Pip Jamieson is a woman who turfed her nine-to-five gig as head of marketing at MTV to co-launch The Loop, a jobs site for creatives. Two years ago, she did it all again with The Dots in the UK. She’s raised over US$2 million in investment, brought advertising legend Sir John Hegarty (and his six decades of global cred) on board and lives on a houseboat called Horace. Needless to say, when Pip pipes up, we listen. Here are her thoughts on raising investment capital, second chances and dodging burnout. *
How did your upbringing shape your passion?
I was blessed to have an incredible father who worked in the music industry… But I often ask myself, ‘What if Dad hadn’t worked in the creative industries, would I be where I am now? Would I even know that a creative career was an option?’ Probably not. That’s the reason that I’m so passionate about using current technology to help others connect on a level playing field. For creativity to really thrive it should be based on meritocracy; not who you know, where you’re from or where you went to university. True cream should be given a chance to rise to the top, whatever the background. *
You had your dream job, so why step out (alongside colleague Matt Fayle) with The Loop?
We started the platform because I was finding it really hard to connect with amazing creative talent. At the same time Matt, who was digital director for MTV, was constantly being asked by creatives for advice on building their profiles online. So our vision was not only to create a platform that was easy for everyone involved in the creative process to promote themselves online – but most importantly, to connect those people to some form of commercial outcome – a new contact, client, collaborator or job. *
What spurred the decision to launch The Dots in the UK?
The UK was the most obvious next step, as the market is 10 times the size of Australia, employing 1.7 million people, and is a natural stepping stone to Europe and the US. I put my heart, mind, and soul into The Loop and while exiting and striking out on my own [with The Dots] was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made, it was absolutely the right one. It is so rare to get a second, better chance at the same business. I made so many mistakes the first time around, but I learned from each and every one and it’s these learnings that have helped The Dots flourish. I’m not saying I won’t make new mistakes, they’ll just be different, but that’s what real innovation and entrepreneurship is all about.
You’ve raised US$2.32 million for The Dots. What’s the biggest hurdle you faced here?
Okay, there is no point in sugar-coating it – raising investment in gruelling. The biggest challenge I faced is that I didn’t have a network here in the UK; so I had to meet a lot of frogs before one meeting led to another and the great investors started to materialise. Bringing on an investor is a lot like marriage, just without the benefits of make-up sex. Once the honeymoon period is over, a bad investor can become a nightmare; interfering operationally, being time-consuming and power- hungry. A great investor, however, can help catapult your business onto the next level, mentor you through the tricky times and knows when to take a back seat when you’ve outgrown their expertise.*
You’ve admitted you have “no work-life balance”. How do you avoid burning out?
I’m so lucky that I completely love what I do, so it never really feels like work. My work involves meeting the most amazing creatives and creative businesses, going to creative events, developing a product and leading a team I love – if I didn’t get paid to do this I’d do it anyway. It helps that I have the most incredibly supportive husband, who doesn’t pressure me to slow down… well, not too often, anyway! There is heaps of research showing that a certain amount of stress increases your performance and I’m just lucky to be one of those people that thrives on this. However, if I push myself too hard I’ve learned the hard way that fatigue and ill health start to kick in. So to prevent burnout, I head to a juice and yoga retreat in Spain every few months. *
What advice would you give someone wanting to forge their own path?
Love what you do! Forging your own path is a wonderful rollercoaster of highs and lows. The trick to getting through the hard times is to passionately love and believe in what you are doing and surround yourself with people who share that passion. You may succeed, you may fail – but if you love what you do, in many ways the outcome doesn’t really matter – the journey will be amazing, and rewarding in itself.