Firing Squad: Talent Alpha CEO, Przemek Berendt

Every once and awhile, we get a startup on Firing Squad who claims to do it all, or at least almost do it all (none of them can deliver a case of Pabst with your new hire, but whatever).

Talent Alpha out of Poland is once such company. Calling it the human cloud, they'll find, screen and schedule your next IT pro, promising to give you access to a previously untapped talent pool of 700,000 experienced and project-ready IT specialists working in 25,000 small & medium-sized IT Services Companies across Europe.


One of your fearless podcasters loves the idea; the other one, not-as-much. Checkout founder and CEO Przemek Berendt bring his A-game to The Squad.


Brought to you by our friends at Pandologic, bringing programmatic since 2007 now that's a yottabyte of job data! What the hell is a yottabyte?

PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION sponsored by:

Disability Solutions is your bridge to the disability community, delivering custom solutions in outreach, recruiting, talent management and compliance.


Intro: Like Shark Tank, then you'll love Firing Squad. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheesman are here to put their 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 taken into a whole other level.

Joel: Oh yeah. It's the post St. Patrick's edition of the Firing Squad. I'm a little hung over, Chad. How about you?

Chad: Oh yeah. Definitely. I'm not hung over, and I feel amazing just because I drank Guinness all last night. And that's how you feel when you drink Guinness. It's the best beer in the world.

Joel: Very nice. I, for one, don't want to hear the guns today because I just don't want my brain to have to go through that. All right. Let's welcome our startup for this episode of Firing Squad. Today, we are happy to welcome Talent Alpha, not Alphaville. Talent Alpha and CEO and founder, Prez Berendt.

Chad: Przemek. Przemek.

Joel: Did I say that right? Przemek or Prez?

Chad: Przemek.

Przemek: Hello everyone.

Joel: He's like P. Diddy, he's either Puff Daddy or Diddy. He has a lot of different names.

Przemek: It's a pleasure to be here. Yes, my name is Przemek, but I also go by Prez, that makes it slightly easier.

Joel: Welcome to the show. And you are in Poland right now, correct?

Przemek: That is correct.

Joel: Very nice. Dealing with your own coronavirus issues I'm sure.

Przemek: No St. Patrick's day over here, because we got locked down when it comes to our bars.

Chad: Yeah. Us too. We had to have it in our homes. So I had to make sure we stockpiled enough Guinness and whiskey to ensure that we had a good time.

Joel: Plenty of whiskey in my place.

Przemek: Good for you.

Joel: All right, dude. Chad, you want to give him the rules? And we'll get to it.

Chad: All right, Przemek. You will have two minutes to pitch Talent Alpha. At the end of two minutes, you'll hear the bell. Then Joel and I will hit you with rapid fire Q and A, if your answers start rambling, Joel will hit you with the crickets.

Joel: Ouch.

Chad: And that means that you need to move along, tighten up your game. But then at the end of Q and A, you're going to be graded with one of these three: Big applause, that just means get your back account ready.

Joel: Well done.

Chad: Time to be sugar daddy. Golf clap, you're getting there, but you can do much better. Or, what you do not want to hear is the Firing Squad, that means hit the bricks, close up shop, take your ass home and put that drawing board away because this is not going to go anywhere very fast.

Joel: Oh, my head.

Chad: Any questions, Przemek?

Przemek: I'm ready. Bring it on.

Chad: All right.

Joel: All right, Prez. Two minutes to pitch starting.

Przemek: Talent Alpha Human Cloud Platform enables organizations to manage, measure, access, and share IT talent. We are building technology that allows organizations to get detailed understanding of their technology workforce and augment its capabilities. Our platform indexes unprecedented amount of data about specialists working in these organizations, going deep into their technical expertise, soft skills, and also psychometrics. Having best in class understanding of IT Talent sitting in organizations using our platform, we unlock numerous applications of it. Starting with Virtual Bench, there is a B to B to B marketplace that allows companies to share and access IT talent in what we call the tech teams on demand model. As of today, there are over 160 companies from 15 countries in central and Eastern Europe using our technology, offering their capabilities of over 10,000 specialists to clients around the globe, through our website, talentalpha.com.

Thanks to tapping into organizations, and understanding their experience future capacity, we can dispatch entire teams of IT professionals within hours of receiving a request. This maximizes time to productivity, not the time to hire, as clients get a working unit that already has gone through all of the stages of building up the team. Number of enterprise level clients are already testing Virtual Bench with us with a lot of success. Thanks to our proprietary skills to data model, we kept up to 500 data points about every individual on our platform. On top of mapping skills, we measure competencies where possible. Our Talent Lab app enhances this model with capturing additional metrics such as working memory, perceptual speed or tasks switching. We are already working on unlocking other use cases using core functionalities of our platform, including freelance through management, ATF lead capture, just to name a few on our roadmap. So to summarize, if your organization needs to quickly ramp up IT talent, or needs to gain better visibility on the skills already in the house, Talent Alpha Human Cloud is your solution.

Chad: Boom.

Joel: And you can find you where?

Przemek: You can find us at talent-alpha.com.

Chad: Talent-alpha.com.

Joel: I always forget that part, Chad.

Chad: Not always, but for the most part, yes. Prez, we're talking about open virtual benches. Let's dig into this a little bit further. So what it sounds like, and please help dig a little deeper into this, is that there's great tech talent that's there and you have open benches for multiple companies to actually tap into the exact same talent. Is that correct?

Przemek: That is correct. So what we discovered as we were building up Talent Alpha is that, in central and Eastern Europe itself, there are over 25,000 small and medium sized IT services companies, anywhere from like five to 500 people. Now, as we started digging into that, we realized that they are not running on full utilization, so at any given point in time, 20 to 30% of their headcount is unutilized. So when you look at this kind of talent pool sitting out there, there are over 700,000 professionals kind of sitting in this talent pool, where 20 to 30% is available at any given point in time for grabs. So what do we decided to do is to connect the dots and basically index talent sitting in these organization and birth kind of a virtual layer that allows other organizations who need to leverage IT talent to access them in this on demand fashion.

Chad: Okay. So these individuals, are they working under talent alpha or are they actually working under these other companies and they're kind of lending their talent out, but they're doing this through your platform? How does that actually work?

Przemek: It's the latter, right? So if you are one of those small and medium sized IT companies, you registered on our platform, you would then map out talent in your organization using our technology, and you'd tell us when these individuals become available for grabs, basically for sale, right? And then if we can find the matching request, we will basically bring the deal over to you. So, we are not hiring them directly, on the contrary, for the clients who want to leverage our capabilities, we enter it kind of as an alternative IT services vendor, giving clients access to this broad pool of talent coming from various organizations.

Chad: Well, it sounds like you're more, almost like an Uber per se, that you know when the driver's available to work, so you can actually just tap into that into one of these other companies. Is that correct? They let you know the availability and then what you do is you make the match. Is that it?

Przemek: Well, there are different ways to think about it. This is one way, that you described. Another way is more of an Airbnb model, right? You have certain assets kind of at your disposal, and you know when they are booked or not, and you can then lend them out to others. Yet another way we like to think about it is that, what we are doing is the same thing that AWS does to the IT infrastructure, right? Prior AWS, your service would be sitting on your premise, right? And now they get moved to the cloud. We basically believe that the same can happen with tech talent. They are sitting in somebody else's house, right? They are being managed and operated over there, and we are granting you kind of live access to their brainpower.

Joel: Prez, maybe it's the hangover, but I'm still a little bit fuzzy on what your objective is and who your competitors are. So when you go to the site, it looks very much like a people search engine. So the initial thought is hiring solve to seek out a hiring tool is your competition. But what I'm hearing you say is more an Upwork or Fiverr is your competition. Am I getting that wrong? Or how would you describe what side of the fence you're on? Are you a weird hybrid of both of those?

Przemek: I would say we are a hybrid of traditional IT services firms. So think, Accenture, Cognizant, EPAM, and the likes, right? Like large IT outsourcing companies and the talent platform, like Upwork or Toptal, right? What is different is the underlying business model, whereas Toptal or Upwork would connect freelancers on the market, we tap into existing companies and map out and basically share the talents to that as they're working over there.

Joel: Okay. How are you filling the database with talent? Are you tapping into a database? Are you scraping profiles? Are you buying them from a third party? How are you getting that data?

Przemek: So that's the beauty of the solution, right? We speak directly to the CEO or the owner of this company, and we basically tell him A, "Use our technology to better understand the people you have already on board." B, "Use our technology to sell to your own clients and see, we can actually bring you additional deals through our search engine that you just mentioned, that it's available on our website." So we don't have to find this individuals on the market, we make one handshake, one contract, can we get access to 100 or 200 profiles at once.

Joel: Why would a company give you access to their talent pool?

Przemek: Because they want to build sales. As I mentioned, many of these organizations are not running on full utilizations, they want to bring more attractive projects, they would like to work for bigger, more established clients on more fancy technologies, and that's what we enable them to do. Because on the other side of the spectrum, who we are bringing to this equation, are the large enterprises who are struggling with the tech talent gap, right? So, we are actually closing or building a link that was before not available. The smaller players, they could never sell to a very large enterprise. For a number of reasons, they couldn't jump through the procurement hoops, they didn't have the skills or the budgets to actually make that sale. And we're closing and bridging that gap.