Founder Tales: Aimee Bateman, CEO of Careercake.com
Over the past few years, Careercake.com has emerged as the go-to platform for people looking to land their dream job or get to the next stage of their career.
Founded by former recruitment professional Aimee Bateman in 2010, the video content platform is viewed by more than 43 countries and is backed by the likes of GoCompare founder Hayley Parsons.
Last November, the firm secured £300,000 of investment from the Development Bank of Wales and other angel investors to launch a scale-up campaign.
Aimee’s mission is genuine: helping people pursue their dream careers and improve their job prospects. She says: “Careercake.com is a platform for people to go to, to be the best they can be – to empower their career.”
Taking the plunge
Before setting up Careercake, Aimee worked in corporate recruitment. Feeling disillusioned in this environment, she quit her job, bought a cheap camera and began making and posting career advice videos on YouTube.
She never envisaged turning Careercake into a successful company, but instead wanted to help those struggling to find a job during a recession. “It was really never meant to be a business. It was just a YouTube channel,” she remarks.
“I was a commercial recruiter, so for 12 years I was working for Robert Half, Red Recruitment and Hays. So I was really in the arena with people who were out of work, and the recession kicked in in 2010. A lot of talented people that were struggling to communicate their value.
“I decided I was going to go out and help them. I don’t know a lot about a lot, but at that stage I knew a lot about a little bit. I bought a camera for a tenner on eBay secondhand, and I just started making videos in my kitchen.”
For Aimee, Careercake has been a journey full of ups and downs. “The biggest setback was getting out of my own way, and one of the things I did was I gave the platform a name.
“Even though it was me, I still called it something outside of me so I was able to hide my impostor syndrome that way. But making your first video and putting it on the internet is the scariest thing ever. It’s crazy now – I do BBC learning programmes – I film all the time. And the next thing was learning what my audience wanted and just asking loads of questions.
“All this kind of stuff, but powering through that, when you’re skint as well, because you’ve quit your job, and you’re eating beans all the time and you look like a spud, because all I was doing was eating jacket potatoes.
“But you just power through all those moments because you genuinely want to help people. I think that’s the best way that I dealt with my setbacks in the early days – remembering who I was doing it for.”
To tackle business challenges, Aimee believes that pushing yourself outside your comfort zone is crucial. And a big part of this is learning new skills.
“I just taught myself. I’m a Youtuber – I used it to promote my business, but I also used it to learn everything. I taught myself how to build a website and taught myself how to video edit – really basic stuff in the early days, and then outsourced the rest.
As Careercake has grown, another challenge that Aimee had to overcome was impostor syndrome and learning to say no. “Very early on, I learnt that you have to say no to things. I was just so flattered – when I grew up, a lot of my time was spent in foster care,” she says.
“I had very low self-esteem growing up. I came from a council estate in Barry – it was like, all of a sudden, I was surrounded by all these smart people. In my own head I just wasn’t good enough – it was a massive issue – I needed to get out of my own way.
“And impostor syndrome – I get all that – and working through that is one thing, but I would just say yes to everybody because I was so grateful that these business people, or these smart people, wanted to have coffee with me. ‘My god, you want to spend time with me and hear about my business? That’s amazing!’
“It didn’t matter that they were never going to help me make money – they would just sell at me for an hour or whatever, but I was just so grateful to be seen, heard and valued, which is what every human wants ultimately.”
Reflecting on the journey
When it comes to growing a business, Aimee says it’s important to surround yourself by like-minded people who genuinely believe in what you do.
“I’ve made some mistakes and I’m definitely not done with making mistakes when it comes to people, but I surround myself with good people, and people that believe in the same stuff that I believe in,” she admits.
“And I’m just so blessed to have the network that I have. All my investors I targeted. My first three investors I targeted and knew I wanted them probably a year before I even talked to them about investing in me.
“I knew I wanted Hayley Parsons because she’s amazing. And Ashley Cooper, my chairman – who, professionally, is probably one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. For all of the bad decisions I’ve made in my career, I’ve made up for them with the people I’ve put on my board and the team that I have around me.”
Throughout her business journey, Aimee has learnt a number of things that have contributed to the success of Careercake. In particular, she admits hiring an operations manager has allowed her to streamline the workload.
“So I’ve recently recruited somebody to do all of the running, the ops of a business. And my goodness, I wish I’d done that sooner. For the last two and a half years, I’ve been a finance person, I’ve been dealing with lawyers and solicitors, and I haven’t been doing all the stuff I love, which is coaching, educating, speaking, helping young people find a voice in the world.
She adds: “I think my other biggest thing has been making sure that I get out of my own way. I think learning to be a sales person when you’re a founder is a real challenge because you’re selling you and I’ve found that an issue sometimes.
“And everyone knows that without sales and without money in the bank, there’s only so much money an investor is going to give you until you start making more sales.
“I think that I would have started pushing myself more to become a sales person sooner than I did, rather than looking for other people to be my sales people and recruiting and then that not working out. I’m the sales person – it’s my business and I’m the best person I believe to sell this business.”