People suck. Well, interacting with people in real life sucks, in addition to potentially being deadly, which is why everything in recruitment is going virtual. Zoom meetings, Slack convos, and virtual job fairs are all the rage, and RecruitVirtual thinks it has the chops to make a dent in this crowded space, bringing technology into the traditional brick-and-mortar career fair. Industry veteran Keith Ringer faces down the Firing Squad in this epic encounter, powered exclusively by PandoLogic.
TRANSCRIPTION sponsored by:
Damn programmatic is hot! Yeah, it is hot Dude, pass me a cold PBR. Would ya? Okay. Number one, I wasn't talking about the temperature and number two PBR is a shitty beer time to upgrade to an IPA. Okay. My bad. Guessing you were talking about Programmatic Job advertising being hot. Yeah. That shit is everywhere and all the kids are doing. I know man, but there's only one company that's been doing it since 2007.
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PandoLogic (1m 3s):
PandoIQ provides an end-to-end Programmatic job advertising platform that delivers a significant increase in job ad performance without any waste spending to maximize the ROI on your recruitment spend. And their AI enabled algorithms use over 48 job attributes and more than 200 billion historical job performance data points to predict the optimal job advertising campaign. The machine does all that shit.
PandoLogic (1m 34s):
That shit sounds expensive! Think again. Cheesman PandoIQ provides an end to end job advertising solution that delivers a significant increase in job ad performance without any wasteful spending. Sold! How do I get started? Go to Pandalogic.com to request a demo and tell him Chad and Cheese sent you. Ooh. They have a chat bot too, that we can talk to. Oh, kill me now.
Joel (2m 3s):
Like Shark Tank? Then you'll love Firing Squad! CHAD SOWASH & JOEL CHEESMAN 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. Oh shit. Another Monday Firing Squad this is not going to be good for our market testing today!
Joel (2m 30s):
What's up everybody. You are listening to the Chad and Cheese podcast. I am your cohost Joel Cheesman as usual joined by my co-host Chad Sowash. Well hello! Happy, happy Monday, Chad and on Firing Squad this month we have Keith Ringer!
Keith (2m 46s):
Joel (2m 49s):
From Recruit Virtual down in Florida. Beautiful Florida with COVID beaches everywhere. Keith, welcome to the show. Yeah. How's how's it going in Florida? I guess quick, quick, quote. COVID update from you.
Keith (3m 0s):
I mean, between the COVID and it's sun burn it's, you know, it's pretty harsh down here, right now?
Joel (3m 5s):
It's heaven. It's heaven.
Keith (3m 6s):
Yeah. Couldn't be much better.
Joel (3m 8s):
Good enough. Well, let's get a tweet about you before we dig into the company and the Q and A.
Keith (3m 15s):
Yeah. So my name's Keith Ringer and I've been developing all sorts of software for about 20 years and running startups. And for about the last 10 years, we've been mostly focused on software in the recruiting space for about the last five years. We've really been focused on job fairs and now virtual recruiting events.
Joel (3m 36s):
And have you ever been mistaken for key Keith Richards?
Keith (3m 40s):
No, but you know, there's country music guy that I got mistaken for in an airport, I'm not even sure who he is. And I think the person really wanted my autograph.
Joel (3m 48s):
Kenny Rogers. Maybe Kenny Rogers is a little bit pre-Botox you looked a little like Kenny Rogers,
Keith (3m 56s):
Might have been Kenny. Yeah.
Joel (3m 57s):
Not at all. Getting Chad, tell him what he's won.
Chad (4m 1s):
All right. You've won a LP of islands in the stream Keith. You have two minutes to pitch recruit virtual. At the end of two minutes, you will hear the bell. Ding, ding, ding, then Joel and I will hit you with rapid fire Q and A. If your answers start to ramble and we get bored, Joel's going to hit you with the crickets at the end of Q and A, you will receive one of three grades from both of us. That's number one, the big applause.
Joel (4m 32s):
That's what you want Keith.
Chad (4m 33s):
Get ready to rake the cash, big guy. Number two, golf clap means you need to tighten up your game. And we think you can probably do better last but never least.
Joel (4m 47s):
Chad (4m 48s):
It's the firing squad. Pack up your RV and get the hell out of dodge before sundown Keith, because that varmint ain't welcome here.
Joel (4m 56s):
Key West welcomes you my friends.
Keith (4m 57s):
The RV's packed.
Chad (5m 1s):
That's Firing Squad. Are you ready to go?
Keith (5m 3s):
Let's do it
Joel (5m 4s):
In three, two, ding, ding, ding.
Keith (5m 7s):
All right. We all know that the pace of change for work has accelerated due to the pandemic. These unprecedented changes have created two problems. The first is the challenge of keeping candidates, recruiters, and hiring managers safely distanced during the recruiting process. The second is the challenge of effectively recruiting across an increasingly remote and geographically dispersed talent pool. The first problem is acute, right? We hope that it's short lived. The second problem is part of the long-term trend though, that the virus is accelerating.
Keith (5m 37s):
Commercial real estate leases are down 35 to 50% across most of US markets. Many employees have had a taste of working from home, and many of them are never coming back to the office. Technology has enabled a broad swath of the workforce to work remotely and often in a completely different geography than their employer or recruiter. Recruiters are seeking technology to keep them safe and to allow them to effectively locate and screen candidates anywhere. Virtual recruiting events provide a highly efficient and effective means of solving these problems. Like physical job fairs a good virtual recruiting event allows a recruiter to get to know candidates one-on-one, to surface the best candidates and advance them to the next steps in the hiring process.
Keith (6m 15s):
The founders of Recruit Virtual developed the original white label recruiting event, software jobfairsnearme.com, which was copied by Indeed. When we saw these new challenges for recruiters, we completely created a new software product from the ground up to power virtual recruiting events. We launched the software in June, two months ago, and we're fortunate enough to get early traction with a number of professional job fair organizers. Now, as we expand the software to power, all events, virtual and physical we're seeking partners to help us scale up rapidly, we're actively working with job boards, ATSs, rec tech companies, and media groups to form creative partnerships that allow us to reach customers more quickly.
Keith (6m 53s):
You can visit us at recruitvirtual.com.
Ding, ding, ding.
Chad (6m 57s):
Joel (6m 58s):
Nicely done my friend, very tight, very tight.
Chad (7m 1s):
Very nice. Let me go ahead and hit this. You mentioned that Indeed stole your shit, which they do that a lot by the way, to many companies. Buzz. But first off, I mean, there are companies like Indeed, Brazen, CareerEco in - I mean, they're there they're standing names in the space, but there are also other companies like Sponsor, Recruitology and Xor who we talked about earlier, who are jumping into the space as well. So this space is become incredibly noisy.
Chad (7m 33s):
How are you going to cut through that noise?
Keith (7m 35s):
Yeah, it's interesting. We'll just to clarify, I don't think Indeed "stole" anything. When we launched jobfairsnearme.com, it was five years ago, so I'm not talking about virtual recruiting event software. I'm talking about the idea of taking job fairs, Programmatic. So Programmatic distribution for the, for the event data schema, which we did five years ago and, and Indeed suddenly followed in that space. But you know, it is super crowded. It's super hot right now.
Keith (8m 6s):
And there's a reason for that, right. Recruiters need it. In fact, more recruiters didn't yet realize it needed the software. And so it is an arms race and you know, how are we going to make a difference? We're looking for the strongest of strategic partners, those ZipRecruiter, you know, Hello Taleo, Appcast. You guys listening? Are you out there?
Joel (8m 29s):
So Keith, speaking of Indeed looking at your LinkedIn profile, Jason Munez of indeed called you "one of the most entrepreneurial individuals I know." I don't know what favor he owed you in a past life, but high praise. Indeed. I'm curious, you're, you've sort of in this space, why this idea with the competition, with as crowded as it is, why was it this idea that really caught your, your fascination wanting to build something out?
Keith (8m 57s):
Yeah, absolutely. Well, you know, we, weren't new to it. We've been in the space for a long time and it's sort of a lot of different things have led us to this. Developed social networking software almost 20 years ago, we launched an application, you know, a month after MySpace launched and that was super, super competitive and it was also really good to us. So we aren't afraid of competition. We aren't afraid to ...
Chad (9m 21s):
Did you just say "my space?"
Keith (9m 22s):
I just made a MySpace reference. Did you get that?
Chad (9m 27s):
He get's points for that by the way?
Joel (9m 28s):
Yeah, he does get points for that. He does get points for that.
Keith (9m 30s):
And then after 10 years of all different software, mostly social software, we got into the recruiting space and then five years after that, five years ago, we got into the job fair space. So this is really the culmination of what we've been working on right here. We have deep rich experience in this space.
Joel (9m 45s):
Fair enough. I love that you mentioned that the technology part, because one of the things that Chad and I talk about constantly on the show and then have people on is, is the topic of automation and having the robots and AI figure a lot of this stuff out. And it seems like your solution is, is highly automate or highly manual. So it's sort of a one-on-one face to face with a candidate. Number one, in terms of scale, that seems like a real challenge for companies to deal with. By the way, there's a lot more unemployed people today than there were four months ago, as well as how that's going to scale as well as I'm forgetting what I'm going to ask here.
Joel (10m 24s):
But yeah, let's talk about scale. How are you going to scale the business? Do you have automation in your plans? That was the second piece of my question.
Keith (10m 30s):
Absolutely. That's what we're working on right now is integrating more natural language processing so that we can automate a lot of the tasks within the event, the handoffs, things like that. There's a good degree of automation today, but I would say it's in the form of efficiency and not in the form of AI, right? Like Xor style, Paradox style. So that's what we're working on. We're coming to it from a different angle, right? If you look at an AI company they're backing into virtual recruiting events and in our case, we have virtual recruiting event software and we're backing into some AI like features to make it more efficient for recruiters.
Joel (11m 7s):
Is there a timeline for that?
Keith (11m 8s):
Yeah. I mean, we've got a timeline on everything, right? It's all in the product backlog. So right now we're focused on peer-to-peer video, right? So that our recruiter can hop one in one and do a video interview right in the spot from the event. And then after that a chat bot to enable a greater number of chats and a greater number of conversations with job seekers during an event. So, you know, I mean, this is going to air in what 30 days, 60 days, 90 days? We'll probably have it live by then.
Chad (11m 38s):
So how are you making it easier to scale today? So let's say for instance, you have two recruiters and there are a hundred people who are trying to get in. Is there a mass messaging piece of tech?
Keith (11m 52s):
I'm so glad you're asked,
Chad (11m 54s):
Yeah, what do you guys do to make it easy for recruiters? Because again, you know, that's the big, the big key today is scaling. If you just, if you just cut all your recruiters, now you're trying to get everybody back. You're working with a skeleton crew. How can that skeleton crew use your tech to get more people in?
Keith (12m 13s):
So this is exactly the problem that we've seen in almost all of our initial events. I think we've only had one that was properly staffed, since we've launched. And so when we're watching customers, you know, we immediately launched with a video broadcast feature that is a one to many. And so here's the typical recruiting event. One or two recruiters hop in, you know, it's mostly chat-based and all of a sudden they have 60 people in the queue and they can't get to them all. And they're trying to decide who they should ignore and who they should go after and what they should do next.
Keith (12m 47s):
And it's just chaos and they don't get the maximum benefit out of it. In our case, they can just hop right over into the video broadcast tab, turn that thing on and start speaking to the entire group. And anyone in the group can send them chats. Those chats appear in sort of a heads up display format, on the recruiter screen. And they can take questions right there. So, you know, obviously someone could send you like, Hey, what, what color underpants do you think I'm wearing? But you just ignore it, right? You go on and you answer the popular questions. So you can, you can actually have a one to many conversation with hundreds of job seekers at a time as a single recruiter in our software.
Keith (13m 22s):
It's pretty slick. It's my favorite feature actually.
Chad (13m 25s):
So in that case, are you taking all the data? Obviously it's all texts data in it. It looks like you guys already have a, an, an API, are you zipping that API over to CRM or an applicant tracking system? How does that work so that the company can keep that history of that candidate's conversations?
Keith (13m 46s):
Yeah, absolutely. We have an API or works in a few different languages. It's pretty slick and companies are using it in all different ways. You know, we have some job fair organizers in particular just want every shred of data in their CRM so that they can resell it or remarket to it and stuff like that. Then, you know, direct employers have different, you know, different opinions of how valuable that data is or when it becomes relevant to an applicant and things like that. But the API is flexible, so it can be integrated. However, the client best sees fit.
Joel (14m 16s):
Events marketed traditionally, you know, maybe a newspaper or some organization would market the event, get people into a physical location and then companies would be waiting. So some of the marketing was taken, taken care of. Do you guys expect companies to market their fares themselves? Do you guys help with that? Talk about that.
Keith (14m 37s):
Yeah, so we provide marketing as a service, but only to support the software, right? And it's because some organizations just can't proceed. They can't move forward unless someone is also doing the marketing for them, sort of putting it on a platter for them. And of course we had rich experience with event distribution and, and sort of Programmatic of events on the job fairs side, And we still have the asset. So it makes it easy for us to promote events and get traction, or I should say easier. Some events are tough and some events, or, you know, it's sometimes you get the occasional dog, but so the way we do it today is we, we just, you know, we're selling the software.
Keith (15m 13s):
And then if someone says, Hey, I really need the marketing. Can you do that for us? We have a couple of different options for them. One is pay for performance and one is flat rate and there are different reasons why a customer might choose one or the other. Like if they're in a really rural location, for instance, they might need radio, direct mail, outdoor, traditional marketing, right? In that case, they'd need a flat rate campaign. If they're in a place where they have strong digital reach or digital presence, we can use a pay for performance campaign. That's our preference, you know, is to go all high performance.
Joel (15m 44s):
And on the performance, is that based on number of people that attend number of people interviewed while the crowd is.
Keith (15m 52s):
Yeah, we just charge per registration. We know typically, you know, if we say, Oh, you know, here's how many registrations we think we can get. We, we generally know about how many of those are going to convert to attendance. And so we can give a really good idea of what someone's going to pay for an actual attendee. And then of course, you know, good recruiters know how many folks they have to interview to get a hire on average. So we back into how many people are actually going to get hired from the event when we set a budget,
Joel (16m 18s):
What does a typical customer look like today? And what do you think a typical customer might look like post COVID and will companies, in your opinion, still do virtual over sort of the brick and mortar job fairs?
Keith (16m 32s):
Yeah. So our typical customer today is actually a professional job fair organizer. They had the most acute need, right? Because when COVID hit all of a sudden, you know, you run job fairs and that's maybe 50 to a hundred percent of your business. You're kind of shut down. You need virtual recruiting event software. So we were able to get some quick wins with some high volume customers, partners in that way, and really put the software to the test out of the gate. That's been great for feedback and for influence over the new feature, set the product backlog and things like that.
Keith (17m 5s):
You know, now we've started working with some fortune five hundreds and going directly over the last month or so. And you know, I think that that is an increasing area of awareness. As you said, a lot of recruiters were sent home, you know, were furloughed as they come back in and realize, Hey, I don't want to get sick. I don't want to, you know, go to an event and see a hundred or 500 people next Tuesday. I need a safe way to do this. And I need a way to bring candidates in and make them feel safe.
Joel (17m 33s):
How about international growth plans?
Keith (17m 36s):
International growth plans. Yeah, but via a partner, you know, we're a hundred percent focused right now on product. And our second focus is actually not on sales. It's on strategic partnerships. We've got sales right now and that's keepin' us busy, but we're really focused on the partnerships. That'll help us grow faster than we can as you know, a small product company. So when we find the right partner, there's no doubt it's going to go international. I think it's just a matter of, you know, making the right deals, finding the right partners.
Chad (18m 4s):
So white labeled, API, many terms on your site is obviously focused on this type of strategy and that in that being your sales strategy through partnership, are you focusing on trying to engage with the applicant tracking systems in the CRMs? Because it seems like many of them are trying to get these, these types of technologies and, or touchpoints into their systems.
Keith (18m 32s):
Yeah. I mean the ATSs and CRMs, you know, there are other sort of rec tech companies in that space. And then obviously, I mean, there are a bunch of job boards to look Indeed. You know, the, the rumblings are, I don't know if you guys know it's that they're gonna make their virtual recruiting events, software free. That would be $0. Right? So everybody who's in this running their own events right now. Like I don't know what their business model is. Ours is to find somebody that has alternative means of income and really needs to compete with Indeed on free, awesome virtual recruiting events.
Keith (19m 5s):
Right? So we, I think we've got, we started making a list of strategic partners, but it was so long we just gave up. Now we're just talking to them.
Chad (19m 13s):
Gotcha. Anybody who is trying to compete for that number two spot with indeed would be a perfect target for partnership. Not to mention. I think that whenever I hear of a company, the size of indeed with the market share that they have, a monopoly comes into play. But tell me about, tell me, tell me about the job seeker experience in some of these virtual job fairs. I mean, you actually are, it's almost like they're trying to create a virtual reality system.
Chad (19m 46s):
It just seems like there's so much
Joel (19m 49s):
The website actually says it delights job seekers. How does it delight?
Chad (19m 53s):
How does it, yeah. Is it more of a, is it more of a light touch or is it more of that like virtual high touch kind of a thing that is that that comes with a lot of development.
Keith (20m 4s):
I mean, that's why we did it ground up, right? Because we wanted to get rid of all the anthropomorphism. We didn't want the Sims video game. We didn't want you to have to figure out how to navigate your avatar and walk around the job fair to the next booth. If you keep running into the table, like, that's crazy.
Chad (20m 19s):
Wait a minute, can I be a unicorn? Cause that's the thing.
Keith (20m 23s):
I'm sorry, unicorns already taken, but you can be unicorn poop. Super popular avatar right now. No, in all seriousness, the job seeker experience, we just tried to focus on a completely mobile experience. Right? We just tried to make it so that the job seeker, here's the job seeker. It's like, Oh, I forgot to register. I forgot I registered for this job fair. Oh, the job fairs in minutes, I got a flat tire, kids screaming. I still need a job. Right. This is, I think this is the life of the average, average job seeker secret.
Keith (20m 55s):
Maybe not every day, but on the day of the job fair. It's always bad on the day of the job fair.
Chad (21m 0s):
Keith (21m 1s):
And so for those folks, right, we just made it completely mobile. You can register for the event. You can attend the event. There's no password, right? We don't have passwords. We use passcodes. It's all super modern. You're on your phone. It doesn't matter what phone you're on. You can do everything. You can apply to a job with a click. So it's just frictionless for the job seeker. We're getting amazing feedback from job seekers. You know, they're all half drunk on the couch in the morning at 8:30 AM getting jobs! Like we make...
Chad (21m 28s):
Amen. Yeah. Okay. So what about the employer side? The, the employers generally have to do the heavy lifting in this case because they have to, when you're getting into a new system, you have to put all this data in there. How easy is it for them to jump into your platform to start using it?
Keith (21m 46s):
Yeah, it's pretty lightweight. The one thing that we have done, even though we're, you know, just a fraction of a little baby company at this point is we really focused on customer service, on client experience. So we do have a small team that basically onboards customers and does most of their work for them. And so we do try to just make it effortless in the future. Obviously we want, we want to automate that as much as possible so that we aren't spending that time. But I would say, you know, the average recruiter probably spends it depends, but you know, I would say that they probably spend less than an hour or so getting ready for the event.
Keith (22m 21s):
And then we do a preflight. We go through and we make sure that everything's like, we'd want it to be if it were our employer brand our baby. So we just put it on a platter for them, right? Because the job of the recruiter is not to learn new software. That's a disaster waiting to happen. The job of the recruiter is just to do their thing and be empowered.
Joel (22m 39s):
Let's talk about money, Keith, number one, pricing breakdown. Cause you don't have anything on the site, what kind of, what kind of client typically expect to pay and then also money in terms of investment. It looks like you guys haven't taken any money. You're bootstrapping this thing. Are there plans to raise money as well as, as use that money to grow into new markets?
Keith (22m 60s):
Yeah, absolutely. So on the client side we do have a variety of, of subscription options available, but what we're running right now, that's been really popular is the pandemic summer special $1,500 flat rate for the event: All you can eat! Unlimited job seekers, unlimited recruiters, unlimited video streams, you name it, money's no object, right? We just really want to encourage trial because we know that folks will like the platform and come back.
Joel (23m 28s):
And then if they want you to market it for them, that's an additional fee.
Keith (23m 32s):
Yeah. Then they set the budget, they set the budget. There's a small minimum, but they set the budget for whatever they want to do. And we've run events where we didn't do marketing at all and we've run big five digit marketing budgets to, for call centers and folks like that that need to hire 300 people next week. You know? So it's a wide range. And then as far as investment or how we see gross going, my motivation is more around strategic partnership then, you know, like VC or something like that. And here's why this is not, you guys pointed out that this is not unique technology.
Keith (24m 5s):
This is a pretty crowded space. And even if we throw out the avatar based systems and the really dated systems that aren't going to be contenders from a performance software perspective, there's still a half a dozen folks that, you know, but I don't think it's winner take all either, right? Just like, you know, it's not going to be a winner, take all game. So our focus is really on finding the right strategic partner. It may be a single partner, or it may be a, you know, a couple of partners in a few different areas. Cause obviously there are media companies that could benefit from this product and running their own job fairs.
Keith (24m 37s):
There are job boards that could benefit from getting a competitive edge, you know, against Indeed there are other rec tech and ATS companies that are obviously actively looking for this type of plugin for their systems. So you know that, I think that's where our growth comes from and I'm not hung up on a particular number. I'm hung up on finding the right partner that sees the same vision that we see, which is to grow this into a huge product line and make it profitable.
Ding, Ding, Ding.
Joel (25m 1s):
Fair enough. Fair enough. Well, Keith, that's the bell meaning you get to face the Firing Squad.
Keith (25m 8s):
Yeah. Let me, let me fire up the RV real quick 'cause.
Chad (25m 11s):
Just in case.
Joel (25m 15s):
Alright Chad, do you want to go first? Do you want me to do this?
Chad (25m 19s):
Nope, I am ready. Okay. Keith dude, this is one big noisy, everybody trying to bust into space! But there's a reason for that. I think that there's a validation point behind it, right? And COVID mainly because COVID has thrust us, meaning everyone forward into looking at these technologies and we're, we're getting there faster than we were before. Even as you'd said before the live events, those companies, they need an option.
Chad (25m 53s):
They need to be able to go somewhere. And what do we think?
Keith (25m 56s):