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The Resilient Recruiter

Apr 27, 2022

Have you ever dreamed of starting and scaling up a recruitment business to the point that you could achieve a successful exit? If so, you’re going to love my interview with James Caan, who joins us for his second time on the show. 

In this episode, James walks us through how to successfully launch, scale, and exit your business.  His insights are backed up by his track record as the founder of Recruitment Entrepreneur, the world’s leading private equity firm specializing in recruitment start-ups and scale-ups. RE has been successfully operating in 60+ countries and has currently invested in 45 recruitment businesses.  You will hear a case study of how one of Recruitment Entrepreneur’s partners was able to launched, scale, and sell their business for $12m in just five years!

James is an investor, a serial entrepreneur, and a former panellist on the hit TV series Dragon’s Den. He founded two recruitment companies with combined revenue of £1B.

Episode Outline and Highlights

  • [1:41] James shares his perspective on the recruitment market of 2022 compared to 2021.
  • [5:08] How Recruitment Entrepreneur helps recruiters build scalable businesses.
  • [10:05] From $220k to $2M USD in billings in five years - James shared a Recruitment Entrepreneur case study.
  • [22:08] Why is James now expanding Recruitment Entrepreneur to the US?
  • [27:36] What is meant by smart capital and how it impacts the recruitment industry.
  • [29:16] Expanding beyond the US - why Recruitment Entrepreneur is going global and why it makes sense.
  • [35:35] James’ mindset on creating value for their clients. Also, hear James reveal their ‘secret sauce’ for their success. 
  • [40:55] How James’ team consistently helps enhance the value of businesses prior to exit events. 
  • [42:46] What buyers are looking for in a recruitment business that they may want to acquire.
  • [47:45] How Recruitment Entrepreneur supports businesses in their portfolio to attract good talent.
  • [54:44] How training and development can easily assimilate new joiners to your business’ work culture.

Launching, Scaling and Selling a Recruitment Business for $12M in Only Five Years

Since its founding in 2014, Recruitment Entrepreneur’s goal is to help founders and owners of recruitment businesses to globally, launch, scale, and exit their recruitment businesses. James shared a superb case study on how they worked side by side with James Absalom, CEO of Walter James recruitment. Below is the chronology of his success:

  • James launched his business with Recruitment Entrepreneur
  • In year one, he earned $350k compared to previous years of earning around $220k in average.
  • By year five, he had 15 consultants with annual revenue of $5m and $2m in profit.
  • Recently acquired by ZRG Partners for $12m


You will hear James walk you through the process - what do you need to start? What is the thought process in deciding when to scale? How do you grow the billing? How do you attract talent? These are a few of the golden nuggets that you will hear in this episode. If you are strategizing on launching, scaling and exiting your recruitment business, you will enjoy our interview.

How to Create and Enhance Your Recruitment Business’ Value

James’ recruitment and entrepreneurial experience bring invaluable insights when it comes to enhancing businesses under their portfolio. You will hear James reveal specific key pointers for success. How do they create value and further enhance recruitment businesses to set it up in a profitable exit? “The single factor to success and scale is having the ability to attract and keep people,” James stated. He further elaborates on specific focus areas that founders would need to work on to make their business scalable and successful.

James added, “First thing is, we don’t back markets, we don’t back sectors, we don’t back products. We back people, and that has been the mantra of my entire working life and it has never failed me yet.”

Must Haves to Make Your Business Scalable and Exit-Able

If you plan to scale and exit your recruitment business, you will hear the following key takeaways from our discussion:

  • The importance of having a stable workforce by attracting and retaining the right people.
  • Establishing a culture of coaching, learning, and development.
  • Having a clear strategy for developing your brand.
  • Having an international mindset.

You will find James’ take on the above elements definitely insightful.


Our Sponsors


This podcast is proudly sponsored by i-intro®. 


i-intro® is an end-to-end retained recruitment platform. Our technology and methodology allows recruiters to differentiate themselves from the competition, win more retained business, bigger fees and increase their billings. Be sure to mention Mark Whitby or The Resilient Recruiter for a 25% discount. Book your free, no-obligation consultation here: 

James Caan Bio and Contact Info

James founded private equity firm Hamilton Bradshaw in 2004 and joined the panel of heavyweight investors for BBC’s Dragons' Den in 2007. His main focus is on charity work, current investments, growing Hamilton Bradshaw and mentoring entrepreneurs to help ensure their success.

With a passion for building businesses and backing talented people, he has been building and selling businesses since 1985 and thinks it is important to invest in people rather than products or businesses. James is a great believer that it is people who create a successful business through their passion and conviction, with a firm belief that “It’s your attitude, not your aptitude that determines your altitude”.

  • James’ website link (You may find and download his audiobook via this link)
  • James on LinkedIn
  • James on Twitter @jamescaan
  • James on Facebook
  • James on Instagram
  • Hamilton Bradshaw Group website link
  • Recruitment Entrepreneur website link

People and Resources Mentioned

Connect with Mark Whitby

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