In 2008 Matt and I resigned from our dream jobs at MTV in the middle of the GFC to launch The Loop our friends and colleagues thought we were mad. And, at times, so did we.
It started five or so years ago. Matt and I started work on the same day in the newly formed MTV Digital and Strategy Department. With a shared love of digital media, music, Sauv Blancs and all things creative, we quickly became great friends.
As time went by our careers went in different directions. I was sent to Auckland to help launch MTV NZ, while Matt took the Director of Digital reins.
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 down the pub, 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 work, they had no local industry connectivity.
Our vision for The Loop therefore became an Australian-tailored alternative to existing international networking and employment sites for people in creative industries. At the heart of The Loop was the eventual aim of bagging people that dream collaborator, job or client.
In February 2009 we took the plunge, resigned from our jobs and sunk our entire life savings into making The Loop a reality. What followed was the hardest nine months of our lives. Originally we thought it would take four months to build and launch the site, but everything took much longer and cost a lot more than we expected.
At one point Matt had the entire site wireframes mapped out on his lounge-room wall and we’d sit there for hours making tweaks and changes.
Building a base of partners and clients wasn’t easy. We were out selling the dream for a product that didn’t exist. Cold-calling someone when I worked at MTV was easy. I used to pick up the phone and say “Hi, I’m Pip from MTV”, which provided instant attention and credibility. “Hi, I’m Pip from The Loop” went down like a lead balloon. However, as time went by and more people heard about the concept behind The Loop, brands rallied round us.
The team at Moon Communications (www.theloop.com.au/moon) loved the vision of the site from the start, and donated their time and energy to building the brand, look and feel. We found the most incredible web developers in Visiontech Digital (www.theloop.com.au/VisiontechDigital), who’ve worked tirelessly, and at times all night, to make the site a reality. Even before we had a functioning product more than thirty brands agreed to be profiled and advertise jobs from launch. My husband, friends, family & past co-workers also supported us and helped test the site.
Then, on December 1st 2009 we launched the site at 3 in the morning and The Loop has enjoyed a series of highs ever since. Within a week we had 600 people sign up. Amazingly the site has grown organically, which has been magic to watch.
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 tell you what a buzz it was to know that not only was the site up and running, but it was working.
Every week brings 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 we where asked to be an online partner for the Creative Sydney 10x10 project. The day a number of universites made us part of the curriculum. Not to mention the day we raised seed investment.
It's still really early days, but it's been one hell of a ride. Happy days!