By Andrew Heathcote
When Kiel Van Daal acquired a stake in fast-growing web development company Sitback, he realised he had a problem: he looked too young.
Van Daal was 22 when he was first required to host sales meetings. Three years later, he still looks young for his age.
Sitback is a serious business, with the likes of Subaru and Virgin Money as clients. So it was important for Van Daal to show that Sitback was up to it. Many young entrepreneurs have encountered similar problems but Van Daal’s solution was more novel than most: he hired an older person to pretend to be his boss.
After arranging a client meeting, Van Daal would get a trusted contractor (aged in his forties) to attend the meeting and give the impression he was in charge. The contractor was familiar with the business but had no authority to make big decisions; this was left to Van Daal after meeting’s end.
Proven performance has meant Van Daal no longer calls on older people to create a sense of seniority, but it’s a ploy worth considering for start-ups.
Copyright© BRW 2012.