A tech founder has spoken of her pain at having to make nine of her ‘exceptional’ staff redundant – and vowed to help them find new jobs.
Jennie Johnson, CEO and co-founder of the Manchester-based child development app My First Five Years, took the step because of the difficulties of the funding climate.
Johnson, who is best known as the founder of leading North West nursery group Kids Allowed, took to LinkedIn to explain it had been a ‘shitty day’ but an unavoidable one.
She wrote: “The funding climate right now is harder than I have ever known, and whilst we have warm conversations taking place, we have had some notable changes of mind that have meant we have simply run out of time to not make some tough decisions to protect the future of My First Five Years.
“It’s tempting to bury your head in the sand as a CEO and keep plugging away in the hope it will come good in time.
“But there comes a point where if you are going to behave ethically, you have to call it and make the hard decisions.
“This gives you the time to do things properly and look after people as best you can by, for example, paying people their notice and where possible paying more than the statutory, which we have been able to do in every case. They will be getting time off for interviews etc.
“Doing things in a managed way like this is much better than running out of money because you don’t want to make the tough calls.”
My First Five Years was co-founded by Johnson and Alistair Bryce-Clegg and had become a trusted source of information for parents and carers.
Earlier this year the startup announced it had raised £1.4m from GMCA and five high net worth individuals to fund the development of the app.
The company, which is currently involved in another fundraise, has grown subscriptions to 1,517 and 8,221 active monthly users.
Johnson, who hasn’t taken a salary from the business, explained: “The decisions we have made mean we have a runway that should see us through 2024.
“But it comes at a high personal cost for those you can no longer keep and whilst they have almost without exception said lovely things and acknowledged that this is the risk you take joining a startup, it’s still horrible.
“We’re leaving each colleague to decide what they are going to do about using LinkedIn as a platform for seeking their next role, but for those that do, I will be commenting on the post to surface their talents to as many people as possible in my network.
“And if you are recruiting right now – you would be mad not to arrange a chat with them as soon as possible because we only have EXCEPTIONAL people, so I don’t expect them to be looking for very long.
“We’re taking a step backwards to take a step forward. We have an app people love, double-digit monthly growth, motivated colleagues and a purpose.
“I’m gutted not to be able to keep everyone on the journey with us but I know they will succeed wherever they end up.”