A Q&A with 10 Minutes With founder and CEO Manfredi Di Cintio. The London-based career matchmaking startup for students and recent college grads announced in early October the closing of a $4 million Series A funding round from a group of undisclosed investors. The company was founded in 2013 and previously raised $400,000 in Seed funding last year.
SUB: Please describe 10 Minutes With and your primary innovation.
Di Cintio: 10 Minutes With was created to inspire students and match them to their ideal jobs worldwide. The platform helps students learn directly from the experience of senior executives across Europe, Africa and Asia. Not only can students proactively reach out to companies, students can also be handpicked by recruiters based on the students’ pre-defined characteristics and skills.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Di Cintio: Our primary targets are active students ranging from undergraduate to postgraduate and MBA. Our website is also open to anybody curious about careers and keen to understand what different jobs entail. We are available globally and we are present in China through our Chinese website, cn.10minuteswith.com.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition, and what differentiates 10 Minutes With from the competition?
Di Cintio: The main difference between 10 Minutes With and other platforms can be summarized as follows: 1) An educational angle, 2) a focus on graduates, and 3) a global approach. There are several local websites catering to the needs of graduates in certain countries, but nobody really caters to the need of an increasingly mobile population of graduates.
SUB: You just announced that you’ve raised $4 million in Series A funding. Why was this a particularly good time to raise more funding?
Di Cintio: In 10 Minutes With’s case it was a good time to raise funding as 10 Minutes With was expanding very rapidly across a series of countries around the globe. Our investors share our very ambitious goal of innovating the way graduate recruiting is done by educating students and connecting them to companies worldwide.
SUB: How do you plan to use the funds, and do you have plans to seek additional outside funding in the near future?
Di Cintio: The funds will be used primarily to accelerate the growth of our business worldwide and open the U.S. market. A large portion of the fundraising will also go towards product development for our three stakeholders—students, schools, and corporates.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for 10 Minutes With? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Di Cintio: 10 MinutesWith was inspired by my own experience as a young professional. After spending five years working in a consulting firm I only developed a partial understanding of what many of the people were actually doing. What does it mean to work in leveraged finance? What does an internal auditor do?
The best way to understand it was to have these same people explain it on video. I then remembered my university times and how I wished videos like these were available to students. This is how the first version of 10 Minutes With was born—a simple concept with a global potential.
SUB: What were the first steps you took in establishing the company?
Di Cintio: At the beginning I did not put much thought into establishing a company as I was really focused on getting started. At a later stage, I decided to invest in getting good advice from trusted advisors, including lawyers and consultants. Setting up appropriate processes has been key to secure this Series A round.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story or meaning behind it?
Di Cintio: When we were thinking about a name, we just wanted it to make it something quite descriptive and memorable. ‘10 Minutes With’ recalls our 10 minutes video interviews, but also points to the idea of spending some short but high-quality time with somebody—in our case, leading executives from a wide range of functions, sectors and geographies.
SUB: What have the most significant challenges been so far to building the company?
Di Cintio: Our most significant challenge, but also our biggest strength, is the need to cater to a very diverse audience of students globally. In order to do so, we travel a lot and we built a very diverse team of more than ten nationalities.
SUB: How do you generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Di Cintio: 10 Minutes With’s global reach and focus on graduates means that it has several revenue-generating opportunities across its growing user base of students, schools and corporates. 10 Minutes With generates revenue by signing up business schools and universities and matching their students to the large variety of companies they are connected to.
In turn, businesses can sign up to 10 Minutes With to access a database of graduate students that have profiled themselves to facilitate their matching with their ideal job, as well as creating content to connect their business to these potential candidates.
SUB: What are your goals for 10 Minutes With over the next year or so?
Di Cintio: 10 Minutes With’s primary goal over the next year is to complete its global expansion by tackling the U.S. and Latin American markets. This should result in an exponential growth of our registered students, partner schools and corporates.