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July 17 2005

Our CEO wins the coveted VCR Directory Prize

Our CEO Eyal Ben-Cohen, has been named by Cranfield School of Management as the MBA student who presented the business plan that was most likely to succeed.  

The VCR Directory prize is awarded by the Planning Your New Business (PNB) elective.  The judges who awarded him the VCR Directory prize included Jeff Pike from Biogeny, Robert Wright of Cityflyer Express and Lucius Cary of Oxford Technology — all successful entrepreneurs and investors in early-stage businesses.

(Gerard Burke from Cranfield on the left and Modwena Rees-Mogg from VCR Directory (the sponsor) on the right)

Gerard Burke, PNB programme director stated "In every year group of Cranfield MBA, there is one student who from the very start of the first term, stands out as the most entrepreneurial and the most likely to start a successful new venture. I am pleased that your CV checking business proposition impressed the judges on the PNB panel."

The Sunday Times-Appointments reported on the story:

Verifile, Eyal Ben-Cohen’s CV checking business, looks a real moneyspinner, offering a fast and economical way of catching up on cheats. But, sadly, the main reason it is likely to succeed is that many people seeking a job are tempted to be dishonest.

A survey by Opinion Research Business, commissioned by Bank of Scotland, revealed that 900,000 (almost 25%) of small and medium-sized enterprises had suffered from staff fraud. “Research suggests that about 30% of people lie about their qualifications,” said Eyal.

The difficulties with screening are its cost, particularly when carried out by a private investigator, and the time it takes. Scrutinising references and qualifications requires patience. “It takes a lot of time,” Eyal said, “but we are helping organisations to reduce the business risk.”

Verifile, his new checking business, expects to complete 80% of its inquiries into qualifications within five days. The failure to achieve 100% comes because some companies are slow in responding to requests for information. 

The company has developed a special online system that aims to speed up the job using available technology such as e-mails and faxes. Verifile draws up a chart with all the information on the candidate and sends it to former employers, who only have to tick the boxes.

Searches into candidates cost a few pounds, making it possible to screen candidates as a matter of course. Verifile has just added a new service, a DVLA records check, to verify that company-car drivers have the correct licence. Letting them drive with the wrong one can mean an executive at the employer, usually the company secretary, paying a penalty.

At Cranfield, Eyal got support and help from classmates, together with grants from the DTI. The first half of 2003 was devoted to developing his business plan and the second half to arranging funding.

“I had to use every possibility to get it going in a country new to me,” he said. “I didn’t have any network or social contacts to help me.  However, I happened to have a chat with a guest lecturer who was a lawyer in Milton Keynes. He thought it sounded an interesting proposition and introduced me to one of the partners at a firm of accountants, Mercer and Hole.”

This firm became his first commercial client. Wendy Harpur, who is in charge of human relations at the firm, is a keen user of the system. “It saves my team so much time,” she said. “We can spend hours chasing references, but the website process makes it so much quicker and easier. We have used it to check 20 to 25 people in the past three months.”

However, Rebecca Clarke, recruitment adviser to the CIPD, points out that a CV is not the best place for modesty. “There’s nothing wrong with selling yourself when you are applying for work, but lies or deliberate distortions could leave you out of a job and limit your chances of getting a new one.

“Employers need to be careful. If they don’t have rigorous pre- employment checks in place, they risk being a soft touch for people who are willing to be dishonest to get work or advance their careers.”