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You probably know Mailchimp. And if you don't know Mailchimp, you've definitely received an email via their platform, which enables marketers to send messages in bulk.

For the most part, the concept is still pretty alien to most recruiters, but Collegia is here to change that ... or at least they hope so. Can they bring recruiters and email marketing together, finally?

Checkout this episode of Firing Squad to see if they've got what it takes to survive the big guns.

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 again, that's and learn how Talroo can get you better candidates for less cash.

Joel: Or just go to 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.

Joel: Chad, the Brown's lost last night, so I'm a little bit trigger happy.

Chad: Ain't surprised.

Joel: So this episode of the Firing Squad could get ugly. I don't know. Either way, please welcome Collegia. I hope I said that correctly. And their founder, Dama Aberg Cobo. I probably butchered that one too. Dama, welcome to the Firing Squad.

Dama: Thank you. Thank you guys. No you said it perfectly. Dama from Collegia.

Joel: Nice. Nice. So we'll get to the company in a second, but give our audience who doesn't know you, a little background on what you're all about.

Dama: Sure. So I'm originally from Argentina. I have a business background and I started a startup in human resources and then after that one I did Collegia, which is this new startup.

Joel: Chad.

Chad: Yes.

Joel: Tell her what she's won.

Chad: Dama, what you've won is the opportunity to give us a two minute pitch of Collegia. At the end of two minutes you're going to hear the bell. Then Joel and I are going to hit you with rapid fire Q and A. If your answers start to ramble, or they just get boring, Joel's going to hit you with the crickets and that'll be your cue to move the hell along.

Joel: Keep it going, Dama.

Chad: At the end of Q and A, we're going to grade you, and you could receive a big applause.

Joel: That's the one you want.

Chad: Yep, that means, get your bank account ready. It's time to to knock this bitch out![ Golf clap, that means you might be there, you might not. And the one you don't want to hear, the Firing Squad. That's right, hit the bricks.

Joel: That is one big pile of shit.

Chad: Just close up shop. That is one big pile of shit. You should just try something different.

Joel: Find another line of work.

Chad: That's right. So that's Firing Squad. Are you ready?

Dama: I'm ready. Let's go for that big applause.

Joel: Two minutes. Starting in three, two-

Dama: So Collegia is a platform for recruiters to engage the talent and identify the active prospects in their database. How we do this is we build micro communities, segmenting the candidates based on their industry skillset and location. Then we curate high quality content and we send it out to them. So what's trending in your industry? What new tools or processes are going on? What events or conferences can you attend in your city and what continuing educational content can you do, like courses or certifications to grow in your career?

Dama: We also share job opportunities, the ones that the recruiter is hiring for and other opportunities in the candidates' location. So this is giving a candidate-centered approach, giving them a 360 degrees overview of what is going on in their industry. And based on how the candidate interacts with the content, we rank them, and we provide the recruiter with a short list of active candidates. Collegiate resurface high potential candidates from the recruiters' database. It reduces time to placement, and it positions the recruiter as a mentor and a thought leader that takes care for their talent, and maintains an ongoing communication to guide them in their career.

Joel: So we'll help you out here. Where can we learn more?

Dama: You can learn more on That's

Chad: Which is where my first question is going to start, is being in sales for a word that's... Is it commonly used? I don't even know if it's in the English dictionary. You're going to have to tell us about that. Collegia. How did you come up with Collegia, number one the name, and was the dot com taken? Because you have a dot io, so help us out with the name, the origin, and why you couldn't find a dot com for something.

Joel: And do you worry about being confused with a college recruiting website?

Dama: Okay, great question. So actually the name Collegia comes from Collegium. Collegium is a guild, right? So if you could think of an association, a professional association. We're trying to build these new modern communities for any professional to join and to network and connect with their peers. So it's the modern guild or modern collegium. Does that make sense?

Joel: Yes.

Dama: Okay. And the dot io, it's what we chose. The dot com yes was taken. So is what we got.

Joel: And what is doing?

Dama: Oh, no idea.

Joel: Okay. You might want to check that out just in case.

Chad: Especially if it's a porn site, or a competitor.

Dama: No, no I think we're good. It's not a competitor for sure.

Joel: So when you're rich and famous, you might buy the dot com.

Dama: Yep, probably.

Joel: Right.

Dama: I like the dot io though. It sounds technical.

Joel: Sure, roll with that, you know the checks cash the same no matter what your domain is.

Dama: Right.

Joel: So I was trying to figure out as I was looking at the site, which is in beta, so there's not a ton of information, but the best example that I could come up with was sort of a MailChimp, email marketing on top of an applicant tracking system or like a CRM. Would that be a good way to describe your service to people that don't know or am I way off base there?

Dama: No, correct. It's a good way. So we're helping the recruiter by providing the content. A recruiter is an expert in connecting people with work. But they might not have the time to know what is going on in each industry that they hire for. So it's the MailChimp, but with everything ready to send out and then the report.

Joel: All right. So let's talk about the emails and the segmentation. Does the solution integrate with an ATS and then as people apply to jobs, is the email address like automatically uploaded into the system and then when you send out jobs, how do you know from the email address or the information that they want a marketing job or they want sales or nursing, so how does the segmentation and sort of the uploading of emails happen?

Dama: Great question. So recruiters today have amazing applicant tracking systems that do great segmentation. So we're working with them. Our tool today is the first version of the product where the recruiters just import their list of candidates into our platform. But we're heading on version two to integrate with the applicant tracking systems. So they don't have to do that manually. And then we're going to provide the applicant tracking systems with the information that we get from how candidates interact with the content. So there'll be able to search active candidates and those ones would be pulled up in their database.

Joel: And which ATSs will you be integrating with first?

Dama: Starting with Bullhorn for sure.

Chad: Ah, very focused on the recruiter side. I like it. So how do recruiters actually build these micro-communities? I understand that there is some sort of segmentation in applicant tracking systems, but not all of them are segmented, right? So how can a recruiter actually build these micro-communities?

Dama: So that is really simple. On our platform, the recruiter just decides what industry and position they want to focus on to start off. For example, their top candidates are IT project managers or accounting consultants. And in just one business day we have that community set up for them.

Joel: And how does the curation of content happen? Does the recruiter, someone actually have to go out on the web and is it from publications and then like, "I want all the stories from Fast Company or something to come into the newsletter." And then do they curate based on, if it's marketing it would be marketing type stories and if it's nursing or accounting, it would be those kinds of stories? How does the curation of the content happen?

Dama: Correct. Yeah. So the recruiter doesn't have to do anything. We do it like in an autopilot mode for them. We have community managers that are industry experts for each industry and they curate the content from professional sources. So if we're talking about technology or whatever industry, we'll talk about where we're connecting with universities, associations, newspapers, online magazines, depending on each industry. So TechCrunch, Fast Company, Forbes, everyone that knows what is trending and going on in the industry we're making sure to put that high quality content out there to the candidates.

Chad: So this is already segmented is what you're saying. You have all these publications that you're already getting RSS feeds in from. At this point, you know how to segment the data or the articles that are actually coming in to be able to build these kind of like stock newsletters, is that what I'm hearing?

Dama: Yes, correct. And our tool with AI is going to be able to personalize the content even more each time when the candidate interacts with it, we're going to be sending them what is most relevant to them. And on the other side, the AI is going to also pull up not only the active candidates but the ones that are more qualified for the jobs.

Chad: Did you hear that? She jammed in AI, Joel. So that's automatic, that's a tick mark.

Joel: That's good. That's good. Yeah. Waiting for machine learning.

Chad: Are you going to be moving also to text and messaging as well to be able to push out this content or just email?

Dama: So that's a great question. Today, we're only email, but we know that youngsters are in texts and in push notifications. So we're going to go there too.

Chad: She said youngsters.

Joel: What's the target market for this? I mean you mentioned Bullhorn, so I'm assuming recruiters, but will this be also a good enterprise product? Where will the sales team and the marketing efforts focus?

Dama: So right now we're focusing on independent recruiters and small staffing firms up to mid sized staffing firms, not large enterprises. So these firms are needing help to outsource the content generation and really make their database work for them and maximize their database.

Joel: And will you target global globally, or will you focus sort of the U.S. because I assume that with the content piece, doing different languages would be challenging or no?

Dama: Yes. Right now we're focusing on the U.S. to start off, but then this has a potential to be global. We want any professional, and that's why I said youngsters, and we want them to start young in their careers to be able to join a community in their city to help them guide that career development.

Joel: Chad and I say "Yoots" instead of youngsters but that's-

Dama: Okay, I like that. That's cooler.

Chad: Why not enterprise though? Because that's where the money's at. Now I understand that the small and the medium size recruiting organizations, there are a ton of them, but the enterprise has money not to mention might be a great acquisition strategy or is that not what you're looking at from acquisition?

Dama: So that's a great point. Right now we've seen that our early adopters are the small and medium sized businesses because we've got a first version of our product and they have patience with us. They're able to do this manually, import the list of candidates. But as we grow and we make this process more seamless and as soon as we're integrated with the applicant tracking systems, we're shooting for enterprise as well.

Chad: Enterprise is a pain in the ass is what I'm hearing. So you're going with the easier to integrate. That's what I'm hearing, right?

Dama: Yeah.

Joel: Lowest hanging fruit is what you're hearing. Have you guys raised money or are you looking to raise money? I guess seed round at this point, but what's the plan on funding?

Dama: Correct. Yes. So we have one angel investor and we have 10 active staffing firms using our community, our platform and have their active community sending content every two weeks or every week. And our goal is in the next couple of months to start speaking with investors and to raise a seed round of $500,000.

Joel: Okay. And what's the team look like? Is it mostly you and contractors or what's that look like?

Dama: We're two founders. I'm the CEO and I have my co-founder who's the CTO and he's developed the software. And then we have the senior advisors that are experts in the staffing industry helping us out, they're part-time of course. And then we have the community managers that are contractors at this stage.

Chad: Any partnerships at this early stage? And if not, or if you do, what is your target partner right now?

Dama: Yes, we are working on some partnerships with back-office providers to the recruiters. So companies that already have a bunch of recruiters as their clients and are going to offer Collegia as a benefit to them.

Joel: Talk a little bit about the intelligence piece. Because I think it's really interesting in terms of you know when emails are open, you know the frequency, you know maybe how long someone was on after clicking. And then what I'm hearing is basically that your algorithm algorithmically ranking people based on the interest level. Am I right about that? And can you talk more about the vision and why you do that, and how much of that will be automated to say, "Hey, if someone is high interest, we're going to hit them with these emails" or "We're going to hit them with different messages."

Dama: Yeah. So the recruiter wishes that they could really know at all times when is the candidate ready for a new job, right? And that's something really hard for them to track. They don't have time to speak with everyone in their database. So with Collegia we're identifying when is the right time to reach out to your tier candidates and which candidates. So of all the candidates that you have, there's going to be a great number that is happily in their jobs, but there's going to be that short list that will change every couple of weeks. And those are the ones that are open to new opportunities or are ready for a change. And our platform is allowing the recruiter to identify that right timing.

Dama: About the automation. It's also just reading the engagement, how they like the content, what's the open rate, where are they clicking on, what courses are they taking, and what jobs are they applying for? Something interesting about Collegia's that we're not only posting the recruiters jobs but other jobs. And this gives an additional piece of information to the recruiter because the candidates can apply to whatever they want, right? But with Collegia recruiters know that candidates might not be happy with the position that they're posting but are applying to other jobs so they can have a conversation with them and try to guide them to what they're looking for and help them get it. So this positions the recruiter as a mentor and sponsor.

Chad: Okay. So overall, and we understand how it works. I like it seems very simple, but what problem are you trying to solve for specifically?

Dama: Well, our ultimate goal is to increase the number of job placements. So help the recruiter get more candidates and jobs. And our mission is to help these professionals grow in their careers and get upskilled so get better skills and get those dream jobs that are better jobs that they're looking for.

Joel: Do you feel like there's a big risk, and we mentioned the text messaging piece or the messaging piece, more and more email marketing is becoming really challenging. And I could imagine most recruiters don't understand that if you send out a thousand messages via mass email, maybe 10% are opened and then less than 1% are replied to. Are you seeing different kind of metrics? And if so talk about that. But I guess my overall question is do you fear risking someone sending out a bunch of messages and then going to look at the analytics and saying like, "Oh God, only 1% actually click on our emails and this isn't worth the trouble or the money that we're spending, and we're off of this thing." Whereas something like text messaging, you're looking at 95% open rates, 90-85% read within the first 15 minutes. Do you think there's a big risk with email in terms of people getting turned off by that, or email becoming a dying communications mechanism, particularly as you go younger and younger down the chain?

Dama: Yeah. Well, email and our newsletters are performing really well, above industry average. So in the staffing and the recruiting industry, you have about 20% click rate, sorry, open rate, and about a 1-2% click rate, which is low. But we know that there's going to be a short amount of candidates that are active and engaged, and we want to reach that target, right? So providing the recruiter with that short list is going to make their job easier for them to focus. And going back to email, our newsletters are performing really well. We're providing high quality content and we believe we're adding value to those candidates that are eager to learn more, right? These are professionals that are low to middle skilled professionals. They're not executives that are already online and already know what is going on.

Joel: And when you say performing really well, what does that mean from a percentage standpoint in terms of opens and-

Dama: It goes, for example, open rates go from 18-40%. So there's a couple of below average. But that's normal. And it goes pretty high. And then click rate is right there on the industry click rates, 2-3% a bit more than the average.

Joel: And do emails come from Collegia or do you send it from the company's URL, do you sync it up to their email address or is it all through Collegia?

Dama: So think it as bloggers can write on medium recruiters or mentors can send content through Collegia. So the email comes from Collegia and prosourceIT, for example, which is a staffing firm that uses our product. And if the candidate wants to reply, they reply directly to the recruiter. So the email goes to the recruiter's inbox. This generates more conversations for the recruiter and their candidates.

Chad: So is that done just by a different link in the email or is that a part of the integration? So that when I hit reply, I don't reply to Collegia, it actually replies to the recruiter.

Dama: Correct. It's directly hit reply and it goes to the recruiter. It's integrated.

Chad: Okay. So from a roadmap standpoint, kind of digging deeper into the engagement side of the house, how fast are you going to get to SMS?

Dama: Oh, good question. Well, we're going to be launching our version two with the integration in 2020 with integration with Bullhorn. And as soon as we have that, we'll be ready for the SMS.

Chad: Q1? Q2? How fast?

Dama: Yes, yeah. Q1. Q1 of course.

Chad: Ah, okay. (w/ Disbelieving tone 😉

Joel: I want to know about pricing. What's this thing cost?

Dama: Perfect. So recruiters pay $500 per month to use the platform. And this starts with one community and the content in that. Then the price will vary depending on the number of the different communities that they have. So the price increases with the different content. If you have many communities, because we have many locations, but it's one position and one industry that's the same price. But if you're going to hire in tech, in sales, in finance, then it's going to be a different one.

Joel: So community is essentially defined as a target market.

Dama: Yes, correct.

Joel: So $500 if I have a million email addresses or a hundred?

Dama: Yeah. No matter how many.

Joel: And what's the grand goal or mission of the company? Like in five years. Do you hope to flip this thing? Do you hope to IPO this thing? Do you hope to have a nice little business with employees? Like what sort of the grand vision?

Dama: Oh, this is going to be big. It's not a lifestyle business. Our goal is to have this platform for any professional in the world to be able to join their community and be able to really enrich their careers, thanks to Collegia. And this also allows the future. Today where we're offering this to recruiters, but in the future when any professional, for example, you want to say, a mom that had to leave her 9 to 5 job, wants to help youngsters or wants to help others in her career, she could join and build a Collegiate community, have her followers or candidates, and really give them that opportunity, opening connections to them and to helping them grow in their career. So it's a platform that will help anyone really be a recruiter or help people get work.

Chad: Okay, so back to the pricing real quick. That's $500 per month?

Dama: Yeah.

Chad: Okay. And if I have more than one community, it's $500 per community per month. So if I have two communities and I'm a tech recruiter and I want to splice that off into like a developer community, which could be different than my overall tech community, that'd be $1,000 per month per recruiter?

Dama: So it doesn't double directly. The price will increase, but it doesn't double. You're not going to have to pay $500 per each new community. It's going to increase because the price increases with the new content that we're generating. But yeah, it's the idea that you have to go with is $500 per community to have constant automated content out to your candidates and identifying the most engaged candidates every week or with the frequency that you want.

Chad: Gotcha. And are there volume discounts for the staffing companies?

Dama: Yes, of course.

Joel: So last one from me. Can recruiters or companies or customers only send out emails when stories are curated and there are jobs, or could I at any time sort of blast a message out to all of my subscribers? So let's say there's a job fair or something that we're doing, can I just send a message with custom text and send it out like I would with a MailChimp or something similar?

Dama: Yes, of course. So we can share any information that a recruiter wants to with their community at anytime.

Chad: Easy enough, I think we're ready.

Joel: You good?

Chad: I'm good.

Joel: All right. Dama, are you ready to face the Firing Squad?

Dama: Yes.

Joel: I'll go ahead and go first Chad if that's okay with you. We talk a ton on the show and you're a listener, which we love cause some Firing Squad guests don't actually listen to a lot of episodes. I know you're a fan, so I appreciate that. But you know that we talk a lot about the intersection of recruiting and marketing and we generally love tools that help recruiters become better marketers. And email marketing has been around for a very long time, but by and large recruiters and employers haven't really grasped the power of email marketing. And although I do believe that the impact of email is waning, I do think that the black hole is still a problem. And I think that candidates who apply to a company or a job appreciate getting messages from the company and keeping abreast of what's going on, what new jobs are opening or are currently available. So I think that the fact that you're simple is sort of a bridge between marketing and recruiting is a great thing.

Joel: I think that you're going to have some challenges with getting employers to grasp this from a manual standpoint. I'm going to love to see you get to a point where you integrate with an ATS, a message or... Someone applies to a job, that email address goes directly into the database. I don't have to download the database and then upload it to your system. Like that's all automated. The day that curation becomes easy or there's easier ways to create content. I'd love to see video may be at some point make its way into the curation and maybe it is, but we didn't talk about that. So ultimately I think that you're on the right track. I'd love to see a lot more integrations with ATSs, I do think there's a little bit of a risk that you become more of a feature than you do a product.

Joel: So to see ATSs add this to their suite of products is a little bit of risk to the company. The pricing is probably about where it needs to be for most companies to sort of try this and use it. So for me, I think you're definitely on the right track. I think for me it's simply you've got some work to do, some tech in there, create more automation for companies to make this even more no-brain than what maybe it already is. So for me, a golf clap. Keep working, keep trucking, and hopefully in five years we'll reconnect again and you'll be well on your way to boats and hoes.

Dama: Awesome. Thanks for that feedback.

Chad: All right, Dama, are you ready?

Dama: Yes.

Chad: So I have to say right out of the gate, I love the understanding of not having to babysit enterprise right out of the gate because they do suck, especially when you're a small organization and you're trying to prove not just that the platform works, but the whole concept obviously works, but you've got to remember that's where the cash is at. So yeah, there's no question from a staffing standpoint, being able to hit all of these different smaller staffing organizations is smart, but the problem is scalability at that point, right? You might be able to get to that scalability with Bullhorn, depending on your integration, how deep the integration is. Not to mention how closely you partner with them to be able to have an opportunity to get out into those logos and start to prove to all those brands that they need the content.

Chad: We're big believers in marketing meets recruiting, in brand meets recruiting, and in the mentoring piece. Overall, roadmap, there's no question you've got to get to SMS fast to those youngsters. You've got to get to messaging fast because of not just the youngsters. I mean today I actually receive from a service articles, content about four or five times a day that I share throughout my network. Right? So I'm not a "Youngster", I think this is something that is more broad-based, but I think you've got your head on straight. I think you're going to have to take a look at the pricing as you move forward. But for me the big one for you is getting this Bullhorn integration and that should be your launch pad. I don't agree 100% with Joel of trying to be a "Product". I think if you're an amazing feature that an organization like a Bullhorn needs and/or wants, there's an opportunity for acquisition. So I'm also going to go with the golf clap.

Dama: Okay. Thank you guys.

Joel: Well done. How do you feel?

Dama: I'm happy. I'm happy because I know there's good progress since we've launched six months ago and there's a lot to do, so I'm excited about that.

Joel: Yeah, it's worth noting that you don't even have really a site yet, so this is really early in your evolution. And hats off for even coming on without having a website yet.

Dama: Thank you. Thank you. We do have a website, but it's true that it's in beta mode and we're having those recruiters testing it out and we're opening it up just next week, so you'll see it soon. Hopefully all the listeners today will be able to see the full site soon.

Joel: And what is that URL again Dama?

Dama: It's

Joel: We out.

Dama: Thank you.

Announcer: 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 today. That's

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