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Business Showcase: nineDots

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Describe the company – the elevator pitch …

nineDots is a tech recruitment company. We are a weird bunch who believe in doing recruitment in a more unusual and different fashion. We specialise in hiring for technical roles because we understand the unique type of person attracted to this area. We are heavily embedded in various tech communities. From this, we have developed great networks due to the fact that we have we always give before we take. We take the time to get to know our clients and the people out there to find the best match between the two. Our clients span Ireland, Poland, Bahrain (I grew up there), The Philippines and Brazil.

How are you different?

The fundamentals of recruitment are very simple – get a spec, get to know the client company and find the best person. There is no rocket science to it. Most big corporate recruitment companies fail to do this well. It’s because they often look at candidates as a commodity and a walking commission. People are smart and they instantly smell that. It’s why, traditionally, everyone hates recruiters.

We don’t do that. We are not named after a fictitious person or a self-important CEO. Nine dots is a puzzle invented in the 1920s. The dots are arranged in a row and the aim is to connect them by using only four lines. To solve it, you have to think “outside the box,” pardon the cliché. Walt Disney used it in interviewing salespeople.

Our outside the box thinking is that we treat potential candidates as humans. We spend a lot of time embedded in tech communities, getting to know people there and trying to be valued members and contributors all the time, not just when we need to fill a role. It costs nothing to be nice and helpful. As a result, existing clients refer to us as ethical and empathetic recruiters.

Why will you do well?

For one, it’s as simple as showing up at the right place, at the right time. I started nineDots as Europe was grappling with what Brexit means. In that new reality, Ireland is playing a more important role in the EU and many eyes are looking in this direction for relocation. But also we arrived in a context where people want to see the little guy or gal do well and support them. I had some very early lucky wins because of that.

Our ethos is that we treat humans like humans, both candidates and clients. When we approach everyone with respect, people give us honesty in return and tell us what they want and need. This way we create meaningful long term hires. We screen for technical knowledge but what we mostly look for is decency. No matter how talented they may be, we avoid any threats of potential toxicity.

Where are you based?

In The Academy, Huckletree Dublin 2.

When was the company launched?

August 16th, 2017

What have been your biggest wins to date?

From a company perspective, the people that I have hired. I am fortunate to have a team that believes in the values I care about. At times, I have managed to convince people who had grown tired of traditional recruitment to join because we do it differently.

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My biggest wins are when I make a promise and fulfil it. One of our greatest successes is an American company called Vectra Networks. At the end of 2017, they hired a Director of Engineering and tasked him with staffing the Irish office with solely technical roles. Podge, who has become a great friend in the process, turned to me and other agencies. We helped him hire around 13 or 14 of their positions to date.

It made the opening of the Irish office smooth. Such an experience reaffirms the reputation Ireland has been building for decades – sound people who deliver on what we promise. Having long term clients such as Phorest whom we have a great relationship with and who work with us exclusively is another great testament to what we do.

Who are you trying to attract to your product?

Interesting and decent tech companies that treat us as equals. Our job is to sell our clients to people so we have to really like and respect them. This will only happen if they respect what we do in return and talk to us as if we are part of the company. I have said “no” many times to potential customers who have been demeaning.

What tips would you give to others looking to build their business?

Be prepared to stand behind your name and do the work necessary. If you can’t do it, say so. If you are a sole founder, enjoy the free reign but treat everyone equally. Don’t pay lip service to it, actually execute on it. Listen to employees when they have good ideas and implement them. Don’t let ego get in the way. Ask for help.

When I was starting up, I asked a former boss for advice when I wasn’t sure what to do. That was only possible, however, because I left on good terms and had not burned that bridge. As tempting as it may be when you feel disgruntled, leave with dignity. Finally, know your value. We have been asked many times to reduce our commission but we have never done it.

Tell us about your team?

I am the Founder and have a team of four people: Dave, Rose, Mick and Aisling. They loosely have a vertical they take care of, but again, contrary to most recruitment agencies, we all help each other. Dave takes care of development, Rose is the master of infrastructure and DevOps, Mick’s speciality is leadership roles, and Aisling works primarily with UX and UI roles.

What are your plans for the future?

My main plan is not to dilute who we are as we grow. I am fortunate to be able to take it easy and not turn nineDots into a KPI-driven organisation. We have been profitable since year one. New business keeps coming and I have steadily hired to meet demand but have never been greedy for growth. We operate in the industry, which is often all about growth but we have managed never to fall for that.

Down the line, I would like to open a presence in the UK and do more international stuff but it all has to happen sustainably. I want to see where the work goes, what October brings and then decide. For me personally, I want to be able to always do a bit of recruitment. It’s why I got into this, not to run a company and be bogged down in administrative stuff.

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What are your favourite tech gadgets?

I just bought my dad a UE Megaboom speaker and gave it to him the other day. He looked at me and said, “oh I just bought a way bigger better speaker”. So now I have the UE and I am loving it. We are both ‘gadget men’ so are constantly on the lookout for new toys.

What tech gadgets do you wish you could use to help you?

I can’t think of any particular gadgets out there that would be useful in our line of work but there are always different plugins and software that keep coming to light; they usually make our jobs easier (automation etc).

Anything else you’d like to add/we should have asked?

Treat people like people, that’s it. When it comes to hiring, don’t ask yourself questions like would I want to be stranded at an airport with this person. People are here to do a job not be your best mate. Don’t overcomplicate the recruitment process with too many steps, it’s arrogant. If you are a recruiter, don’t do sleazy things, people will remember you.

How do people get in touch with you?

Over email, [email protected], phone +353 (0)83 4469070,


and of course, our website, or indeed carrier pigeon.

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If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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