NEXXT EXCLUSIVE: goCanvas.io CEO, Aman Brar Talks Next Level Recruiting
A Nexxt Exclusive in partnership with TAtech.org, the boys are onsite to interview Aman Brar, CEO of Canvas, a text messaging recruiting tool. In addition to covering a wide array of topics, including the power of SMS, the benefits or building a deep data pool powered by communications, and exploring what comes after messaging, the guys have a great time. Enjoy.
Looking to leverage text message marketing to recruit candidates? Checkout Text2Hire from Nexxt and get your first Text2Hire campaign for 25% OFF! Just go to ChadCheese.com and click on the Nexxt logo in the sponsor area or www.nexxt.com/chadandcheese25.
Twitter feed edition: https://twitter.com/joelcheesman/status/956264124757004288
This, The Chad and Cheese Podcast, brought to you in partnership with TAtech. TAtech, the association for talent acquisition solutions. Visit tatech.org.
Announcer: Hide your kids, lock the doors! You're listening to HR's most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheesman are here to punch the recruiting industry right where it hurts. Complete with breaking news, rash opinion and loads of snark. Buckle up boys and girls, it's time for the Chad and Cheese Podcast.
Chad: Okay Joel, quick question.
Chad: What happens when your phone vibrates or your texting alert goes off?
Joel: Dude, I pretty much check it immediately, and I bet everyone listening is reaching to check their phones right now.
Chad: Yeah, I know. I call it our Pavlovian dog reflex to text messaging.
Joel: Yeah, that's probably why text messaging has a fricking 97% open rate-
Joel: And a crazy high candidate response rate within the first hour alone.
Chad: Which, are all great reasons why The Chad and Cheese Podcast love Text2Hire from Nexxt.
Joel: Love it!
Chad: Yep, that's right. Nexxt, with the double X, not the triple X.
Joel: Bow chicka bow-wow. So, if you're in talent acquisition, you want true engagement and great ROI, that stands for return on investment folks, and because this is The
Chad and Cheese Podcast, you can try your first Text2Hire campaign for just 25% off. Boom!
Chad: Wow! So, how do you get this discount, you're asking yourself right now.
Joel: Tell them Chad.
Chad: It's very simple. You go to chadcheese.com and you click on the Nexxt logo in the sponsor area.
Chad: No long URL to remember, just go where you know, chadcheese.com and Nexxt with two XS.
Joel: Alright, hey guys. We are here live on site for the first time ever-
Joel: With startup phenom Canvas here in beautiful downtown Indianapolis.
Chad: Woo hoo!
Joel: I think it's 20 degrees and flurries coming down, so wherever you are, it's probably better than where we are, weather-wise. Quick introduction, Aman Brar, if I say that correctly. Say hi Aman.
Aman: Perfect. I am Aman Brar of Canvas.
Joel: Aman Brar, like Almond Joy-
Aman: There it is.
Joel: Aman Brar, and unfortunately with us as always is Chad of The Chad and Cheese Show.
Chad: Ugh, hello! I keep pointing at stuff. If you're on Twitter, you could actually see what I was pointing at, but a beautiful view here downtown Indianapolis.
Joel: We have a total of zero viewers on Twitter, right now.
Chad: That's okay.
Joel: I can see from the little live cast.
Chad: They watch it later. They always do.
Joel: Yeah, we'll share that in the show. So anyway, Nexxt exclusive, two XS, make sure they always remember that.
Chad: Not triple x.
Joel: Not triple x, which we told them would have more traffic, but they failed to listen to us.
Chad: They should've bought it. They should've bought it.
Aman: There is a church right behind you. I love that.
Chad: They should've bought it.
Aman: Which is fantastic.
Chad: It is.
Joel: It looks like a hat.
Joel: Okay, churches and the psychology or psychiatry office is right next to us, so Chad and I will probably be checking into that after the show. But, let's get into it. Love the name, what's up with URL? Could you not get something better than GoCanvas.io?
Aman: Yeah, I would say thus far with our inbound lead traffic, it's working just fine, so ...
Joel: It's working just fine.
Chad: Now is that SEO traffic or are you having a lot of direct people actually-
Aman: We have a lot of direct through the media and so forth.
Aman: Now, I would say ... Look, I think every startup's got trade offs to make, right?
Aman: And Canvas.com was just, at this point, a little ...
Joel: Probably taken. The dot com.
Aman: Well, let's assume it's taken. We own a bunch of iterations of, there's going to be lots, right? And so as we kind of test it and figure things out that's one that we rolled with, so that's where we are right now-
Joel: But you're not changing the name?
Aman: We're not changing the name of the company.
Joel: But if Canvas.com comes up for sale, you might explore ...
Aman: Might throw 5 or 6 dollars.
Joel: If it's reasonable, five or six dollars. Fair enough.
Aman: I think like ultimately, we'd certainly, you know, optimization's always the thing we can look into. We own a lot of variants. This was the one out of the gate. We wanted to build a durable brand for the long term and decided look, if we have to make some short term URL trade offs, we will, and so that's the story. We did get, we own the trademark for Canvas in the HR and recruiting space-
Aman: So, you know look, that's going to be the-
Joel: So now that the hardball question is out of the way-
Chad: Wait a minute, I'm not done.
Joel: Oh, you're not done. We should get an introduction from them at some point about what-
Chad: Well, we'll get it next. We'll get it next.
Joel: Okay, we'll get to that next.
Chad: So, I mean, you guys have to be doing like a shit load of SEO to be able to try to get that, because Canvas is obviously just a regular term, and if you do a search, it's really hard to find, you've got to have like "Canvas text", "recruiting"-
Aman: That's true. You do.
Chad: So I mean, brand means so much, and you've got to spend a lot of money on brand, right? And you guys aren't, and you can't at this point do the Indeed and ZipRecruiter commercials out the ying yang, right? So what do you guys do to actually just embed that brand?
Aman: Yeah, so A, we're not spending a lot on SEO. There's probably lemonade stands and food trucks in town that are spending more than we are. But I do think, you know, two things we've done incredibly well, sharing our story through our media and that's been really, really good for us. And also, word of mouth has been really strong for us. You know, I'd say just people sharing stories about us on Link Din generates traffic. We're certainly, just to be clear, SEO, for sure is part of the story, SEM is not part of the story, right now. I think we're very content conscious. We're writing and distributing materials and happy with where we are on that journey and I think, as we continue to grow, we'll probably spend more there, on the SEO and SEM side. But, right now, the thing about star-ups is it's a world filled with infinite trade- offs, right? We're making them everyday, and we decided to go on all in on a long-term, global brand and we could've called ourselves like, yellow toilet brush-
Joel: Booger text.
Aman: Booger text and-
Aman: Yeah, yeah.
Chad: He always makes fun of jobboard.io. He always calls is job Borodino.
Joel: Yeah, JobBoard.io.
Chad: So, anyway.
Aman: Yeah, totally. Anyhow, in the scheme of things, .io is where we landed.
Chad: Yeah, yeah.
Joel: So, let's back up-
Chad: Yeah so, intro. Let's do an intro
Joel: Agree, so most listeners out there don't know Canvas from carpentry, or whatever-
Chad: And they should-
Joel: So, give us the elevator pitch. What do you do and why should our listeners care?
Aman: Yeah, we launched June 13th as the world's first text-based interviewing platform, so you can screen candidates at the top of the funnel, continue to engage with them, like many other products will allow you to do as well. And then we got some really unique features to de-identify candidates and resumes, et cetera. So, we're really excited about just the power tool that we've built in the platform.
Joel: So, I really enjoy your past because it's steeped in rich tradition of text messaging-
Joel: Give us a little bit about ChaCha and your experience way back with text messaging.
Aman: So, one of the secrets to Canvas is that many people here on the team were part of a text-based start-up darling 10 years ago, called ChaCha. We became one of the prominent text entities in the US. We're right up there in traffic with the Twitters of the world, et cetera and had our 15 minutes of fame, if you will but we launched as an "ask anything" service to 2422242 and the game plan there, which we did largely succeed on many elements of this, was while it started off being completely human-powered, so, you'd ask, "who won the '84 world series?" And we'd serve up that answer. We were able to layer in natural image processing and some other interesting things, so we could re-serve those answers. So, over time, a bigger percentage everyday, of those answers we were gonna serve, were not being researched again, right? And so, you can certainly see parallels in our strategy when it comes to recommended questions and answers, and so forth, in the recruiting game.
Aman: So, that's a bit of our story. The company launched out of Sundance, had an incredible amount of success, structured some deals with AT&T and ultimately, macro-economics kind of shifted ... Moved into more of an app economy and the company kind of fizzled and didn't quite get over the hump. But, you know, I'd do it all over again, if I could-
Joel: What percentage of phones were feature phones, back in '07?
Aman: Huge percent-
Joel: Over 80%?
Aman: Yeah, and there was a lot of demographic learnings we had and why we thought the time was right. As you're seeing four companies to be launching in the text space or have launched already-
Aman: But, you had teens and tweens that were really latching onto text but, one of the things that people don't get is that, the second faster adopter of texting 10 years ago, were moms, right? So, you had a pretty decent population of people who've grown up with texting and engaged with the children through texting and now, certainly, it's everywhere.
Aman: But, you know the story of ChaCha was, how do you re-serve these answers that we had researched? And we were able to cook up some interesting deals in that space and the ultimately, you know ... I really think it probably more of a timing issue than anything-
Joel: Pretty sure Chad's mom got upset about the number of text voting that he did back in the American Idol days.
Chad: Exactly right.
Joel: His Motorola Razor, back in the day.
Aman: So exactly. John build a lot of the core application and Zach, he built the ad engine and ran out of analytics there-
Joel: He's pointing at the crack-pot tech team here at Canvas.
Chad: Boom! You'll see us pointing on Twitter-
Joel: But we're surfing domain names on GoDaddy, right now, as we speak.
Aman: Gocanvas.io, we're sticking to it.
Chad: gocanvas.io. Dot dot. IO, yeah, that's it.
Chad: So, talk about the transition. What you learned from ChaCha and bringing it over to Canvas because it seems like there's a ton of, not just technology, but experience that you could port over into talent acquisition because ChaCha had nothing to do with talent acquisition.
Aman: Yeah, true. Zero percent.
Aman: I would say this has been a thread through many parts of my career, including ChaCha but I was up at the country's first DSL broadband company in the Silicone Valley. To be successful, you had to play within the ecosystem, right? You know, at ChaCha to be successful ... Back then, we were out there negotiation relationships with carriers directly, right? And so, you had to figure out how to be successful in the ecosystem. Then much of the team here, we built and scaled the management company, Apparatus from a local company.
National, we were acquired by a global company. So, we all of a sudden were managing 1500 people and again, that was enterprise IT integration. Again, an ecosystem play.
Aman: So, I think the common thread to have the ability to have the fast start that we've had in the HR ecosystem, is that we've always understood that ecosystems are important.
Aman: And I think what we did right, even in our softwares engineers ... you know, our interaction layer has sat outside of our core platform since before we had a product or a partner. So, we just designed it the right way from the beginning. It's making our ability to play with others real easy.
Aman: So, I think if there's anything that's been a common thread through the success this team's had, it's understanding that more often than not, you're going to be successful because you were part of an ecosystem that was having success, right? And that's the approach that we took. Now, there's no doubt we understanding texting, we understand a lot of the new technologies. You know, John understands scale in a way that very few people who are gonna understand, who's experience at ChaCha then been with email at Salesforce. I think all those things serve us well because we get high input-output situations from the get-go and we have a deep understanding of data through the many parts of our careers.
Joel: You mentioned when we were talking, before the show, about the sort of resources and money it would have taken to build ... And you just sort of mentioned it briefly, building actual relationships with the carriers and what not before Toleo came along. Some would view that as a threat. Is Canvas' business, is this easy to re-create? And I guess, a deeper question is, is text messaging a feature or is it really a stand-alone product?
Aman: So, I think the secret to Canvas, is we're out to capture the world's interviewing information. That's what we're doing. The first logical place to extend into that was text messaging. So, we think, if you look at how do most people communicate today, and it's really text-centric. Wouldn't that support the thesis that you could be a stand-alone product in that space. I think, Exact Target proved that with email to the tune of a $2.5 billion exit, right? So I think there's-
Chad: Not bad.
Aman: So, I think there's some legs there. And one of the things, if you think about the data story, you look at a Salesforce and an Exact Target that's near and dear to here. Really, Exact Target is the company that brought rich data to the table about customers. And if you think about how much data we're probably collecting per day about Canada, versus let's take an HES provider. I think there's a really rich compelling data story that shouldn't be overlooked. I would think about the work that Canvas, and other companies, are doing.
Chad: Well, that being said ... So, TA today and with all these system and ... Talent acquisition, they have so many gaps. So many systems gaps. So many process gaps. They have issues all over the place. Why is this one of the most important issues that they should really focus on? And how do you actually get their attention? Because their hair's on fire with all the issues they have, that they're dealing with.
Aman: You know, it's been surprising, I'm actually encourage by the adoption I'm seeing by, what I call, the not traditional early adopters.
Aman: When we fist launched ... And there's no doubt we still see this, that kind of traditional, cross-the-chasm adopter, arriving early. And I thought, that's probably the part of the market we're playing in for a few years. Then, I'd say, what we have are these traditional businesses that are out of answers, right? And they're just searching a seeking ... And you're seeing this, I bet, as you're talking about this. And so, we've been quite surprised at, I think, the willingness of companies, who might be considered more traditional companies, but they've just been bumping their head in the wall for so long, that something fresh, or interesting, or new comes along and they're wiling to go say, "hey, let's go give this a shot".
Aman: We were with a client yesterday and she said, "of our recruiters using this, there's one over here that told me, there's just no way I'm going to text my candidates" and she begrudgingly got on it and she said, "Look, Aman it's amazing. I got an email today from X recruiter saying, you know, this is amazing and the response rates I get are amazing." And so, I think it's about getting it into people's hands and I've actually found there to be a fair amount of open-mindedness.
Aman: More so than not. Now, let's be honest, it's not so different than what we just lived through with Clock Routinizing in our last company. I think where we've got work to do is in middle management and we kind of look at that as our opportunity to help educate middle management at these companies. Because, companies who made progress getting more innovative VPs of talent, right? We're seeing new people in that realm, they're rising to the top. They're innovative. They're getting a seat at the table. We're seeing talent professionals coming out of college understanding this way that they might want to communicate or engage and there's this maybe middle management who still trying to figure out how to make sense of this world.
Aman: Let me walk through this analogy with you. It's no different than when we were selling cloud technologies and seeing CTO going, "wanna be in the cloud". Seeing a developer, coming out of college, saying, "I wanna use the cloud" and seeing a developer of infrastructure, "I'm not so sure about the cloud".
Aman: And, it's the same story, all over again. And disruption oftentimes looks like a barbell. You get more interest at the top and bottom and it's this middle part that you have to work through and I think that's where we spend a lot of time educating and working through folks. So, it's not just, is a company interested, it's really inside that company, there are just people. And these people have different levels of either fear or excitement when it comes to technology.
Joel: But you think that they text every day. So, how do you not put together the pieces to say, "why aren't I texting candidate in the same way that I'm texting my wife about what's for dinner?"
Joel: Does it surprise you that it's taking this long for-
Aman: A little bit, but I also would say that when we work through these moment and you see the light bulbs go off, and so ... I mean, yeah, you're right, it is surprising that sometimes you can't make the leap, but I think as you work through tying those things together, there tends to be some open-mindedness there.
Aman: And you're not going to win them all. There's still people right who say, "There's no way we're going to us the cloud for our whatever". That's still going to happen, right? But one by one, we'll continue to get them all.
Joel: That's the general market downtown, yeah.
Aman: And back to the ecosystem. I think part of it is ... We're talking, is there anything that'd off limits. I was like, no because it does take the ecosystem to lift all the boats ... For the tide to lift all the boats. So, I actually think that competition and interest and companies doing really new things in the space is good for everybody, quite frankly. It's a big market out there. Big, massive market-
Chad: Few phones out there-
Joel: It is, but as you talk about all this, what is the main, pinpoint problem when you're trying to help talent acquisition really get bought. The solution and really how's the going to impact down from a dollars and cents standpoint.
Aman: I think the piece, that's from the beginning, is that, let's just think of the notion of inventory for a recruiter, right? It's time. That's what your inventory is. And you can live in a world, today, where you're going to schedule your four to six photo screens, and those are going to be the meaningful moments with another human you've had today, or you can get on a platform, like Canvas, and do it with 40 to 60 people a day.
Aman: And here's an interesting thing, when you put it in like, betting is always kinda fun. So, if you were to say to anybody ... They were hesitate about leveraging texting and you say, "Cool, don't buy the product but here's what we're going to do. The goal is you're going to go have a meaningful conversation with 100 candidates today. You need to use your black Sysco telephone with the red button on it, on the table. And I'm going to use Canvas. Who do you want, to take the bet?"
Aman: No one will take that bet because when they really stare at it, they go, "There's no way I can win that race". It's impossible. It's not even fair to try that race, right? And so-
Chad: So, you're empowering, really, recruiters to be more efficient... And this is very focus on the tactical play of day-to-day recruiters, right? When it comes down to just that conversation, we see it's obviously text and it's also chat. Facebook Messenger, those types of things. So, why Canvas versus some of the other products that are out there that are not just ... I mean, are you more than text-based? And why put it in the hands of a recruiter, when I can have AI do it?
Aman: But you can't have AI do it. You can't go to that grocery store across the street, right now, and buy a can of Campbell's soup without somebody staring at the four cashiers ... Look, you cannot buy Campbell's soup with 100% accuracy-
Chad: Amazon Go! What a minute-
Aman: Amazon Go, right? So, the problem is ... What we believe ... And you'll see us not market AI and ML much, but that is what is doing the magical stuff, behind the scenes. So, when you're a recruiter and someone asks a question and the system presents you the answer to that question, you're like, "That's cool." It says, "Suggested response. Do you want to send that?". Actually, I do want to send that. Click. I'll do that, right? So, we believe in it, but we believe in it side-by-side, enabling recruiters to be like symphony conductors, right?
Aman: You can do our machine learning based screen process ... It's completely automated. Delivers a prospect to the recruiter. The prospect looks at that, decides if they want to continue the conversation as a human. That stuff's in the software but you're very confused-
Joel: So Canvas today will say, okay, grocery store across the street, are you 18 or older?
Aman: Can do right now.
Joel: Are you a US citizen-
Aman: Not even as you can say, "Yup, yeah". It'll understand and assign probabilities to it.
Joel: So, there is somewhat of an automation-
Aman: Oh yeah, 100%-
Joel: Portion of the product.
Aman: Yeah, 100%. Both for a truly automated experience, as well as what I call, this machine-assisted experience. Both are in the product today.
Joel: So, what's your option of the Mias, the Olivias, the Hellos. The companies that are touting like, human-free, we'll do the whole thing. Are you skeptical of those solutions or do you think-
Aman: Look, these are smart people in good companies working on interesting products-
Chad: Some of them.
Aman: But if you pay attention, I think it's like HBO ... HBO's trying to become Netflix. Netflix is trying to become HBO. If you think about it, right? If you look at some of those technologies that you mentioned, they can go take a very narrow cast of the candidate type and they're going to automate the heck out of that one type of candidate, right? Whereas today, seven months after launch, we've got everything from machinist, welders, process engineers, sales professionals, mortgage analysts, pilots, physicians, aircrew, nurses, physical therapists. The breadth of conversational data that we have, you cannot touch it. You cannot touch what we're capturing when it comes to insights around questions and answers from a wide array ... When it comes to breadth, right? I think it's a question of a narrow focused AI or a more, maybe harmonious machine and human type of enabled system that we're building.
Aman: And I think both have a need in the market place. And I think it's no surprise that we're dealing with a lot of companies that hire not just retail and not just light industrial but professional staff out there. I think it's just, what's the right tool for the job? And I think there's more than enough room for all those companies. So, their goal, for those companies, would be, how do I become wider over time. My goal is, we've got all this data, how do we start automating slices of it, over time.
Aman: If you really think about it, we're just approaching a similar problem from two different angles. And I think the ecosystems require all of the above to really solve the problem, at the end of the day.
Chad: So, you talk about that data and you guys have transcripts.
Chad: Which is I think amazing from the standpoint of ... And we talked about this, I think, on the hone it firing squad-
Joel: Oh yeah.
Chad: So, that information is amazing because there's always this "he said, she said" thing that's happening and you have al that information. Is that something you port over into ... You just an API, pop it into the ATS so they have that system.
Aman: Yeah, we're super supportive of the ATS as the system of record. That's exactly how it works today. And even if you're on some on antiquated ATS, let's just say that it has a monochromatic green screen, we'd probably still find a way to get in there. You can download it, export and put it in.
Aman: That's exactly right, so the problem we were trying to solve there ... And all this just learnings from our past when we were scaling the last company. We had so many conversations where a wonderful recruiter ... "They're busy. Talk to Sally today. It was a great conversation, you really ought to interview her." And that's what you get, right? And in our world, it's like, talk to Sally today, check out this amazing transcript. And you're like, well, I actually do want to interview Sally, that sounds amazing. Or, you know what? Could you dig in here a bit before I go spend an hour of very valuable hiring manager time before you dig in. And that was really the premise there and let me tell you, I've said this since pre-launch. I said it at the launch. We have 50 more features now ... My favorite feature is still transcripts. When I demo now, I say, by the way, my favorite feature is transcripts. All this other and all the bells and whistles and all the machine learning and all that stuff ... Transcripts in an of itself is really where....
Chad: What are you doing with that data, though? Because that's all data and if you take a look and swaths of it ... So, let's say for instance, you're looking for engineers ... Developers, doesn't matter. You're having specific types of conversations with that community. Can you pretty much take that from a machine learning standpoint and start to actually create better processes for the interview?
Aman: Yeah, you nailed it. You have a few different things that feed into this. You have, understanding what the role is that they're being recruited for, that kind of space. You have the transcript. You have decisions that might have been made. So, imagine an expression of this technology where ... Cause you're realtime scoring the questions and answers. You get the thumbs up and the thumbs down. And now, you can start to generate based off your scoring of Lisa, you might also think about Sally. So, that's exactly the type of opportunity that we have and that we're really excited about right now. When you look at that ...
Aman: Now, let's take it a step further. Now imagine you're tied into the HRS of a system and now you can actually look at the efficacy of a question with regard to people's first year performance reviews. If you have enough data on this side and enough data on this side. So, that's where things get really, really interesting. And the things that ... Let's call it text-chat. Any vehicle that's not the traditional phone call. For 104 years we've been having phone calls and losing every bit of data to the ether, right? I mean, literally. Just think about it. It'd be sad to think about the trillions of bits of data that have just been turned into, "Hey Sally's great, you really ought to interview her". We got an entire 30 minute phone call. Sally's great and you really gotta interview her. And the world, when you think about platforms, is very, very different.
Joel: So, let me connect the dots with that real quick. So, you're talking about the HRS system. You're talking about actually having this data to demonstrate that the retention of certain-
Aman: Performance, yeah. That's right.
Joel: High performers ... Retention. I mean, a lot of this data could actually be tied back, perspectively, hopefully, to the interview.
Aman: And I think retention, that's probably a whole other Podcast conversation about the merits of retention or not ...
Chad: We got all day.
Aman: Yeah, we got all day.
Joel: Chad and I have nothing else to do
Chad: Speak for yourselves!
Aman: And here's the thing. There should be many companies working on solving this problem and we should expect that. And I think that's why it's so darn interesting. And when you think about ... You've taken decades of what I call, lost data ... Just lost data and now finally, companies are emerging with step one, how we capture the conversation with text maybe, I'd argue is the best vehicle to do this with, right now. Those vehicles will evolve and there'll be more channels where this is really, really interesting. You got companies starting from every different ... Companies that started video first, somebody started text first. All of this is going to be required to get to that end-game that I think people get excited about. Where maybe, for the first time ever, we actually have meaningful insights of talent.
Joel: You've mentioned twice little about deep data and all that. So, to me, this says this is more than just a text communication company.
Aman: Sure, yeah.
Joel: Talk a little bit about your investors because particularly from an Indiana Hoosier perspective, you have some really interesting investors from that side. What vision did you sell to them, which I'm sure included this data play and I guess, what's after this in text and moving forward?
Aman: I hate talking about it, Joel, but I will. In fact, I think this is the first time-
Chad: I don't believe you.
Aman: I think this might be the first time we've actually talked about capturing the world's internet information. That was in the original thesis, right? Our investors are phenomenal. We've got, Brett Flinchum who just exited the company he was at to Cisco out in Silicon Valley. Some of the first people I pitched it to were the previous head of talent at AirBnB. Elon Musk's previous talent at SpaceX and then Todd Richardson, previous head of talent at Salesforce at Exact Target. They all asked to invest and advise on that spot, so that ... This is like when I have a slide that talked about these things-
Joel: Cummins as well-
Aman: Tom Linebarger, the CEO of Cummins is our-
Chad: Woo! Go Columbus!
Aman: Yeah, exactly. He's our board member with me and chairmen on the company and an investor. One of the founders of the finish line ... So just a great array of investors and so, we're very, very excited about their belief in what we were set out to do.
Aman: What was great was, so many of our investors have business scaling background and no matter what demographic they were in it, all can solve the problem, right? They all could relate to the, have a recruiter walk over to you and say, "Hey, you should talk to Sally, it was great." What does great mean, you know? And so they all had similar experiences and saw how they were communicating with their kids or their loved ones and peers and saw the opportunity. So, great group of investors that we're really excited about and I think, as you know, the market's wide open, in this space and we're excited to go-
Chad: So, the vision you sold to them ...
Aman: That's exactly what it is. It's the data story, right?
Aman: That's the real piece and the thing about machine learning, it's really hard to do without that data. It's nearly impossible.
Chad: I would say it's impossible.
Aman: Yeah, it's impossible. So, if you think about what we're doing ... You'll see that we don't oversell anywhere this concept of automating your job or machine learning and what we wanted to do was just to create these moments behind the scenes. So, when you're using our software, it's less about selling the process or the specs, but selling you the experience as a recruiter.
Aman: Our NPS score is through the roof. I mean through the roof. It's firmly in world-class category. And we have automated NPS scoring that comes in through our system and I think it's because we're putting the focus on the experience. Its beautiful software. It functions, it scales. It creates these delightful moments for you behind the scenes and I think our recruiters are really appreciating that.
Aman: The thing I don't want to get lost on this either is the appreciating from candidates. So candidates ... It's been awesome. We've had hard hearing candidate write in saying, "This has changed my life, that I can actually have an intelligent conversation around an opportunity without having to get on the phone"-
Joel: Chad hates talking about disability with clients.
Aman: But these are real stories-
Chad: I don't, my wife builds disability hiring programs.
Aman: The other thing I mentioned is for as much as, you know, you don't see us overly focusing on this millennial story ... You know here's another massive example here, we have people writing into our employers that use the software saying, "You know, gosh, thanks so much. You know I'm a welder in a rural mid-western town, you know I'm sick of going to the library to figure out if I'm going to make sense for you, and the fact that I can do this in my noisy manufacturing facility, during a break and go through a text ... And I'm just further text engagement, like, when's the interview? Without having to get on a phone or get to library. It's a total game changer."
Aman: And so, we use this term, that you're allowed to punch me for, but it helps democratize employment opportunities in so many different ways. Because what you're finally able to do with a text is, you're reducing the friction and the Brarier for entry for the company again to engage. And I think that's really what's really compelling about it. And we've always believed the use case was beyond one [inaudible 00:31:19] and it's certainly proven to be true. And we know that, just even from our ChaCha days. We knew this whole, somehow only 25 year olds once texting is not accurate, right? I mean, its just completely inaccurate. And so, that is a bit of education that we have to do.
Aman: The other thing people are confused about is, they don't understand demographics, so they think millennials are the people graduating college and millennials are nearly 40. I mean they're getting there, they're in their mid-thirties now. These are people will families and homes and they're driving Honda Accords. You know what I mean? So, everyone needs to relax on the millennial thing.
Joel: This sponsorship brought to you by Honda.
Aman: Yeah, Honda.
Chad: So, that being said, as he pushed all the diversity stuff out there. I'll just get on my soap box. So, you're actually showing me that there's some diversity aspect-
Chad: Of the actual platform itself. Talk a little bit about that because that is important today when we're starting to talk about trying to be more diverse, but we've got all these biases that are already built into us. How does Canvas help with that?
Aman: Yeah, we're trying to make a dent in that problem by, what we call, candidate de-identification. So we can literally click one button that de-identifies the transcript, really-
Chad: What's that mean now? What does de-identify mean?
Aman: Gender, race, nationality, those types of things.
Aman: Even to the degree, if you said, "Can you tell me about your leadership experience?" And you said, "Oh yeah, cool, I was captain of my football team", it actually knows to redact the word "football" or "softball" for the other gender tells. It's a pretty slick system. We also do the same for resumes, so imagine sending the payload to a hiring manager, where it's this de-identified transcript-
Chad: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Aman: A de identified resume and maybe, perhaps, it'll less bias a decision about who gets an opportunity from a hiring manager.
Aman: Because, what I believe, and I think the data rally tells a story, is that, bias happens unconsciously, we all have it and we're more prone to look past it, if we're in the same room together. You know? You don't know if Aman Brar has a thick accent and is a skinny Indian guy, versus the large, loud, American accented Indian guy that I have, until I'm in the room with you, right? But I think a lot of those ... We think that we can help get people on base and from there, man, you still gotta run around the bases and get the work done, but I don't think there's an opportunity to reduce bias at that very top of the funnel. I actually do.
Joel: Something happened in the new recently, you may have heard it, I dunno. iCIMS, a pretty well-known long-standing ATS in the industry, recently acquired Text Recruit, which I assume would be a competitor of yours.
Aman: For sure, yeah.
Joel: Thoughts on that? Is it going to be a thing? We also saw Job Align launch their messaging, texting service. What are your thoughts on the news?
Aman: Cheers to the Text Recruit team. I think it's exciting for them and iCIMS. You know we've got client on the iCIMS platforms, just like we do on many, many platforms and so, I think we're looking forward to a heterogeneous universe, whether ATSs tend to align with a single player, or not. But I think if you really look at where the market's going for ATS ... If you're doing it right, you're thinking about marketplaces right. And if you want to service your clients, you're thinking about servicing them across a broad need and a broad set of technology. So, I'm very bullish on ecosystem and continuing to learn. I hope iCIMS takes that approach. We'll see.
Aman: I told our investors from day one, you shouldn't expect 10 competitors in the next five years, you should expect a thousand. So, I think, we've been ready and excited about competition, which is why we built a product that was so deep from the get-go because we wanted to make sure we have that technical moat and that data moat that we're starting to build.
Aman: I think the competition's good for the space. I mean, quite frankly, if you think that we're anywhere near market penetration, you're super confused about ... These people ask me all the time, "What happens when you and Text Recruit run into one another? How?" And I'm like, well the three times that's happened ... You know what I mean? You know, I'm super happy for them. I think it's great. I think it takes ... Just like with cloud computing, you don't want to be the only cloud computing company. You want to go create categories and work through, what I believe is an undeniable and inevitable change-
Chad: Validation, too, right?
Aman: That's exactly right.
Joel: And how many phone calls from ATSs have you fielded since the news landed.
Aman: Lots of phone previous to the acquisition. Here's what's probably happened to ATSs, I think it's validated the need across the client base and so, to the credit of the 80 ATS providers, we found the majority were friendly pre-that and they continue to be friendly, if not friendlier after that. Especially the modern ATSs, honestly, they've been a pleasure to work with. They get the marketplace economy, they get the open environment. I think some of the legacy ones can be a little more challenging, but not impossible, just, you-
Joel: That's a really nice way to say that-
Chad: Those assholes!
Aman: Yeah, they're proving to be a little more daunting at times because instead of just two people to approve it, there's 600, you know? But, even there, it's just time if it's not knows. I think you summarized it well. Its good validation for the space.
Chad: So, we are ... And he's talking about us being in Hoosier land. We're a couple Buckeyes, just so everybody knows that. But, why Indy? You talked about going to the Silicon Valley and-
Joel: And why the Midwest?
Chad: Yeah. Why the Midwest? I mean, you could have gone anywhere.
Joel: And they may be leaving.
Chad: No, we're not leaving. Shut up.
Joel: So, you're ready to commit to Indy for the next 10 years?
Chad: Yes, that's what we're trying to do.
Aman: I got a Tweet on record. I got a Tweet on the record, no kidding, from a few days ago where a VC had asked us if we'd consider moving the company. And we're like, "No, no, we don't wanna move it." And then the second question was, what about talent? I said, look, that's not a concern either. So, we feel really, really good about both those. So, listen you, it's hard to ask the guy ...
Chad: Push the X.
Joel: No, it's good.
Chad: You're good.
Aman: It's hard to ask the team that just scaled and sold a business for $40 million, if you can be successful in Indianapolis. Do you know what I mean? So, I feel like, we did it with some really intense technology hiring people that didn't exist. AWS engineers and engineers and so forth. We can do it here and many companies are proving that you can. And in some ways, it's a market advantage for us, like what we've been able to do with the capital versus our startup here is in other parts of the globe, is pretty phenomenal and I think, you know ... The main brains in VC are absolutely monitoring, talking to us from both coasts and I feel like, what else needs to be set? We're doing just fine here. People aren't over-looking us. You get the occasional question, "Would you consider moving the company?" But it's not even positioned as an ultimatum, it's like, would you consider it? And we're like, "No" and they're like, "Okay, just curious" and then you move on, right?
Chad: Do you tell them I'm looking at Sale Force tower, right now?
Aman: Yeah, exactly, we're okay. We're good.
Chad: I think we're okay here with talent.
Aman: And I've lived in both, right? And if you're going to ask me if there's something special about Silicone Valley, the answer is yes, it's amazing. It's a very special place. But, I do also believe that ... It's going to sound cheesy, but for the US to be what we need it to be, it's going to take more than Silicone Valley. I left for a reason. I mean, honestly, I did not know what I was going to do here when I graduated college and I really yearned and wanted to be in Silicon Valley and then when I came back, I say, I happily stay here for good reasons now. I'm very committed to moving the economy forward here. And I hope it's not just Indy, but I hope it's the Columbus' and the Cleveland's and the Saint Louis' because I think that's what it's going to take. With the advent of virtualizing and clock computing and the way you can build technology now, it's not as geo-centric anymore. You don't even know where your servers are. You'll be okay.
Chad: Yeah, exactly, like, where's your serve from? Huh? What?
Joel: So, the last thing I have is, I'm curious about what next. And I think voice assistants are interesting. What are your opinions on maybe that, as well as what's next? Is there anything after text messaging? Is it just brain waves after that, or...
Aman: Well, you saw the VR kit in the other room, so-
Joel: That's true.
Aman: So, I don't wanna talk too much about that.
Chad: He loves VR. Don't talk to him about VR, Jesus.
Aman: I think if we're talking without revealing too much, I think we're super interested in where communication's heading and how the connections happen between people. And I think, you have a very accurate view of how to understand Canvas through the arc of time. I think if you view it as a text company, I'm great with that because we want that right now. We want people to understand how to communicate with candidates. But I think the story's going to become more clear over the next few years as we launch what we have in our pipeline.
Aman: I think as an ecosystem, you're going to continue to see a push around data. I think you're going to continue to see this movement that I'm really excited ... I really hope that we play a part in this, among other players, but I think the movement of recruiters really understanding and functioning like marketers, that's a real opportunity ... Versus the traditional world, it was an expression of salesmanship and I actually think it's going to become an expression of marketing work where you're thinking of the one to many-
Aman: Yeah, of course, not just in texting, but in every way we think about it.
Chad: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Aman: I will say, I think companies are woefully behind when it comes to employment branding and
Joel: Don't even get me started.
Chad: Yeah, yeah.
Aman: So, I think there's so much opportunity and I think there's gonna be ... Just like what we've seen with sales and marketing technology over the last 10 years. I think we're at chapter one of what's going to be, I think, a renaissance of really smart people and smart capital. And we're in the space to go try to solve some really cool problems.
Aman: And I think the focus has to be with this particular buyer. You can't just drop it. It's gotta be, how are you gonna get the buyer there? How are you gonna make a difference with HR professionals to get them to move down this continuum? Because it's gonna take, I think, a different kind of work. You've asked these folks to manage process and policy and now, all of a sudden, you're saying "No, nevermind! We need you to be marketing and innovators, in the space." That's not the easiest transition to make. Oh, and by the way, you still have to be responsible for management and policy, as well. It's like two jobs in one and I think we should be sensitive to that as we go try to deploy new things in there.
Aman: My analogy with understanding IT ... Same thing, right? We need you to be super innovative, drive massive revelations for our clients and please have no security issues and be patched and everything else. It's these folks we're asking to do impossible things and you have to really understand how to go work with them, I think.
Joel: That's why one day, robots will just hire robots. And we'll have our VR systems on all day ...
Chad: It'd be like Wall-E. Like Wall-E-
Chad: It will. We'll just drive around in cars, they'll feed us-
Aman: Here's something I think about a lot. What does immigration mean when it just feels like we're working together. If you were in Sweden right now and I was here. What does that start to mean? It's going to be really fascinating to see how we adapt to work like that. And what does it mean to worry about Visas and have the limitation on only a certain number ... I don't think we really understanding the concept of what it means to go to work is going to change over the next 20 years. And how our traditional structures are going to be absolutely called into question. Just like this structure. One of the thing I say about Canvas is, it's fine to say texting is weird, but you know what else is super weird? Two people that are strangers talking on the phone intimately. That's super weird, right? So, I dunno. Which one is actually weirder? Where else do you that in your life? Nowhere. Okay, but recruiters are going to keep doing it? That's not going to last, right.
Joel: So, buy your Bitcoins now, kids.
Aman: Buy 'em now.
Chad: Buy 'em now. Crypto currency is going fast.
Joel: Aman, thank you for your time. It's been a pleasure. We've outstayed our welcome, I think, they're marshaling us toward the exit, so, we will bid you adieu and thank you for your time.
Aman: We shut down at 4 am, so you gotta go, real fast.
Joel: Okay, okay, okay. Before we go, remember when I asked you about the whole reflex and check your text messages, thing?
Chad: Yeah, you know all about reflexes.
Joel: And then I brilliantly tied it to text message's 97% open rate and then I elegantly, elegantly tied it to a better experience for your candidates. Don't laugh, Chad. I can be elegant, can't I?
Chad: Whatever man, I know it's redundant. You already heard about Text2Hire but you're still not using Text to Hire from Nexxt.
Chad: I know man.
Joel: C'mon man.
Chad: Since advertising takes repetition to soak in, I just thought I'd remind you again, this was all by elegant design. It's all about Text2Hire and it's all about Nexxt.
Joel: And elegant design. So go to chadcheese.com, click on the Nexxt logo and get 25% off your first Text2Hire campaign!
Joel: Engage better, use Text2Hire from Nexxt. Two XS.
Chad: Boo yah!
This has been the Chad and Cheese Podcast. Be sure to subscribe, so you don't miss a single show and check out our sponsors because they make it all possible. For more, visit hiredaily.com. Oh, and you're welcome.
Commercial: Thanks to our partners at TAtech, the association for talent acquisition solutions. Remember to visit tatech.org.