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FIRING SQUAD: RoboRecruiter's CEO, Chris Collins

Chatbots... CHATBOTS... CHATBOTS!!!

There's a lot of confusion around chatbots in recruiting. Do you need one? Which one? How much? Questions abound on this technology that serves as a buzzword at every conference and practically every blog post online.

RoboRecruiter thinks chatbots are not only the future, but the present as well. We'll see about that. The Chad & Cheese bring in CEO Chris Collins and put him through the Firing Squad to see if chatbots truly are all that, and if RoboRecruiter should be added to your shopping list.

Hang tight! And be sure to visit Firing Squad's exclusive sponsorship partner Jobs2Careers, a company that could make Firing Squad its bitch.


Chad: Okay Joel, before we get into Firing Squad, I have quick question. Would you say that most companies find it hard to attract the right candidates to apply for their jobs?

Joel: Well, Jobs2Careers certainly thought so. That's why they created their new talent attraction platform, ODT. Yeah, you know me.

Chad: Dude, that's OPP. This is ODT, which stands for On Demand Talent, where data driven talent attraction is made easy. The on demand talent platform enables recruiters to reach the right talent at the right time, at the right price.

Joel: And the best part-

Chad: What?

Joel: You only pay for what Jobs2Careers delivers.

Chad: No.

Joel: So, if you're attracting the wrong candidates or you feel like you're on a recruiting hamster wheel, just go to and learn how on demand talent or ODT, yeah you know me, can get you better candidates for less money.

Chad: I'd say you just go to, click on the jobs2careers logo there and it's just that simple.

Joel: It is simple, army with harmony.

Announcer: Like Shark Tank? Then you'll love Firing Squad. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheeseman are here to put the recruiting industry's bravest, ballsiest and baddest start-ups through the gauntlet to see if they got what it takes to make it out alive. Dig a foxhole and duck for cover, kids. The Chad and Cheese Podcast is taking it to a whole other level.

Joel: All right. All right. All right gang. Joel Cheeseman here with Chad Sowash on another episode of Firing Squad. On this month's episode we're talking to Chris Collins of RoboRecruiter. Chris, say hi.

Chris: Hey guys. How you doing? Hey Joel, Chad, good to be here.

Chad: Good to have you.

Joel: Don't adjust your volume, Chris is Australian. So, yeah, that's the deal with that. A quick introduction. Chris, CEO of RoboRecruiter. Anything else you wanna mention? Second Life?

Chris: Yes. The CEO of RoboRecruiter, got a bit of background with virtual worlds and virtual reality combined with HR Texas, probably quite different to maybe other people you've had on here. And I'm based over in San Francisco. So an Australian, but been in the US for 14 years.

Joel: Awesome. Awesome. Chad do you wanna take it from here?

Chad: Yeah. So first off, I definitely have to say we talked a little bit in the pre pod about this, but Joel is wetting his pants right now because Chris has some time with Second Life and everybody who listens to this podcast-

Joel: Like a baby I'm crying.

Chad: Knows he loves the virtual reality, man. So Joel's going to be loving this one. Okay, So here's the format. If you haven't listened to a Firing Squad before, shame on you.

Joel: Shame on you for sure.

Chad: Welcome. So, Chris, this is how it goes. You're gonna have two minutes to Pitch RoboRecruiter. At the end of two minutes, you'll hear the bell. And Joel and I are gonna hit you with some rapid fire Q and A. If your answers aren't concise and you're starting to drone off, you'll get hit with the crickets. Means you need to tighten it up and move along. At the end of Q and A, you're gonna either here one of these three things from myself and or Joel. It's a three point rating system. That first one is the big applause. This is what you're going for, which means you've exceeded expectations, you're kicking ass, keep doing what you're doing. Number two would be the golf clap, which is my favorite. It's so pathetic, but that just means that you have a lot of work to do. And last but not least, you don't want this one. It's the firing squad. That means you should go ahead, pack your shit up and go home and try again.

Joel: Go back to Second Life.

Chad: So that's firing squad, it's time to pitch so buckle up and let's do this Joel.

Joel: Chris are you ready?

Chris: I'm ready.

Joel: Two minutes starting-

Chris: Great. So Chris, CEO of RoboRecruiter. The situation is, here's the big problem is that over the next few years we're gonna see a seismic shift on how we interact with candidates and what that's going to bring on is what we see as the active intelligent database. Now, why the active intelligent database? If you look at all the systems that are out there, you know Salesforce, Bullhorn, really all these massive database systems, you've got a wealth of data in there. However, you don't have the resources to be able to reach out and contact all these people, so you've got assets that you're unable to utilize. That combined with the political environment and how people are changing around ownership of their data, you need to be able to interact with people and keep them engaged. And so that's what we do with RoboRecruiter. Very dead simple. We go out chatbot technology, can communicate over SMS, Facebook Messenger, Slack, really anything out there.

Chris: We engage and update those candidates and we keep them active. In keeping them active, it allows you to be able to make a lot more money and allows your candidates to be a lot happier because they're ready to go and you know when they're available. So why do it over with RoboRecruiter? One of the really cool things is how much data you get back. So firstly, when you do a RoboRecruiter campaign, let's call it tens of thousands of people, you can see engagement rates of up to 20 to 60 percent. That engagement comes back within the first 10 minutes. You do a campaign, first 10 minutes you got 40 percent of the people have already replied. So with that, you've got incredible real-time data that's valuable coming to you really fast. So to sort of summarize at a high level what we do, is we can go out to your database, we can completely activate everything that you've got on there. In engaging with that database, we can do a multi lingual and we can do it at scale. And then the final thing there is that we can completely automate the process. So we automate the process and keep them updated for you. So that's what we do.

Joel: So in three seconds, where can I find out more, Chris?

Chris: Yeah, so you go to, to our website. We've got everything you need to know there.

Joel: Good enough. All our guests forget that. They should put that in there, like, "To learn more, visit" All right we gotta pull the people on. All right, I'm gonna start off Chris. It is so noisy with solutions like yours. We've talked to We've talked to There just seems to be so many of these sort of automated, bring your candidates back from the dead, engage with candidates automatically. How are you guys so different from all the others out there?

Chris: So I'll take that in a couple of ways. Firstly as far as the actual core company makeup. So we're a combination of traditional recruiters, which I'm sure a lot of people have got that piece as well, and then technologists. Technology is based out of Silicon Valley. So we've got people that have worked on the floors and understand it and then we're applying tech to that. The second piece is how we're going about the tech in activating these people, and we do that with what we call PALS. PALS standing for price, availability, location and skill. So in us activating the candidate, that's the core elements that we're bringing to bear, and then we're keeping those pieces active. And we're not trying to replace a Linkedin, we're not trying to replace the information that you've probably already got on your database. We're purely just focused on the PALS, then using our chatbot with some AI pieces to it, keeping that active based on the information that we get back from the PALS. They're kind of about two pieces, the makeup of the company and then how we're tackling this problem.

Chad: Chris, it's interesting. We just got back from Dublin and one of the pitches, or one of the presentations that we heard was, "Everybody's looking for a chatbot. And it's interesting because it sounds like RobotRecruiter, really the base of is chatbots, number one, and number two, you always said chatbot once in your pitch. If it is so popular and everybody's looking for a chatbot, why aren't you chatboting the hell out of this thing?

Chris: For us the key piece is the active intelligent candidate profile, right? And with that it's then how do you get to that active, intelligent profile? And that's key piece to a company. And what right now currently enables us to do that is chatbot technology. if you look at my background, with VR and all that kind of cool stuff, in five years how you get that active profile, the technology that does it could be completely different, but our core with RoboRecruiter is that active intelligent profile and what supports it right now. So at the moment is the chatbot technology and it's very cool what we've got. But in as maintaining that active intelligent profile, who knows what will happen in the future.

Chad: So when it comes down to actually getting your active intelligent database, as Joel said like we've and we actually talk to uncommon yesterday. There's this scraping or this ability to actually go out to social profiles and really rejuvenate profiles within your database that way as well, which is different from a chatbot. So are you currently doing that or is really the chatbot the smart way to go, especially with GDPR happening?

Chris: Yes for us the chatbot is what does it. So we don't go out and do any scraping across the profiles. We get them with the responses that come back from the person. We used that to update what you've got on your database or we completely integrate into your ATS, whereby when you're doing your search, not only are you getting your results back that you should speak to that person, but also a visibility into, again, the PALS, their active intelligent features of their profile.

Joel: Chris, how does the technology integrate on the consumer side? How would I as a job seeker interact with your product typically?

Chris: Yeah, sure. So you'd get an SMS from us, or you'd get a Facebook Messenger from us and that's coming from the customer. So it says, "Hey Mike, this is Chris from ABC recruiting, we've got ..." And it could be a number of different things, "We've got an interesting role for you", or "Hey, we haven't spoken to you in a while, we just wanna update your information." So from there you can opt in to a conversation. So I'm cooking on that. Then you will start engaging with the chatbot. The other pieces were very clear that this is a chatbot that you're engaging with, and then what it starts to do is go through. If it's a job saying, "Hey, I've got a Java script role based in San Francisco, here's the information we've got on you. Can we discuss through and update that information?" And then it'll go on.

Joel: Will you be integrating with sort of the career site interface where someone searches for jobs and a little icon in the bottom where I can start chatting there or is it all sort of actively based where there's an sms or a message sent?

Chris: Yes. So then you can embed the chatbot into your website so it can be much ... The active side is you get a broadcast out to you. The passive side, you've done a search, you go to the job chatbots there that can qualify you on the role or the person has a link that they can send to someone. So I could be talking to you and say, "Hey, I've actually got some other jobs for you. Let me just flick you a link to our chatbot that could qualify for some other jobs."

Chad: Well okay, so let's dive deeper into whole process methodology because in most cases talent acquisition leadership, they don't understand. With so many different products that are out there, they don't understand what a chatbot does entirely, right? So take me and take the listeners through kind of like the process methodology. I'm a candidate, all the way from hitting the website through interview handholding. I mean, what can your work chatbot actually do and how can you help talent acquisition really take a lot of those administrative, I would say administrative tasks away from recruiters and sourcers?

Chris: Yeah sure. I think that's a really great point. I think in some cases with new technology, you may be thinking chatbots and people may be thinking AI and thinking that sounds cool, but it's a little bit out of my reach where, what's interesting with the chat box technology, it's just doing messaging and messaging is something that we're all super familiar with because we SMS, we talk to our friends over chat all the time. So all that a chatbot does and especially in our case, is that we're just working with the recruiter to be able to help qualify the candidates or keep a candidate engaged to allow the recruiter to have a meaningful conversation. So it's as simple as the equivalent of you send out an email to someone and you're waiting for their reply, and with that reply the recruiter then acts on the information that comes back.

Chris: However, in a chatbot, what you're doing is that instead of an email, a chatbot's going out and conversing with someone a little bit more. And so the information that comes back to you is a lot more targeted, a lot more kind of meaningful. Again, it's just simply helping you have more information when you get that person on the phone.

Chad: So specific tasks, the chatbot can help with really gathering data from the candidates through the application process? Is that a checkbox that a TA can say, "Okay, chatbot can help with that?

Chris: Yep. Yep.

Chad: So what about the interview? Can it help with the interview too, gather data from the interview side?

Chris: This is interesting, we often eat our own dog food and so us doing our own hiring and having recruiters within the company that used to be recruiters watching how we work, and it helps guide some of our product roadmap.

Chris: So what the chat box does really well is text. Let's say 200 people and it qualifies them, sort of does that first screen on them for getting the information back on who could be right for the role. But getting that person on the phone and being able to speak to them when you've got the short list of people that you want to be able to do, we don't get involved in that. Again, doing something face to face in an interview level like that, that you still do, either you do as a human to human. Which again it's kind of one of our big 10 taglines is that RoboRecruiter making conversations more meaningful because we want to get you to a place where you're having ... As a recruiter you've got let's say eight hours in the day, or 12 or 16 depending on how busy you are.

Chris: So let's say you've got limited time. So what the chatbot does is for every minute allowing you to everyone you're talking to, it's pre qualified. It's said that they're available at saying, "Here's the information you've got on them so that every conversation you're having is more meaningful, which is gonna make you more money.

Chad: Can you program it to automatically schedule interviews after they've made it through that first set of screening? So it goes through screening and then if they screen through, will automatically start the scheduling phase.

Chris: Yes. Yeah, you can hook all that stuff up. So what we do, is that we integrate with third party applications that do that kind of scheduling. So for example, you record integration with Calendly. So you say, "Hey, here's this hot job that I want to get RoboRecruiter go and shortlist people for me. If there are people that are qualified for this job that I would like to speak to, then get them, let's start scheduling them and use Calendly or use whatever third party system that you're using for your calendar to do that for me.

Joel: Hey Chris, we've talked in the past about the resume, black hole, candidates applying the jobs and not getting any sort of engagement whatsoever. And the word about a year ago is that candidates enjoyed talking to a robot or an automated system because at least they're engaging with the company in some way. Are you still finding that's true today? Are candidates sort of still enjoying talking to a robot as opposed to a real person, or do you feel like at some point there'll be a point where people are like, "Why am I talking to a robot? This is stupid. I'm gonna go somewhere else"?

Chris: Yeah, I think that a couple of interesting things is one that this whole thing around and it's kind of the philosophical debate. Do you tell someone they're talking to a robot or a real person, even though it is a robot? So one, we believe you tell somebody you're talking to a robot because to your point, it's kinda they respect it, they're not trying to guess if this is a robot and they understand what's happening, I think the key part around is balancing with new technology. How much is this a novelty, therefore people are enjoying it. But they may stop enjoying it, to how much is this sort of impacting my business. We say that the chatbot is continuing to impact the business because it just gets to the point of each question.

Chris: You, it doesn't dillydally along, it can be very quick. But the whole thing around, yes, a chatbot can get back to people and, and I think then what it comes down to is, what's the sentiment of the conversation that's coming out of that? Maybe it's a rejection. So it's whether or not the rejection is done in a way that's not insulting to the person that felt like it spend enough time with the person. You want to value the person's time in going through that rejection. I think that's really important. I think the other nice thing that you can do with a chatbot that often happens that you can't do in other models is it kind of can do that at scale.

So, you know, I think you had a thousand people who apply to a job, 999 couldn't do it. If you don't have a chatbot, you've got to do some kind of email that doesn't feel personal or you've got to try and call through these people. Where chatbot does that, it talks to them all.

Chad: Do you have a business case around that? Because that is powerful. To be able to say that a thousand individuals apply for this job, the chatbot screened them, then scheduled them, right? Those are two things that recruiters don't really need to mess with. So do you have like business cases to show time frame on how that would happen versus the amount of time it would take for an actual human being to do that?

Chris: Yeah. So we've done a couple of data points, in the kind of two minute pitch, it said that you do what a blast out to a thousand people and you're gonna get a response rate of 20 to 60 percent. Of that, 40 percent of those people reply back in the first 10 minutes, right? And that's incredibly rich information the first 10 minutes. There's no other way that you can do that. So we've kind of gone up against a call desk in Europe where say, we're processing through several thousand candidates they hadn't spoken to in a long time. They had five people going through in three weeks, and they got great information back. For a recruiter, finding out there are a whole bunch of people you haven't spoken to are available and what company they're at or what company they're interviewing with. I mean, there's your money right there, right? But hat took three weeks and they made money off that. We did the same thing with RoboRecruiter and they got that information back in 24 hours, and it was of the same quality.

Chris: So you know, that's where you kind of ... Matching this stuff up. People engage people give you great information and could do it at scale and the key being, it's just to let, giving you the information that for your limited time during the day, you then having great, meaningful conversations with people.

Joel: Chris How do you feel a chatbot impacts employer brand?

Chris: I think, you know what I'm going to say, I have to say it's fantastic for the employee brand, but I think what it comes down to is that the technology adoption is just getting quicker and quicker. Right? You guys have all seen those great curves of how long things took to get to a billion. The radio, the TV, the Internet, smartphones, and chatbot is even a bigger hockey stick. Chat is even a bigger hockey stick, SMS has been around for a long time, but then all of us ... it's something happened in the last sort of five years where everyone, you know, phone usage, voice phone usage dropped and chat just spiked.

Chris: So back to the question specifically on brand, consumers are communicating via messaging or all ready. In some of my SMS, Google, I'm a known android user, Google is suggesting replies, that I can make to friends. Working this way is native to my day. So it's more of companies that aren't engaging using this kind of tack potentially damages their brand because everyone is just using this stuff day to day as a consumer. So that's kind of how we see it.

Chad: Okay. So when it comes down to clients, I mean from a client standpoint, who would you say is your priority? What pool at our group is really your major target for this product?

Chris: Yeah. So we are selling to staffing companies, the core technology, great way for them to be able to engage with their candidates. And we're starting to go and sell to actual hiring managers for them to be able to access and re-update their systems as well. That's where we're focused on really, anyone that's looking to hire and has data already that they wanted to really update and utilize its scale.

Joel: Chris, one of my biggest challenges with sort of embracing chatbots and companies that do it, is just sort of the underwhelming feeling that this is a commodity and that eventually chatbots will be free and someone will have an API for questions in regards to recruiting, and you'll be able to plug that in to your chatbot. convinced me that chatbots are not a future commodity or just a feature for every ATS to add on easily in the future.

Chris: I'm not gonna convince you of that. I a hundred percent agree. I think that with most technology, that's where it moves is as the technology becomes something that everyone uses. And I think that comes back to my pitch that I gave you guys and the exact thing that you called out. I use the word chatbot once because what we're focused on is that active candidate profile and how we keep that candidate active and give you an intelligent profile. And again, we've got great chatbot technology that does that. We've got the best chatbot technology that does that. But as we move forward there's gonna be other technology that we bring to play to keep that data are active. So, maybe a surprising comment, but it's obvious. Just look at technology and how it works. A point thing we're all about the active intelligence database.

Chad: Yeah. I definitely dig that and anybody who's been in this industry realizes that, you know, through evolution, that's what's gonna happen. So my question knowing that, that we've seen texts recruit actually be absorbed or bought, acquired, whatever word you want to use by one of the major applicant tracking systems. So what's your exit strategy? What are you looking to do? Are you looking to trying to build and become a part of one of those big ecosystems?

Chris: If I throw on my pitching to investors your way, we are looking to completely change the way that a candidate looks at their profile in a similar way that Linkedin changed the way that, that putting your profile online for everyone to be able to search against, radically changed the industry. So, we've got pretty massive aspirations to become the next way that you consider a candidate profile. And again, do that with PALS. In five years we would open this podcast with, "Hey everyone, let's tell each other up house. In a similar way that we can watch a Linkedin profile? That's where we wanna be.

Chad: That's a very political answer and I appreciate that. But I mean, Joel and me we were just talking about the commoditization prospectively of every technology that's out there. So there's got to be a plan. Do you have any major targets? Are there any types of systems that you guys would actually really like to say, "Hey, from a priority standpoint, we would like this awesome chatbot technology, this active, intelligent database technology to, be a part of that ecosystem.

Chris: Yeah. I think that for us to be a part of the Linkedin ecosystem, any kind of an ecosystem where there's the matching details of the candidate is where power is perfectly sits on it, If that makes sense.

Joel: Chris, give me a sense of a money that you've raised. Are you bootstrapping this thing a Gimme a sense of pricing for our listeners?

Chris: Yeah, sure. So, we as a company been around for 18 months. I joined to go to the company CEO five months ago, but we've been working with the main founders over 17 years. We did a family and friends round, when the company first got started and mainly one of the founders getting bootstrapping that from family and friends. In the last five months we've just closed a seed round.

Chris: Seed round was a $2,000,000 round and finished up in February. So we've got a nice bit of runway, some pretty nice targets that we're going after and starting to see some good adoption on to build up towards a series. As far as pricing goes, we've really got two options, one is on just what we call just on a one off campaign. So easiest way to describe that is GDP, and someone's got a million records. Someone has, someone has tried email that they don't have the time to speak to everyone on the phone. They're like, "Whoa, hang on a second. These guys can get me anywhere from 20 to 60 percent engagement on the rest of these guys." Let me give you a whole bunch of people and you can activate them. So we got pricing, that's on that, that starts it anywhere from sort of $250 all the way up to tens of thousands depending on the size of the database.

Chris: "One off hit send you back the data. Nice doing business with you." The second piece is on a monthly subscription, and that comes down that we priced that on conversation credits. What is the chatbot doing as far as keeping people updated? And that pricing starts at $250 a month for sort of small number of people, a small number of candidates that you keeping up to date. It's more being upwards of a thousand people that you're keeping up to date. And then like depending on enterprise, depending on deep ATS integration, how embedded we're going into the ATS can go all the way up to. [crosstalk 00:27:58] You had to get it. You were waiting for it.

Joel: Dude, pricing should not be a long answer. All right Chad, I'm good. Yourself?

Chad: Yep. I'm ready man. Let's do this.

Joel: All right Chris, are you ready to face the firing squad?

Chris: I'm placed.

Joel: I'm gonna start it off. I think that you guys have some great tech pieces here. I think you guys have some smart technology. You have certainly a crowded field, the Mias and the Olivias and the Gobies of the world are sort of all vying for a piece of this chatbot space, which is probably why I think there's some major hurdles there for me. Yes, I appreciate that you agree this is a commodity, but how do you grow out of that? How do you build a moat around that is really hard for me to sort of get my hands around. So I think in terms of where the, where the puck is going, chatbots or certainly a piece of that, I'd just love to hear more, I guess in terms of the mode that you're gonna build, the business stability that you're gonna have and not just get swept up by Google's technology or something that Linkedin launches next month. So for me, RoboRecruiter gets a modest clap. You've got some work ahead of y'all Your turn Chad.

Chris: Cool.

Chad: Excellent. Okay Chris. A great pitch. I think right out of the gates, you have to remember who you're talking to. You're talking to talent acquisition professionals. You need to keep it simple, stupid. So I really appreciate the active intelligence database that you're building in all the powers and all these things. The thing that you have to remember is who your customer is and who you need to pitch, right? So keep it simple, stupid. Don't get too heady. Tighten up the language, and even though you kind of move from chatbot to active intelligence database or candidate profile, it's not a bad word to say chatbot, especially right now because it will turn heads and it will get people focused on, "Okay, what can you guys do to help us?"

Chad: That being said, I believe because of Gen Z, the Millennials and really everybody focusing on taking less phone calls, much like you said, we're going to see more of a shift toward this type of process methodology for everything, for interviews, I mean all the way through the process. So I think the stock is definitely gonna go up on this. And I know Joel was talking about Mia and Olivia. I don't see that as competition, I see that as validation, so that's good. If you were the only one in this market who were doing it, guess what, then there would be a problem. Being able to take that business case three weeks, 24 hours, you need to pound the hell out of that and from an employer brand standpoint, which Joel brought up, that's another piece. Job Seekers do not mind. As a matter of fact, they would rather talk to a chatbot than to talk to nobody at all. That will increase the employer brand and overall from my standpoint, I see nothing but heading up for RoboRecruiter which is why I'm giving you a big applause.

Chris: Thank you. I knew I liked you better Chad.

Chad: Everybody does.

Joel: Chris, congratulations. You made it through the gauntlet bullet free. How do you feel?

Chris: I feel good. I feel ready to take on my day.

Chad: Excellent.

Joel: Awesome. Awesome. Well everyone, thanks for listening. And until next time, we're out.

Announcer: This has been the firing squad. Be sure to subscribe to the chadcheese podcast so you don't miss an episode. And if you're a startup, who wants to face the firing squad, contact the boys at gone today. That's

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