FIRING SQUAD: Woo.io CEO, Liran Kotzer


Liran Kotzer steps in front of The Chad & Cheese Firing Squad to test his Woo.io pitch, his nerves, and ultimately his mettle. Woo.io claims to automatically match jobs to candidates who are discreetly exploring new opportunities.

That sounds good but will it be enough to keep Liran out of the line of fire?

Thanks to our Firing Squad sponsor Talroo... That's right Talroo, not Jobs2Careers you silly beast. Visit Talroo today and find out how to get better candidates for less cash.

PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION

Chad: Hey, Joel.

Joel: What up?

Chad: Would you say that companies find it hard to attract the right candidates to apply for their jobs?

Joel: Well, Jobs to Careers thought so.

Chad: Jobs2Careers? You mean Talroo.

Joel: Talroo?

Chad: Yeah, Talroo. T-A-L-R-O-O.

Joel: What is that? Like a cross between talent and a kangaroo?

Chad: (Laughs) No. It's a cross between talent and recruiting. But Talroo is focused on predicting, optimizing, and delivering talent directly to your email or ATS.

Joel: Aha, okay. So it's totally data-driven talent attraction which means the Talroo platform enables recruiters to reach the right talent at the right time and at the right price.

Chad: Okay, so that was weirdly intuitive, but yes. Guess what the best part is?

Joel: Let me take a shot here. You only pay for the candidates Talroo delivers.

Chad: Holy shit, okay, so you've heard this before. So if you're out there listening in Podcast land, and you are attracting the wrong candidates, and we know you are, or you feel like you're in a recruiting hamster wheel and there's just nowhere to go, right, you can go to

. Again, that's Talroo.com/attract and learn how Talroo can get you better candidates for less cash.

Joel: Or, just go to ChadCheese.com and click on the Talroo logo. I'm all about the simple.

Chad: You are a simple man.

Gollum: Yes, me precious, yes me precious candidate, we wants it so sweet precious, yes.

Announcer: Like Shark Tank? Then you'll love Firing Squad. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheesman are here to put their recruiting industry's bravest, ballsiest, and baddest startups through the gauntlet to see if they've got what it takes to make it out alive.

Announcer: Dig a foxhole and duck for cover, kids, the Chad and Cheese podcast is taking it to a whole other level.

Joel: My trigger finger is a little itchy today for the Firing Squad, we'll see how this goes. What's up, gang? We've got Liran, which is like Lebron without the B so it's easy for me to say as a Cas fan, but anyway Liran is a CEO founder I guess of Woo.io. Liran, welcome to the show, and before we start give us the fifteen second intro on you.

Liran: Hey guys, first thanks for having me, I'm really excited. And so I'm Liran, I'm the CEO and founder of Woo.io. I'm a techie, I live in Israel and I'm excited for what we're

building and for the reason we're building it. We'd be happy to share what we're doing.

Joel: Very good, about 15 seconds exactly.

Liran: Boom.

Joel: Chad, tell him what he'll win on this show, otherwise known as the Rules of the Show.

Chad: Well first off, before we even get into this, Liran, I'd like to say kudos on having the high school picture of Joel on your home page. Dude, that is amazing, I never thought that I would see Joel Cheesman on the home page.

Joel: Are you referring to the orgasmic guy on the home page? Is that the one you're talking about?

Chad: Oh yeah, like with the Vic 20 or the Apple, or whatever it is, yeah. It's awesome.

Liran: We read about the show, so we took a few pictures. Joel, we want him to know and how he is a famous guy.

Chad: Good job with him. Okay, we're rolling on. Here's the format of the show,

Liran. You will have two minutes to pitch Woo. And at the end of two minutes, you will hear the bell. Then Joel and I will have our way with you with a little Q&A. If your questions aren't concise, then Joel's gonna either hit you with the bell or some crickets. Means you need to tighten your game up.

Joel: Keep it moving, baby.

Chad: Keep it moving. At the end of Q&A, we're going to pretty much give you our opinions on the pitch and obviously on the Q&A, we're either gonna give you big applause, that means you have exceeded expectations, golf clap, you're on your way but you have a lot of work to do or last but not least, nobody wants this, it's the firing squad. It's time to pick up, go home, get the drawing board back out, and do it again.

Chad: So that's firing squad. It's time to buckle up and pitch.

Joel: Are you sweating yet, Liran? Are you regretting this?

Liran: Guys, please be gentle.

Joel: All right, all right.

Liran: I'm far, far away from Israel, please be gentle.

Joel: We're typically nice to our international guests, so you've got that going for you. All right, on the bell you've got two minutes. Are you ready?

Liran: Sure, let's do it.

Joel: Go.

Liran: All right, so Woo is basically a technology-driven marketplace where we connect between district job seekers and companies that are ready to offer them the opportunity they truly want. The reason we built Woo is because we met so many people that are comfortably numb in their job, which means that from one hand they have a lot of ambitions and inspiration regarding what they want to do next in their career, it can be new technologies, relocation, working with big company startups, whatever, but when we come to reality most of those people don't do anything regarding their inspiration because they don't want to go through the hassle of getting a job, which is a risky process, you don't know what you can get out there, and people don't want to put these efforts.

Liran: So we basically created the platform to give them no excuse, because the way Woo works is it's dramatically simplified the way people can consume job and turn the job consumption from a one time event into an ongoing exploration where we serve as your agent, which means that when you're get into Woo you put everything about yourself. It's totally discrete, but we know everything about you. And then we help you to set up your wish list regarding what kind of opportunity you would define as interesting for you.

Liran: Of course, we help you with using our information so you won't ask working on the moon, which means that we make sure that you're asking for realistic things. And from that point, once you have the wishlist and we know everything about you, from that point we start showing you opportunities from companies that we're working with that you qualify for on one hand, but also meeting your preferences.

Liran: So once you get an opportunity from Woo you know that it's very relevant, you can see who's the company, what they want to discuss about, how these opportunities meet your expectation, and from that point you can ask Woo whether you want to be introduced to that company. If we introduce you to that company, one out of two of those interaction will turn into active interview.

Chad: (Bell rings) That's the first one.

Liran: I'm the first one to pass the two minutes.

Joel: Although you did say comfortably numb as part of your pitch.

Chad: Yeah, it's very nice. Pink Floyd.

Joel: Which I thought it was interesting. Chad, you wanna go first? Or do you want me to take the first?

Chad: No, I'll go, I'll go first.

Joel: All right.

Chad: So the pitch in itself, right, is focused on being able to solve a problem. The big question is at this point, what was the problem? What's the problem that you're trying to solve, Liran?

Liran: Yeah, so the problem we basically trying to solve is the fact that people today has no control regarding what is their next step, how they're getting to their next step. Meaning that there are 20% people that actively go and pursue job when they don't have any job, but most of the people the way they see job is very sporadically. Meaning that one of their friends calling them, say, "Hey, I have a great position for you." But what if I want to control my career, meaning that I want know I'm dreaming about relocating to Boston. What I'm going to do about it? I need to invest a lot of efforts in research and see who is ready to take me in Boston.

Liran: So Woo is a new alternative where you quickly in the platform, meaning you're not putting yourself as a job seeker. You set your wishlist, meaning for example, I want to relocate to Boston and work as CEO and earn 160K annual salary, and you know that Woo is going to find you that opportunity because we're working on the other side with companies, and only company that can offer it to you will be able to approach you.

Liran: Now, what is the other solution? You LinkedIn, you don't have any control in LinkedIn regarding what kind of opportunity you're getting, so you're getting a lot of stem. You can go to job boards, but in job boards when you apply to job, you don't know on the other side who is there and if you are qualified, so you're gonna waste a lot of time sending your CV. Or you can sit with agencies, which is very limited operation ...

Chad: Okay, so wait, wait, wait. So this so far has been all candidate side, right? You've been talking about the candidate and helping the candidate and the candidate, candidate, candidate. So I'm gonna jump right to one of my questions that I generally go after last. Is this something that you price out for the candidate? Does the candidate pay for this?

Liran: No.

Chad: So since the candidate doesn't pay for this, can you tell me as an employer how are you going to solve my problem?

Liran: Yeah. Excellent question. If you would give me four minutes for the pitch I would probably get into the employer. But you are giving me only two minutes. It's only one side in two minutes.

Liran: So let's talk about employer because I think that what we are offering today for employer, nobody can offer them. So when we speaking about employers, employers basically what they want, they want to hire the relevant candidate in a minimum efforts, right? That's what they want. And what we do to them is exactly doing this exact facing this exact challenge, which means that the way it works from employer's side, we eventually understood that if you want to build a healthy marketplace, you cannot open the marketplace listing to each of the side.

Liran: For example, in LinkedIn where employers are getting and seeing a list of candidates, they can decide who they want to approach, right? This is a problem in scale because they are getting more and more candidate, getting more and more stem. So we said, employer cannot see any of your listing. Which means that we need to come up with the technology like a recruiting agency but with a robot, that understand the requirements of the employer, and from that point go and try to approach the relevant candidate, the qualified candidate, and offer them the opportunity.

Liran: And all the candidate that says yes will be introduced to the employer. So from the employer's side, we are the only company that today giving them, we call it QIP. Q-I-P. Qualified candidates that already interested and are passive, which mean they are not in the market. And it means that this is the best thing that you can get as an employer in order to save your time, because think about it for example, in job boards you're getting interested candidates, but they're not qualified. In LinkedIn, you see qualified candidate but they're not interested. Or in agencies you're getting qualified and interested candidate, but they're not passive, which means that you can invest a lot of your efforts on interview them, but eventually you're going to compete with other, three, four offers they are going to get just because they are in the market.

Liran: So the ability to give the access to candidate that are discrete, which mean they are not in the market from one hand, and only introducing with those that are qualified and show interest, creating a very powerful mechanism for employers to work with.

Joel: Liran, from my perspective you have a traditional problem, which is the chicken and egg issue of the job board. In other words, if you have candidates but no jobs, then what's the point? If you have jobs but no traffic or candidates, then what's the point? So my question to you is, how are you driving candidates and how are you driving job content for them?

Liran: This is a very good question. I think that the chicken and egg is the number one problem in any market, I say mainly in the recruiting space, where people come in for a very specific need and then leaving, like in job boards. So in our case, that's the true game changing that we make, is that because we approaching candidates that are not looking actively for job, we basically creating a pools candidates that don't have any urgency, which means that even if they will get the first opportunity from Woo after two months, they are still going to be in the system.

Liran: I can tell you that a very, very important number we have today, we are only focusing on software engineers, so we have around 60,000 software engineers. And what we find out that 87% of the software engineers that we have in the system are engaged with opportunities they are getting from Woo after two years in the system. And that's what I told you at beginning, we change the job consumption from a one time event into an ongoing exploration. And this is how we solve the chicken and egg, basically when we open a new territory and first going through the candidates, say, hey, here is the agent that will eventually be your agent for the long run and will always show you your demand based on the things you want, and then we started bringing the companies.

Liran: We made it in San Francisco, in New York, also in Israel, and in San Diego. And we sold at these ports.

Joel: So you're targeting specifically developers in San Francisco, New York, and whatever other markets, and then going after companies in those markets. So if I'm a developer in Miami, you're not really for me yet.

Liran: I'm for you if you're ready to relocate to one of the locations that we have companies in.

Joel: (laughs)

Liran: By the way, we do a lot of relocations. 20% of the inventory that we have are people that are not in those locations but ready to move. For example, we made around 10 relocations to Israel engineers to U.S. companies. Think about how easy it is, because today if a U.S. company want to hire an Israel engineer, what are they going to do? You need to go to what, to LinkedIn and try to see who is ready to relocate?

Liran: So in our case if they say I'm ready to relocate someone, all I need to know is that there is an engineer in Israel that is qualified and ready to be relocated to the U.S., and then here is a new match. Right? The layer about what candidate ready to do or what they want, allowing us to create a new kind of match.

Chad: So who out there is doing what Woo is doing? Who's taking this really angle at the problem?

Liran: Well, I can tell you the closest entity our company that is doing similar thing today is recruiting agencies. Right? Because in recruiting agencies, the only place where you go and get a premium service off only qualified and interested candidates. The difference between us and them is that we are online platform driven by technology and not a bunch of recruiters. I will be head ... Happy to tell you about the technology. And the fact that we are user-based is mostly candidates that are not in the market and feeling very comfortable with using a platform [crosstalk 00:15:24]

Chad: So it's more like an agency type of stance, although I've seen where you guys say more H ... I'm sorry, more AI, less humans.

Liran: Exactly, exactly. By the way, we started with fully manual, meaning human-driven operation, and then we switch it by our robot, our recruiter robot, which called Helena. And this was an amazing journey on how you develop an AI in that type of system. I know there are a lot of companies speaking about AI and you know, but it's really tough to create an AI in the HR space. And you know why? Because AI is like a baby that you're trying to teach, right? So when you try to teach a baby, you need two things: You need to give him a lot of information from one hand, and you need to give him the ability to make mistakes. This is how you basically building a brain and how you teach people.

Liran: So the problem in the recruiting space is first there are no books, meaning there are no pre-defined data sets where you can take and train your AI. You basically need to build your information ...

Chad: You need to learn all that data and from that point you go on, right? So we actually talked about Helena earlier this year, and it was specifically pointed to Helena is going to take the place of recruiters. Is that really what you see technology doing? Especially like Woo technology, taking the place of recruiters.

Liran: I would say that yeah. Helena is basically practically took the place of recruiters in our company. But I would say that if we're looking at recruiters, the next generation of recruiters will be people that know how to implement those Helena's and make out of those robots the maximum. Because even if it's in AI, there's still like in advertising and every other economy where the operation is automated, there are still human touch where you want to make sure that the robot is understanding and doing the right job, right?

Liran: So I would say that the recruiting is going to be more technology-driven profession that will eventually be able to implement and deploy an execute those kind of technologies in order to get the most out of it.

Joel: Liran, I'm going to go back to the job seeker. What's the unique proposition to them to use your site? Because developers are hit up all the time, they have a lot of services to choose from. Why have those 60,000 people entrusted you with their job search?

Liran: Right, so it's a combination of three things. One is discrete, you can keep doing what you're doing and nobody know that you're there. Second is that relevancy, meaning that only opportunities that meet your preferences, only companies that can meet your preferences will be able to approach you, so you know that every opportunity is super relevant. And third, is the efficiency, which means that once you said yes, 50% chance that you're starting the process.

Liran: And this is something that nobody can get out of today. You don't have a

place where you can keep doing what you're doing, say the next thing that you want, I want to work for Google for 150 or whatever, and you know that once we alert you, you're going to get exactly what you wanted. And this is nobody giving you. Sure, we give you also insides regarding how you collaborate your expectation to meet reality so we can help you to understand your demand, but the main offering is that ... You know, number 1 stress point in career is the unknown. People don't know what they can get out of. And they don't want to do this proactive in order to understand.

Liran: So using a tool like Woo, you know what your opportunities. You know that in any given moment, you can click on the make me an introduction and here you go, you move on to the next thing. So it's simplified ...

Chad: So I'm gonna switch gears on you real quick. I did a little research on you guys and it seems like Woo believed that interviews really stem from lack of candidate information, and your vision in the next five years or so is to eliminate the job interview entirely. Is that correct?

Liran: Yes, so regarding our vision, basically once we have Helena fully deployed, the first challenge that we gave Helena is the ability to create the right connections. And now in the place where 50% of those connection during interview which is very high conversion. The second thing that we look at is we're saying okay, what about the rest of the process? Because the rest of the process is also time consuming for both sides. If I need to get interviews in five companies, that mean I need to share the same information pretty much for those five companies. So they spend time, I spend my time, and this can be reduced or even spared once you have the AI.

Liran: Which means that Helena keep learning more and more about their uses. We keep discussing with them, eventually what we want is to give them a professional assessment and so on. So eventually the way we see Helena is that Helena is going to be so smart that both sides is going to trust her. And meaning that we can spare the technical interview, we can spare many of the other thing, and maybe even eventually the culture interview regarding your character and personal interview. Those kind of things by AI eventually will be sold.

Liran: The reason I'm saying is because the way we envision the market in five to ten years from now is you're going to sit with your wife in the living room and say how about we relocate to Boston, and then you're gonna open the iPad or whatever it's gonna be in five years, and you're going to say to Woo, "I want to relocate to Boston and work in that industry," and whatever you want. And Woo gonna offer you two to three positions. You're gonna select one, and then bam, it's gonna say you're going to start next week, 9 am, good luck. That's it. No interviews, nothing.

Liran: It sounds a bit science fiction, right? It sounds a bit science fiction. But this is how envision the market. This is how we see people switching job in the future. Of course, for us right now we are only at the beginning of the tunnel, but once we put technology and it's not a human-driven marketplace, we have more capabilities to do those things rather than give it to each side to filter out each time.

Chad: No interviews is really the vision of your ...

Liran: No interviews, exactly, no interviews. [crosstalk 00:22:08] Or you think interviews is important?

Joel: Hey, we're interviewing you, pal.

Liran: Yeah, sorry about it. I forgot about it.

Joel: Hey, it looks as though email is the primary way that you communicate with job seekers, is that correct?

Liran: Email right now is the primary way we communicate, yeah.

Joel: Is messaging, native apps, is that stuff coming, or is it a business decision to stick with something as sort of old-school-y as email?

Liran: Yeah, I got your feedback, thank you, but we're doing a lot of discussion about it. And right now we under the impression that the best way to communicate in that aspect of career and job opportunities is probably through email and not through mobile phone. We did some research with our users. It's feel less secure once you have an app calling

Woo that you're basically getting opportunities. So we find out that because the high engagement of our users opportunities they're getting through email, we don't need to do this layer at that point.

Liran: Maybe in the future, we're planning to do an inside tool rather than an inside app that will help you always understand your market value and things like this, but not necessarily show you opportunity through this app.

Chad: So and just to ask one more time, and I'm sorry for the redundancy, but email is the primary mode, not Facebook Messenger, not texting, not actually using the mobile phone other than a phone call?

Liran: Exactly. This is the most private channel that you can get opportunities from.

Joel: Liran, you've raised 9 million today, is that correct?

Liran: Yeah.

Joel: So what is ... You got around a little bit late last year I think. What's the millions going toward? Is it development, is it growth globally, is it salespeople? Tell us about what the investment that you've gotten is being used for.

Liran: Yeah, so the main things that we invested so far the money on is of course building the technology that will help us scale in a way that we're not affecting the marketplace performance, so we invested a lot of efforts on Helena, we have a brilliant dean here of machinery and doctor scientist, people who can build those technologies. And now we are in a phase where we feeling very secure, very confidence with our product and with the technology and everything, and we're working with very high rents that are very satisfied and making hires from the system like Uber and Lyft and Microsoft and recently Amazon and many others that are using the tools.

Liran: And now we are in the phase of start extending the marketplace and open Woo in more territories, mainly in the U.S. and at the end of 2018, we want Helena to start working with other profession, which mean that we are going to extend it to at the beginning to marketing and sales, and eventually we want to be able to help everyone.

Chad: Okay, so how's this priced out? I went to the website and I really couldn't find anything else out other than a lead form.

Liran: So the costing of the ... We have two basically two models, one model is that you pay success fee, which is highly discounted, you pay 10% of the annual salary. And the second one is what we call a hybrid model, which is you basically think about a subscription, you're basically paying a fixed price and from that price we derive the volume of leads that we gonna generate for you.

Joel: Are there exact costs that an employer can expect to pay through?

Liran: Well, if they're taking the success, they will pay 10% of the annual salary of the candidates. If they're taking the performance base, they will have to pay based on how many leads they want to generate from the system.

Joel: So what, if we're looking at two and three years if we sit down for another interview, what are gonna be features that should expect, what are gonna be new markets that we should expect you to be in, etc.?

Liran: So we got in the markets, it going to be ... We gonna open for all the cities in the U.S. from one hand, and we're going to also open Europe, we're talking about three years. And on the other side, we're gonna, I assume that in two years we're going to support all the professions out there, but the most important thing that in three years people will be able to switch job much more efficiently than today. Even today, we took the experience to a new level where you just need to click and 50% that you are in the interview. In three years, you basically once you do the click, 50% you got hired. Or even 70% you got hired.

Liran: So this is for us the main goal, is from the moment that will bring derived opportunity, how can we make the process shorter and more efficient, and this is where we expect to be in three years.

Chad: (Bell rings) There it is.

Joel: The questioning is over and the day of reckoning is at hand now. Chad has passed it on to me to take the first shot, so to speak, at Liran and Woo.io. I ... So we started off on a pretty poor note. You had two minutes to give us the pitch, which you couldn't do, so you need to tighten up your pitch to people like us. Two minutes should be plenty of time to explain what you do and why it's different or important.

Joel: I asked you what's unique to a job seeker, you told me three things. One of them is actually maybe unique, I don't think anonymity is unique. Maybe telling you, hey, I only want to work at Google, maybe there's some uniqueness there, but I didn't see anything that was really sticking out to me as something that was gonna play, and I think you still have a really tough mountian to climb with convincing not only developers but anyone to join the site as something that's really unique to anyone else.

Joel: Now, you may have an AI secret sauce down the road or even now that I'm just not seeing that will be a big plus for you in getting job seekers engaged and aroused. Technologically, being email, I appreciate the argument that email is ubiquitous, it's everyone, but for someone, a company particularly trying to appeal to a tech-savvy audience being developers, I really would have loved to have seen text messaging, even Facebook messaging like Chad said, which is pretty private because no one's gonna pinch you for being on Messenger on Facebook.

Joel: So I would have loved to have seen more of that stuff down the pipe. So in short, I think you have a long way to go. You're in a really tough market. I think you're probably moving slower than I would like to see as well. I mean you guys have been around for over a year and you're still in San Francisco, New York, some of the markets that you've been in, particularly with the investment you've had, moving faster on that front I think would be really appealing to me.

Joel: So for me, a long way to go, apologies, but ... (firing squad)

Liran: I appreciate the feedback.

Chad: Very good feedback. I'm gonna go ahead and go after I listen to that hail of gunfire. Yeah, so first off, no question, tighten, tighten, tighten. Tighten up the message. Know who you're pitching, quicker and on the candidate side especially. You know there's a problem on the candidate side, but the thing is, that has to be tight so that you can actually focus on solving the problem for the people with the money. That's what it comes down to. It comes to the revenue. It comes to how are you going to help those companies to be able to get those individuals, and obviously taking the candidate experience and being able to be anonymous, to be able to not fear going into a system and all these different things that Woo can do, they're all great pitching points but not to the candidate, to the employer, because the employer's obviously the one who's going to be paying for this.

Chad: I like the idea of no more interviewing and the concept does make some sense. But just making sense won't guarantee sales and revenue, right? We've seen that over the years. I believe you have a wonderful vision, although I don't believe HR will really embrace that. I believe you're not leading the target enough in trying to change a fundamental part of hiring, right? I love the AI to be able to really enhance recruiters, I believe in that entirely, but you have to be able to focus on also how you're reaching and engaging those individuals. Email is pretty much passe. If you're trying to reach guys like Joel and I and our demographic, it might work, but from the research that we've seen, texting and messaging has much higher engagement rates.

Chad: We actually see platforms like yours, not exactly like yours but much like yours, that are getting amazing engagement rates and they're getting quicker turn arounds on hires from high volume standpoint. So two things: Focus heavily on the message and who you're actually messaging to. And start to focus on obviously what you can do with this amazing AI and engaging with perspectively chatbots, that makes sense.

Chad: So from my standpoint, I'm not gonna go full guns, I'm gonna go with the golf clap.

Liran: (laughs) I'm not sure what is better.

Joel: Buddy, regardless you have the balls to be on this show man, and kudos to you for that. Any last words before we close the show?

Liran: Yeah, first thank you guys for the feedback, I really appreciate it. I think you made some really important points and of course we are in a tough journey and we working on implementing and fixing a lot of things and I hope that in one year if you invite me again, we're gonna change it to other sound at the end.

Chad: We hope to see that.

Joel: Sounds like a deal, man, we out.

Chad: We out.

Liran: Awesome, perfect.

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