When Auckland entrepreneur Jonathan Rice and business partner Sean Walters started JOYN, their new recruitment model was set to disrupt an industry renowned for eye watering fees and ripe for a shake up.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that innovation and disruption are solely the domain of the latest developments in AI, robotics or mobile apps. Sometimes all it takes is the ability to reframe an existing problem, and the courage to put yourself out there, knowing full well your solution flies in the face of the status quo.

Dave Crampton spoke to Jonathan Rice to find out how their quest to disrupt the recruitment industry is shaping up.

Dave Crampton: Firstly Jonathan, can you explain what JOYN is for us?

Jonathan Rice: At its core, JOYN is simply a smarter way to recruit staff. We combine human expertise with technological smarts to enable businesses to achieve better hires at half the cost.

Hiring a JOYN consultant is more cost effective than paying a traditional recruitment agency as clients only pay for the parts of the recruitment service they need.

I also get inspiration from Uber. We currently have 84 consultants and more than 450 clients, but I want JOYN to be the largest recruitment company that does not employ any recruiters.


DC: How is JOYN changing the model of existing recruitment companies?

JR: The way we deliver our services is unlike traditional recruitment companies. There is no smoke and mirrors with JOYN and we do things at a third to half the costs of traditional recruitment agencies.

We don’t fill a vacancy, we partner an HR consultant with a company (client) to help them find the staff they need. Consultants charge an hourly rate, as opposed to being incentivised by a commission. Not only is it more cost effective than paying a traditional agency, it is a richer experience between the HR consultant and the client.

We also provide a technology platform which gives the client a lot more visibility and transparency. Clients can log in and see how the recruitment process is progressing.

We also support in house HR people who are a bit stretched, and work with small startups to larger companies like Air New Zealand. We have a nationwide network of HR consultants who know the industry well, and are engaged for positions that need to be filled. We also have three consultants in Australia, and one in Spain.


DC: How and when did you come up with the idea for JOYN?

JR: The idea of this business came from my wife Jayne Rice in 2012, and JOYN was formed in 2017.

In 2012 we had two young children at home and Jayne wanted to get back into recruitment – she is also a recruiter – with a job that had lots of flexibility. The name JOYN is a conflation of two words: joy and join.


DC: What are you most proud of?

JR: The fact that this idea came from my wife is what I’m particularly proud of. I realised a lot of people like Jayne did not have the time to work full time, so we found a solution for her back in 2012 which has now led to what the business is now.


DC: Is the way the recruitment industry has worked in the past “broken”?

JR: It’s a lot harder to get recruitment right than a lot of people realise. The truth is that there is a very small number of good recruitment agencies.

Our model of freelance HR consultants operates as an extension of our client’s brand, whenever needed, and they can switch the help ‘on and off’ when required. I would welcome more competition as it validates the model.


DC: What’s the response been from other incumbents in the recruitment industry?

JR: We have had a bit of push back from cowboys in the industry. They are not offering a lot of value. Other recruiters have welcomed JOYN and have actually engaged with us when they needed assistance themselves.


DC: What has been your biggest challenge to date in building your business?

JR: The biggest challenge has been educating the market in a new way of recruiting.

Our rating system helps to challenge and change the current mindset. At the end of every project the client can rate their consultant out of 10. The average client rating is 9.07, since JOYN formed in April 2017.


DC: Do you have any advice you can share with others who are considering starting up their own business?

JR: It can be lonely. But running a business is just about holding your nerve and having a staunch belief that there is a better way to do things.

Keep remembering what your own vision is – and be systematic.


DC: What do you do in your spare time?

JR: I love the outdoors. I go paddle boarding and go for bike rides. I also like to play football and tennis and do crosswords. I’m also a coordinator of my daughter’s football club – a group of 150 girls from ages five to eight years old.


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