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Euro Trip Recovery aka Hot Lieven Summer

Europeans are well-known for taking a long break from work in the summer, but if you think the world of work has taken a break, think again. On this episode, the boys cover the Appcast acquisition of Bayard from a European point of view, and how Stepstone (might) play a part in this game of chess. France has also been a full plate of work related activities and challenges, which get covered. If you love buy-or-sell, we have a robust line-up, and a hotly debated group of startups, including inploi, Propel, Settly, Zelt and Neople … no, not Nipple, you sicko … Neople.

You gotta love technology people :)


Intro: Hide your kids, lock the doors. You're listening to HR's most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheesman are here to punch the recruiting industry right where it hurts. Complete with breaking news, brash opinion, and loads of snark. Buckle up boys and girls, it's time for the Chad and Cheese Podcast.


Joel: Oh, yeah. It's International Clown Week, so there's no better time to listen to the Chad and Cheese show with our friend Lieven. This is the Chad and Cheese Podcast as Europe, I'm your co-host, Joel Wemby Cheesman.

Chad: It is Chad, tease me please, me Sowash.

Lieven: And this is Lieven, get without saving for you and Harrison.

Joel: And on this episode, the Appcast acquisition from a Euro point of view, what the hell is up with France, and a super buy or sell? Let's do this. What's up, boys?

Chad: It's been a minute.

Joel: Summer of Lieven. He's either in Switzerland herding goats, or he is in a...


Chad: It's a hot Lieven summer.

Joel: It is a hot Lieven summer, man. What you been up to, Lieven?

Lieven: In fact, it's not that hot here. I mean, they've been promising me global warming for years now but in Belgium it's still fucking cold.

Chad: Yeah, we're getting that, okay? We're getting that, so it's happening just not with you.

Lieven: No, in Belgium it stays, we're running behind again.

Joel: Well, Chad and I were, Chad and I were lucky enough, the private jet brought Lieven to Knebworth for 10 minutes, and that was fun. Did you have fun in Knebworth? Your short period in England, did you have any takeaways from RecFest?

Lieven: I did in fact, I must say I was impressed because you wrung my arm to be there and I came and I looked around, yeah, it was fun.


Lieven: It's actually something I think we should copy at House of HR. We also have our own festival. We invite our own colleagues. It's like 5500 people. But we also have a HR Congress, and I think RecFest is like combining both. So if we spend tons of money on a festival, why not also host our own conference on a festival venue like RecFest is?

Chad: Especially with all your brands, I mean, you could literally do what RecFest does, right? It's different because it's House of HR centric. You could do that with all your 50 plus brands, have all your employees there. So it would be a big carnival. It would be, I mean, that would be pretty awesome. Like RecFest but obviously different.

Joel: What would the Belgian Ferris Wheel be?


Joel: We know it's a mechanical bull in Nashville. What would...

Chad: A keg?

Joel: A keg, yeah. A keg of Duvel.


Lieven: And if you drink enough you get a job, something like that.


Lieven: Okay. It could work, it could work.

Joel: I like it. I like it. Well, let's get to...

S?: Shout outs.

Chad: Shout outs. Okay, let me go first.

Joel: All right.

Chad: This is a, We've all been waiting for this one, Kids. Okay, maybe not all of us. But shout out to Adam Gordon, who today, August 1st announced a tease to a new recruitment tech company and he's bringing Mike Hughes along. Many of you might not know Mike but we're gonna get him on the show. The guy is literally one of the AI touring types of guys. So he's incredibly smart. We're talking a lot about AI these days. Adam has been doing a shit ton around recruiter enablement, so I kind of have an idea of where this could prospectively go on, but we've been teased, not pleased yet.

Joel: It's called poetry or something.

Chad: Yes.

Joel: Poetry, HR. Oh, that just sounds like a great, great endeavor. By the way, someone check out the iCIMS, Canada ID acquisition. I'm guessing it was exactly 366 days from the time that Adam announced that he's starting a new TA company.

Chad: Yeah, I think it has to do with him when he left. I think that has to do with separation more than it has to do with that.

Joel: Sure. I'm just saying, the clock is probably pretty exact to the moment...

Chad: Well, yeah, of course.

Joel: When He could start talking about some shit.

Chad: Duh.

Joel: All right, all right. My shout out, the name Victor Wembanyama might not mean anything to anybody, they might've known him...

Chad: Excuse me?

Joel: As Wemby, but in case you missed it, the number one pick in the recent NBA, that's professional basketball, in case you didn't know Lieven, is a 7'4" French teenager going to San Antonio. Historically, 7'4" inch players just look pretty goofy and uncoordinated, but this kid plays like he's a 6'8" young Charles Barkley. He can shoot from anywhere, he can pass, he plays D unless the dude snaps in two, from a hard foul.


Joel: He's the best thing I've seen...

Chad: What do you mean?

Joel: Since LeBron and he's from freaking France, not exactly a hotbed of basketball legends.

Chad: They have tall people though.

Joel: Yeah. By the way...


Joel: The third pick by the Spurs was another Frenchman. So San Antonio is quickly Becoming Paris South or Paris, Texas, which there is a Paris, Texas.

Chad: Francais.

Joel: Anyway, keeping on this guy, France is now known for wine, croissants, fashion and basketball.

Chad: Rebellion, don't forget about that one. They're known, they do better...

Joel: Oh, that's later in the show, Chad. Don't worry.

Chad: Better than anything the French do rebellion, yes. And if you remember Shaquille O'Neal, when he came out of LSU he was a man playing a child's game in the NCAA. He came to the NBA, it didn't change, right? It did not change. So I'm interested and can't wait to see what this kid brings to the NBA.

Joel: If Shaq could shoot like Steph Curry, he might be Wemby...


Joel: This kid is ridiculous.

Chad: From downtown, Okay.

Joel: And he's 3 inches taller than Shaq.

Chad: Yeah. Well, that meant nothing, Shaq was 300 plus and broke backboards.

Joel: Oh, yeah, Shaq could break this guy in two...


Joel: That's my only fear for him, is he runs into a brick wall...

Chad: It's like a Sean Bradley kind of scenario, right?

Joel: Body-wise, yes.

Chad: Yeah. Just, it is, yeah.

Joel: Skill-wise, not in the same universe. So it'll be fun. It'll be fun.

Chad: Okay.

Joel: Lieven what you got.

Lieven: Okay. I've got no clue what you're talking about, but it's basketball, right?

Joel: Okay. 60% of the time, it works every time.

Lieven: Okay. So my rather opportunistic shout-out goes to Christian Baumann, who's the new CEO at Time Partner, our big tamping company in Germany. He's going to start October 1st, so new CEO.

Joel: Oh, okay.

Lieven: And since I'm a very small shareholder of House of HR, and given the importance of the German markets, I honestly really wish him lots of success. So, Wir schaffen das, Christian. Wir schaffen das.

Joel: Lieven's bank account needs a win, everybody.

Chad: Go, go, Christian. Get some of that GDP, baby. Yep.

Joel: Well, we saw Lieven in Knebworth.

Chad: Yes.

Joel: Will we see him in Paris for Unleash in a few months is the question.

Chad: That's the question.

Joel: Mid-October.

Lieven: Last time I saw you in Paris, Joel, we were in the Moulin Rouge, remember?

Chad: Ah.

Joel: Chad was ill.

Lieven: Yes, and Chad was ill, yeah.

Chad: For some reason, there were a lot of people on that last day that literally left early 'cause they caught some kind of bug. And I'm calling it the Moulin Rouge bug because I missed going to the Moulin Rouge, which I fucking hate 'cause I love that show. It was an amazing show.

Joel: Fortunately for Chad, Lieven and I took care of his wife that night. She was...

Lieven: That's true.

Joel: She was entertained.

Lieven: It's actually true. She had a hell of a time. She loved it, really.

Chad: One thing I'll never worry about is you two taking care of my wife because she's too much for both of you.

Joel: Yeah, but still.

S?: What are you doing, step-bro?

Lieven: She did seem to like it, though.

Joel: Of course.

Lieven: All the attention.

Joel: Moulin Rouge. How can you not like that?

Lieven: But to answer your question, I probably will be out Unleash in the second week of October.

Chad: 17th through the 18th. That's right, kids. If you don't have your flight, you're going to HR Tech, it's going to be a tight window. Get that ticket and make yourself available at Unleash indeed. It's one of the staples in our industry, is Unleash World in Paris.

Joel: Oh, there's a rooftop and some good wine with our name on it, boys. I can't wait to go to Paris.

Chad: Amen.


Joel: All right, guys. A lot of Americans have no idea who Stepstone is, but that's starting to change with Appcast's recent acquisition of recruitment ad agency Baird. German-based Stepstone has owned 85% of Appcast since 2019. So while the press was about Appcast buying Baird, don't think for one second that Stepstone wasn't involved and approved the move.

Joel: Chad and I have been covering this story as two Americans, but what's the European point of view here? Stepstone is a household name throughout much of Europe, who, by the way, is owned by Axel Springer, who owns Jobsite and Total Jobs in Europe. Quite a web they are weaving. Lieven, what's your take on? I don't know, Stepstone, Appcast, Baird, programmatic agencies in Europe? What is the foothold that programmatic has in Europe? Does anyone care about programmatic advertising for jobs?

Lieven: I was contacted by VONQ this week, and they want to do some programmatic for us, so at least they care about it. And I think I care about it too, and many people care about it. But it's not as common as I think in America still. Of course, if you can automate something, you have to. The bidding strategy probably will, it will end up being cheaper if you do it right. But our companies, and we're not that small. Most of them aren't really using it as they should, I think. So that's probably something where we can still gain something. And I don't have any knowledge about Appcast themselves. I never used them.

Chad: So Appcast is pretty much the infrastructure for all recruitment ad agencies, or at least that's how it started. That's how they broke their go-to-market, right? So every recruitment ad agency that was out there that didn't use or even sell programmatic, they were able to do it through Click Cast, which is Appcast's pretty much their agency exchange. So they, that's how they gained quick foothold in the US. I guess the question from an American to a European, as you just talk about VONQ, which I'll talk about here in a minute, do you think that the US will be able to bring performance to Europe and use Stepstone, Totaljobs, Jobsite as pretty much a conduit to be able to do that? 'Cause those are some pretty big names.

Lieven: They're pretty big names, but they're not the biggest names here. We still have a very local approach. And those big global sites aren't that common over here. Maybe for big multinationals who want to hire all over the world, they'll probably use them. But our companies and our clients mostly work with local companies who know the local markets, local job boards.

Joel: Well, I mean, Stepstone is really German. I mean, they pulled out of France. And I mean, they're really a German site.

Lieven: But they are outdated. Monster, Stepstone, the big... The generalistic job boards are, in my opinion, are outdated. So we use our own websites to attract through a search engine marketing. You have those commercial job boards, but we mostly use the local ones. Then you have social media for the latent candidates. And then you have everything which is really new, the fourth pillar. But the second one, those job boards, Monster, by the way, is just totally outdated.

Chad: It is.

Lieven: Stepstone, I feel, is the same. I'm still waiting for their IPO, but I don't hear about it anymore. It's a recurrent cost. We don't like it. So we're trying to save money there and invest it in social. Because at the end of the year, we have to buy new credits. And new credits, you don't build anything.

Chad: On the programmatic side of the house, and again, this is just seeing how it works here in the US, it's about those local sites. It's about being able to enable and then also drive revenue to a lot of those local sites. So what you're talking about is exactly the power of programmatic. But being able to like carry it forward with some of the bigger German site, which obviously Stepstone is a huge German site, Totaljobs, which is a big UK job site, etcetera, etcetera, just to start to bleed it in there. So what you're talking about is really where I see them stepping into Europe and prospectively getting a foothold because if they can drive more revenue to those smaller yet powerful sites. What's the loss?

Lieven: Oh, those sites will be begging for their attention, I'm sure. But I wonder if it'll be worth it to them, because you'll always have to... They probably won't have an API, which is a plug and play. You have to connect your own systems. And when I'm talking about the local sites I really mean Local Belgium has 10 million people and they have a few local job boards, which attracts the biggest one, maybe 10,000 visitors a day, which is not that much. So I'm not sure if.

Joel: And I don't think Americans appreciate the impact that government job sites have in Europe as well. I remember going to the House of HR event Talking about the top sites in the countries. Almost every country's top site is a government site.

Lieven: Of course.

Joel: I assume like integrating programmatic into those is gonna be impossible.

Lieven: Because they're free. There's not... No use to... You don't need a bidding strategy because there's nothing to bid on. It's free. In Belgium, you have VDIB Flemish Department of Labor, you have Laforet from the French department. You have, Actiris from Brussels. We have three states within Belgium. You have the same in the Netherlands and Germany and so those probably are in almost all cases, those governmental sites are the biggest ones And then you have some commercials connected to newspapers, but as far as I know, most of them are not connected to those bidding sites, to those, programmatics. So it's a big game if they could add them. And I would definitely be interested, but I don't see it happen very soon.

Joel: What, impact or influence do recruitment ad agencies have in Europe? Obviously they're a big deal in the US but I have no insight into how important, how used they are, how many there are. Talk about the landscape of ad agencies for recruiting in Europe.

Lieven: Employer brand agencies are very common, but and sometimes you have, a digital approach, which probably is what you're talking about, but it's not that automated. It's more be sure you get your digital presence rights and these kind of things. But, the automated bidding is isn't standard. Definitely not.

Chad: And again, it wasn't standard on this side of the pond, but when Appcast actually showed the recruitment marketing agencies that, Hey, look, there's a piece of the pie here, there's a piece of revenue that you're not getting, here are the rails. Here's the infrastructure. We're gonna give you the tech, and away you go. So it was like literally getting on, the heroin drip right on day one. Here's the thing around the Europe side of the house. So, just learned this week that it... It almost feels like VONQ is pulling their tent stakes out of the US. Kind of like they haven't seen the success that they thought they would really quickly. And if you're in Europe and you're coming to the US, you've gotta understand there's no such thing as an overnight success. Just doesn't happen. A lot of work, a lot of time, a lot of relationships, but obviously the benefit is huge. It seems like VONQ came over. They hired a bunch of really prime players. Then the next thing that all those prime players, pretty much all of them.

Joel: Yep.

Chad: There are a couple left, are gone. Do you think Lieven that, it's going to be hard for any of this performance based, conversation to be centered in Europe since the US has started this and we've done it so well thus far?

Lieven: Yeah, I think so. And probably because it just is a different market. It doesn't work the same way as it does in the US because it's so fragmented. It's a different approach. I'm just looking into the mail VONQ sent me this week. They say, and they're talking about performance-based advertising. They are mentioning websites like, JobRapido, Azzuna, Jooble, JobLift, JobiJoba, JUF, ZipRecruiter, and Monster. To be honest, I don't work with any of those. We aren't the smallest player.

Joel: You're not the smallest player.


Lieven: No. There are some much bigger still, but we're on our way. But I don't think it's that important, or maybe I'm totally missing out. And I've got a meeting with VONQ I think tomorrow. So I'll give you an update next, next edition of...

Chad: Excellent.

Lieven: Chad and Cheese, Europe.

Joel: Almost regular... I mean, regularly we talk about how difficult it's for Europe to come to America and VONQ situation, reflects that. You mentioned Stepstone, IPO, any like, on our show, on the weekly show I'm talking about Stepstone buying career builder, making a big wave in America before they IPO. Like are you hearing anything in Europe about Stepstone making some noise around the public markets?

Lieven: Nothing at all.

Joel: Nothing at all.

Lieven: And I'm really interested to know, because, it would be an interesting IPO and I wonder how they'll do it, but I didn't hear anything.

Chad: Yeah, won't happen this year. It won't happen this year. No way.

Lieven: Probably not. No, we should have heard before.

Joel: We Should underscore that Europeans take the summer off anyway, so maybe by fall this will be an issue that people care about. But let's take a quick break and we'll talk about France.

Chad: Un Francais.

Joel: Let's talk about France boys they will introduce a new job seeker service France travail. That's probably not how you pronounce it in French.

Lieven: Cavaye.

Joel: What is it?

Lieven: Cavaye.

Joel: Okay. Replacing Pôle emploi, I said that wrong too. I'm sure to simplify workforce entry and consolidate services, the plan will cost 2.9 billion euros and require all job seekers including those on RSA, which is a social security benefit for the unemployed to commit to 15 to 20 hours of activities per week. Critics argue the requirements may be harsh for vulnerable individuals. Chad, do you have any thoughts on France's new policy.

Chad: From the American side of the house? I actually led the build to the National Labor Exchange and tying together all of these systems. So I have some in-depth knowledge from a state and local standpoint, but that has nothing to do with Europe. So I want to hear from Lieven to see what his thoughts are. [chuckle]

Lieven: That's easy, isn't it?

Chad: Yeah.

Lieven: Okay. In fact, I think it's a very interesting idea because basically right now there are six different departments in France all trained to get some sort of people which have been unemployed for a certain amount of time to get to back to work. And they're working fragmented. And now the whole idea is they're going to spend a few billion on making all those departments work together. But of course since this will cost a lot of money, they have to get the money back by making sure less people stay unemployed. They have to prove that it works.

Lieven: So now basically they're going to force everyone who is unemployed to spend 15 to 20 hours on a weekly base following courses and workshops and job interview trainings, etcetera, just to piss them off that much that they prefer looking for a job.


Lieven: Than staying unemployed because that is the whole idea and this might sound cynical but I'm sure this is the whole idea. Just by forcing people into training and retraining and workshops, which they won't get extra pay for, they might think, "Okay, this sucks, I could... I might as well get a job. That's the whole idea. Of course, in some cases you have to look at different communities.

Lieven: There are people who lost their job and on average they're looking for a new job for six weeks till three months. If you force those people to spend 15 hours a week on these kinds of trainings, that will be stupid because of people... Those people are looking for a job. But I'm sure these aren't the people which will be targeted. But we're talking about people who've been unemployed for a long time and in some cases those people might actually benefit from certain training programs. There are people who are... Who have difficulties to access the labor market for whatever reason. And if you give those people specific guidance, this might work. Some labor handicaps, some special training might help them to get in touch with the right people but for those who just don't want the job because they are working without paying taxes, for example and they consider the extra benefits as an extra benefit for, those people, this might actually work and this is something we would like in Belgium as well to put a bit of pressure on people who have been refusing jobs.

Lieven: And there is a very small percentage of the people everywhere I guess who just refuse to work. And as we always say the right to laziness has to be self-sustaining. You have the right to be lazy but not on our costs. Europe is, you would call it very socialistic but the whole community pays for those people who needs to be paid for. And that's a good thing but not wanting to work. And in this shortage, if you can't find a job, there probably is a problem. There are many more companies looking for people than there are people looking for a job today so if you don't wanna to work, this kind of social benefit isn't for you. If you can't find a job, then you should get the benefits but then you also should accept people trying to help you to find a job. So I'm pro, of course the unions are very much against it because in France, definitely in France, the labor unions are very strong and they feel... And they probably feel it, right, that it's just to push people to a job they don't really want. And I feel it. That's the whole idea in fact. Pushing people or say it nice motivating people to find a job faster.

S?: Doesn't anyone notice this? I feel like I'm taking crazy pills.

Joel: So France and the whole of Europe is in a demographic problem. People are getting older, there aren't enough young people working to support older people. The entitlements that people are used to, those gotta be paid for somehow and there aren't enough young people to pay for those services for people that are older. So we know in France, they upped the retirement age from 62 to 64. That was in reaction to this problem. If we make people wait two more years, that's money we won't have to pay, we're gonna be saving money. This is another way as cynical as Lieven sounds, this is a way to get people back to work and creating tax revenue that we can pay for the entitlements in a socialist country. There are three choices that countries in this position have. One is have more babies. That's pretty hard to do and sounds really Third Reichish when you make people have more babies.

Joel: Number two is, you have more immigrants come into the country to then do the work and make tax revenue, etcetera. France in particular and you can probably talk to this better than I can Lieven, they have some real issues with letting immigrants in, there's a lot of culture issues and pushback and it's been politicized. So getting immigrants into France apparently has been a real challenge. If you don't let immigrants in or have more babies, you become a stagnant economy, you slowly die, [chuckle] you slowly become Japan or Italy and that's what I fear the road that France is going on. They're trying their best to make... Get people back to work, increase retirement age, etcetera. But unless they train change immigration policy or pour some more wine and start having some more babies, it's gonna be really hard to support the top of that pyramid of aging French by young people who there just simply aren't enough and this to me is a reaction to all that. They're not alone, a lot of European countries are facing this but France right now is really facing some demographic challenges.

Chad: Yeah. I think this is smart from the standpoint of right out of the gate you have cost cutting measures, you have all of these agencies, if you can pull them together, you can look at waste, fraud and abuse which I guarantee you is happening and then also start to use better tech. That right out of the gate is cost savings number one. Number two, the thing that they talk about as training. The thing is they should have corporate sponsored training. These should be companies coming in and actually focusing on what they need, the positions that they need today, the positions that they need tomorrow and they should be working directly with the government to start building talent pipelines for those types of positions. Any of these individuals can get into those courses, pass or fail, what have you. They're going through their 15 to 20 hours a week but they're actually training for something, which from a company standpoint, the company could be paying for the training. So right out of the gate, I think the infrastructure's there to actually make something that's worthwhile. This isn't just poking and prodding somebody to go get a job, this is actually training somebody to get into a career that matters. But, I guess we'll see, again, this is the first step. What happens next, I think is the big key.

Joel: It's a decent chunk of change to make a difference.

Chad: 2.9 billion. Yeah.

Joel: Yeah, we'll see.

Chad: In three years.

Lieven: And in this case, I feel the French government is right, because if you just look at the numbers, there is an unemployment rate in France of about 7.2, 7.3%. In Belgium, which is only a few kilometers next to France, it's only 5% and it's still too much. There is no reason why it should be 50% higher in France and in Belgium from five to 7%, it's almost 50% the difference. So in absolute numbers, this means lots of people. So I think those people should be encouraged to look harder for a job because we have so many companies in France trying to find people, desperately trying to find people. If you can't find a job these days, you might have really a problem and then you need help, or you're not just willing to accept offers and then you're probably not entitled to the social security, but it's a difficult one.

Joel: Well, speaking of jobs, let's talk about some European countries that have just gotten some money and might be looking to hire some people. It's Buy or Sell, everybody. You know how we play. We talk about companies and this is a super episode, so it's more than three. We give a summary and each of the boys will chime in on whether it's a buy or sell. Let's play, Buy or Sell. First up is Inploi. London based Inploi has raised 1.35 million pounds in a funding round with plans to enter the US market. This brings total funding to 3.5 million pounds. Inploi aims to revolutionize the hiring process by employing a unique AI embedded SaaS approach that makes it easier for companies to source and recruit talent while providing an intuitive and frictionless experience for candidates. Chad, are you a buy or sell on Inploi?

Chad: I think Inploi is... They're very cosmetic. They're top of the funnel. And they're not the applicant tracking system, much like Shazam who was just on firing squad out of Australia just last month. The big problem that we have here is this is a nice to have, not a need to have unless you have a solid business case that demonstrates bottom line effect. So what they're going to have to do, what Inploi's going to have to do is they're going to have to move down funnel like Paradox did and they're going to have to start moving toward that applicant tracking system. Because what this industry really needs is we need new tech in the record keeping and applicant tracking system, candidate experience side of the house. What we're doing is we're point solutioning the fuck out of this thing and we need more players like Inploi to be able to do that. Big problem is they only have about 4 million euros, not a lot of money. And they wanna come to the US. Whoo, man, that's hard guys. That's hard. So right now I think Inploi is on the right track other than trying to take that track across to the US. So right now I'm gonna be a sell.

Joel: Oh boy.

Chad: Sorry guys.

Joel: All right. Inploi, I-N-P-L-O-I, of course it'll be confused with Employ, E-M-P-L-O-Y, the proper way to spell it. So the name is...


Joel: Right out of the gate, a hurdle, I'd like to call this a poor man's hire easy, but they don't have pricing on their page, so who the fuck knows if they're a poor man or not? I can't get over the fact there is too much competition in the sourcing, recruitment marketing space. And in the time there have been companies like this, none are huge success stories. No one is cocaine and champagne. So for that reason, Inploi for me is a sell.

Chad: Ouch. [chuckle]

Lieven: I'm looking into them. I thought, "Okay, they have their buzzwords right. And it's AI embedded, it's software as a service expansion into the United States, Shopify for hiring." Sounds good. And then they started in 2016 and they managed to still not going broke. So they must be doing something right.

Chad: Right?

Lieven: And then I read something about fixing the world of hiring, which I thought was a bit arrogant...


Lieven: Because the world of hiring isn't broken so why should it be fixed?

Chad: It's totally broken.

Lieven: But then again, it's enthusiasm so that's good. And I kept reading and then I read something about their ability to cater to neurodivergent audiences and then they lost me.

Joel: Ooh, yeah.

Lieven: I don't know what neurodivergent audience are but I went into the hassle of asking ChatGPT and apparently what did they say they may implement policies, practices, and workplace adjustments that accommodate a diverse needs of neurodivergent individuals, creating an environment where everyone can thrive. And I told, nah, nah, it's a sell. So it's a sell.

Joel: Lot of buzzwords there, kids. All right. Next up, London-based Zelt has raised $3.5 million in a seed funding round. Zelt offers an HR self-service platform that allows companies to manage HR, IT, and financial operations throughout the employee lifecycle. The platform automates processes such as HR, payroll, onboarding and expenses. The funding will help Zelt further build out its product and expand internationally. Chad buy or sell Zelt?

Chad: Zelt is what I like to call rippling light. Why light you might ask. Well, rippling has taken 1.2 BABABA billion USD in funding and Zelt has taken 3.1 million euros. [chuckle] Big difference. Old and slow HRIS platforms will think twice about shelling out that high valuation bank to acquiring rippling, but those platforms could easily partner with Zelt, advise on the roadmap, introduce clients for piloting, and then buy Zelt for a song for goodness sakes. I see Zelt getting acquired sooner rather than later, which for me is why it is a buy.

S?: All right, All right, All right.

Joel: Honestly, I couldn't even get past the website. It's fucking crazy., go check it out, no matter what. There's some sort of like exploding golden egg as you scroll through the site. I think there may be a seizure risk for some users on this website. Pricing is super low.

Joel: There's even a QR code in the footer. Gee, how often do you see a QR code in the footer kids? So they've thrown the kitchen sink at this site sorry, but I don't feel confident in you. If I don't feel confident in a site in six seconds in the service from the website then I'm fucking gone. And this site made me wanna throw up. I was more likely to disco dance in the six seconds that I was on the website than buy their products and services. So for me, woo. Zelt is a sell. Lieven you are the tiebreaker.

Lieven: I looked into them briefly and I was glad I'm in a different business. It all sounds very reliable, but it's dull and I'm sure it's a good thing given their business. But if I buy them, I would've to deal with them. So I'd rather not. So.

Joel: All right. Let's go to Holland where Nipol has raised 1.5 million euros to develop digital coworkers that can integrate with various platforms such as Slack. Nipol's vision is to make AI accessible to all the workforce, starting with customer support teams. The company's gen AI technology enables digital coworkers to adapt to human needs and operate in the same environments as human employees. Chad, are you a buy or sell on Nipol?

Chad: Founded in January of 2023. These kids haven't even broken in their little Dutch wooden shoes yet. If you like this site, well, if you take a look at the site, it looks like the claymation version of Mr. Rogers meets the Terminator. We've talked about virtual assistant platforms and how they will explode. And Nipol is a great example. They're taking a niche, a rather large niche like customer service and adding AI co-pilots into the mix. So if we've learned anything thus far from the Teleperformance AI co-pilot customer service platform, is that this system can contextualize and then index relevant information faster than a human, serving it up to the human at this point saying, I think it was like 30% more calls per person with the teleperformance business case. So for me, this is big. This is a hot, hot, hot area and it's big. It is a huge, it's a niche, but it's huge. And I like it from the standpoint of being disciplined, staying in that niche, and then also having the integrations with Microsoft Teams, Slack, WhatsApp, Zendesk, Freshdesk, and a ton of others. At the end of this baby, I am a Claymation Terminator Buy. I love it. I love it.

Joel: All right. Nipol sounds like nipple, maybe Lieven can, can Wax poetic about that issue.

Chad: So you're gonna buy right out of the gate, is that what I'm hearing?

Lieven: Yeah. It sounds like nipple. I'm gonna buy.

Joel: Nipol is into...

S?: What are you doing Step-bro?

Joel: You went into the wrong site though, to check this thing out. These digital coworkers are the stuff of nightmares. Like, go check this shit out. They're all like lifeless, black-eyed digital zombies. Like literally nightmarish.

Chad: They're cute little Claymation things.

Joel: Yeah. Your cute Claymation is my nightmare. So that was really hard for me to get around. I'm trying to get my head around a digital coworker. You love the co-pilot thing, I get that.

Chad: Yes. Yes. I do.

Joel: What scares me is the target audience. Like we talked a few weeks ago about a company in India that fired 90% of their customer service people and replaced them with AI. So to me, these digital assistants should be horror film fodder because they're coming to take the job, they're gonna roll this thing out as like, these are assistants. But in five years every assistant that these zombies are helping will be unemployed and these assistance will be the actual workers. Customer service is going the way of AI. And this is just a nice Trojan horse way to let people know that their jobs are being replaced. In that case, it's a pretty solid company. I just couldn't get past the zombie Black-Eyed nightmare, nightmare website. And I don't, they don't say anything about like, we're eventually gonna be your customer service. Right now it's just assistance.

Chad: Of course not.

Joel: So until they say...

Chad: Yeah.

Joel: Until they say We're pivoting, you can fire all your customer service people. I just can't bring myself to buy this company and I haven't slept since I looked at the website. So sorry. It's a sell.

Chad: Selling Nipol.

Joel: But I like the name.

Lieven: Even though it sounds like nipple huh? I kind of like the idea, but to be honest, it just looks like they're going to put an entertainment layer on top of existing generative AI tools. So it's not like it's really new or anything. They're just creating... They're making it like... It's a bit like gamification of AI and it won't make it more efficient, but it's might make it more fun to use. So if people use it more often then it could work, anyways I would just buy them because I suffer from FoMO and I don't want to be the guy that missed the opportunity to invest in Nipol when I got the chance.

Chad: Exactly.

Lieven: So I buy it.

S?: All right. All right. All right.

Joel: All right. Amsterdam based Settly, an HR platform for employee relocation has secured 6 million euros in seed funding. Settly aids businesses and workers navigating the complexities of international moves. The funding will support expansion and an improved service in global markets. The startup says its diverse team and personalized approach have fueled 350% growth. Chad, are you a buy or sell on Settly?

Chad: Have you ever used a relocation company like a moving company? They fucking suck. It's horrible from an experience standpoint. I think if you can create an experience that is wrapped around the actual company brand, this is fucking money. And it's a huge opportunity, especially in Europe and then being able to take that from Europe obviously to the United States, etcetera, etcetera. So I think there's a huge opportunity here for something that is... To be quite frank, just sucks. So to be able to really make your brand stand out to top talent that you're relocating 'cause you're not relocating not top talent. This is something that I think is incredibly smart and to be quite frank and easy sell when you go into an organization. So this is a buy for me.


Joel: I'm shocked that the guy who just relocated to Portugal is in favor of a relocation service. [chuckle] But you're totally right like...

Chad: Partially relocated.

Joel: This is the world we live in. More and more companies going remote, more and more companies saying, Hey employee, go wherever you want. We're gonna support it. In fact, we have a service now that will help you go to wherever the hell you want, in a sort of turnkey fashion which is great. I have moved, I have done a corporate move and yes... It wasn't tough for me 'cause I was the one moving, but the company jumping through hurdles, moving companies, selling shit, company like everything was, a nightmare...

Chad: It sucks.

Joel: They had a, yeah, they put way too many resources in that shit. I'm sure they would've much preferred, to just given the money to a company that could do it, and do it right. So yeah, a world that's more remote, a world that's... Fewer kids are being born, people are having kids later. So kids aren't as much of an issue. People are getting married later. So there are more young people that wanna like, get out and, see the world. So this one on, many, many levels is an easy buy for me.

S?: All right. All right. All right.

Lieven: No, I totally agree with both of you. It's a market with tons of potential. It'll only grow. We have two companies in the group which are specialized in relocating people. Covebo in the Netherlands is hiring people in the Eastern European countries to get them at work, at their own clients in Western Europe. And it's always difficult to help those people integrate in your neighborhoods to, make sure they don't become ghettos. Because if you have 50 people in the same streets, the other people living in the streets will complain. So you have to spread them all around, but you have to make sure they got a decent living. They got... They are happy because we want them to stay happy. We want them to stay. It's hard. And we have the same with, Accent foreign in Belgium, a company, doing more or less the same thing, finding people and placing not clients. It's hard. So I'm not sure about the financials from this company. I didn't do a due diligence of course, but based on what I read, I definitely buy, it's only going to get better.


Joel: That is a triple buy everybody and that deserves a little careless whisper. I love it. All right.

Chad: That's the easy button. Sexy right there.

Joel: Let's go to our final contestant, Berlin based HR tech startup Propel has secured 2.5 million euros in funding to support its mission of providing benefits and job opportunities to tech communities. Propel offers a software as a service HR tech platform, known as, "community as a service." Ooh, clever. Which connects tech communities such as developer groups and talent incubators with job opportunities, benefits, and financial services. Chad, are you a buyer seller on Propel?

Chad: Very Andela like. So hiring companies today are way too tactical or just too damn lazy to build real talent pipelining solutions themselves. So Propel is building them through partnerships with developer groups, talent incubators, training schools, etcetera. Propel works with 100 plus tech communities across 15 countries that serves roughly 400,000 members. That's why Propel turns this talent pipelining into an easy button for companies. They... I'm not even mentioning the diversity card here, which I think is also incredibly powerful. So for me, talent pipelining is something that companies have... They've gotten rid of. They don't know how to do, they don't know how to train. They don't know how to actually dig into these communities. So Propel, the Propels and the Andelas of the world are huge winners. This is a huge buy for me.


Joel: Wow. That's an enthusiastic buy from Chad. A year ago, I might've dug this company. Today, we're in a world where companies don't need as many developers as they used to. Twitter, Facebook, Google, you name it. They're all relying on fewer technical people, fewer developers. More and more companies are following suit. The reality is AI is helping low-level developers become mid and high-level developers and there are less developers needed to do the job. There are so many freaking services to help companies find developers. Chad, you mentioned one, they're well-funded, they're well-known. Many are global. The competition to say it's fierce, is an understatement. 2.5 million euros is not gonna get it done for this company. Again, even just a year ago, I probably would've bought this thing. But for now, I just think the developer environment and hiring developers is so different than it was a year ago because of AI that I just think this company's timing is way off. For me, it is.

Joel: So break the tie Lieven.

Lieven: I understand your point on this, but for me it's a no brainer. It's a buy because, and this might sound cynical once again, but it's kind of initiatives that can survive solidly on subsidies and grants and plenty of multinationals are going to use their service just to mention it in their ESG reports. So just from that point of view, I think it can't go wrong, this will succeed. And I definitely believe companies like this can find and develop talent which otherwise would've gone to waste. And I know of an initiative in Belgium, in a very bad neighborhood in Brussels, where it's called Molengeek. And the community is called Molenbeek but Molengeek. It's a bunch of coders and they get kids from the street and they teach 'em how to code and they give them a shelter and they help them and it works. And I mean those, some of those kids really are talented and they get out from the streets and instead of putting cars on fire on a sunny Sundays afternoon, they now start hacking computers, which is much more...


Lieven: Good for their careers, I guess. So, no, I think it's a buy.

Joel: That escalated quickly.

Chad: Lifting people up. I love it.

S?: All right, All right. All right. All right.

Joel: Lieven, we have to work on your, building up suspense. Like...


Joel: You can't start-out buy or sell like, oh, this is an easy buy for me and then go into the reason.


Joel: You're supposed to go into the reasons and then be like...

Lieven: Yeah, I know.

Chad: Joel, he's, European. You've gotta allow him to do his process while us dumb Americans do our process. There's a different story tellings.

Joel: It's so bad. I wanna wait. I want a baited breath. What is he gonna give it? A buy or sell and you just come outta the gate like, oh, this is an easy buy for me.


Lieven: Oh, we start from the end and then we slowly...

Chad: There we go. I love it.

Lieven: Build up again.

Chad: I love your style Lieven. You don't quit. You don't quit you.

Lieven: The lack of style.


Lieven: Okay.

Joel: Love the style. Love the style. Lieven and I are gonna go see Oppenheimer, although not together.

Lieven: Yeah. Indeed. But I'm going to think about you while you are watching Oppenheimer and Joe.

Chad: That's just creepy.

Joel: 'Cause I am the bomb baby. We out.

Chad: We out.

Lieven: We out.

Chad: So creepy.

Lieven: [chuckle] Bye.

Outro: Wow. Look at you. You made it through an entire episode of the Chad and Cheese podcast. Or maybe you cheated and fast forward it to the end. Either way. There's no doubt you wish you had that time back. Valuable time, you could've used to buy a nutritious meal at Taco Bell. Enjoy a pour of your favorite whiskey. Or just watch big booty Latinas and bug fights on TikTok. No, you hung out with these two chuckle heads instead. Now go take a shower and wash off all the guilt, but save some soap because you'll be back like an awful train wreck, you can't look away. And like Chad's favorite Western, you can't quit them either. We out.


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