FIRING SQUAD: StaffUpApp
Do staffing firms need a native app for iPhones and Android devices? This startup certainly thinks so, but do the boys agree? Let's just say it's a house divided. Ready. Aim. Listen. And enjoy this Talroo exclusive.
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Joel: 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: 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 Talroo.com/attract. 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.
Announcer: Like Shark Tank? Then you'll love Firing Squad. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheesman are here to put the 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. Dig a foxhole and duck for cover, kids, the Chad and Cheese Podcast is taking it to a whole other level.
Chad: That's right.
Joel: A whole other level.
Chad: That's right.
Joel: We're recording on Canada Day, so I'm all hopped up on Molson as we record this. Anyway, kids-
Chad: Is that a real day?
Joel: -it's another episode of- It is a real day, yeah. Canada Day, when they fought quote-unquote for their independence from Britain. Anyway, Firing Squad is back, gang. Today we have a special treat straight out of the Northwest of the great American country that we live in. Rick, can I call you Little Richard or would you be offended? Anyway, Rick Richard, founder and CEO of StaffUpApp.
Joel: Rick, welcome to the show.
Rick: Hey, thanks for having me, guys.
Joel: You're so mellow, man, I love it.
Rick: I'm a Portlander, you know?
Joel: That cool Portland vibe you got going there.
Joel: My only association with Portland is watching Kindergarten Cop a couple times.
Rick: Yeah, that's true, it was filmed here.
Joel: Yeah, it was, it was, it was. Like 30 years ago. Rick, tell us about yourself. Chad will go through the rules and then we'll get into the company.
Rick: All right, great. So I'm a computer science person by background, software engineering, electrical engineering, as well. I've been a software for the last 25 plus years or so, started a few firms. I'm also the founder and CEO of a mobile app development firm, which is how it led to StaffUpApp. I live with my family and two kids, here in the Pacific Northwest. Me in a nutshell.
Joel: So no background in employment, which could be important.
Rick: Well, I've been an entrepreneur for much longer than I ever was employed. So, I worked for several software firms, but that was 20 plus years ago.
Joel: This is your first foray into an employment-related technology, is what I'm asking?
Rick: It is, yes.
Joel: All right, Chad, tell him what he's won.
Chad: Excellent. Rick, what you've won is getting in front of the Firing Squad. Rick, you're going to have two minutes to pitch StaffUpApp. At the end of two minutes, you're going to hear the bell, and Joel and I will hit you with rapid fire Q&A. If your answers start rambling and you get boring, we're going to hit you with the crickets. That means tighten your game up. At the end of Q&A, we're going to grade you with one of three, first being big applause.
Joel: That's what you want.
Chad: That's what you want right there. That means we loved it. Golf clap. That's my favorite, but we think that you're on the right track, but you're not quite there yet and need to tighten your game up a little bit. And what you don't want to hear, the Firing Squad. That means take that app and go home.
Joel: Take your shit and go home, Rick.
Chad: That's right, take your app and go home. So that's it for Firing Squad.
Joel, get ready to start him.
Joel: Rick, any questions?
Rick: No, I got it.
Joel: Excellent. And you are on your two minute countdown starting (ding ding ding)
Rick: So StaffUpApp is a white label, mobile app solution for staffing and recruiting industry. We make it so that you can have your own branded app in the Apple app store for iPhones and iPads, and a Google Play store for Android devices, all without the high cost of custom mobile app development. The apps are available for a candidate to download and engage with the firms. So today, candidates use and expect the online, on-demand, Uber-like experience. You know, like Netflix mobile, Uber and Lyft apps, dating apps, and of course banking apps, which I love and I use pretty extensively.
Rick: Firms that can modernize their approach and have an app to allow easy access to applications submittals, referrals to friends and colleagues, and engage with the staffing firm I think are really ahead of the game. With differentiating your brand in a really big way by having your own custom app, I think staffing firms really give themselves the ability to connect with candidates in a way that they don't normally have access to. Like push notifications and texting, for example, are natural to mobile and I think part of the process.
Rick: Staffing firms that have an app have huge first mover advantage over staffing firms that don't, and everyone puts their jobs on Indeed and Google for example, right? That's fantastic and it's essential, but having your own branded mobile app allows you to connect faster with candidates. And both active and passive candidates at any point, they see your jobs, can engage with you, can apply and can submit referrals for friends and colleagues.
Rick: To build your own mobile app today would be about $150-200k. A very expensive, time consuming and risky endeavor. StaffUpApp offers a better solution at a fraction of that cost. For more information, go to our website staffupapp.com or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chad: Nice. (ding ding ding) Very nice.
Joel: Nice job, Rick. You got that pitch down.
Chad: Way to close it out. That was good.
Joel: Someone's been practicing in the mirror with a stopwatch I think.
Chad: Wow, we ridiculed others for not getting that domain in there, right? Very nice. So first question, Rick. Most of these companies don't have a great mobile experience on their site, at all, anyway. So why jump straight into an app if their mobile experience sucks already?
Rick: So, first they should have a mobile experience. That's kind of an essential thing. Problem is most people have statistically have been shown like Flurry and other analytical firms that have done a survey, most app users use browsers maybe 10% of the time when they're on mobile. The rest of the time, they're in mobile apps. So they want to engage with firms using their mobile app. That experience is more engaging, it's more specific to them, and it's tailored for mobile. If they have a browser solution that's not responsive now, they're already behind the 8-ball. So they have to have that, but really this is above and beyond having your own browser based solution.
Joel: So Rick, I think in the selling point to the staffing firm to have an app is probably not too difficult. Where I have a problem is, asking a job seeker to download a native app in order to see the jobs, to apply and sort of message and engage. You mentioned you have a banking app and I think we all probably do on this call, you use banking tools everyday, right? You're checking your balance, you're moving money, your depositing, whatever you're doing, right? That's a regular thing that you do.
Joel: Most job searches happen every two to three years. If there are apps that people download it's probably like the Indeed app, or Glassdoor maybe, where they can see companies or get updates, so what, for a job seeker really is the defining reason why they would download your app versus others?
Rick: So you've got two differentiations there. So the passive job seeker who's already employed, now why would he download the app? Then you've got the active job seeker. Let's talk about the active job seeker first. So staffing firms go out of their way to build relationships with candidates, right? You have a candidate walk through your door or email you or however you've connected with them, that's very expensive touch point. They want to engage that person and keep that person connected.
Rick: So making an app available to them is essential because now, the candidate's not going to download ten staffing firm apps. They may download, like you said, Monster and Indeed and those guys for the broader search, but they really want that relationship with a firm they've chosen. They're not going to have a relationship with ten different firms, they're going to have a personal relationship with one or two staffing firms that really engage with them. And the app allows you to do that with push notifications and texts, having your jobs available to you, all those features are really available at the tips of your fingers.
Chad: So back to my question with regard to the mobile experience on the website. Why not just focus? If I'm a staffing company, why don't I just focus deeply on making sure that that's a more engaging user experience as opposed to creating something that somebody has to download? What does an app give me that a really great user experience on my mobile site won't?
Rick: First of all, now you can't send push notifications to a mobile based browser. They've got that ability with StaffUpApp. You can't even send text messages to the person based on their mobile usage. But the big reason is people just aren't using mobile browsers. They just don't use them. Like I said, statistically, they use maybe 10% of the time you're on your mobile browser for a firm to interact with them. The rest of the time they expect an app.
Rick: So, yeah, if mobile browsers are being used, sure that would be a reasonable argument. I still would have arguments against it, but that would be a reasonable argument. But it's not being used, so you're kind of not engaging with the people you want to engage with and spending a lot of time and money on a mobile experience that isn't being used.
Joel: I want to step back a second, Rick. Talk about, have you guys raised money? Are you looking to raise money? What does the organization look like and what might it look like in the next 24 months?
Rick: So, we have not raised money, it's al boot strapped up. I own a mobile app development company. We've built apps for the real Olympics, Motorola, of a national brand, soft built a lot of apps over the last 10 years, so I've boot strapped it up. If we're looking for funding, I'm not sure yet. So we'll see after the next 18 months or so. The market is wide open now, very few firms have a mobile app, very few firms have a good mobile app, so we think we've got a lot of upside, so we're going to approach that as the year progresses.
Joel: So you develop a lot of apps. You see a lot of startups and companies that are developing stuff. You haven't developed anything in the employment space. So what was it about this idea that really sparked your imagination and wanted you to actually build it and do this?
Rick: So, in my mobile app development company, I will get staffing firms to come to me and want to build their own mobile app. A subside of what we've got in StaffUpApp. But when they hear the cost, $150-250k to build out iPhone, android, the backing system that's needed, and all the supporting services, they shy away. So after a few times happening, I said well I think I can build this and do it in a white label way, so that it's not onerous for us to customize it for every staffing firm.
Rick: We can automate a lot of that, build a lot of those options in, in configurable ways, make this available as a service to staffing and recruiting firms instead of one big lump sum fee, we're a subscription based service.
Chad: You just said the market is wide open, and you're right, the market is wide open. So why just focus on staffing firms? You have these huge big fortune 500, fortune 25, fortune 50 brands who would, could pay $150k for an app, or $100k, who knows. Why just focus on staffing? Why not branch out and look at that wide open market?
Rick: So that's a great question. So, I think the big mistake in startups is they try to do too much too fast. Now, we have a really good product, we're learning tons in the staffing and recruiting industry. They've improved this product over the last 18 months in ways that I wouldn't even have thought of. So we're building up to that point. Will we go to the bigger fortune 500 companies and beyond? You know, very possibly, but when we go to them, we're going to be super solid.
Rick: We're going to have a product that we know, an industry that has really worked for us, is really engaging a lot of users, and then we go to them with a lot of strength, instead of trying to get that first fortune 500 company would take a year, right, or more. They take forever to close. So we're in a space where we think we can close a lot of staffing and recruiting firms and get tons of great feedback and make our product fantastic.
Joel: We talk a lot on this show about automation., particularly marketing, recruitment marketing automation. I could see a job seeker maybe downloading the app because the recruiting firm tells them, hey download the app and we can engage with you in that manner, but do they continue to get things like job alerts, messages from the recruiters, is there an engagement after the initial download? Or do I download it, get a job, and then I never hear from the company or the staffing firm again unless they manually go in and communicate with me? What automation tools does it have?
Rick: All right, so now this is a second part of industry we're talking about. Passive candidates. Someone who's already working, right? They've already used the app, they've got a position, and now they're working somewhere. Why would they want the app? So, the reason is, the staffing firm keeps them engaged. We have a great career resources area where you get help with all sorts of aspects of a running employment, whatever they want, PDFs, videos, whatever they want, they can put in that area.
Rick: So the candidate, even passively, can always stay engaged with you. More importantly, a passive candidate has all these relationships with other individuals in their segment. So when I was a working engineer, I knew what everyone was doing. I knew everyone who was happy with what they were doing, or looking for a job, or wanting to change their development stack, and move on. So I knew all those guys.
Rick: If my staffing firm, who I have a relationship with, sends a notification out that says, we've got a new referral program. It's now $1,000 if place as a java developer. Now, I've got the app, I know that right away, with just a couple of clicks, I can refer that friend without having to lookup staffing firms, email address or the name of my recruiter, all that is already built in to the app. Everyone gets a report of it.
Rick: The staffing firm gets a notification that there's a new referral, the person who's referred now has a link to the app or the specific job that I thought they were good for. So it makes a really tight coupling even if the candidate is passive and not actively looking for a position.
Chad: So, Rick, quick question with regard to texting and then going beyond texting to messaging. I see that you have an integrated partnership with a texting organization. What about beyond that messaging with WhatsApp and maybe some of these other organizations like TalkPush, Canvas, TextRecruit, which cover more than just text. Are you integrating with them? How does that all work?
Rick: So texting is different, so we have lots of integrations with others. Like one of our referral partners, Staffing Referrals, they have a great system. It flushes out referrals far better than we would. We want to have a basic referral program. If there's third party connections that we can make, we're more than willing to do that. We've got several that we've already done.
Rick: Texting is different. Texting is phone number based. So, if you've got the phone number from your texting firm, and our texting partner is not just texting, they've got full rich set of features like RecruitText and others. Canvas, they've got a full rich set of features. So we integrate by the phone number. So the phone number you assigned to your recruiter or the firm, we integrate into our app to when the candidate wants to text you, they've got it already in the app.
Rick: We go through their normal texting system, or their texting partner for back and forth texting. So, we integrate it at their phone number level so that if it ever changes it's always still integrated into our system. Going beyond texting, I think that's really interesting. So, I don't see it as much now for WhatsApp and others, but I think that's going to really be the next step for texting candidates, so even RichTexts, that sort of thing, is really becoming popular, but I'm not seeing it yet, but we're certainly watching it, and when that integration is available to us we certainly are going to integrate with others.
Chad: Yeah, when you take a look at some of these very large staffing companies like Ronstadt, that is an international staffing organization and across the pond, WhatsApp is used more than really I think any other messaging platform that's out there. Now it is predicated on the phone number which is good, which is another reason why I asked about WhatsApp because that is basic foundation on the phone number.
Rick: Right, right.
Joel: Interested in marketing. As you all know, selling as a vendor, marketing is challenging, but you're also asking the staffing firm to market the app as well. So talk about how you guys are marketing, the staffing companies, and then what sort of recommendation or hand holding do you do with the staffing firm to then market their app to their candidates and prospects?
Rick: So, you're right. Closing a staffing firm can be time consuming, but giving them tips on how to market the app is easy, because they already do all the things that we piggy-back on. They post to Instagram, they post to LinkedIn, they post their jobs. Everywhere they post already, we say add a small tag to the bottom of your post that says 'download our mobile app' or 'we now have mobile app' and it has the nice iPhone and android images that let's them click and download right their from their mobile.
Rick: So marketing is pretty straight forward, because again they're already reaching out so many places. And we have marketing tips that we provide them. We're constantly growing and evolving, learning new things, and passing them on to all of our staffing firms.
Chad: Right, how many clients do you currently have utilizing your apps and how are they using it to become more of the Uber-ization, as you would call it, of staffing?
Rick: So we're about 18 months in. Our beta launch, it was pretty lengthy, so we have a couple dozen clients already, the exact number fluctuates but we have a couple dozen and it's growing. It's growing pretty rapidly. Whenever we leave a conference we always close several clients so we're getting big on conferences now. They way they're using it is essentially the same for all, but it does vary a little bit. More the industrial clients, they push a lot of texts and push notifications to their pool often, and they get a lot of response. A lot of referrals, a lot of applications.
Rick: For the more high tech firms, that place high tech IT and other areas, they for one want the jobs to be available. And one thing you guys mentioned earlier on about getting lots of notifications, our app doesn't really give any notifications other than what the candidate asked for. So a candidate for example would download a staffing firms app, they put in their alerts. They say what are they interested in, and only when those things are available do they get a notification that that match is made in the app, and the app shows them the matches they have.
Rick: The job listings update automatically so there's no notification that there's a new job, it's just more like when there's a match is available for the candidate but they all use the PDF format of resources, so they always get information, there career resources is updated instantly. If the firm updates in our backend, it's instantly available to the app, there's no refresh needed or anything like that. So they all use it to communicate everything from resume tips to other employment types of PDFs they put out or their blog, whatever they think is important, those are always available.
Joel: I'm interested in competition for a little bit. Is there any competition aside from just developers that would have to develop this from scratch, and also what do you feel is the biggest threat to your business?
Rick: So there's no real direct competitors, there's another firm in Canada that provides a branded app. They're more time based oriented I believe. They do more time cards. There are a few staffing firms that have built their own, and they're pretty sparse. There the job list. I don't really see a point, right? They do that in they're more of a browser based thing. They don't do even application submittals in many that I've seen. So it's not really an engagement too for them, it's more they thought they needed an app and then they had it built.
Rick: So I don't see a lot of competition there. The threat I see, and it's not realized yet, and we plan on being there as well, is something we touched on earlier. First, this evolution of texting happening, right? SOmething's going to happen with texting and I think it's going to be a merger of kind of texting and chat bots kind of thing where the process for engaging a candidate is going to evolve over the next few years. We always talk chat bots in terms of AI. Chat bots are not AI yet. Chat bots are a logic tree today, so they're not really super polished.
Rick: You've seen the complicated ones that look very real, but it's not really AI yet. I think AI, with all the searches becoming available through Microsoft, Google, Amazon, true AI, I think the candidate experience is going to change so much over the next few years that you can't really predict where it's going to be. You can only stay alert and say, I'm going to utilize this as it becomes available and popular. So that's kind of how I look at the future horizon. I keep an eye on the things I think are really exciting and coming down the line and seeing how we can integrate it in and provide more value to our clients.
Chad: Talking about value. You know, as boot strapping this, you cannot develop everything. You can't. I mean, this is an arms race that's happening right now in this industry, so talk to me about some of the partners that you have integrated with and why you chose to actually integrate with those partners.
Rick: Yeah, so that's a good point. You know, it's the same thing about the fortune 500 and 5000 companies. I can't be everywhere yet. I want to stay really focused on what I do, and I don't want to reach out and be the best texting platform in the world. Now we have really good basic texting built into our service, no extra cost, but we also partner with texting companies like TextUs, for example, who has a great system, fully flushed out robust system, and after adding features and functions all the time.
Rick: So we let them do full blown texting if the firm is interested in that. Our referrals are becoming so big now, I can't believe some firms don't have a referral bonus program, right? Now as a working engineer, engineers make $100-150k, I guarantee you any one of those engineers, if you put a $500 bonus in front of them, bend over backwards to get that bonus. Staffing firms aren't really utilizing that so much, so we partner with a great staffing firm, a staffing referrals company called staffing Referrals, they integrate into our system as well.
Rick: We have a basic referral system that gives everyone great notifications, but if you want a very full robust staffing referrals integration, you go to a company like that and really get the full blown, very niche specific features and functions tailored towards referrals. So that's how we approach integration. They do what we do in segments better, we'd love to partner with them and use them as an integrated partner.
Joel: Question about targeting, Rick. Both on, I guess, the job seeker side and the agency side, is there some cohesion there? In other words, I could not see a high demand engineer downloading an app from a staffing firm, whereas I could see other professionals doing that. Do you try to sync up the staffing firms that you go after, that have job seekers that are more aligned to downloading an app? Or is there any strategy at all at this point around that? Do you understand what I'm asking?
Rick: Yeah, so it's not a specific strategy, but I disagree with you. As a high end senior engineer, architect level engineer, I would download an app like this because I want to stay in touch with what the firm is doing, especially the referral program. There's great tips that staffing firms have. Most engineers like me, are pretty not extroverted or introverts, right?
Rick: So getting tips on how to function more better at work, relationship type things and other great tips that firms generally put out to their passive candidates, would always be of interest to me. So I think the same thing happens with an app. The app, also, is like this business card. You want to give it to candidates that you have interacted with or touched at any point. Then whenever they want to get in contact with you or know what you 're doing, it's just an app away.
Rick: There's no searching for you on the website anymore, what was the name of that recruiter, what was that website I want to refer a person to. It's this calling card that's now always on your desktop of your app that very few people would download more than one relationship based staffing firm app, so let that app be your app. It's a way for staying really connected with individuals.
Joel: Do you believe that engineers aren't on LinkedIn, because they don't like being contacted by so many staffing firms?
Rick: I would never be on LinkedIn if I was an engineer. That's just me personally, because I would get lots and lots of recruiters coming to me and trying to move me from where I was currently placed.
Joel: Right, so I guess my question is, how is this different?
Rick: So, staffing firms aren't always trying to recruit someone who's currently working. They just want to be in touch with them when they're looking. I think it's very passive in a way firms have been staying connected with a candidate. Just because you placed me, it's not like the 80s where they will place you and immediately try to place you somewhere else. I think most firms will just wait, and when you're ready to move, or more importantly you know someone else is ready to move, you're available to them via the app where they can make an easy and quick referral for a colleague who happens to be moving or not interested in staying where they are for whatever reasons. If you have a relationship with that candidate and they have your app, it's easy for them to refer that person to your firm.
Chad: Rick, tell me about pricing. What's pricing look like around this?
Rick: So, we're a no contract base, we're very easy sale, very easy decision for a firm. No set up fee, and we're roughly $549 a month. So if there's a little bit, the firm has special ATS connection needs, but generally we go out the gate at $549 a month.
Joel: All right, let's go to the firing squad then, I want to hear the bell one more time. (ding ding ding) All right. All right Rick, I'm going to go first here, man where to start. I think that you have a lot of things going against you, and I think Chad and I are probably disagree on this and that's why it's the Chad and Cheese Podcast, so I think, I look at this specifically from the two angles of having a native application, both that you're marketing and maintaining as well as downloading and engaging with.
Joel: And from my perspective, I think it's, I can't see the synergies of a staffing firm with a mobile app, having to market it, promote it, engage with folks on it. I understand that job alerts are pretty easy. I think that over time job seekers from the job seekers side get annoyed with that. We've had email alerts forever, and I think similarly app alerts are going to be viewed similarly by job seekers. You may be seeing a totally different thing and if you are, then I'm totally wrong and you'll be a major success.
Joel: For me it's really hard to get away from the old way of doing things, whether it's phone calls, emails, texting which we touched upon a little bit are huge. You mentioned advancements in messaging which will happen, which I think is just a much more organic relationship and interaction with a job seeker, so I think there's so many challenges with the business in terms of both of those things coming together. I also look at the fact you've never done employment before, you have a company as it is, so it's going to be pretty easy for you to say let's just go back to doing what we know and developing apps, so for me, I hope you prove me wrong, but for me, you got the guns.
Chad: All right. So Rick, there's no question. Asking candidates to download an app is an obstacle. There's no question, right? But this is where Joel is incredibly wrong. First and foremost I love the focus. It's super solid, and it does take forever for a fortune 500 company to close. Not to mention staffing is a business, right? Talent acquisition, that's their job, right? They're not looking at margins, they're not looking at EBIDA, they're not looking at all of those things, right?
Chad: Staffing does. So you, to be able to pick staffing to be business focused, I think is incredibly smart, and the only way to go. Don't worry about those big brands, because those big brands are a pain in the fucking ass. So, understanding partnerships is also a big point, because you know you can't develop everything. That's awesome as well because again, you have the focus that's necessary to be able to make this boot strapped organization right now move forward.
Chad: And last but not least, and this is where Joel just doesn't get it, is that Indeed acquired Syft. Syft is a marketplace app, the evolution from traditional staffing to marketplace platforms has to happen. This is how it's going to happen. The big key for you is, can you jump on that train? If staffing companies understand that Indeed's going to drink their milkshake, then they could easily take a look at what you have to offer and say, how are we going to compete. This is how they're going to compete, which is why I'm giving you a big applause.
Joel: Rick, you've gotten your first ever in history applause and guns show, congratulations. How do you feel? That's the first time it's ever happened.
Rick: Well, we know who the genius of the two of you are. Chad.
Joel: Hey Rick, bottom line, Chad and I always root for startups. I hope that you can come on, you know 3, 4 or 5 years from now. Chad, I think we out.
Chad: We out.
Outro: This has been the firing squad. Be sure to subscribe to the Chad and Cheese 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 chadcheese.com today. That's www.chadcheese.com.