Hey all, via an intro from the consummate startup CFO, Mark Macleod, on Thursday I appeared as a guest in a chatroom broadcast by a Telluride-CO based site, luckystartups.com. The site conducts and stores live interviews with startup founders from around the world, with a pretty heavy digital media focus. They have a regular broadcast schedule, and pretty good reach into some institutional funders like Garage and the like. The experience was pretty cool, and if you want to check out my appearance, here it is. Please note the salmon (some would say pinkish) shirt for the appearance, and the prominent display of my Martin Brodeur Olympic gold medal-winning jersey in the background (take that, Yanks!). Only regrets: no green room buffet, no clip of current film project, and no opportunity to dispel rumours of my May-December romance with Madonna (they are totally untrue, no matter what you’ve heard).
Seriously, if you’d like to get interviewed on the site, Dannie McLain the site’s co-founder would love to host you. Connect via the site or let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll hook you up. Dannie would also love a moderator or two for regular features on Canadian tech companies – my suggestions to him were Jev McDonald here in Ontario, Austin Hill in Montreal, and Boris Mann out in Vancouver, but weigh in with your suggestions and I’ll pass them on to Dannie Mac.
I was really happy a couple of weeks ago when I got an email from Ben Yoskovitz from StandoutJobs.com and the Instigator Blog. Ben has been an entrepreneur in Montreal for the past decade and has had some great successes. His blog also has some truly great content if you’re interested in learning how to start and grow a company. Here are my two favorite posts:
These days Ben is running StandoutJobs.com and really making waves in the HR space. I love checking out their job postings.
In any case, getting in touch with Ben gave me a great opportunity to ask him to do one of my "four questions interviews" for StartupOttawa. Here it is…
1. Who are you?
Currently, I’m the CEO & Co-Founder of Standout Jobs. Prior to that I was a partner in another software company that provided a SaaS project management application. I started my first company in 1996, between my 2nd and 3rd years at McGill University (where I was "studying" Psychology). That company merged with a US-based firm and then built the project management software. I left that company in 2006 to start Standout Jobs.
As an entrepreneur for 11+ years I’ve been involved in every aspect of starting a business, but my primary expertise is really in product development (not from a coding-perspective), customer relationships and operations. I’ve also spent the last few years blogging and sinking my teeth into social media, which helps with marketing, PR and overall buzz-generating for Standout Jobs.
I’ve also been married for almost 7 years, and I have two sons – ages 3 and a half and 11 months.
2. What do you do?
As mentioned, I’m now running Standout Jobs. As the CEO & Co-Founder I handle both high level issues and day-to-day affairs.. Some high level stuff includes: raising financing, overall company direction, partnerships, hiring, and overall management of the company. The day-to-day stuff is equally as important – managing customers, building out the website, PR, marketing and so on.
Standout Jobs itself was founded in 2007 and launched in early 2008. I’ve got two other co-founders: Fred Ngo and Austin Hill. Our first product, Reception, helps companies build more engaging and interactive Career Sites. We took a look at the information most companies were providing on their website’s career sections and realized just how bad it really is. HR is all about marketing, when done properly, and we’re bringing marketing-style tools and ideas to the recruiting community. Extending from the career site functionality, we make sure company’s have more ways to market their jobs effectively. It’s all about getting the word out there and driving people back to a career site that gets them excited.
These days, I spend my time juggling a ton of different things. We’re still doing a lot of product development, and that requires a lot of energy. You have to have a clear roadmap for the product – based on your own expertise, customer feedback, etc. At the same time we’re ramping up on sales and marketing, which means negotiating partnerships, pushing direct to customers and more customer support as we gain traction.
3. Why do you do it?
I do it because I love it. There’s no other answer that can justify the hours, sacrifice, stress and so on. You can’t be an entrepreneur unless you love everything (or almost everything) that that entails.
Of course your love and passion for being an entrepreneur can’t sustain you forever. I have great co-Founders (a must for any startup), a killer team and a product + vision for how recruiting will change in the next few years that I believe can truly scale big.
I see an opportunity to be very successful and make a difference. I know that being in the recruiting business isn’t the same as saving the world, but to our benefit we’re in a business that does make people happy – great companies are finding great people and vice versa. When someone gets hired and it was in part because Standout Jobs was there to connect the candidate and the employer, that’s cool.
4. Why is it important?
Our value proposition is simple – companies have a very hard time finding and engaging great talent. Either they’re wasting money on job boards, or they’re forced to spend huge dollars on recruiters. Recruiting has turned into a very mechanical process. It’s unpleasant. Employers don’t like going through it, and candidates aren’t big fans either. As an aside, one of the biggest complaints from candidates is that they never get any feedback from companies – it’s like they’re applying into a black hole. That’s crazy to me, but it shows you just how messed up the recruiting process is today.
We’re trying to fix that. We’re trying to help companies get access to the right audience of job seekers and get them excited about working for them. We want companies to put out a bit more effort – they need to – but without going overboard. And the more companies do in terms of engaging candidates in conversation and relationship-building, the more candidates will respond.
Getting a job is a huge decision. Candidates shouldn’t take it lightly. And now we’re helping them by making sure companies provide way more information – we want companies to open their doors and let candidates have a peek inside.
Similarly, hiring someone is a huge decision. Replacing people is expensive, and for small and medium sized businesses it can be a huge problem in terms of lost productivity, morale, etc. So making sure that a candidate is the right fit culturally and personally is huge. I think Reception helps companies get a better feel for people, and encourages relationship-based marketing & recruiting vs. paper-pushing, process-driven recruiting.