In this episode, we talk to Joseph Williams, founder, and CEO of Clu, and learn how they are building a platform that closes skills gaps by allowing underrepresented talent to connect to skills-based job opportunities.

Episode Links

Connect with Joseph on LinkedIn

Clu Website

Episode Transcript

Matthew Todd 

Hi. My name is Matthew Todd, and welcome to Inside the ScaleUp. This is the podcast for founders, executives in tech, looking to make an impact and learn from their peers in the tech business, we lift the lid on tech businesses, interview leaders and following their journey from startup to scale up and beyond covering everything from developing product market fit, funding and fundraising models to value proposition structure and growth marketing. 

We learn from their journey so that you can understand how they really work, the failures, the successes, the lessons along the way, so that you can take their learnings and apply them within your own startup or scale up and join the ever-growing list of high growth UK SaaS businesses.

Hey, and welcome back to the podcast really pleased today to be joined by Joseph Williams from Clu and great to have you here. Joseph,

Joseph Williams 

Thank you very much for having me, Matthew.

Matthew Todd 

No worries, looking forward to the conversation today finding a bit more about Clu that you’re co founder of as well as the journey so far. Do you want to kick things off by just giving us a little bit of a flavor for you know a bit about your background, a bit about Clu as well.

Joseph Williams 

Yeah, absolutely. So unlike, I think most technology founders, I did not start my life in a, an elite university, or going through the MBA path into a management consultancy or the like, I actually started my career in a call center. Because I left university. Very quickly and early on in my career realized that I had spent an entirety of my academic kind of career being told that I was not not good. I was not talented, I was not skilled. Subsequently ended up completely limiting my kind of the outcomes of my potential. Ended up in in this call center environment when someone in the management team who was also autistic, recognize that I might actually not be set up for success on a on a call floor and brought me into a little table that she put up outside our office where I started looking at data. That’s a career in in digital transformation, digital innovation was born. 

The translation of my value that I saw in that place is something that I recognize that doesn’t happen for most people. So you know, when you see that, just this morning, the government is releasing this new program to get 9 million people back into work. There is a systemic problem with people seeing value in the talents, skills that they have. So along my professional career, and now it’s my full time career that’s been appointed dedication for me.

So Clu ultimately, is a skills based platform, transforming how companies engage with talent. A key part of that is helping organizations understand where their skill gaps are, and then helping them reevaluate what it takes to do a job well, and who is capable of doing it. We built a bunch of smart little tech tech tools to do that. But fundamentally, the impact is economic participation and social mobility.

Matthew Todd 

Yeah, fantastic. I think it’s a great, a great cause a great platform. I’m sure, dig into more detail about some of the problems with the way the current systems and methods tend to work.  But with that call center experience and transformation, then what was the trigger or thing that gave you confidence to actually try and get Clu off the ground?

Joseph Williams 

Frustration. Above everything, Matthew, I say a Clu  is innovation by necessity. So I have sensory, autism and also a chronic health condition that gives me quite significant mobility challenges. In my career, and in the careers of all of those who are also part of the disabled neurodiverse community, the there have been significant challenges, just applying for work, just getting the information you need in order to know whether you can be self assessed for success in an organization. 

You’re constantly encountering systems and processes that are just limiting. And organizations that refuse to tell you exactly what the most important thing is for you when you are kind of going into an interview process. 

So recognizing that after spending about seven years trying to convert it from the inside. Realizing that the recruitment space was part of the problem and underpinning the problem led me and my business partner, to basically nip it in the bud and say, you know, we’ve got to, if it’s going to exist, we have to build it ourselves. 

I’d been researching the methodology for Clu for about a year before, then when the pandemic hit, I was in another another kind of startup at the time. I was like, why am I going to go into this period of time trying to fix someone else’s problems, I said, the universe has kind of gifted us some downtime. My business partner is also my boyfriend. And so if we’re going to be spending all of this time with each other, over the next, you know, X amount of months at the time that we thought it would be, let’s just put our heads together and fix the problem that we want to solve.

 So it was kind of it was largely led by frustration. And, and a deeply seated knowledge that there was a better way of doing things. We say often that, you know, the disabled community is made up of creative problem solvers. Because that’s existence on a daily basis. You know, you’re constantly mitigating your personal risk and the risk of others around you, you’re constantly finding new ways to do things, because you’re constantly presented with society, and infrastructure that is not designed to support you. So many of these skills over index in our community, and we just don’t necessarily always see them as valuable. So it took a few people to kind of really push it, but yeah, frustration.

Matthew Todd 

Yeah, no, that’s a good, a good reason. And in terms of the problems you saw with existing recruitment agencies, as well as recruitment processes, then, you know, what is it that they’re, they’re getting so wrong?

Joseph Williams 

Yes, so, recruitment as a methodology is basically a trade, it’s a commodity, people are a commodity. And because it’s been designed with that sales based mentality, we’ve fallen into the habit of limiting opportunity for job seekers, to warrant the exclusivity of the talent that we can then sell to employers. So it’s like the diamond trade, right? If you if you limit supply, you can hike prices. 

So the ethics of of staffing and recruitment as a half a trillion dollar industry a year that operates almost a 50%, wastage and gets away with it. And you know, 11 11% investment in recruitment in the UK last year, on top of what it already spends is this. It’s a less, it’s an evil that everyone has just kind of come to accept is done in this way, because that’s just the way it’s done. But we really wanted to anchor on to what does recruitment look like if it was designed by psychologists and not by salespeople. 

So, really, we are dissolving a need for job boards for recruitment agencies because they perpetuate the barriers that are perceived and felt so deeply by so so many who don’t fall into that this is someone that a client will easily understand is right for this position. Or far more insidiously, this person is just diverse so I’m going to put them on this long list because we need to show that we’re getting diverse candidates onto into the organization, but we know they’re not going to be hired because the organization is going to turn away.  There are a lot of ethical challenges. And so it was never, it was never wish it shouldn’t still exist in its in its original incarnation in this day and age, but unfortunately, it does.

Matthew Todd 

Yeah, and I’ve seen a lot of recruitment processes from both sides of the equation as well. I think an element of it as well, surely must be that a lot of people doing the hiring and recruiting, they have zero training, that they’re just copying what they’ve seen people do before and they probably acknowledged that I don’t really know what I’m doing here. I’m interviewing someone, but I’m just giving them this type of test asking these questions because I feel like I have to prove my status as an interview and someone capable of having that responsibility, but they don’t really know what they’re doing either.

Joseph Williams 

Yeah, yes. I mean, this is part of the some of the greatest legacy challenges that organizations face is that because it’s so easy to bring your friends into into organisations and still is speaking with a client the other day, it was a very well known footsie 20. And they said that they’ve just upped their recruitment wastage budget by almost 40%. Because hiring managers are still just hiring the mates and modeling and people they know and not going through Central Services. They know this is a regulated industry. 

So there’s kind of an expectation that that is the modus operandi. And what that does is significantly, state of empowerment, it kind of is disabling. it disables the impact that recruitment can have. So on the one hand, yes, people are not being adequately trained, and developed in the same way that you would be in a sales team. Whilst you are, in effect, doing a very similar thing, trying to convert customers, or potential customers, but on the other hand, you also have a business unit that is effectively trading and the most valuable commodity that an organization has their people their competitive advantage.  But you know, it’s the we always say it’s the bridge that holds the organization together that everyone likes to walk all over. It’s completely there’s no empowerment behind it, or they’re seldom empowerment behind it. So it is the system isn’t working, and no one is really able to break the cycle, which is why we’re bringing includes market.

Matthew Todd 

Yeah, no, I think that’s fantastic. So how does Clu then work differently to that kind of ingrained infrastructure, if you like?

Joseph Williams 

Yeah, great question. So you will notice that recruitment HR technology is very popular at the moment. I think we’re at a CAGR of about 7%. year on year. The challenge I have with a lot of technology, or what is kind of touted to be technological innovation, is that people see a sliver of a problem and they’re like, ah, hiring companies spend an absolute fortune on all of these individual technologies. Let’s build something that automates that process, or, you know, hiring managers spent so long as scheduling interviews with prospective job seekers, let’s, let’s let’s digitize that process. 

What’s happened is we’ve got an entire marketplace that has been basically brought to life to solve challenges that our as our as our, our, as a result, they’re eventually the traditional process, but they’re not looking to fix the actual process itself. So what we have done is face that back as always, and really understood from both sides of the table, what’s not working. 

Fundamentally, organizations weren’t getting the right data. They were spending far too long filtering and trying to sift through irrelevant applications. They didn’t consider their talent pools to be sustainable, they have huge wastage because even the people they’re hiring is basically a game of probability in most cases, and 80% of people still don’t have the right skills for their jobs, which is the kind of the jaw crack. 

A huge study that they’ve just updated recently, and it’s even less people because of this massive hiring kind of purge that has happened over the last kind of 18 months, huge amounts of people being hired with the expectation that we need to almost compromise on quality in order to get enough people in instead of broadening the opportunity pool.

Matthew Todd 

No, no, it makes sense that yeah, people trying to solve the problem in the wrong way.

Joseph Williams 

Well, exactly. So, we have spent the best part of two and a half years designing a way in which you can get that the most important information from job seekers in a non assessment and non psychologically safe environment. You know, people have not been academically gifted the idea of being tested assess is an instant deterrent. And so we see significant drop off from low socio economic, more diverse communities. 

So we needed to make sure that the that we didn’t anchor it on to include methodology onto assessment. So we get better quality data, skills based data, we understand behavioral technical and transferable skills by kind of level and the honing of them.  Then we have a similar process with organizations. So instead of saying, you know, here’s your post job, we’ve built some ML code that will basically help organizations understand what skills they’re actually asking for in a job spec. Transferable technical, behavioral, triangulate that data, a bunch of data across a bunch of different things, because like market data, talent, talent, pool data, kind of historic data from their organizations that present a skills matrix, that they can then hire against. 

Clu then matches people with those skills to those opportunities and says, hey, employer is 46 People who are active and have the skills that you need, do you want to engage them. So job seekers are not spending hours, days, weeks months, applying for 500, 600 jobs a week that they will never actually stand a chance of being hired for. 

Employers get much better quality applications into their funnel, so better had better data and obviously, better output. All the while because we are focused on skills were able to build partnerships with anyone from Birkbeck university through Centerpointe. People like Ingeus, who are doing some phenomenal work on upskilling, rescaling and educating people, but then those people traditionally will then enter a job market that says, Where did you work? How many years? Did you work? What? But not with Clu. 

So we feed a funnel, we get better quality with better quality data into it, and give employers better tools to make more accurate hiring decisions. But the output is better representation, better retention and better engagement in the process.

Matthew Todd 

I can see why that is a model that that certainly is more favorable in many regards, that can certainly make sure that they are making far better, more intelligent hiring decisions with access to a better match and wider pool of of people that are right for those positions as well. 

So when it came to developing this, I can see that with more people using the platform, the better that data and information gets, but how did you even start to get something like this off the ground to make sure that you’ve got the right methodology, but also the numbers of people needed to make that work. But you need people on both sides of the equation?

Joseph Williams 

Absolutely. I don’t know about you, Matthew, but not many people I know, kind of have those moments in their career where they’ve not necessarily had a straight line, a straight path, but then it’s like, oh, everything that I’ve done so far actually makes sense within what I need to do now.  I’m a huge believer in intentionality. When it went, when the time came, that clue was clue was the solution. And we we’ve kind of spent enough time with in we call it r&d, but it wasn’t really r&d was basically me just speaking to people that I, I know, or was introduced to, to qualify whether this would work, and could work and how it could work better.  Because I’ve been in the space for a while I wasn’t kind of I wasn’t saying our recruitments challenge, let’s go and try and sell a piece of technology in a market I’d never had exposure to before. I was able to, we’re very fortunate actually, to be able to refine and test the methodology whilst building the MVP with paying clients because of trust. Because we spent so long talking with and working with organizations that we wanted to work with and had them as part of the process, we were establishing trust all the time. 

My entire professional career prior to stepping in to try and solve this problem was helping organizations establish trusted products in digitally highly crowded digital markets. Everything I do is always kind of come back down to that do they trust us? So from the employers perspective, because they had been part of the process and felt like this was they were building the solution, we have a really strong testbed of clients that would be willing to pay for pilots. With us as soon as we’re ready to take something to market.

 On the job seeker side of things, leveraging partners that I’ve had since my time I’ve worked in ed tech, I’ve run a charity. I’ve been a civil rights and kind of human rights activist for best part two decades. And so you make people right and you build your network. I’ve always been a huge advocate of the power of the network and I’ve never actually asked my network for anything. I realized when I was starting this business. So I was but I very regularly will connect people and, and give people things that I think will help them out work. That almost observant to your connections kind of approach is just something I’ve always done. I don’t know why I don’t know where it really came from but it but it is a probably got told it early on in my career. 

So when it came around to actually asking people, hey, I’m doing this thing do you want help? I was blown away by how many people actually did want to and did and did help. So we had inherent trust from the customers perspective from, from our paying customers.  Then we had earned trust through job seekers, because we were able to partner with the right kinds of organizations that already have strong trust with honesty. And we were able to then develop trust quite quickly, because what we built worked. so and telling those stories, and really watering those stories as much as we could.  Taking the time to really make sure it was working. I think so many people get lost with speed and haste, you know, kind of how quickly can you accelerate? How quickly can you kind of like, learn fast and yeah, kind of grow quickly. 

I’ve always said that what we’re doing is so much more important than the money that we’re gonna make. Which is why we’ve got to take time and do it properly. Very lucky to have an incredible Advisory Board, true captains of industry, helping us make sure that we don’t make silly mistakes, but also helping us plug the gaps when, you know, you have those moments where you got less 30 quid in the bank, and you know, you’ve got a 15k overheads going out in a couple of days. And you’re like, I need someone to pay us something.

But but all of it comes back down to trust, you know, if your, your reputation follows you, right, yeah. And I like to think that I’m, I’ve, I’ve kind of earned my stripes in the equalities and human rights space. So when it came to leveraging that with a solution to make it better. You know, that was, that was a kind of a key part of mitigating the need to have come through a massive University and, you know, have worked in managing consultancy and, you know, or have a family that’s gotten a ton of money to help me get started.

Matthew Todd 

Yeah, no, that makes sense. So using that trust that you built up and then going in there with a, an authentic products, not one that was rushed. I think too many people do rush that MVP stage, because they it’s something they want to declare that they’ve gotten, I think a lot of people can for themselves that they’ve genuinely got something that’s product and market viable. Before it really is. So sounds like you didn’t take that didn’t fall into that trap, and actually did want to make sure it was right, first.

Joseph Williams 

Yeah, I mean, we again, were quite, it was whenever we say we were kind of refining the methodology and testing the methodology was building the MVP with paying customers, the general reaction from investors, and also the other tech founders. Like, how did you do that? Well, I asked. I just asked, and they said, yeah, sure. We set parameters around it snd we kind of worked on cost to make sure that they understood that, you know, actually, what they were getting was consultancy. Therefore they should actually be paying more often just using the product. And they got that. And so, actually, well, off the back of just asking.

I think, you know, so many people are lost in this. This needs to be seen as successful, that they feel embarrassed or compromised to ask for support. Like, it blows my mind how many people I know whose businesses have folded because they didn’t or couldn’t ask for help? Yeah, it’s palpable. 

I definitely struggled with it in the beginning, but I’ve got very little shame. I think one of the definite benefits of the autistic side of my brain is that a lot of those social groups I don’t have, and I will walk up to anybody, and I will speak to them. That is okay with me. Yeah. And often they, and they don’t mind it. So it works.

Matthew Todd 

Yeah, I think there’s a lot to be said for just asking, and I think there’s a lot to be said for that paid pilot approach and being open and honest about it. If you do it properly, then by definition, you should be adding value to the organization that is doing that pilot with you.  So why not charge for it and recognize that actually it is going to be a degree of consultancy, whether that’s 100% or 50%, whatever it is, depending on the stage your platform in business, but be honest about it.

Joseph Williams 

Yeah, we live in a world that will happily drop 500,000 pounds for a speaker for 30 minutes, you know. We, we can quite happily get 5k for a six week product pilot with quite happily get 50k for a six month product pilot. You know, if you if you believe in your subject expertise enough that you’re going to put your livelihood on it. The idea of trying not at least trying to get customers to see, appreciate and share that value is alien to me. You’re ultimately always solving massive problems that cost a lot of money.

Matthew Todd 

Absolutely. And I think where people don’t do that, it might be perhaps that they don’t really have the confidence in their own products or in the problem, perhaps in the way that they should. And maybe that’s where they need to be spending more attention if they don’t have the competence to do something like this.

Joseph Williams 

100% I mean,  I have an incredible coach and one of the first things she said to me the first time we got  a no, from a from a customer, and you know, it hit really hard because until that point, we’d had a 100% conversion, we’re about a good like, 17 customers deep, so I was riding high. Then this person was like, no, I just don’t think it’s gonna work. It was so bruising and damaging for me. She just turned around to me said that. Now you know who your customer isn’t? That’s a really important thing.  Use that as a marker, look at that person, understand their background, understand their organization, understand the priorities. You’ve done all of that work, don’t let that data go to waste. That’s helped us refine. I mean, we still I mean, now we’re probably coasting around a 14% conversion. But we are really focused on who sees value in what we do. 

Lots of people are interested in it. The second you say is tech enabled, despite the fact that there are teams that help with implementation and all of those kinds of things. There is this assumption that the value decreases by 60, 70%. If people won’t pay it, we say we won’t, we won’t work with you, then that’s fine. 

It’s at that point, that people often turn around and say, how about this, because if you’d have a good product that works, and you’ve got other people that are willing to back you up on the fact that it works, people will pay. It’s just people always trying to drive down your value, because they don’t see you as valuable as you do. That you have to see yourself as valuable.

Matthew Todd 

Yeah, and I see a lot of mistakes where people then take that feedback and think, oh, we need to have a lower priced product, or you to lower our prices in order to get more of these people.  But really, what you’re then doing is just trying to close more people who see your product as a nice to have not a must have. Then it’s going to be lower price, but also higher churn in respect to that as well.

Joseph Williams 

100%. That’s such an important point, Matthew, because often, it’s not the fact that the price is wrong. It’s the fact that you haven’t articulated the key need. As soon as you get that, so for us, we once upon a time used to call ourselves an inclusive recruitment platform, right? And so, include like, because ultimately, this is this is this is best practice, kind of easy to adopt, plug and play inclusive recruitment.  We really suffered as a result of being seen as a nice to have, because we put the word inclusion in the title DNI, as much as we want to believe it is still a nice to have in business. Or at least a vote, the vast majority of people controlling the finances and controlling the programs see that. So it’s the first thing to come off the radar. 

The second we started calling ourselves a skills based hiring platform. Interest, reach traction, journalist, everyone because everyone is talking about the skills gap. 80% of as I said earlier, 80% of people don’t have the right skills for their jobs. So giving organizations tools to really understand that in a credible and meaningful way and being able to affect retention as a result of knowing that data. That’s something that no one can, can can argue isn’t a massive priority, particularly as we head into this kind of period of uncertainty. So the product hasn’t changed. Yeah, it’s still doing exactly what it does before, but the way that we sell it has changed. That’s completely transformed our trajectory.

Matthew Todd 

Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s really interesting. As you say, the core of what the product does hasn’t changed, but it’s the perception and therefore, value that people place on that, that you’re able to then affect an impact and ultimately, make more of a difference by helping people see it in that way as well.

Joseph Williams 

Exactly. It’s just humility, right. So, if you think the number one skill, you need to be a successful entrepreneurs, you know, everyone’s like, ego, you’ve got to be an egotist. I completely disagree. I think it’s actually humility. Recognizing that you do not know you do not know the answers, you may think something’s amazing, it’s not probably other people are just as easily going to have your idea. And just constantly being able to get out of your own way is, with our doubt, the greatest tool that I’ve had to date.

Matthew Todd 

I would echo that and also echo how hard it can be for people to let go of you. It could be simple things like words or phrases that they’ve used and how they perceive it, because that might be the thing that was the trigger of a spark for them. So, changing the language of it can actually be a really difficult thing for some entrepreneurs to do.

Joseph Williams 

Yeah, absolutely. But then in a in an environment where we always, you know, kind of fail fast grow quickly. The amount of people that are reticent to change in that ecosystem is, it’s kind of like do the groundwork first.  Funnily enough, I actually spent a year during the kind of the initial r&d phase working with my coach Sharon, on how I needed to show up as a CEO, okay, I need a job as a founder. Because I knew I’d been a CMO before I knew how to operate well within my lane. But I didn’t know how to correlate that to across multiple different business divisions, multiple teams, different personality types. I was always in teams, where you kind of you focused on your numbers you delivered, it was very black and white. You know, this is part of my coping mechanism. Like I, I have to be able to quantify things in order to be able to really understand what’s what’s going on. What’s happening around me drives most people insane, but it makes me really good at my job in those lanes. 

A CEO is far more contextual. So as like, either not the CEO, or if I am going to be a CEO, how do I ensure that we develop an operating culture, where I as well as everyone else around me is set up for success?  So we spent that first year really getting to grips on what that operating culture kind of ethos would be, and, you know, kind of values to the side because I think they’re mostly ineffective, and people don’t do us and we utilize them in the right way. 

In developing that operating culture, and the operating kind of methodology, which is clarity, transparent, that clarity, accountability, transparency, trust, I do we all know what we’re doing. Do we all know who’s responsible for that piece? Do we have clear reporting lines? And what happens? Then? Do we trust people to go off and actually do it without micromanaging without getting in the way as soon as I could articulate that CEO was a breeze.  But all of that groundwork was absolutely fundamental, because I never would have been able to be my kind of honing in on okay, so that’s moved up point 3% today, so what’s happening there.

So, you know, this is happening over here when he’s reduced that and that doesn’t correlate in this space.  I also think that that’s kind of fundamental to it as well, lots of people have come up through different business lines with different service lines. And they don’t really spend the time to understand how they will be an effective CEO, before they make the jump into setting up the business. Again, a huge destabilizer.

Matthew Todd 

Absolutely, I think it shows you’ve got a very, very good level of self awareness in order to see that as a problem and a challenge to try and address and a very clear-thinking way to look at the way that you want to run the business as well. Not all CEOs. But a lot of CEOs and entrepreneurs that get into it can often come at things from a product and solution side rather than a problem side to start with. 

But because they’re kind of coming from that problem side, they probably the CEO role probably comes quite hard to some people, because it really is just figuring it out as they go without too much forethought and planning but it sounds like that. coaching relationship and level of analysis helps you to to do that pretty well.

Joseph Williams 

Yeah, absolutely. I think that, particularly when you come from a highly academic background, which I do not, you spend a lot of time with people telling you how intelligent and how brilliant you’re that that part of how you show up is. And that’s what carries you through your, your kind of intellect.  There are four kinds of anchors to intelligence, you’ve got emotional intelligence, intellect, general knowledge and critical thinking. Rally, general knowledge, knowledge retention, academic learning, potentially intellect, that that’s the smallest part of it. It’s the critical thinking and the EQ that are the most important elements of how you show up as a leader.

So we often see, you know, one of the great things about Clu got loads of data around the types of people that manifest the different types of skills the most. We find people that don’t go through university in higher education often have a much stronger set of behavioral and transferable skills than those that spend longer in the academic bubble. That carries through into your, into your life.  So a lot of these people that sit down is kind of like, the most successful people in the world, you know, they’re very good at making business decisions, they are not leaders, they’re not CEOs, they should not be in that position.

But you know, those of us that have kind of been dragged up. It’s not hustle because you know, hustles, over, you know, in many ways a bit of a luxury, it’s kind of like, you’ve just got to either do or die, as the case may be. You develop a much more resilient set of behavioral skills.

I was at a conference the other day speaking to a bunch of MBA students, and I was like, your idea could be great, but the, at the heart of what I’ve learned as an entrepreneur, you can have great ideas, you’d be really good at financial, we’re really good at strategy could be really good at you know, tech or whatever development. All of that stuff other people can do, if you as a person do not have a strong and resilient skill set and your behavioral self in the way that you show up for others, you will fail. You will not be a successful leader. Whether that’s whether you go into a career now or whether you go and start your own business. 

That is by far the most important work that I have done. It’s it’s what’s what’s kind of, in many ways, and making my leadership team also kind of work to that standard. Kind of showing that this is the stuff that makes us thrive, this is the stuff that makes your team engaged. Being able to do that as a, you know, gay disabled, that neurodiverse weirdo.

You know, like I just, there’s, there’s, there’s so much within this that challenges the concept of what it is to be a founder or to be successful. There’s so much that says that we shouldn’t be here doing what we’re doing. But superseding our entire competitive set at the moment on performance on revenue and customers and growth and none of us are graduates.

Matthew Todd 

I think that says a lot about what can be achieved and people’s misconceptions about what is needed in order to gain entry to that kind of working environment. That all comes back to the problem that you’re trying to solve with Clu itself, which is fantastic. So speaking of Clu, and the direction that you’re going in, what is the vision for foreclosure, you’ve got something that was proven. So how big do you see it going?

Joseph Williams 

At the moment, the key problem we’re solving is making sure the right people see the right opportunities and end up in the right organizations where they can be set up for success. So reimagining that, that top part of the model. By bringing the datasets that we are building into employee onboarding, engagement, management mobility, we can completely make a kind of a paradigm shift in the way that we can start automating detailed and personalized l&d programs, organizational design, projects.

Even looking at working with governments to start mapping and understanding skills shortages, by regions, potential opportunities by region is where we need to develop skills academies where we don’t. Where we’re saturated, where we should actually be looking at leveling up versus where, you know, people are actually doing a pretty good job of it by themselves. You just haven’t built the transport infrastructure to help them mobilize it. 

Joseph Williams

We really wanted to anchor on to what does recruitment look like if it was designed by psychologists and not by salespeople.

You know, this is the skills based economy. Transferable skills are the currency of the future. AI and machine learning are centralizing subject expertise. So people that can learn loads and loads of things in one googling Brilliant memory retention is absolutely a skill, however it’s prevalent in the working world will be slimmer, then we’ll see even in highly technical roles, like medicine, like law, like like architecture, systems will start doing a lot of this stuff. And it’s how you contextualize that, how you show up for work, how you, how you, how you lead, how you collaborate, that are going to be the real things that underpin the skills of the future.  We see ourselves as having a pivotal part in helping not just the working world, but also people helping people really understand that they have so much value, that just because academia has always said it’s not valuable, just or narrows never helped them to articulate that it is valuable. That will mean that it’s not. 

So, you know, we have, at the moment a great partnership with DWP and job centers, where we’re helping long term out of work refugees, disabled neurodiverse people, over 50s care leavers, former offenders into meaningful employment into organizations that we know with salaries and fixed fixed income salaries that I never thought was going to be possible for them. 

Because we’re breaking down perception bias, personal perception bias, that impact on society, on economic mobility on economies is significant. So we’re currently building out a national case study with the UK Government, and we hope to replicate that across across Europe in two years time, and then across the US or Europe.

Matthew Todd 

It sounds like a good vision. A great way to utilize the data that you get as the platform grows as well, I can certainly see how once you get to national level, there’s so much you can do by understanding differences in different regions, and everything else as well. Thank you for sharing that.  I think it’s really interesting to see the potential that something like this could have on the business. And I think, especially with, you know, people evaluating ways of working since the whole, you know, lockdown, COVID pandemic, thing and, you know, do people want to be in office all the time, part of the time, none of the time, I think it has started to open up conversations that contribute towards that skills based economy, as well. 

So I think it’s super interesting that you’ve been able to get closer to the the stage that you have at this time as well, because I think it’s a platform, it’s only going to be more needed as these kinds of changes happen in business, or we hope so. Yeah, no, absolutely. And, yeah, I want to be respectful of your time. 

But also, I think we have covered a lot of really, really interesting parts and points to the of the journey of clue and the importance of understanding people from a behavior perspective, from a skills based perspective. And you know, how you’ve managed to build clear on that basis, as well as what you’re ultimately helping others to do, as well. So thank you, again, for sharing that. Is there anything you want to leave our audience with before we we hang up?

Joseph Williams 

Ditch TVs and start asking yourself why you’re asking for graduates? One thing that we resolutely see, time and time again, is that as soon as you start really understanding and asking yourself questions as employers, as to why you put these barriers in place, and what they actually achieve the business case for them become slimmer and slimmer. And you become so much more cognizant and aware of how to build high performance is the DNA of your business, as startups scaleups we can’t afford to hire incorrectly, but that 80% of misaligned misalignment on skills, this is industry wide. 

So you may think that you’re doing a really good job of hiring the MIT kind of product lead, but that person might be intrinsically toxic on a level that you just haven’t given space or kind of language to yet and that could destabilize you in 6, 12, 3 weeks time. 

Joseph Williams

By being more intentional about what it takes to actually do the job well, you shift performance, you shift retention, you shift engagement, you shift the way that your business will grow.

By being more intentional about what it takes to actually do the job well, you ship performance, you shift retention, you shift engagement, you shift the way that your business will grow. Just don’t forget that. We also very, very, very, very, very, very cheap to startups and scaleups, intentionally. So you know, if you want to use this in touch.

Matthew Todd 

Fantastic. I think that’s a great way to round things off. I’ll make sure we share links obviously, back to your website in the show notes for this episode as well. So Joseph, thank you very much for taking the time today.

Joseph Williams 

Thank you so much for your time, Matthew.

Matthew Todd 

Thank you for joining me on this episode of Inside the ScaleUp. Remember for the show notes and in depth resources from today’s guest, you can find these on the website You can also leave feedback on today’s episode, as well as suggest guests and companies you’d like to hear from. Thank you for listening.

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