With Venturely Capital backing, health recruiter Zonda Group expects rapid growth.

Health recruiter Zonda Group expects rapid growth

Venturely Capital has acquired a stake in Zonda Group, a healthcare recruiting firm, as founder Byron Van Gisborne aims to increase sales to $200 million over the next five years.

Van Gisborne, who is among Business News Australia’s Top 100 Young Entrepreneurs for 2023, has disclosed that Venturely joined as an investor last week after the retirement of Zonda co-founder Scott Clarke on May 12, representing a significant achievement for the firm.

While Van Gisborne mentions Clarke’s retirement as a ‘bittersweet’ moment in his latest LinkedIn post, contemplating on ‘two guys and a dream embarking on a journey in the world of perm’, the young businessman is equally excited regarding where he thinks he can guide the firm with the support of the new investor.

“We have huge plans to grow the business,” Van Gisborne informs Business News Australia, adding that this could include a future capital raise and acquisitions.

Clarke started the Gold Coast-based Zonda Group in 2010 as Career Building, and the firm was renamed at the end of last year to reflect the company’s new focus on delivering workers for the health, NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme), and aged-care sectors.

Van Gisborne and Clarke joined forces in 2018 when Career Building was a staff recruitment company specializing in the construction sector. Clarke hired Van Gisborne as an equal partner in assisting him to grow the business, similar to recruitment giants such as Hays or Randstad.

“Career Building at that time was a $400,000 perm (permanent placement) agency,” Van Gisborne tells. “The original plan was to be like a Hays or Randstad and be a jack of all trades.”

But the excellent growth of the company after it gave up the fickle construction industry to venture into the healthcare sector has changed that plan.

“Over the past five years we have seen really solid growth in health care, and now we have diversified to include Zonda Care, which is an NDIS provider, and Zonda Aged Care,” Van Gisborne says.

“We have already signed up about 60 participants for Zonda Care since we launched it six months ago.”

Zonda Group, at present, employs around 200 individuals in the field as nurses, caregivers, and support workers, as well as 60 through its recruiting firm, Zonda Individuals.

Zonda Aged Care is right now waiting for compliance approvals from the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission before initiating operations, which Van Gisborne anticipates will take around 3 months.

Van Gisborne’s confidence in his firm’s potential to earn $200 million in yearly income over the next five years, or 18 times current levels, is established on the basic principles of Zondas’s fields of expertise.

“It’s ambitious growth, but it’s achievable growth,” he says, continuing that the NDIS and aged care will play a significant role in accelerating the company.

“There’s a huge shortage of medical professionals across the entire health and aged-care industry, and we see several reasons why the industry will continue to grow.”

Van Gisborne says an aging workforce and an absence of fresh recruits being trained have led to a shortcoming in skilled staff, which has been aggravated by a decline in foreign medical professionals arriving in Australia in recent years. The European Union, which offers attractive packages for doctors and nurses, adds to the pressure.

“Australian nurses and allied health professionals know they are in demand, and they are willing to leave a workplace for a couple of extra dollars an hour if they can get it somewhere else; I don’t blame them to be perfectly fair.”

Van Gisborne claims that, following the relaunch late last year, Zonda is gaining traction in its major target markets, owing to old habits he learned while servicing the rigorous construction business.

“I think it helps that we came from that construction background where the industry needs what it needs ‘yesterday’. That has been our approach with healthcare, too.”

“While compliance is more stringent, and it has to be, the ‘need it yesterday’ approach works really well in the health sector because our clients are understaffed.”

“We have a lot of aged care companies, for example, already coming to us with home care packages even before we have started.”

Zonda Group is a high-volume recruiting service that operates differently than typical recruitment firms. Van Gisborne considers his company’s allied health professionals—physiotherapists, support coordinators, and clinical psychologists—to be just as important as the recruiters who specialize in acute care, elderly care, and doctors.

“With many agencies, most people are focused on recruitment, but we consider ourselves a healthcare company that also provides agency staff.”

“We staff hospitals with doctors and allied health people, and we can also put them into our NDIS and aged care business to service the elderly or disabled.”

“Nurses can jump between health care and NDIS, and we give them the option to stay with the same employer.”

One of the most significant challenges for the care industry, according to Van Gisborne, is consistency in staffing.

“We’re driving to change that. For example, instead of offering a nurse a shift for a day or a week, we like to book them in for longer periods. We’re changing people’s mindset to take a nurse for three months so that the residents and the clients have that consistency.”

“The staff member also feels part of the team and the employer can either extend their contract or take them as a permanent employee if they choose to do so.”

“We find that’s a better model for clients and creates a win for everyone.”

Zonda Group is situated on the Gold Coast, Sydney, and Townsville and also has an administrative support team in Cebu, Philippines.

Van Gisborne anticipates that the company’s physical footprint will expand over time, with Zonda’s services being deployed across Australia, including regional areas such as the Torres Strait, Western Australia, Tasmania, and the Northern Territory.

- Published By Team Australia News

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