While the world of recruiting is running toward a future of automation and a process devoid of human beings, others are championing a hybrid approach: Part human, part machine. Sorta like the Six Million Dollar Man. That brings us to BrightHire, which aims to equip human beings with technological advancements that turn them into cyborgs of the employment game. Think Robocop without the cool cars.
Anyway, does cofounder Teddy Chestnut have what it takes to survive the Firing Squad? You gotta listen to find out.
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Firing Squad Intro (1m 20s):
Like Shark Tank? Then you'll love Firing Squad! CHAD SOWASH & JOEL CHEESEMAN are here to put the recruiting industry's bravest, ballsiest, baddest startups through the gauntlet to see if they got what it takes to make it out alive? Dig a fox hole and duck for cover kids the Chad and Cheese Podcast is taking it to a whole other level.
Joel (1m 42s):
My trigger finger is itchy. Welcome to the Firing Squad. Everybody you're listening to the Chad and Cheese podcast. I am your cohost Joel Cheeseman joined as always by Chad Esquire Sowash.
Chad (1m 57s):
Get in my belly!
Joel (1m 58s):
That's right. And today we welcome BrightHire to the show and Teddy Chestnut. He's taken a break from his world tour. Teddy, welcome to a firing squad. I hope you know what you've gotten yourself into.
Teddy (2m 13s):
Thanks for having me. Yeah. Let's see where this goes.
Chad (2m 16s):
All those, after all those platinum albums on the country circuit, man, and you're doing this, I got to give you a big applause.
Joel (2m 23s):
Do you, do you even like country music, Teddy? I mean in New York, I assume that where you're in New York, right? Yeah.
Teddy (2m 28s):
Right outside of New York.
Joel (2m 29s):
Not a big country fan. So we're like totally being assholes at this point.
Teddy (2m 34s):
I don't dislike country music. I just can't say that.
Chad (2m 37s):
So his answers yes, you're being assholes. (Don't be rude)
Joel (2m 41s):
Teddy, give us a little bit about you? Give us a Twitter bio and then we'll get into the company stuff.
Teddy (2m 46s):
Co-founder BrightHire, six and a half years at LinkedIn before that. Started my career doing HR research as part of the corporate leadership council of CEB, which became Gartner. And I'm the son of two 30 year HR professionals. My dad and my mom's a recruiter. So some people fall into recruiting and TA and HR tech. I was born into this space.
Joel (3m 5s):
I'm sorry. You were in HR what?
Teddy (3m 8s):
Joel (3m 9s):
Oh my God. How did you not slit your wrists? A lot of opiods? How? Anyway... Chad, tell him what he's won.
Teddy (3m 19s):
All right, Teddy, you have two minutes to pitch BrightHire. At the end of those two minutes, you will hear that bell then Joel and I will hit you with rapid fire Q and A. If your answers start rambling or is get boring, Joel is going to hit you with those crickets and that is your signal to move along and tighten up your game at the end of Q and A, you will receive either a big applause. That means you'll be the first in line to get the COVID vaccine. (Don't be rude) A golf clap. Eh it's okay. But you're going to be in line with the rest of us.
Teddy (3m 58s):
Or (machine gun fire)
Joel (4m 1s):
That's go back to HR analysis.
Chad (4m 4s):
That's right you're not going to be maskless for awhile or traveling, but you'll have plenty of time to find another whiteboard because you're going to need it to build something different. That's firing squad my friend, are you ready?
Teddy (4m 17s):
Here we go.
Joel (4m 18s):
In Three Two One... ding, ding, ding.
Teddy (4m 22s):
At its heart. Hiring is human. Every hiring decision is driven by what we are doing right now, talking to each other. It's a series of conversations and because hiring is human, it's also inconsistent. It's inefficient. And there's a tremendous amount of space for subjectivity, room for bias. I co-founded BrightHire because I saw an opportunity to transform the heart of the hiring process and specifically to build a new kind of interview platform that could drive better, faster and more inclusive hiring decisions. BrightHire does that first by raising the quality of interviews in real time. So when a recruiter or an interviewer uses BrightHire, they have an interview assistant riding along with them as a heads up display to guide that conversation.
Teddy (5m 3s):
And as that conversation unfolds, it's recorded with transcribed and annotated. They're producing real evidence to support more rigorous and fair hiring decisions. So instead of relying on, you know, shorthand or scribbled notes or nothing, but our best recollection to fill out a scorecard and make a decision, you can quickly pull up candidate highlights to recall key details and make a decision based on that candidates merits not your memory. And then you can show those highlights across the hiring team to make a seamless handoff or calibrate based on real substance or check each other's biases. And for the first time teams can actually effectively all be in the same room together for every interview. So we can actually work together to make better, less biased hiring decisions.
Teddy (5m 45s):
You know, every other team designed product engineering sales, has had a collaboration platform built specifically for them. Now finally hiring teams have one too. And then finally we give people leaders transformational insight to improve their hiring outcomes, and to enable their teams to predictably replicate success. So whether that's through search or analytics or alerts, we're also enabling teams to hold up a mirror to their own hiring practice and see how it's done and make data-driven improvements to ensure they're running a consistent quality and fair hiring practice. And one last thought our first value of the company candidates first and a big part of our mission is to give candidates a hiring experience that they deserve by reducing bias and instilling good practices where it matters most in every interview and hiring decision.
Joel (6m 33s):
And they can find out more at?
Teddy (6m 35s):
Joel (6m 36s):
Which leads me to my first question, because I always ask this question. So obviously I have to go to brighthire.com whenever there's a not.com on our show, and it looks like it's a parked domain, like it could be gotten. Did you guys try to get brighthire.com? Is it, is it something you're not, you don't care about? Cause you're an AI company and.ai is what you want to do. Like talk about how that happened.
Teddy (7m 0s):
I never really thought about getting brighthire.com. We've been reached out to, by a couple we've been reached out to, by a couple of vendors that said, Hey, we've got this parked and you can grab it. And it's going to cost an arm and a leg and we're a seed stage startups. So I'm not going to spend my money on that. Like, who's going to go to that website now anyway, like we're driving folks to our press coverage into our app. So yeah, eventually I'm sure we'll grab it, but it's not a top priority.
Joel (7m 30s):
Help me visualize using the product because when I first sort of read about it, I thought, Oh, this is like Hone it. And I thought, well, maybe it's more like a Vervo video thing. Try to help me visualize a recruiter using this. Are they in their ATS? Are they in BrightHire? How would they typically use the product?
Teddy (7m 50s):
So if I'm a recruiter I'm running a phone screen, I might be in my ATS looking at a candidate profile with one click, I'm clicking to call that candidate using BrightHire. I might also just be at my calendar using a Chrome extension. It's like call when there's a phone number in the invite, or I've got a web app on my phone putting in a number just like I would put it into my phone app and dialing directly. And before that conversation, we put some structure, right? You might've done an intake meeting with a hiring manager and said, okay, what are the things that we need to cover in this conversation as we're screening this candidate? You might have the basic things around work experience and visa status and comp and salary, but maybe a couple of high signal questions that you want to make sure that you're covering. And so those questions load for you right in the conversation in the interview assistant.
Joel (8m 32s):
Does BrightHire prepare questions based on the job, or does the recruiter prepare them beforehand and have them handy?
Chad (8m 39s):
Who builds the structure?
Teddy (8m 41s):
Right now? We're working with clients, they're building their own structure. A lot of them have it already, they've already built it into a Greenhouse or Lever or their ATS or some micro-sites somewhere. And so working with them to build that into BrightHire, or we're sinking directly to those systems and pulling it in on the fly. Over time though, I think there's a really interesting opportunity for us to be building guidance based on collective intelligence. Like what are other folks doing or what's actually working for you over time.
Chad (9m 5s):
So you call through your, your computer, essentially, you have a dashboard with like, Oh, here's who I'm calling. The voice comes on. You're talking, it's transcribing the conversation. There's interview help where you're asking questions. You're making notes. I assume as you're talking to someone, have I got it?
Teddy (9m 21s):
Right? Yeah. You're leaving freehand notes. You can leave reactions like a thumbs up or a star or a flag and every single one of those timestamps of the conversation. Okay.
Chad (9m 28s):
The website and I love the whole rigorous, fast and fair. And that's what hiring should be. The problem is you're building structure around old shit. I mean, all of those companies who have their quote/unquote "interview process already lined out" is probably old antiquated, and just slow. How can you make them more rigorous, fast in fair if all you're doing is adopting the structure they've already had?
Teddy (9m 57s):
Well, first of all, a lot of companies may have, if you mean adopted, maybe you meant built a micro-site or a website or a set of interview plans, whether they actually get used as another question altogether, right? If I'm an interviewer, I'm back to, back to back, I'm jumping into the next meeting, candidate's on the zoom. I'm pulling up their resume in real time. And I'm now like, well, tell me about your background, right? And I'm looking at/
Chad (10m 19s):
Teddy (10m 19s):
Gardner did a really interesting study actually last year that showed that one of the biggest drivers of extended time to fill is hiring manager indecision. It's not like it takes a long time to schedule or screening resumes. It's we pushed the candidates through the process and then we can't make up our minds. And we get to that point because we haven't actually assessed people on the things that matter for the role, because we haven't actually used structure or consistency or rigor in how we assess. It's all by bringing that directly into the moment and being able to see whether we've actually followed the script. Like have we asked the questions that we intended to? If we missed a couple of, can we pass it on to the next person to make sure that they cover those questions? We can ensure that as somebody goes through a hiring loop, we're actually covering what we need you to be able to be confident in that decision at the end.
Chad (11m 1s):
Okay. So what you're saying is really what we've seen as quote/unquote, "standardized" has not been standardized, and this is a way to really mandate a standardized way of hiring. Is that what I'm hearing?
Teddy (11m 14s):
Mandate, might not be the right word.
Chad (11m 16s):
It's probably what's needed, but okay. Yeah.
Teddy (11m 18s):
I mean, there could be a role, that you say, okay, for this role, this is exactly how are we going to assess every single time. But we know that, you know, both companies open up new roles that they haven't hired for, before, or they're open to candidates from different profiles. And so just being able to build structure so that everybody on the hiring team is aligned on what we are actually looking for and has that to follow in the moment, you know, going from zero to something, can make a huge difference with respect to the quality of that assessment, the fairness of that assessment and ultimately how fast we can move folks through the process cause we're confident that we've covered the right things.
Chad (11m 50s):
Gotchya, Okay. So Joel did, he was talking about some of the competitors out there, Hirevue, Vervo, Hone It, Zaur transcriptions all over the place, process all over the place, standardizations pretty much
Teddy (12m 4s):
All over the place. What makes you guys different? I think the biggest differentiation is collaboration. So BrightHire is unlike a HireVue, not built as an independent platform that sits that, you know, everybody's got to log into and, and go into and sit separate from the platforms and the tools that a hiring team would use every single day, email, zoom, Slack to actually communicate. And so we've built BrightHire from the ground up organized around collaboration. The idea that you could at mention somebody in the middle of a hiring conversation and pull them into that conversation, you know, 10 minutes after it's done so that they can get their same eyes on the highlights and then leave comments and collaborate back and forth on a candidate.
Teddy (12m 43s):
Being native in the workflow and facilitating that collaboration is truly what differentiates BrightHire from some of those other platforms.
Chad (12m 50s):
So you're working with really asynchronous collaboration, which is almost like the Slack, I guess, for the hiring process.
Teddy (12m 59s):
Think about, think about, you know, Designers and Figma or Whiteboarding and Miro like every single remote team engineers and Get Hub. They have a platform that they can access, where they all get access to the same thing. We're looking at the same digital whiteboard. We're looking at the same design. We're looking at the same set of code that doesn't exist for hiring. When we have an interview loop and there's four interviewers, I have my half hour, you have yours, you know, if somebody else has got hers and then we come to the table and we're recounting what happened across those three, four conversations based on recollection and judgment. Now we could actually all get access to the same evidence and truly collaborate.
Joel (13m 37s):
When I asked you about the.com you played a really nice sob story about how you have no money, but you did get 3 million dollars, you did get 3 million in seed funding funding in September. So we know that that money isn't going towards the.com. What is that money going toward?
Teddy (13m 55s):
Building the team, building the product, primarily. So we're a team of nine, team of nine today. We raised the seed back in, in July of last year. And so, yeah, it's been, you know, building a world-class product from the ground up.
Joel (14m 7s):
Gotcha. So Chad mentioned the competitors is as I did as well, some of that has to go toward marketing, right? Like you guys have to be able to get your message out and your differentiators. So how are you guys marketing the product and getting new clients and particularly in a world of COVID and work from home, how has that been either a challenge or a benefit for you guys?
Teddy (14m 30s):
We actually just posted literally today ahead of growth roll with our first marketing hire up to this point, it's been outbound through deep connections that we have in the TA space and through earned media. So Adam Grant came on as an advisor and then that got picked up by Courts and Inc that, you know, right now with COVID and also with the broader conversation around social justice in the world and the place and in hiring, those two themes were very relevant to what we're building and so we got some great coverage about that, which is turned into a lot of really interesting inbound.
Joel (15m 8s):
You mentioned posting a job and I was, it was sort of struck me as curious that your job posting solution is essentially angel list, which is a startup sort of funding information site. Why did you choose angel list to be sort of your ATS or your job posting platform, as opposed to like an industry applicant tracking system, or even like a LinkedIn.
Teddy (15m 30s):
When you're building a team that's starting at two and then hiring the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth hires, you need to be, you need to be advertising in places where people are looking for that kind of an experience, right? Building from the ground up, you know, building the ship while you're sailing it. And Angel List is one of the places that attracts that profile. And so it helps us, you know, screen for that interest and motivation from the start. Now, it's not always, you know, nail on the head, but we've seen success there.
Chad (16m 2s):
For clients. Do you integrate with programmatic players, like the Joveos and Pandalogics of the world, and then also the Broad Beans and some of the, some of the kind of like dumb distribution players. How does that work and how do they feed back into your system?
Teddy (16m 17s):
Yeah, our main points of integration, are applicant tracking systems are like, you don't want it to be doing dual entry, that's your system of record, that's your source of truth. And so we're pulling information out of those applicant tracking systems with respect to who are we interviewing, what role is it for and if a company's built structure into those systems we can pull that into BrightHire on the fly. And then of course, right back to those systems, right? The notes that link to the conversation, et cetera. And then the other, the other main point of integration is video platforms, right? Zoom, Teams, et cetera, so that we can capture those conversations. But we're picking up at the first recruiter phone screen and going through to the offer conversation. So a sourcing platform, a job description platform, those aren't really platforms that require API integration for us to be, you know, in the work, right.
Chad (17m 3s):
The applicant tracking systems, you're, you're using a by direction bi-directional API?
Teddy (17m 8s):
Chad (17m 8s):
Okay. So what applicant tracking systems and/or CRMs are you currently integrated with?
Teddy (17m 14s):
So we're currently integrated with Greenhouse. We are building into Lever next, and then we're going to tackle the Enterprise ATS. It's kind of, as they come.
Joel (17m 23s):
Curious about what's next for you guys in regards to their raising more money, new technology or new features that you're going to be adding in the future, and particularly how the work from home sort of phenomenon is impacting how you guys are building new products and features.
Teddy (17m 42s):
We didn't really touch on any of the analytics side yet. And that's probably where I'm most excited about from a roadmap perspective, to be able to say, for example, this interview is supposed to cover these eight topics, competencies, questions, you know, skills, experiences. And we know reliably that we covered six of the eight, or we only cover two of the eight. And we can start to look at that systematically over how we actually run a hiring practice. To be able to actually not just design structure and rigor into it, but to measure it. And then to be able to measure that not only based on, you know, the role or the interviewer or the team, but to turn the tables as we do API integrations with applicant tracking systems and look at that from a candidate demographic perspective, when we're interviewing men versus women, are we asking different questions?
Teddy (18m 23s):
So we have different levels of rigor, like do we set up those conversations in different ways? Do we run them in different ways? That's a really fascinating roadmap for us that requires investments in NLP and a little bit of machine learning, and on the data side. And so from an investment perspective, we'll be growing the engineering team, you know, over the next couple quarters, to be able to realize that vision, that which will be super exciting.
Joel (18m 45s):
I didn't hear in that answer diversity inclusion and it seems to be a really focal point for the business. It's actually one of the main navigation links on your site. I'm having a hard time understanding exactly what about the product makes it so inclusive for candidates. Can you help me grasp that?
Teddy (19m 6s):
Sure. Most solutions today with respect to DNI are either looking at your funnel to understand where conversion rates are lower than they are for, you know, fully represented candidates versus underrepresented candidates or tweaking things at the top of the funnel, like wherever we saw sort of blinding resumes to try to open up doors to folks, to at least get into the hiring process that would not have made it into it. Otherwise once you step into that hiring process, if you really are trying to run an equitable, inclusive hiring practice, you need to ensure that you treat people consistently and the same every single time, right? We ask the same questions of the same effort of every candidate that we use actual evidence to assess folks so that we're assessing them based on their merits, not based on our judgment and bias and memory.
Teddy (19m 50s):
And ideally we can triangulate perspectives across the team. It's the same reason that teams build diverse interview panels, right? Because we know that I might see something in a candidate that another interviewer might not. And so it's really important for us to get our multiple eyes on them. We can facilitate that now for every conversation asynchronously, to ensure that hiring teams can mitigate each other's biases. So there's no magic bullet solution to building an inclusive hiring practice, but by putting structure, evidence and then insight, right, are we treating male candidates differently than female candidates systematically without being able to see otherwise, are we treating white, black, and Latino Latina candidates differently without being able to see otherwise, those are elements of how we can ultimately help the hiring team run a more fair and consistent hiring process.
Joel (20m 34s):
It's still primarily people interviewing people. And then you're just, you're just the technology in between that. So there's no, just so I'm clear, there's no scoring system based on skills that says, Hey, this candidates you a 97, this one's a 96 and there's no basis upon race or where they went to school or name or anything like that. It's still people talking to people.
Teddy (20m 56s):
It is, I don't have a tremendous, I don't have a tremendous amount of confidence in a machine's ability to assess a candidate. I don't. And so I have a much more, you know, I much more competence in analysis, being able to show patterns of behavior that may lead to systematically unfair outcomes and shining a light on that and saying to a talent acquisition leader or sales leader or an engineering leader, Hey, this is this warrants, your attention, right? How you're assessing candidates needs to change in order for you to actually deliver a systematically more fair experience to them across the board.
Joel (21m 29s):
I want to touch on some of your core values that you have on the site. And I just want you to sort of elaborate on, you have put candidates first and you have invest, invest in our people. Can you just briefly talk about those two and how you put candidates first and two, how are you investing in your people?
Teddy (21m 45s):
Putting candidates versus about making product decisions and go to market decisions that first and foremost, to have the candidate in mind? So I think like disclosure is a great example of that. There's no instance where a candidate comes into BrightHire and isn't given a heads up that they're being recorded. Right? We work with our clients to give a heads up to candidates in the email that would go out to them to schedule that conversation and the, in the phone or the video interview that they jumped into. And if they didn't feel comfortable, proceeding being recorded, an interviewer or recruiter always has the opportunity to cancel the recording, to turn it off or to go off the record. In that way, we want to ensure that every single candidate feels comfortable going through an interview that's being hosted on BrightHire, whether or not they feel comfortable being recorded.
Teddy (22m 29s):
And on the backend, being able to bring that evidence into a hiring decision, ultimately, I feel really strongly as in every candidates best interest, because now they can be very confident that they're going to be evaluated, not based on what that interviewer happened to remember, or the impression that they developed based on, you know, maybe they had that interview before they had their coffee in the morning, right? And now they can revisit it, re-look at it, check that first impression and ultimately assess that candidate based on their merits. And so that's how we think about putting candidates first` making every decision from a product or go to market perspective that puts the candidates interest in mind first and foremost. In terms of investing in people, it's about allowing people to grow into roles, giving them the trust and the freedom and the flexibility to do things they haven't done before, which is also really important for us as a business, right?
Teddy (23m 19s):
As a seed stage startup you're growing and building from the ground up, everybody's got to do stuff that they've never done before. And so giving folks the trust, the confidence, the leeway to stretch into those roles is super important.
Chad (23m 29s):
All right, now, get, get away from the fluffy Cheeseman stuff. Let's talk about, go to market. Let's talk about, let's talk about business stuff. Let's talk about, go to market. How are you going to market? Are you primarily B to B in paralleling with partnerships, how's that working out and what's working right now in your young age, what's working thus far?
Teddy (23m 52s):
Direct to market B2B SAS enterprise model, where our main buyer is the head of talent acquisition or the chief people officer in concert, often with the head of sales or the CTO or another functional leader who's thinking a lot about the quality of their hiring practice sometimes because they're scaling really fast and thinking about driving consistency and rigor into that practice as they scale. Sometimes because they're thinking about solving a specific problem with respect to attrition or, you know, performance in the first year and are tracking that back to how the team interviews.
Chad (24m 25s):
Well, you talk about scale, you talk about scale real quick. How has Covid impacted perspective customers coming to you? Because they know they need to scale because they don't have the people they used to and they know they are, they're going to be hiring quickly soon.
Teddy (24m 42s):
The biggest tailwind from COVID has been that in seven or eight months, we never got asked the question "what happens when people go back to the office?" The idea that Zoom, Teams, that phone is going to be the primary way that people interview for the foreseeable future has opened up talent acquisition and people leaders eyes to the opportunity that that creates with respect to bringing technology into that part of the hiring process, where it wasn't there before. And I don't think that's going to change, and that's what our clients are feeling as well. So that's been the biggest driver from a go-to-market perspective. The other is this feeling of the inability to quality control. Like I can't sit in on an interview. I can't, you know, walk the floor.
Teddy (25m 22s):
I can't, you know, quickly debrief in a room together. And so building a remote collaboration platform around hiring and the same way that Miro has taken off, in the same way that Figma has taken off, really has resonated with hiring teams very strongly. Yeah.
Chad (25m 36s):
The compression of adoption is glorious and hate that people have to die. And there's a pandemic for God's sakes for us to actually do this. But overall, what's this cost?
Teddy (25m 46s):
We price on an Enterprise model based on hiring volumes. So if I'm a team that's doing, you know, two, three, 400 hires over the course of the year, you're talking about like a low, mid figure, low mid five figure contract. And again, we adjust based on your hiring volumes year to year.
Joel (26m 7s):
You spent six years at LinkedIn, you said?
Teddy (26m 9s):
Joel (26m 10s):
Obviously working there sparks some ideas you saw what LinkedIn did correctly did incorrectly. You saw obviously an opening there to start to start BrightHire talk about exactly what that was or what was it about your six years at LinkedIn that that's helping you or enabled you to get the idea, the epiphany to create BrightHire?
Teddy (26m 30s):
Part of it was working directly with talent acquisition leaders and seeing the hunger for data about their operations and how excited they were when I was at LinkedIn, right. We could bring data to them about who their teams were in mailing and who they were competing against and where their people were going when they left. And that stuff was gold, for those talent acquisition leaders, to be able to say, Hey, we can create an entirely new dataset around the most important activity that your extended teams do that drives every single one of your outcomes that you have zero visibility into, that seems like a really interesting opportunity to run at. So that was one, this idea that we could create a completely new data set that would be incredibly valuable to that audience.
Chad (27m 9s):
Ding, ding, ding. Oh, there it is. Teddy.
Teddy (27m 12s):
Teddy's done. Teddy's done.
Chad (27m 14s):
Teddy's done! Hit him, joel!
Joel (27m 17s):
Me first! Me first! Me first!
Chad (27m 19s):
Go, go go!
Joel (27m 20s):
Okay. All right, Teddy. So I feel like you have a lot in common with, with Hone It. And we were very big on Hone It and continue to be a champion of their service. I'm sure as you guys grow, there'll be some, more differentiation and more bells and whistles to divide you from them. But are my main sort of initial criticism or skepticism was that, that the world is moving towards a more automation, AI environment. So I think, you know, a big number of companies when we come out of the pandemic and they have to make decisions on how many recruiters do we bring back and do we even go, you know, to the model that we had before, can we just automate, you know, the, the interviewing the pre-screening, the scheduling, like, and let's agree that a lot of companies and a lot of platforms, whether they be, you know, iCIMS or JobVite or Smart Recruiters, they're all trying to go down that path of, Hey, we're going to automate this entire process.
Joel (28m 22s):
But I also do believe that there's going to be a lot of companies that say, you know what we want a hybrid model. We still want recruiters, but we want to empower our recruiters as much as possible with technology to make sort of a human technologically advanced decision on who we hire. So for me, like where you guys fit in is, is in that company that still wants to be a little bit human, but still wants to have, you know, humans with the computer chip plugged into their brain. And I think solutions like yours can probably accommodate those needs. I think that you have to continue to build out your integrations, which I think you understand is important.
Joel (29m 4s):