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Firing Squad: SmartRank CEO Keith Hulen

In case you missed it, automation, ranking candidates, DEI and managing applicants are all pretty popular solutions in the HR tech stratosphere. But all things for a 80 percent of the non-enterprise market? Well, that's a tough task to say that least, but startup SmartRank thinks they've got the secret sauce, promising to stack-rank and filter job applicants without using a resume, and helping companies achieve their DE&I initiatives by removing unconscious bias from the screening process. That's not all, but you get the idea. Do they have a better mousetrap or just another pile of mouse droppings? Gotta listen to find out.



Intro: Like Shark Tank, then you'll love Firing Squad. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheeseman are here to put the recruiting industry's bravest, ballsiest and baddest startups through the gauntlet to see if they've got what it takes to make it out alive. Dig a foxhole and duck for cover kids, the Chad and Cheese podcast is taking it to a whole other level.


Joel: Oh yeah. It's Quentin Tarantino's favorite podcast, AKA, the Chad and Cheese podcast. This is Firing Squad. And I'm your co-host, Joel Cheeseman. And as always, the jewels to my Vincent, Chad Sowash is in the house and we welcome victim, I mean guest, Keith Hulen to the show.


[applause]


Joel: Keith is founder and CEO of SmartRank. SmartRank stack-ranks and filters job applicants without using a resume. Keith, welcome to the podcast, and more importantly, welcome to Firing Squad.

Keith Hulen: Appreciate it. Thank you guys for having me.


Joel: You're welcome. You're welcome. So, a lot of our listeners don't know your company, but more than that probably don't know you. So let's get into a little bit about you, the person. What makes Keith tick?


Keith Hulen: Yeah. So I live in Denver, Colorado. I'm married. I got two girls, 10 and 12 years old, and I've got a dog. And we love going up to the mountains and hiking and playing sports and doing all the outdoor activities you should do if you live in Colorado.


Joel: How many vests do you own? [laughter] How many Patagonia North Face vests do you on there?

Keith Hulen: That's not fair.


Chad: Flannel. Do you have a full closet of flannel? That's the question. [laughter]


Joel: It may be the law in Denver, you must own at least 10 vests.


Chad: And they have to have at least two or three of them have to have weed patches on them.


[laughter]


Keith Hulen: Yeah. You can get away with it if you own a Subaru. That's the one exception. If you own a Subaru, then you don't have to have all those other things.

Joel: Oh, oh, he's found a loophole in the Denver law system.

Keith Hulen: 1980s Subaru brat. Yes, a Subaru brat.

Joel: I like that. I like that. All right. All right, Keith. I like it. I like it. Well, Chad, tell him what is won by being a participant on Firing Squad.

Chad: You got it. Welcome to Firing Squad, Keith. This is how it's gonna go. At the sound of the bell, you're gonna have two minutes to pitch SmartRank. At the end of two minutes, we're gonna hit you with about 20 minutes of Q&A. Be sure to be concise. You're gonna get hit by the crickets. It means tighten your shit up. At the end of Q&A, you'll receive one of these three from both of us. Big applause. Like a Mac McClung dunk contest. You're killing it. Big boy. [laughter] Golf clap. Just like unranked Ohio State men's basketball team upsetting Purdue. That's right, I said it. We're saying you have a chance. If you work hard, you got a chance. I love it. And last but not least, the Firing Squad. This is worse than the lack of defense during an NBA All Stars game for God's sake. Scrap the idea and move out my friend. Keith, are you ready for firing squad?

Keith Hulen: I'm ready. Let's do it.

Joel: At least he has legal weed and mushrooms to comfort the blow if he does get the squad. All right, Keith, pitch this thing in one, two.

Keith Hulen: Yeah. So I think everybody knows that the hiring process is broken, right? It's inefficient, it's ineffective, it's biased, it's even expensive and the list goes on. But I mean, nobody likes it, right? And I would argue that the root cause for most of that dysfunction stems from two things. One, nobody ever defines exactly what the qualifications are that are needed for the roles. So everybody, like the hiring managers, the recruiters, the candidates, they're all interpreting qualifications differently and subjectively, and essentially everybody's kind of speaking a different language. And two, the processes and tools like legacy ATSs, resumes, job descriptions, even intake meetings, they haven't changed in decades. And so even when everything else around talent acquisitions change, like job boards and one click apply and even AI and the candidates themselves, TA has unfortunately not changed very much. So SmartRank is a next generation applicant screening and tracking software that completely automates the job applicant screening process.

Keith Hulen: It stack ranks and filters every single job applicant. It provides hiring managers with the candidates that match their exact qualifications, not kind of, or sort of. And we do all this without needing or using a resume. And the recruiters are pumped because they save like upwards of 90% of their screening time. They don't have to be a subject matter expert or carry that burden. Hiring managers are only looking at the candidates that they're interviewing that are pretty much pre-qualified, so they're happier and applicants like actually having a chance at getting an interview. Crazy kind of concept there, right? So it's probably one of the reasons we have like 10 times the average completion rate. So increases productivity, increases hiring manager engagement creates actionable and meaningful DE&I, provides data analytics, it helps with compliance and legal. The list just keeps going on. Oh, and it's a better applicant experience overall. So we're the only ATS that our clients actually love, that people in TA actually love. I'll leave it at that.

Joel: Recruiters are pumped, Chad. He said recruiters are pumped.

SFX: Aih papi!

Joel: Wow, that's a lot to live up to Keith. All right. Let's talk about the name for a second. SmartRank, pretty self-explanatory, I guess, but you got the.ai, if I go to.com, it takes me to some dynamo.com page. How'd you land land on SmartRank? Have you tried to buy the.com? Were there other names that were silver medalists in this race? Talk about it.

Keith Hulen: Well, smartrank.com wasn't available unless you wanted to pay an arm and a leg. So we went with AI, but also in addition to that, we always intended to have an AI component to SmartRank. And so at first we just built the software, but then later we added in the AI components, which is really, the short of it is really based around creating really, really amazing questions and answers and scores.

Joel: All right. I guess I'll go with that. You're a sales guy by history. Why this company? Why this idea? What made you so excited about it?

Keith Hulen: Yeah, so I've been a hiring manager for 20 plus years and every hiring manager I ever worked alongside their least favorite part of being a leader was always the hiring process. And I was no exception to that. And that's still the case today. Like everybody that has to be involved in recruiting just hates it. Just hates it, right? The applicants are not happy. The hiring managers are never happy. And then even the recruiters themselves, they are constantly frustrated. So when I decided I wanted to start my own company, I thought this is an area that there seems to be some really low hanging fruit, because everybody hates it.

Joel: All right. So you were found in 2020 according to the internets. You haven't raised money from what I can tell. You've been a bootstrapped operation. Does no one want to give you money? Is that by choice? Are you looking to raise some money? What's up with the capital situation?

Keith Hulen: Yeah, so we bootstrapped for the first year and a half or so, but we did raise two rounds of, call it friends and family or pre-seed rounds. So we've raised over 1.1 million in outside funding in addition to what we've financed ourselves.

Joel: Crunchbase has failed me, Chad. Crunchbase has failed me. [laughter]

Keith Hulen: By the way, it's not your fault. When we first started the company and we had no idea what our name was gonna be, it was called Paradigm. So it's probably underneath a different name. So there you go.

Chad: I'm not even going down that rabbit hole, stackrank dot whatever. Good move. Good move. Okay. So an ATS, everybody hates their ATS.

Keith Hulen: Everyone.

Chad: Except yours, apparently. But you don't need a resume. So take me through the process. How does somebody actually apply and then how do you fix the definition of qualifications? Because that doesn't happen on the candidate side. Definition of qualifications and the inability to evolve as we've seen tech over the years. What do you do to fix those problems?

Keith Hulen: So I think to answer that, we gotta first look at how does pretty much every ATS on the planet work today, right? So an applicant comes in, they apply through some online job application, and they submit their resume, cover letter, and then they a lot of times end up filling out all that same information, which they also absolutely hate, right?

Chad: Yes, yes.

Keith Hulen: Now you can look at the recruiter side of things and what are they looking at? They're looking at a, usually almost exclusively a chronological list of applicants. So the date and time in which they came in and name. Those are the only two data points they look at. So what do they do? They start opening up each and every one of them. They have the job description.

Chad: Okay. Can't go through the entire process, can't go through the entire process. What I wanna know is if you're not using a resume, what are you using? And whatever you're using, is that actual proof that the person can do the job?

Keith Hulen: Yes. So it's highly specific, multiple choice or multi-select questions that have a score associated with every single answer. And those questions and answers are ultimately and this is the really important part, they're ultimately derived from the actual hiring manager for that role at that company. So for example, it would be something like a job description would say something like, must be proficient in Ruby on Rails. That means nothing totally ambiguous, totally subjective.

Chad: Yes.

Keith Hulen: Nobody knows what that means.

Chad: So do you actually put a Ruby on Rails test on there to prove that they are, "they can pass the test, which means they're proficient?" How do you actually help them through that process?

Keith Hulen: Yeah, so we would ask them a question like, which of the following best describes your level of proficiency as it relates to Ruby on Rails? And one of those answers might be like, I can build non-trivial queries with active record model associations and scopes and I'm comfortable with RSpec and dynamic text fixture generation. Now that's the level of detail the hiring managers actually want to know. And that's just what they never end up getting today. Now we can also put in skills challenges, but I do want to differentiate. We're not trying to replace coding challenges, right? I think those are great. We do have some skills-based type questions in there, but really at the end of the day, it's about stack ranking and then taking that top of the stack rank and then bringing those in for an interview, those in for the coding assessments.

Chad: Okay. You can ask me questions and I can have ChatGPT on the side to be able to give me great answers. Let's say, right? Why are we not testing? Because that's what actually defines qualifications, right? Or certifications. So the question is the definition of qualifications, it gets thrown out the window when you see a great candidate, right? The question is how do you see, how do you identify a great candidate in an applicant tracking system? That's one of the biggest fuck ups that any system has today. How can you do that?

Keith Hulen: Yeah. So the way that they're identified is, so you're an applicant, you answer, let's say 12 very detailed qualification questions like the Ruby on Rails example I just gave. You're literally stack ranked. So that's who they're picking, right? They're not gonna focus on the bottom of that. They're not gonna go to the bottom. The reason that like skills assessments, we're a screening solution, right? We're a screening and applicant tracking system, but screening only works if it's fast and it's easy. And it's very relevant to the role. If you ask somebody at the application stage to take a 45-minute coding assessment, you're gonna get zero applicants, right? No one's gonna do that. So you have to be able to screen them down, get that stack rank, top of the stack rank list, and then those are the ones that they're going to focus all of their time and energy on, better interviews. And that's why we have shorter time to fill in all those things because it's just practical. There's no magic happening. We just ask a 100% of the applicants, which of these qualifications do you have or do you not have? They answer them. And then the rest is pretty much up to to the software to handle the stack ranking.

Chad: So the main value out of this is being able to identify who is qualified or at least meets the qualifications, stack ranking them to make it easier for recruiters to actually jump in and ask that individual into an interview. Do you have an interview portion of the applicant tracking system? Or do you send it off to a point solution?

Keith Hulen: No, we have a full blown applicant tracking system. Interview, interview scorecards, offer letters, all of that exists in our system. But to be honest with you, all of that was really easy to build. That's the ATS piece of it. And that was very easy. Now, we also tried to solve some other problems that exist down there, but really the main reason that you would purchase SmartRank is because of that screening and selection process, because that is the number one most time consuming activity a recruiter has today. And I'm gonna say this and it may not be very popular, but it's also the thing that they are the least qualified to do, right? I mean, let's just face it. If you're a recruiter and you're hiring for an FP&A and a developer and a salesperson, you're not a subject matter expert in any of those roles, especially if you've never done them before. And even if you have, you're not clairvoyant, you don't know exactly what that hiring manager is looking for.

Chad: So, what do we need the recruiters for at this point? Because we can just send those top smart ranked individuals directly to the hiring manager. And we can get them automatically on an interview schedule, right? What the hell do we need the recruiters for?

Keith Hulen: Well, I think that there's still some areas for them as far as like, I don't think we're totally away from needing to build relationships with these candidates. I don't think we're away from them having to build relationships with the hiring managers. They are still in our system helping to facilitate creating the questions. I would say they're kind of quarterbacking everything. They just don't have to try to be in the weeds trying to do things that they're just not qualified to do.

Joel: I think Chad has a good point in that we run into and talk to a lot of startups where if the buyer believes you're trying to replace them or put them out of a job, it becomes an amazing hurdle to clear to sell your product to companies if they think I'm gonna be unemployed if we buy this. Have you run into that? How do you address that when you do.

Keith Hulen: If that has come up, they haven't expressed it to me. I'll say this, one of the things when I first did my analysis, we interviewed hundreds and hundreds of recruiters in the beginning and one of the things I kept hearing consistently is they work 14-hour days. And I'm like, no way. You don't work 14 hour days. What are you doing for 14 hours a day? And I heard that so often. And so then I started to dig into that a little bit further and ask why. And the reality is because almost everything they do is manual and tedious in nature, almost everything that they do. So creating this automation doesn't replace their job, but it allows for them to spend time on better things. I'll give you one example. Passive recruiting. Most of these recruiters are just dealing with the influx of the people coming in reactively, right? These are people that are applying on their website or whatever, but they're not going out and trying to find the best person at that other company and pull them away from there. Why? 'cause they don't have time. They've got 450 applicants to review. They don't even have enough time to glance at somebody else.

Joel: So it's not really been a hurdle from your perspective at the company?

Keith Hulen: No. No, our recruiters are happy. Yeah.

Joel: So from your website, it's not super clear that you're an ATS or at least it wasn't for me. So I'm curious, do you integrate with other ATSs? By being an ATS, do you create a competitive nature with them to say like, no, we're not gonna let you integrate? Because I feel like these pre-screenings and testing solutions are best when they're integrated with the sites that people are already using on on a daily basis. What have you seen with other ATSs and competitiveness?

Keith Hulen: Yeah, we're in the process of updating our website for the third time. So it's been it's been a bit of a struggle.

Joel: So will the new one be clear that you're an ATS or?

Keith Hulen: Yes, it will. That's like our number one initiative on this new rebranding of the website. But...

Chad: How do you say you need marketing without saying you need marketing?

Keith Hulen: Yes.

Joel: Oh, we'll get to marketing in a second, Keith. Don't worry.

Keith Hulen: Yeah. So so back to kind of the question at hand, like do we integrate? The short answer is we can integrate, we've set up an integration with a big name ATS, but the reality is that every single client that has used us has ripped out their existing ATS and put us in because there's so much overlap between what we can do as far as like you brought up earlier, like interviewing and scorecards and offer letters. And we are a full applicant tracking system, right? So we can, but I like to always kind of push our clients to be like, why? Like, what is it that you're getting out of JazzHR or whatever that you just absolutely can't live without? Well, we need interview scorecards. Great, we got those. So what else do you need?

Joel: Okay. So more competitive than collaborative is the future of the company, I would say. You guys have been around going on four years now. Your headcount has barely moved. Typically, I'd like to see a headcount increase at least of salespeople that are out there pounding the pavement and hitting the phones. So, unless LinkedIn failed me, like Crunchbase did, what's up with headcount? When are you gonna start adding salespeople?

Keith Hulen: Yeah. It's a good question. It's also a loaded question, so I'll... [chuckle]

Joel: It's what we do.

Keith Hulen: I'll give this answer. Yeah, I'll give this answer. So we've struggled to be able to really get folks to kind of rip out their ATS for many different reasons. But what I typically, the way that our meetings typically go is they'll say, these are our problems. And then we address each and every one of those very uniquely and specifically. And then I'll show them a demo and they'll say, "I love this. This is like one of the best softwares I've ever seen in this space." And then it comes time to say, "Well, great, get rid of your ATS and use ours. And they're like, "I don't know if I wanna do that." I'm like, why?

Keith Hulen: What is it that's really holding you back? And there's not really any solid reasons. It's usually just kind of like, we just don't want change what we have. I think there's a lot of people that have made those changes in the past and switched an ATS and it was miserable and took them six to nine months to switch over. That has never happened with our clients, but that absolutely has happened. So I came into this and we geared up and I hired some additional people ready to go and hit it saying, all right, we're about to blow up here. And then I hit a reality check, which is a lot of the folks are just a lot more risk averse than I had anticipated, not a lot, significantly more risk averse than I anticipated that they would be.

Chad: Keith, how long have you been in this industry?

Keith Hulen: Well, I mean, I've been hiring people for almost, I don't know, 22, 23 years now, but I've been in this space, like, living this 14 hours a day for four years, coming up on four years now.

Chad: Okay, so what about the rest of the team? Is there anybody else who has been in this space, especially from a technology standpoint, for a good amount of time, or are they somewhat newbies too?

Keith Hulen: So I wouldn't say like recruiters, that are on our team, but like, tech as far as like our developers that are full-time, that have worked on our application and stuff, they have worked on similar types of HR tech.

Chad: What about leadership? You've got yourself, what about other leaders? Because right out of the gate, you're talking about things that we already know, right? It's hard, cost of change, movement slow. Welcome to HR, welcome to talent acquisition, right? This is nothing new, Keith. This is what we deal with. Is there anybody who has long-standing, from a leadership standpoint, in this space?

Keith Hulen: Only our advisor team. So, not a leadership team within the C-suite of our company, but from an advisor standpoint, there's some really well-known names that I showed our software to, explained our methodology and they were pretty psyched about it.

Chad: So, are they on board as actual advisors with the team? Okay, great, great. So, when you're talking about the actual total addressable market, are you looking at SMB? You mentioned Jazz. Jazz is not an enterprise product. So, are you mainly SMB?

Keith Hulen: SMB and I would also say mid-market. Initially, we really... And by the way, those are nebulous terms, right? What does that even mean? This is just like what I...

Chad: It's not enterprise. Anything not enterprise is what it is.

Keith Hulen: And what is enterprise, right? Like, see that...

Chad: Big fucking companies.

Keith Hulen: So, yeah, mid-market. So, call it anywhere between 500 to 2,500 employees. And then I would say that's where we focused initially. And again, we were finding that they were so entrenched with their ATS's that we went down market and we started working with more SMBs. So, call that anywhere from like 80 up to 500 employees where they're not established in their ATS. Some of them don't even have an ATS in some cases. And that we've seen quite a bit more success with.

Chad: So, when you're talking about the SMB less than enterprise side of the house, how are you guys actually going to market from a sales standpoint? Are you going direct to brand? Are you trying to create partnerships? How are you guys effectively trying to penetrate the market from a sales marketing standpoint?

Keith Hulen: We've had a number of partnership conversations, but I'd say it's been more of a direct kind of approach, which frankly is kind of challenging these days, right? Like email, cold calling and stuff, that's just dead. It just doesn't work anymore. So, I'd say it's less of a shotgun approach, more of a very specific scope approach where we're looking at companies that we know have these problems, introductions by our advisors and other folks that they know that these companies have a problem. And then a lot of it's coming through referrals and things like that right now. Very organic.

Chad: Mainly referrals into the SMB market.

Keith Hulen: Yeah. And I'd say we've struck out with the different marketing avenues we've taken. We've struck out with a lot of those. It's just been tough to kind of go at it.

Chad: Yes, it's SMB. So, when you're talking about the actual business model itself, I would assume it's seats. Is it a platform fee with seats? Talk a little bit about pricing.

Keith Hulen: Yeah. So, it's based on licenses, but they're recruiter licenses. So you have one person on your team, it's 300 bucks a month. We don't do annual contracts. We do quarterly contracts. It's less risk. If you love what you saw and you really want to give it a shot, you're only committed to one quarter at a time. With that being said, our clients haven't left, but I think that's just because the proof's in the pudding, right? Once you start using it changes your overall outlook.

Chad: So, you're looking at revenue from an MRR standpoint as opposed to an ARR because of the way that the model rolls out. Is that correct?

Keith Hulen: Yeah. That's right. Yep. And then the more recruiters they have, then we have like tiered pricing. So, like two to five recruiters, six to ten. So, we kind of gear it in there. So, it's not like nickel and diming them for every single license that they're purchasing.

Chad: Okay. So, what do you see as the biggest threat for you and the organization today?

Keith Hulen: Our biggest threat I think is, well, it's two things. One, it's cash, right? Cash is always kind of a very important thing for any startup. And I would say exposure. One of the biggest challenges that we have is, you brought this up earlier. I told you about our organic marketing, but that takes a long time. And referrals and building up your client bases like that just takes a long time. So, if I get a client or a prospect on with one of our actual clients that's using the software, it's usually game over at that point. They're like, yes, okay, this sounds amazing. Because our clients truly... This isn't hyperbole, they truly love, love, love our software. I just can't get it in the hands of enough people to actually use it and really kind of build that message.

Joel: Let's chat about marketing. We hit sales in the last round of questions. One of the more depressing research that I did on the company was the marketing side of things. So, I'm going to read you a laundry list and you tell me what the hell is going on. Your last blog post was April of 2023. You only have 306 followers on LinkedIn after four years of business, roughly less than 100 per year. Your logos are mostly nobodies on the site. Typically, give it away for free just to get somebody that we can all recognize on the site. Your YouTube channel, which you actually have content, you have 15 subscribers. Your careers page has no jobs on it. If I knew nothing about you and I just looked at your footprint on social media and the internet, I would say, are they still in business? So, help me understand why the fall down on marketing? What are you guys doing to change it? You said you're redoing the website, but it seems like there's a real lack of focus on getting the name and building the brand.

Keith Hulen: You're not wrong in any of those things you just said and it has been a challenge for us to build the brand and things. I'm not a marketing person. I'm a salesperson, but lacking any types of additional funding and things like that, you end up doing everything, right? Multiple roles. So, marketing, sales, investor relations, customer support sometimes, product. Your hands are in everything. And I would say, we are one of those types of companies where that's exactly one of our Achilles heels is my hands are in kind of everything. And I just struggle to be able to try to get a really consistent marketing theme going. Now, we have hired some agencies to help us, but like I said, we have not had any success with any of the agencies that we've hired thus far doing anything in that realm.

Joel: One last question, and I think we'll hit pricing before we leave, but the competitive landscape, we talked a lot about ATSs, but the whole testing thing is huge. TestGorilla, Hiring Branch, Paradox, like a lot of companies are in this space. Are you getting hit on both fronts, like the ATS competition as well as the testing? And that seems like a really hard thing to balance.

Keith Hulen: As far as like dealing against competitors like...

Joel: Like is TestGorilla a competitor?

Keith Hulen: I would not consider them a competitor at all.

Joel: Okay.

Keith Hulen: ATSs, absolutely. Greenhouse, all those folks.

[overlapping conversation]

Joel: All ATS competition. Interesting.

Keith Hulen: For sure. I'd say we compliment them, Joel.

Joel: Okay. Nice save.

Keith Hulen: Those TestGorillas and those, I'd say we absolutely compliment them. If you're thinking about automating it, you take your 250 applicants, these are the seven that we're really going to focus on. Let's take these seven and have all of them go through TestGorilla, and of those, let's take the four best scores out of there and let's meet with them. That's a great hiring process, very efficient hiring process.

Joel: Okay. Maybe that's a pivot for you in the future. Chad, this sounds really fucking expensive, man. ATS testing. Keith, what is this going to cost me as a company? What's the pricing breakdown?

Keith Hulen: If you're a one-person shop, one HR manager, one recruiter, it's going to run you about $900 a quarter, $300 a month. If you get up into that next tier where you've got let's say four or five recruiters on your team, then you're looking at about $1,000 a month.

Joel: Pretty reasonable, but not very profitable. All right, Keith, it's time to face the firing squad. Are you ready, my friend?

Keith Hulen: I'm ready.

Joel: All right, get comfortable. Chad, what do you think?

Chad: Well, I think ATS is fucking hard. Right out of the gate, and you've already talked about your experience. A core platform, this is a core platform, Keith. Core. What does that mean? It means that everything is in it. The cost to change, not just getting rid of the platform and bringing in a new platform, but the process methodologies, getting the data in there, make sure the data is clean. Yeah, it is a bitch. And these are things that you're starting to understand now and so is your team. I like that you do have advisors in there. You should probably lean on them very, very hard because a lot of this, to me, is going to be even harder, especially when we're talking about enterprise versus SMB. And what's the big difference between those? Fairly simple. Enterprise, a lot of fucking money, right? And you have a lot of recruiters, so therefore you have a lot of seats, so therefore you have what? A lot of money just in one account versus trying to pick off an SMB for an SMB for an SMB. They are hard to find, first and foremost. Secondarily, they are hard to get on the phone to make a deal, any of that shit, right? So at the end of the day, SMB is going to be incredibly hard.

Chad: Lean on your advisors heavily to be able to do this. Listen very closely. Don't do this direct shit. Start focusing on organizations, other point solutions that you go well with, like these Testgorilla types of situations, right? And start to work with them to gain penetration into their portfolio. Period. This is one on one shit, dude. These are the things that you guys need to be doing. Your threat right now, it could be cash, right? I'm not going to say that it's not, but I think your bigger threat is automation is everywhere. So if that is your superpower, guess what kid? It's everybody's superpower. So at the end of the day, I want to see you do well. I think about any applicant tracking system that comes onto this show. I'm going to challenge them incredibly hard. I hope within the next five years you guys explode. But until then, my friend, you're getting the firing squad.

Joel: Ouch, ouch. Little tough love there, Keith. Little tough love from a sexy man.

Chad: We got to give them the tough love. Got to.

Joel: So you're four years into this. You raised about a million dollars, which is great. I would have loved to have heard you say we're on to our A series or we're like we've got some decks and conversations. We feel pretty good about raising 8-10 million dollars in the coming six months. I would have loved to have heard that from you. I didn't. Ultimately, four years into this, it just it feels like a knife in a gunfight. The ATS is an incredibly competitive space. Why anyone launches an ATS today is the only thing worse is a job board today and that'll get the Crusaders on my ass. But that's OK. The testing is incredibly difficult, especially with the money or lack of money that you have. Every metric that I can see, the lack of people, salesforce coming in. You talked about the struggle that they've had to sell this product and how risk averse everyone is. Marketing is not getting done. You're not hiring people. There's no job postings. You don't have any logos of relevance on the site that I can go, Okay, well, they've bought into it and they believe in this product. It's either pivot, you can go with Chad's thing and like embrace the testing sites and what's going on there.

Joel: My opinion is you either need to sell the parts and get the hell out and get on to your next idea or seriously pivot and get this thing on some sort of track record because you're four years into this. You mentioned 14-hour days. You have two kids. I'm sure your wife is loving these 14-hour days for four years going on five. Like to me, this is a, "should I get off the pot", come to Jesus moment for you. I think you're a great guy, a nice guy. But there's another idea for you out there. But this ain't it. For me, this also is the firing squad. Nothing personal, Keith. Nothing personal.

Chad: We want to see you come back with a load of cash and say you guys were wrong. And/or I took some of that advice and parlayed it into kicking ass and taking names.

Joel: For our listeners who want to know more about the company. Where do you send them?

Keith Hulen: Yeah. You mentioned this earlier. So YouTube, we don't have many, many subscribers there, but there's a lot of videos. There's a lot of content there. LinkedIn, finding Keith Hulen there and then our website smartrank.ai.

Joel: Good luck with all that. Chad, that's another one in the can. We out.

Chad: We out.

Outro: This has been the firing squad. Be sure to subscribe to the Chad and Keith podcast so you don't miss an episode. And if you're a startup who wants to face the firing squad, contact the boys at chadcheese.com today. That's www.C-H-A-D-C-H-E-E-S-E.com.

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