Firing Squad: Intervue.io's Rahul Arora
Software promising to screen and test the world's best tech talent tend to fall into two camps: Those who can actually do it and those who are totally full of shit. Enter Intervue.io a startup that provides live tech testing to go with its video interviewing solution. Cofounder Rahul Arora enters the Firing Squad firmly convinced that his company falls in the category of vendors who can actually do the job and aren't full of doo-doo. Does he come out smelling like a rose or not?
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Shark Tank INTRO (0s):
Like Shark Tank? Then you'll love Firing Squad! CHAD SOWASH & JOEL CHEESEMAN are here to put the recruiting industry's bravest, ballsiest, and 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.
Oh yeah. Two middle-aged white guys with itchy trigger fingers. What's up everybody. It's your favorite podcast the Chad and Cheese podcast. I'm your co-host Joel Cheeseman joined as always by my partner in crime Chad Sowash and today on firing squad we welcome Intervue.io co-founder Rahul Arora
Welcome to the Chad and Cheese podcast Firing Squad.
Hey Chad. Thanks Joel. Happy to be here.
You're very welcome. Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the, the show. Tell our listeners a little bit about Rahul.
Rahul (1m 3s):
Well, so hi. So
Joel (1m 3s):
This is the hardest question he's gonna get today.
Chad (1m 7s):
He did not prepare for this one.
Joel (1m 9s):
Rahul (1m 10s):
Absolutely not, but yeah, I'm going to give it a shot. So yeah, I mean, you can call me a hustler. I've been an engineer for about eight years. now I'm the co-founder, but you know, started off my career with, you know, a startup, et cetera, and then joined this company where I worked in three roles. I was a business analyst as well as a corporate sales guy and then I shifted to being a programmer. My very first startup, I was not able to scale it technically because I did not know how to code. And that's why I became a programmer learn programming although I did not want to do a job.
sfx (1m 56s):
Joel (1m 56s):
Let's wrap this up Rahul this is a Twitter bio, not a War and Peace.
Rahul (2m 2s):
Sure. So been working with several companies from India to name a few Deutsch Telekom. I was an engineering manager before this very hands-on programmer. Yeah, I can code anything up.
Joel (2m 14s):
I can code anything up. Love it. Well, Chad.
Chad (2m 17s):
Joel (2m 17s):
Let the guy who can code anything up. Tell him what he's won.
Chad (2m 22s):
Well Rahul You have two minutes to pitch Intervue.io. At the end of two minutes, you will hear that bell then Joel and I will hit you with rapid Q and A. If your answers are droning on and you get boring, Joel's going to hit you with the crickets, which means tighten up your game. At the end of Q and A, you will receive you'll receive these ratings inspired by Meatloaf. Big applause. You're going to go all the way tonight, tonight. You're going to go all the way tonight. Get excited because you're ready for paradise by the dashboard light. Golf clap. Let me sleep on it. Baby baby let me sleep on it.
Chad (3m 2s):
So the pitch sounds good, but I'll give you the answer in the morning. Last but never least the firing squad. You'll be praying for the end of time, because there are no paradise by the dashboard lights with this product. Are you ready?
sfx (3m 24s):
Oh hell no.
Joel (3m 25s):
Rahul (3m 25s):
Joel (3m 25s):
You might be in shock after that. Alright buddy, you got two minutes starting in three, two.
Rahul (3m 35s):
Hi guys. I'm Rahul Arora. I'm the co-founder of Intervue.io. We basically are a tech hiring platform that helps hiring team be more efficient when they are hiring for technical roles. Prior to interview, I've been an engineer for about eight years, I've scaled technical teams in my previous organization. A typical process that every company follows it in an interview is an interview we're joined on a video call, they would ask the candidate to share their screen, give them a problem statement. The candidate would waste the first 10 to 12 minutes of their time preparing their runtime environment, opening a coordinator. And you know, it's worst when you have to ask a lot of following questions because in according interview, following questions are not sentences in English they're lines of code.
Rahul (4m 17s):
And you know, sometimes as an interviewer, I had to paste those lines of code over chat, which was even worse for the candidate. This platform helps you tape an interview very, very seamlessly because it has a built in code editor along with an integrated video call supporting 40 plus programming languages. Another use case after an interview ends is the interviewers hop onto another call because of the busy nature of their work. And you know, a lot of interviewers do not submit the feedback of the candidate on time, which delays the hiring decisions. And, you know, a lot of HRS have, or talent acquisition teams have to follow up with the engineers to submit the feedback and they offer granularity on interview.
Rahul (5m 1s):
Every interview is generally auto generates a playback for that hour long interview the playback only lasts for three minutes and the feedback form is embedded within the interview environment where the interviewer can fill the feedback while they're taking the interview, as opposed to filling it later, if you're using any other video calling platform. So interview would help you record that feedback, right? When you're taking that interview and the playback is auto-generated. After the interview is ended, the hiring manager gets an alert. They can see the playback, the HR teams also gets an alert and you know, they can bring that playback into a debrief session and watch the complete playback, which is just three minutes of an hour long interview and make the hiring decision.
sfx (5m 48s):
Ding, ding, ding.
Joel (5m 49s):
Thank you Rahul. Thank you. My first question. So your name is Intervue and it's spelled how?
Rahul (5m 59s):
Joel (5m 59s):
And it's dot.io. So did you try to buy the.com? I know someone owns it, but it's not being used.
Rahul (6m 5s):
Yeah. I mean, it was already bought by someone else and I was already interested in dot.io domain because it's a bit more progressive and also, you know, signifies something which is, which has to do something with tech. So I was already inclined towards buying .io domain.
Chad (6m 23s):
It's a country code for Indian Ocean. Are you fucking kidding me? It's a country code.
Joel (6m 29s):
Hey man, that was, it was hot shit five years ago, everybody has done that. So was interview correct spelling.io taken.
Rahul (6m 39s):
Joel (6m 42s):
Was taken. Is it a competitor or ?
Rahul (6m 44s):
Intervue.io is with us. The correct spellings was already taken. It's not a competitor. It's not even live.
Joel (6m 50s):
Okay. Is that a sales problem?
Rahul (6m 51s):
Nah, not really. To be honest. I mean, a lot of, had we been B2B, B2C, I think it would have been, we are B2B directly selling to companies. So, you know, we approach a lot of companies, the companies, and you know, when you're working with a lot of people in the recruitment space, they are pretty well connected. So your name already goes a long way if you're doing a good job.
Joel (7m 16s):
Gotcha. Okay Chad.
Chad (7m 18s):
Excellent. So what is the basic problem? You're trying to provide a solution for?
Rahul (7m 24s):
The interviewers do not like take interviews, engineers don't like to take interviews because they are busy in their day job. Their task is to develop a product.
Chad (7m 32s):
Rahul (7m 33s):
Our product helps them be more efficient so that a one hour long interview can be wrapped up in 60% lesser time with the kind of tools we provide. So that's why I said we help hiring teams be more efficient when they're taking the interview. And then at the same time, we have connected it to a lot of pieces where hiring managers can view the feedback very, very quickly recruitment teams can, you know, bring it to a debrief session and make an informed hiring decision. So a lot of it is about collaboration and it mitigates a lot of back and forth between the interviewers and the talent acquisition teams and that's what the product does.
Chad (8m 7s):
Okay. So can I actually use the platform without myself being the hiring manager on video? Can I just send the link to somebody? They can come up on video, we can obviously see them in the recording and then give them a coding questions so that you don't actually have to have a human involved.
Rahul (8m 26s):
Oh yeah. You can do that as well. Yes. Okay. So you can actually create a link, a unique link, just like a unique link on a zoom call has a unique link. You can listen in on the candidate. You can share the link with me and that this link is preloaded with a question or maybe a bunch of questions and then ask to solve them all. And just because a playback would be auto-generated by the platform you later on can view it, take an informed decision whether to view it or not. Second is you can also engage with me in a live face to face session, which is again, under the same link we both can join. We can do a live coding session. We can collaborate.
Chad (8m 59s):
Rahul (8m 59s):
Yeah both the things can happen.
Joel (9m 0s):
You have a great background in terms of being an engineer at some big companies, what was sort of the genesis of this idea where you disgruntled in interviewing people at Deutsche telecom and said, there's gotta be a better way. What was sort of the spark that created this company for you?
Rahul (9m 17s):
Well, I was taking a lot of interviews. In a span of two years, I would have taken more than 500 plus tech interviews. I used to facilitate one or two interviews every day and hiring drive every Saturday, every alternate Saturday. And you know, it used to take a lot of my time, especially a lot of my team members who were taking interviews and I usually take the final rounds. They used to spend one, one and a half hour into the interview. And I was like, and the candidate, the candidates they use to pass on, they do not, they did not turn out to be good. And I was like, why can't you wrap up these interviews in like 15, 20 minutes? So I've been spending an hour, one and a half hour? I could sense that there was no standardization that existed.
Rahul (9m 59s):
And, you know, we, there was a lot of back and forth, you know, between the HR folks and my teammates as well because a candidate before reaching out, reaching to my round, the HR used to being a complete summary of what the candidate did in the previous rounds. And you know, that backend, I wanted to mitigate that back and forth as well. And, you know, save everybody some time so that they can focus on their own work, be more productive. And this continued to happen for like one and a half year. We use several tools that already exist in the market, but you know, none of them came to the rescue and hence Intervues launched. We started putting the platform up by while was working part tipart-timeme.
Rahul (10m 41s):
And by the time we made the platform, like we already had one paying customer. That's how we started. And then I was eventually full-time and we scaled the platform to where it is today.
Joel (10m 54s):
Gotcha. So you've you launched in '19, correct? 2019.
Rahul (10m 58s):
Joel (10m 59s):
Okay. And you've raised an undisclosed seed round.
Rahul (11m 2s):
Joel (11m 3s):
I assume that raising more money is in your future or where you stand on that?
Rahul (11m 7s):
We are raising the next round. We have at least catered to a lot of known companies in India, especially some of the companies I've previously worked with that are now using the platform and a lot of other companies as well. So now, and there are some companies on the US as well from California and New York that are using the platform. We have seen some massive growth in the last six months I would say, and we are in the point of raising our next round.
Chad (11m 33s):
Excellent. So who are your major competitors?
Rahul (11m 35s):
That's a good question. I would say, but in the current landscape, there's no direct competitor as such, because what we are building...
Chad (11m 46s):
Oh, don't bullshit me, man. You literally have Hacker Rank, Coder Pad and Hacker Earth on your website, in the footer, under the heading that says compare.
Rahul (11m 57s):
Chad (11m 58s):
So if they're not competitors, why are you actually outlining them on your website? Don't bullshit us. Rahul, talk to us, man.
Rahul (12m 5s):
I'll tell you why. A lot of being on sales calls, a lot of HR ask us, Hey, how are you different from HackerRank? Because HackerRank is actually a recruitment platform and we get discussion a lot. We thought, Hey, let's just put it on the footer. The other reason being our platform is not just built for recruiters. It's actually built for engineers. If we talk about Indian companies that are today using the platform, we have their entire hiring teams on the platform. It's not just recruiters. It's the engineers. It's the hiring managers, which are actually using the platform day in and day out.
Chad (12m 39s):
Who's buying the platform though? Are they engineers buying the platform or recruiters buying the platform?
Rahul (12m 43s):
A lot of times, at the end of the day, it's the VP taking a call. VP of engineering or Director of engineering. You know what, let's just go ahead and take this platform.
Chad (12m 52s):
That comes out of their budget? It comes out of their budget and not recruiting's budget?
Rahul (12m 56s):
It depends on the companies. Guys, to be honest, if it's a mid-scale company, yes, it comes under the engineering budget, but they will definitely loop in the HR because they are the ones who have to schedule the interviews. So that's how it is. But the platform is actually built for engineers. The engineers get a grasp from the platform very fast, which is, which is actually the end tie, the HackerRank and the Hacker Earth's of the world is actually built for recruiters and not the engineers. So,
Chad (13m 20s):
Okay. So how do you break through all of the noise? There are tons of competitors in the space. We've named a few Hacker Rank there's Metal Woven Teams, Code Signal, even dinosaurs like HireVue have built in assessments that can scale, right? Plus Touring just received $87 million in funding, with over a billion dollars in valuation. So how do you break through all of that noise plus all of the other noise that's happening in recruitment tech today?
Rahul (13m 51s):
Well, I really think it's a tough one to ask, a tough one to answer right now, but you know, in India, especially, you know, we have answered a lot, especially one of the core proposition of the platform is the UX and the speed of the platform, which is very, very different. We have actually taken a modern approach towards solving the problem. It's actually explained more, better, more visually than verbally. But if I had to just, you know, give a short shot at it, I think it's the sheer speed of the platform. We are right now the world's fastest programming environment on the internet, the platform loads in one second, even the coding environment, along with the video call, any language script. If I were to take some language names, you can move from a Java script to a Java within a few milliseconds only.
Rahul (14m 36s):
And there is no platform that does it that fast. Even the companies, the engineers that use the platform are amazed by the sheer speed of the platform. So that's one of our bestsellers and, you know, it's actually has been a lot of, you know, engineers we get in touch with say that, oh, we have heard of the platform. We have used it before. And, you know, we have heard the speed of the platform before and that is what is helping us spread. And then of course the UX of the platform. If you get onto HackerRank today, there's such a barrier to entry because you have to understand the platform. It's such a, such a difficult platform to use and some of the names that you took around the similar lines, sorry, I'm being a bit bullish, but that's how it is.
sfx (15m 19s):
Joel (15m 19s):
All right, roll. You, you have, you have some impressive logos on the site. I'll mention a few in Microsoft, Cisco, IBM and Walmart. How are those companies paying you? Exactly what are they doing? Is it the entire company that's using the service or just some rogue satellite office? Talk about your relationship with those big ass brands.
Rahul (15m 41s):
I'm going to be a friend and honest here. A lot of companies.
Joel (15m 45s):
Rahul (15m 46s):
Yeah. A lot of companies in these big companies, we have some teams using the platform, not the entire company, because we are still, we get to enter the US as I would say, scaling to the US but if I know about a lot of Indian companies like Zomato, Swiggy, and a lot of other companies that are using the platform from India, which are unicorns. Are our thesis, was to, you know, make it big in the homegrown and then move it to other other geographies.
Joel (16m 14s):
Yeah. So sales and marketing, I'm curious about, because it sounds like you're not selling directly into recruiting teams, or maybe you are, I mean, marketing is disparate at best, you know, your last Instagram post was a year ago. So clearly like social media outreach is not a focus for the company. So who are you calling? Who are you pitching? And how are you pitching them? What's the sales and marketing strategy?
Rahul (16m 40s):
I will answer the second one first. So we basically get in touch with the engineering leadership, depending, again, depending on the company size or the HR leadership in a company, we get in touch with them. We tell them, Hey, if you want to save your time with hiring come take a demo. And they, some of them are actually interested in the demo and that's how the process is. For the marketing side, a lot of people, they search for coding interview tools, and we are a SEO optimized there. We are the number third position on Google, if you search for the similar term. And there are many other terms, and then there are blogs that we write about that hiring that any engineer on HR I would search and we would get a sign up from there.
Rahul (17m 23s):
So that's how that's how we are placing it today. But tomorrow, you know, a larger strategy would be, you know, writing relevant content, helping a lot of engineers or design their processes, efficient team when they're hiring for particular roles and helping a lot of HRs, you know, design, designing the hiring rubric in the right way and, you know, building content at that level so that, you know, SEO plays its part and, you know, building vitality around content itself.
Chad (17m 50s):
Okay. So you're trying to go direct to client instead of creating integration partnerships. Is that what I'm hearing is that where your focus is you're trying to go direct to logos, big logos, and you're not currently working with a bigger hiring platforms?
Rahul (18m 6s):
You're right. We are currently going directly to the companies. We are open for channel partners as well, but we have, we have not yet tried any channel partners. For example, there was this growth strategy that we've just kicked off, but, and we are, you know, our hangup with few named VCs from the US and their portfolio companies would get access, exclusive access to interviewer, probably some discounted price, or maybe an extra feature in a lower plan.
Chad (18m 35s):
Rahul (18m 36s):
That's how we are aiming at it. But you know, who knows for the future, we might come up with 10 more strategies, but right now, given the team size, there's so much only we can do.
Chad (18m 45s):
Now, is that, are you talking about staffing companies that you could perspectively partner with? Is that part of the perspective partnership strategy?
Rahul (18m 53s):
Not a lot of companies. There are a lot of ATSs that HRs use. And, you know, we can just, with those ATS as they have their own channels where, you know, they can recommend if any companies, wants to do an interview or an assessment tool, they can, if they can recommend our name, we can integrate with this ideas and provide them a seamless workflow and that's how it's gonna work.
Chad (19m 17s):
Okay. So you, you talked about making sure that you focus on discipline of area, meaning, you know, at least India, I mean, it's cause that's a pretty damn big market. When do you feel like you will be ready to actually start invading the US?
Joel (19m 32s):
Once that series A clears.
Rahul (19m 34s):
And it'd be before that itself. I think it's just a few weeks down the line. We are already doing a lot of experiments, you know, learning from the data and what was, what does not work, I think just few weeks down the line, for sure.
Chad (19m 50s):
Okay. Talk to me about the number of employees that you currently have, and then also your growth strategy around that and the product. What does the roadmap look like? And does it differ from what the product looks like today after that funding?
Rahul (20m 4s):
Oh, wow. Great. That's a great question. So we are, I know a team of 10 people, a pretty small team doing a lot of work. We will scale to a 18 people team very, very soon, I think in about one and a half months time. So right now, currently the other product of, one of the features that I want to talk about relaunch recently is called consolidation. A lot of hiring data is spread out as different tools. Your assessment data might be on one platform. The enduring data might be on a Google form or an ATS interview brings it all together using this consolidation feature wherein if you were to have interviewed a candidate and this candidate has gone through like four rounds of interview with you. You would see all those rounds, even the assessment of the candidate and the questions that the candidate was asked under a single view, which is very, very powerful.
Rahul (20m 50s):
It'll help you. You save a lot of bandwidth as an HR because you won't have to collect that data manually in order to take an informed decision. So that's the feature that we have launched recently. Upcoming features. We are launching a universal search when you will be able to search a candidate by the name or even their previous company name. Now you might have interviewed a candidate from, let's say, I don't know Uber, and you don't remember the calendar's name, but you can simply put Uber in the search box. You would get a list of candidates that you would have interviewed from Uber. Even you can search by technology, et cetera, et cetera, such a feature does not exist anywhere at all. So we are building this universal search, which will help you, you know, bring that sexiness to the hiring platform.
Joel (21m 32s):
Rahul (21m 32s):
Yeah, and we are launching a lot of features on the language support side when we are introducing virgining, let's say from, for even swift, for Java, bringing in more languages in packages, packet support to our platform, that these are some of the upcoming features.
Joel (21m 52s):
Gotch ya. Your website says that your product reduces bias, how?
Rahul (21m 57s):
See, or when you're doing a coding interview, it's mostly taking this core skill set. And it's a lot of hiring that happens across the board. A lot of people, you know, might be biased towards a particular gender, might be biased towards, I dunno, a lot of things that exist in the world today. There's a feature where you can mask all those things and just make, and you can even hide that resume if the candidate if you need. Secondary to reduce biases, a lot of companies that what they do is, and that's what the platform actually does is the companies will normally to share the previous round feedback with the current interviewer so that they are not biased. And the platform actually enables to do that as well.
Rahul (22m 38s):
The hiring manager would be able to see, or the admin would be able to see it all. And it's basically a flag which you can turn on and off. So.
Joel (22m 50s):
Gotcha. Well, let's talk about pricing and I love the fact that your site says, quote, "four out of five said, Intervue was not that expensive." It sounds like the old dental ads, four out of five dentists say, blah, blah, blah.
Chad (23m 1s):
Joel (23m 1s):
So, you're pretty transparent with pricing. So I'm just going to give you a chance to discuss that, how you guys break down the cost of this service.
Rahul (23m 13s):
Got it. So if you, if you take into consideration an average software engineer salary in the US given the company, meaning it would be somewhere close to a hundred thousand dollars. And if you talk about the Uber's and the Twitters of the world salary would be 200,000 north of 200,000. If you break it down to a per hour salary of an engineer, it would be very, very high. When we say we make hiring teams become more efficient. When they're actually taking an interview, we would save you a lot of hiring time and that's man hours saved and you'll end up utilizing those man hours, building your product. And that's where, you know, we provide a range of plans or depending on the company size, starts at a personal plan, which starts at $135, which will give you access for 20 interviews, goes up the business plan, which comes out around $350 a month.
Rahul (24m 6s):
And we'll give you access to 120 interviews. Our pricing is not even, I would say one 10th of the number of man hours that you will save. And obviously time is money. So that's how the pricing is actually built and designed.
Joel (24m 21s):
All right? Speaking of efficiency, your answers need to be more efficient in the future. Chad, I think Rahul's ready to face the firing squad. Are you ready Rahul?
Rahul (24m 31s):
Sure. Go ahead.
Joel (24m 31s):
All right, buddy. Chad give him your review.
Chad (24m 34s):
Alright, here we go. So I've actually jumped on the site and I've gone through kind of some of the demos, and this is what screening, testing and interviewing should look like. Period. This is to me, exactly what should be embedded in every core hiring platform, talent platform that's out there, period. But here's where you're falling down Rahul, take notes. Your Series A won't be enough to invade the US. You think a couple of weeks, you start doing that you're going to get smacked square in the face. Your focus should be on partnerships and integrations, and there's plenty of money and less competition outside of the US right?
Chad (25m 16s):
So focus on the chunks that you can actually win, and then build up that war chest, get that series B, series C funding, and then maybe through acquisition shit who knows then come to the US. Right? On the marketing side. When companies are asking you about comparing to other vendors, that's a signal that they are your competitors, right? Or you need to do better on messaging. Now it's not bad from a validation standpoint, because Hacker Ranks a damn good name to be associated with, especially if you're better than they are. Engineers buying recruitment platforms. I think you're going to see that every now and again, but that's not going to be the standard. They're going to kick it back to recruiting because that's what recruiting does and they don't have time for that shit.
Chad (26m 1s):
They want to anoint it, but the money's going to go possibly more than likely through HR and recruiting. So don't think your fairy dust is going to get you directly out of unfortunately, slow adoption, HR and recruiting. You have a very heavy task in trying to break through some of the big name competitions that's out there much like yourself, right? The smaller companies like yourself. Plus there are so many different areas that are noisy as well. You have