About The Last 3 Weeks...
For RocketPower, our team, and for me the last 3 weeks have been…..intense, amazing, a whirlwind, inspiring, exhausting. It's hard to pick the right words but those and many more seem appropriate.
The last 3 weeks are the intersection of the culmination of something we started 10 months ago and the beginning of something amazing we are just starting.
In early June of 2021, the C-Suite at RP came up with a crazy ambitious but realistic goal. We wanted to be 5,000 people by 2025. We were in the midst of 600% growth for the year and were looking at where the RPO market is headed over the next 10 years. We felt RocketPower was ideally positioned to capture much of that market growth due to our DPA (Data, Process, Accountability) approach to recruiting. We were proving it over and over again with existing and new clients.
However, the issue we quickly identified is that, in order to grow as fast as we wanted, we were going to have to look at some sort of Funding. One of my biggest fears about taking on funding was that I did not want to give up autonomy in decision-making. For RocketPower, that was critical. We do things differently. Many people shook their heads or advised me personally and us as a whole about how we were approaching things the wrong way. But our growth and our results proved our approach was right, and now we see companies trying to copy us.
My other main fear was our culture. I hear time and again from team members across the org how much they love the culture here and how supportive everyone is and how much of a true team it is. I am proud of that. Matt Hoffman, Partner at M13, recently said at HR Transform that he has only one marketable skill and that is: “hiring great teams”. I think that is also my one marketable skill and something I try to passionately guard. I was worried about what impact funding and the associated “other voices” that would come with it would do to our culture.
As we started exploring what investment would look like we agreed that we had 2 “third rails”:
First - There was no way we were going to let someone who didn't understand our business and industry into any type of influential position with us.
Second - we weren't going to change anything about our culture, our business model, how we operate, our brand, etc. We know we do things differently and that's why we have been named by Forbes as one of America's Best Startups to Work For 3 years in a row. That’s also why we consistently win head-to-head against many of the big, well-known RPO companies. Quite simply, we hire the best people, we treat our teams better and we do our work better.
With these 3rd rails in mind, we started exploring funding options. We felt we were in a unique time and a unique position and we had to capitalize on it. We learned a lot during our discussions. We spoke with VCs, PEs, some of the largest multinational companies in the world, and many, many bankers and brokers. One thing became very clear to us. The market for RPO companies was RED HOT!! We were shocked and humbled by who wanted to talk with us.
When we were in later stage discussions with a couple of great options, our banker introduced us to a “Strategic” investor. The value of a “Strategic” is that it is a company that does understand your business. Also, oftentimes “Strategics” look for companies that are complementary, in that they don’t have the same clients or don’t do the same exact work, and they want to add those types of clients and services to their portfolio.
The value of a “Strategic” to a company like RocketPower is huge. It allows us to be able to grow as aggressively as we want, without worrying about outgrowing our ability to fund payroll. It gives us immediate access to clients that would have required 12-18 months of sales cycles each. It allows us to immediately grow our footprint internationally in LatAm and EMEA, two of the hottest startup markets in the world.
Before we first spoke with Tammy Browning at Kelly Services, we all thought, “Why would Kelly be interested in us and why would we be interested in them?” However, by the end of the first 60-minute video call the four of us were both blown away by Tammy and very intrigued with what we heard about Kelly’s M&A strategy. Then, when we spent two days in a conference room in SF with Tammy, Peter, Leslie, and Rick, we were even more excited. Peter specifically looked me in the eye and said “I don't buy valuable companies doing amazing things and change them. That's how you destroy value.”
After speaking with others who Kelly has acquired in the last 5 years, it is clear that Peter was spot on. They were looking to buy us, leave us alone, and give us the financial backing to allow us to grow as fast as we know we are capable.
Through the due diligence process, it became even more clear that this partnership with Kelly is exactly what RocketPower needed to achieve our goals. Prior to closing, we shared only 1 client in common which means there are massive greenfield opportunities for both Kelly and RocketPower.
As I sit here in my hotel room in Palermo in Buenos Aires, getting ready to check out and head home for the first time in over 3 weeks, “5x25” is now more clearly in view than ever before. I have sat with my team in Napa, in Phoenix, in Vegas and Tammy Browning joined us in all three places. Other leaders in RP traveled to and sat with our teams in Chicago, New York, Kansas City, Washington DC, Utah, and Atlanta. Then the C-Suite traveled to Buenos Aires with Tammy Browning and we went to Lollapalooza in Buenos Aires, worked together for two days and ate great food, and had great discussions.
About these three weeks…in the end, they were amazing. So many great memories, so many great experiences with the team and so much enthusiasm across the company for what we have ahead of us. “5x25” is what we are excited to be focused on. We will reach that goal. However, the last three weeks have told me that we will do it with the best team and the best culture, while becoming the single best talent solutions provider in the world. Together WE will go far!