How I turned my childhood business dream into reality - Rich Wilson

As a child I always planned on being an entrepreneur, not sure where this goal came from. However, if you had said to me three years ago that I would be writing this article as a founder of an exciting tech start-up I don’t think I would have believed you.

Rich Wilson is the CEO and co-founder of Gigged.AI
Rich Wilson is the CEO and co-founder of Gigged.AI

After graduating from Bell College with a BA in Business (after much help from my mother when I was asked to leave for poor attendance) I moved to Germany to sell cars on a military airbase in 2005. This was a great experience, mainly as it made me realise that building an inclusive and supportive culture is so important especially as the focus on that team was solely to compete with your teammates at any cost. While visiting family back in Scotland I was asked to meet a recruitment company in Leith. After a three-hour grilling, I walked away knowing that this was the company for me. I knew nothing about recruitment but had a good feeling about the people I met even though my dad seemed less impressed on the drive home with my lack of understanding of my new career.

So, in January 2007 I joined Allegis Group as a Technical Recruiter. I didn’t realise I was joining a $14bn company which is the largest privately owned staffing company in the world. This turned out to be a pivotal move for me where I learnt about the contingent staffing industry working with amazing people who taught me so much. I won EMEA Recruiter of the year at the end of 2007 mainly due to my relentless work ethic on calls and meetings as this was before LinkedIn or recruiting software was prevalent. In 2008 I was promoted into my first leadership role as Allegis Group and TEKsystems grew exponentially in Europe. Over the course of 12 years I was lucky to lead some of the best recruiters and sales people learning so much about leadership and culture along the way. Our teams excelled and we won new clients and created new products. In 2014 I was given the opportunity to lead a new office from scratch in Glasgow and build a new team. This was the hardest thing I have ever done but also the most fun I had working with a driven team of people. The support of my amazing wife was pivotal to this success.

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However, in 2018 I suffered from serious burnout which derailed me. This was a result of chronic stress caused by my relentless work ethic (I even had Relentless on large letters in the office). At this stage I was physically and mentally at my lowest point and had to make serious changes. I decided to take some time out which involved learning MMA, meditation, ice baths and a life changing trip to Japan. I started writing about my mental health story and was lucky to join This Is Me Scotland to raise awareness of workplace mental health. At this stage I decided I needed to learn more skills and was lucky enough to join the skills advisory board of The Data Lab and also join Gartner. These opportunities allowed me to meet fantastic people and learn so much about more about building high performance teams, digital products and data strategies.

Over the last 15 years I have realised I am passionate about connecting people to opportunities and this is where the idea for Gigged.AI came from. Myself and my co-founder Craig had a vision during the pandemic to use Artificial Intelligence to make contingent hiring easier for companies and talent. This involved late nights and weekends during lockdown to take this from an idea in a notebook to an exciting start-up. These experiences have made me realise the importance of wellness, delegation and hiring a passionate and diverse team who you trust to do great things. These traits will be at the heart of the Gigged.AI culture. It’s been a long road to being an entrepreneur but I am proud to now realise my childhood dream of starting a business from scratch!

Rich Wilson is the CEO and co-founder of Gigged.AI

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