. Revolutionising the private staffing sector is certainly no easy task, but so far our clients have loved what we have done. Uber have done it for transport, AirBnB for accommodation. We are doing the same for the recruitment industry.”
The British-born Greek Cypriot is confident of the Marlin App’s success but says he is also happy to speak to potential investors.
“The market opportunity in this sector continues to grow annually,” said Demos. “But I am always open to teaming up with investors who could be part of this great project, especially if they have a track record in technology projects or have an extensive network that could be utilised to fast-forward growth.”