Founder in 5: Flexa CEO on funding and using LinkedIn for advocacy, not ‘scraps’

Flexa founder

Molly Johnson-Jones is the CEO and co-founder of Flexa, a careers platform that aggregates a company’s workplace benefits to give job candidates more information when applying for a role.

Once a company has been verified by Flexa it can then advertise roles on Flexa’s careers platform, while applicants can filter for jobs by criteria such as remote working flexibility and other benefits.

Founded in early 2020 by Johnson-Jones, Maurice O’Brien, and Tim Leppard, the Flexa platform now has over 450,000 users.

More than 150 companies headquartered around the world have been approved to feature on the platform and in May the startup raised £2.3m in seed funding.

In this week’s Founder in Five Q&A, Johnson-Jones shares her funding tip for a first-time female founder, her advice for getting the most out of LinkedIn and how her health condition “fuelled a passion” to launch Flexa.

1. What funding advice would you give to a first-time founder?

Molly Johnson-Jones: For first-time female founders, I would recommend targeting VCs who have female partners or are led by women. Having representation on both sides of the table is incredibly important and we found that deliberately prioritising conversations with female investors transformed our fundraising experience.

We’ve been so lucky that some of them went onto back our business, creating a truly diverse cap table that’s already added so much value.

2. Should founders be outspoken on social media?

MJJ: I’m a huge fan of LinkedIn and was recently named one of LinkedIn ‘Top Voices’, so I would definitely say yes! I think it’s so important to live your values and that sometimes means calling things out publicly. I’m not interested in getting into social media scraps for no reason, but I’m also not afraid to speak my mind and advocate for a better way of working.

LinkedIn has been a brilliant platform for me and for Flexa. Although it’s always worth taking a second before posting something to sense-check that you truly mean it and are happy to stand by it, should it spark a debate!

3. What’s a fact about yourself that people might find surprising?

MJJ: Since I was 18, I’ve lived with a chronic health condition. It’s an inflammatory condition which can cause my joints to swell up and all sorts of other symptoms. This was what actually inspired Flexa. In my previous job, my health condition sometimes made it hard for me to travel into an office.

I asked my employer if I could start working from home once a week and, within a few days, I was sacked. This fuelled a passion to create a better way of accessing truly flexible jobs.

4. How do you prevent burnout?

MJJ: Exercise is really important to me. It helps me manage my health and also is brilliant for de-stressing. I do something active every day – whether it’s walking the dog, cycling, swimming or running. It’s hugely helpful in maintaining balance in my working week and creating a bit of head space each day.

5. Excluding your own, what’s a sector that’s ripe for disruption?

MJJ: There’s still so much space for innovation in healthcare. We’re facing huge pressures on the health service in the UK. Thoughtful, fit-for-purpose digital solutions stand to play a major role in keeping us healthier and supporting our healthcare workforce. We’ve seen a lot of progress in this space already, but there’s definitely more to come.

Founder in Five – a UKTN Q&A series with the entrepreneurs behind the UK’s innovative startups, scaleups, unicorns and public tech companies – is published every Friday.