After 9 years of successfully doing business in Bahrain. Barry Prost came back to Ireland to set up a new business called Yala, along with his business partner Jamie Groom. They have also launched a new platform for Employer Branding – called Talent Connect. Research shows that 86% of candidates today won’t apply to a company who does not have a strong employer brand. To allow start-ups and SME s compete for talent against large corporates – we produce and publish videos, pictures and authentic stories to allow companies reach candidates in a more impactful way.

Tell us about the special offer for companies who would like to avail of the Yala Connect service.

Until 14th February we have a launch offer of €250 per month for 12 months. We produce the content, but the employer owns and retains it.

We would love for IIBN members to reach out to us to demo Yala Connect and / or refer anyone they may know who is hiring staff to yala.ie.

What are your main priorities and goals in your role?

My main goal with Yala Connect is to get 100 clients on the platform this year.

What are your biggest challenges?

Educating SME’s on how culture is becoming an ever-important criterion in decision making for prospective employees and getting the word out to SME s who are hiring that Yala Connect can communicate their story to their target candidate market.

How has your business strategy been adapted in the context of the Covid-19 crisis?

Our mantra when Covid hit was cut deep and cut quick when it came to costs.  Initially we:

  • Let go part-time staff.
  • reduced hours of full-time staff.
  • cut all non-revenue generating expenditure.

We were able to push hard on credit control and bring in as much as cash as possible to the business.

In January 2020 we signed a new lease on 3,000 square foot office to allow us to grow to 30 people. And by the end of March – we had gone fully remote! Luckily, we had the IT infrastructure to make this possible in the form of internet phones, laptops and a CRM system to manage all our client activity. Through COVID we have retained all permanent employees and we are currently hiring a BD executive to sell our new platform.  We launched our new Employer Branding Platfrom – Yala Connect – during Covid.

Tell us something interesting about the business.

There is no other company offering a platform like this specifically for SME’s in Ireland, providing candidates a ‘window’ to an employer’s business, with an emphasis on videos and pictures so they can see what is really like to work there.

Tell us the about the biggest risk you have taken in business. 

Starting and opening a business in the midst of a global business crisis in the Middle East with my business partner Jamie Groom was daunting, given that we were new to the region and it was a totally different culture.

Tell us about the worst day you’ve had since you started in business. 

I think the toughest time was at the beginning. Having just returned from nice shiny offices in the sunny Middle East where we had gone through the pain of growing a successful business over 9 years in Bahrain – we found ourselves back sitting in a small two-man office having to do it all over again. Only this time it was cold, and above a warehouse off the M50!

How will Brexit affect you, or have you started to feel the effects already?

Our concern around Brexit is that it may impede our growth plans into the UK. Once we reach 100 clients in Ireland – our plan is to open the platform up to UK employers. If Brexit seriously impacts the economy there, it will affect demand for our platform.

How do you define success and what drives you to succeed?

Success for me is delivering value for our clients’ businesses and making sure they get a return on their investment. This usually means identifying the right people to help their businesses grow.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or would give, in business?

“I remember learning about the phrase “culture eats strategy for breakfast” and I have gone from effectively completely ignoring culture to making it our focus. In highly competitive, fragmented, markets where competitive advantages are hard to come by – we have found it more productive to focus on culture rather than strategy. Making sure the people who work in our business are bought into the company’s values and vision is our number one priority. We have a young, diverse team, with 6 different nationalities – it is essential they are engaged in meaningful work and they are always learning and developing.”

What have been your highlights in business over the past year?

We have successfully pivoted into the public sector when Covid hit and won 2 contracts with Trinity College Dublin and another on a major Healthcare project.

We have also launched Yala Connect which we are confident can deliver real value and return on investment for SME’s who are hiring.

What opportunities or plans for growth do you see in 2021/22?

Our aim is to double size of team in 2021 to 20. Ideally, we want to grow the business outside Ireland and across Europe to host 2,500 employers on Yala Connect within 5 years.