Firing Squad: Wedge HR's Matt Baxter


Video interviewing. You've probably heard it's sort of a thing since the pandemic. We're talkin' mass acquisitions here. So here comes Wedge HR with the promise to provide on-demand video interviewing that transforms the hiring process by providing candidates with a seamless, fast, and flexible experience. Oh, really?


We'll just see about that as CEO Matt Baxter joins the boys for a rip roaring episode of Firing Squad.

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Shark Tank Intro (37s):

Like Shark Tank? Then you'll love Firing Squad! CHAD SOWASH & JOEL CHEESEMAN are here to put the recruiting industry's bravest, ballsiest, baddest startups through the gauntlet to see if they got what it takes to make it out alive? Dig a fox hole and duck for cover kids the Chad and Cheese Podcast is taking it to a whole other level.


Joel (58s):

Oh shit. It's another Monday Firing Squad. So I'm already pissed off. What's up everybody. This is the Chad and Cheese podcast. I'm your cohost Joel Cheeseman joined as always by Chad Sowash. Today, we welcome Wedge HR and their CEO, Matt Baxter to the show. Matt. Welcome. Welcome to the Chad and cheese podcast. It's great to have you let's get to some quick personal stuff. And then we'll get to the company. Like what, what should people know about Matt Baxter the person?


Chad (1m 28s):

Well, first off, first off he's he's having PTSD issues right now from being on the recruitment flex last week. And Shelly just driving his ass into the ground.


Joel (1m 40s):

Those Canadians can be tough. Can't they? Did they did they say sorry after they ripped you a new one? Of course she did.


Chad (1m 47s):

Sorry.


Matt (1m 48s):

Sorry. Love that. So I'm a, I'm coming to you live from grand Rapids, Michigan. I'm a Michigan guy grew up in Ann Arbor. I went to Hope College.


Joel (1m 59s):

Dope. This show's over. Thanks for coming Matt.


Matt (2m 9s):

I've got a golden retriever. I run Wedge, which we'll get into. I also have a little side hustle called the Hopper Popper, we dabble in toilets and I've got a podcast myself.


Joel (2m 18s):

I dabble in toilets too. Okay. Chad, tell him what he's won.


Chad (2m 22s):

Well, Matt, you have two minutes to pitch Wedge at the end of two minutes, you will hear that bell then Joel and I will hit you with rapid fire Q and A. If you start to get boring, shit starts to ramble. You're going to get the crickets, that means tighten up your game. At the end of Q and A, you will receive either big applause. Wedge will be a big hit, meaning you'll be able to move up to those silk undies where Wedgies are delightful.


Joel (2m 50s):

You'll be making gold-plated toilet bowls at that point.


Chad (2m 53s):

Golf clap. It's time to pull that wedgie out of your crack and get focused because you might have something here. Or the firing squad, nothing but cheap cotton skid marks here, Matt, hang it up and focus on Hopper Popper big guy, because this ain't it. Are you ready?


Matt (3m 13s):

I'm ready. Let's rock and roll.


Joel (3m 14s):

All right. As much time as you need with a maximum of two minutes, Matt in three, two, ding, ding, ding.


Matt (3m 21s):

Wedge HR is an asynchronous video interviewing platform. Asynchronous is very sexy or really annoying jargon, depending upon how you look at it for on-demand or one way. We help companies hire more efficiently and effectively by removing some of the headaches of scheduling, calendar invites, or just bad phone screens. And then also from a candidates perspective, we help candidates shine above and beyond just traditional mechanisms like resumes and cover letters. You only get one single sheet of paper to tell who you are and we don't believe that that's enough. And we believe that our platform can help show that for companies as well too. So we work either directly with companies by selling our software solution, or we integrate with an ATS to help scale up as a feature part of their hiring process. So if you would like to learn more about Wedge HR, go to wedgehr.com.


Chad (4m 5s):

Okay. The first question is when is facial recognition coming to the platform? That's the big question.


Matt (4m 12s):

Oh gosh. Hopefully never because if, if you're going to convince me otherwise, basically all facial recognition does is tell me, Hey Chad, that's you on the video? Nice. Now people cheating and basically falsifying who they are and in a video interview just does not happen. We were talking about ACTs when there's 200 grand on the line by Tracy, T-score sure you could talk me into it. But I think facial recognition is one of the dumbest things you can possibly do when it comes to a pre-screening video interview.


Chad (4m 39s):

Take a stand man. So what the hell brought you into HR and recruitment tech or interviewing in the first place?


Matt (4m 48s):

Natural. Apparently I didn't explain this well enough to Shelly. That's a joke I started. My very first business was the chubby neighbor kid in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I pushed mode a few lawns, probably for some extra beer money or fast food money. By the time I was a senior in high school hired my first employee. By the time I was a sophomore in college, probably had hired 20 to 25, people had a chance to sell the lawn care company. No, it was not a big tech exit, but it was a fun little seed capital to get me started. And what I quickly learned while hiring for my lawn care was I didn't really care if somebody knew how to mow a lawn or weed wack, I cared, can you shake my hand? Can you have a conversation? If you can do those things, I can teach you the rest. So after talking to a bunch of employers in the world and who I previously did, lawn care work, for everybody said, hiring sucks, resumes are terrible and we can't find good people.


Matt (5m 34s):

So to me, it seemed like there was a major gap in the market to create a more efficient and effective solution for companies, but also a way for candidates to share their story above and beyond just traditional resumes.


Joel (5m 43s):

So I got an, I got to ask about the name cause I always do. So you were originally Competitive Wedge, correct? That's correct. Okay. So why Wedge and not Edge? And then you went to Wedge HR because no one could spell competitive or like what was the evolution of the name? And you've been around since 2015?


Matt (6m 5s):

It was an idea in napkin July 1st, 2015.


Joel (6m 9s):

Just tell me the evolution of the name. Cause I'm always curious.


Matt (6m 12s):

So one of my buddies sat me down. I think the original name, truth be told, was Stepping Stone, which I was, it was a placeholder and I'm not a very creative when it comes to naming and he sat me down and he said, I think the name should be Wedge because you guys are forming a wedge in the hiring process. And that was ultimately what stuck. And we realized we could actually be the Kleenex of interviewing and basically say, send me your wedge. Or we reviewed a wedge. So yes, when it came to filing wedge.com remarkably expensive to get a start in. And so, you know, wanted to create something that was some form of a tagline. So competitive wedge, you know, spin off of, you know, what you alluded to competitive edge. And then we realized our CTO had to type competitive every time he was writing code. And he said competitive sucks, let's drop it.


Matt (6m 53s):

When you smack HR on the back end, the end of anything helps the world know that you work in HR. So that's the very sexy, exciting story of WedgieHR.


Joel (7m 2s):

Well, I love the developer bitch and how that changed the name, nothing else. That's great. And now, and now six years later, you're getting made fun of by a couple of idiots on a podcast. So good for you.


Matt (7m 12s):

All right, I think I'm in good company.


Joel (7m 14s):

So yeah. All right. So as, as this is an audible or audio format, walk me through as a job seeker, how I get to the video interviewing uploading stuff. Like, do I look at a job apply and then get an email to do video stuff? Is there a link within the job? Walk me through that.


Matt (7m 35s):

So I'll give two use cases that would be 95% of who uses Wedge. So use case number one is once a candidate applies for a job, wherever that may be, they would be moved in the next stage a part of the ATS. And then they would be sending an invite by email. We're about to release texts but it's not done yet, but by email and they would be brought and say, Hey, congratulations, you made it past the first round of XYZ. Here's your one-way video interview that you're going to go through. The other way, as you alluded to would be, you can include companies if they choose to, can pop in a link right into their job description that if they want that to be for every candidate applying, they certainly can. So we're probably 70/30. 70% have it be a secondary screen, 30%, have it be the entry part of every hiring process.


Chad (8m 17s):

So who is your target market from a company standpoint? And what do you see your target type of role filling to date?


Matt (8m 26s):

Target company to date so far has been companies with a hundred to a thousand employees. We don't have any limitations on scaling up to enterprise, but just from a sales, you know, sales cycle perspective, it's just been easier working with small to mid market companies. We're industry agnostic. Our main users of Wedge would be retail, manufacturing, high turnover positions, sales, account management, any form of role that would be customer facing. We don't typically enter into executive search in any way, shape or form, but I would say mid-market and below, or sorry, mid-management and below would typically be our range. And as I alluded to, it's not really industry related.


Matt (9m 6s):

Now with Covid, we've had some changes to that, but we can dive into that.


Chad (9m 9s):

Okay. So are you going straight to market direct to hiring companies with this, or is this actually happening through partnerships with applicant tracking systems, CRMs job boards? How are you going to market with this?


Matt (9m 25s):

Majority of our revenue partnerships and everything is through, or excuse me, a majority of our revenue growth and companies using Wedge are through partnerships like applicant tracking systems. So what or job boards, the same, same exact thing. And so we continue to scale up by forming new partnerships with organizations that want to leverage video as a feature, a part of their hiring process. And we can fill that void, spin up an integration overnight sort of thing, and off to the races. We'd certainly do have some that are direct, that are great, but for the most part, most organizations want that integration to happen.


Joel (9m 58s):

Speaking of integrations, talk me through your mindset of this, because usually when we have startups come on and we talk about integrations with ATSs, you know, names like Greenhouse, Smart Recruiters, iCIMS Jobvite et cetera. And your list is a little strange to me. There are three ATSs lists on your website. You have Jazz HR, which is fairly well known, but then you have Applicant Pro hiring optimization. So talk me through why partner with those guys versus some of the names I mentioned.


Matt (10m 28s):

Yeah. So without disclosing information, that's too early, but some of the names that you listed, those are active partnerships that were either in conversations with or pursuing, so those certainly are there. But you know, Jazz HR, for example, or Applicant Pro are phenomenal SMB applicant tracking systems, and those just happened to be our first ones and they've been great. They've, you know, SMB organizations, you know, a hundred to 500 employees, that want to use video. They want a, cost-effective easy to use solution. Those have been fantastic. There are some ATSs that you can get into that you may be one of 25 different vendors and the only way you get bumped up on the list is if you come and say, Hey, here's 100,000 new clients and yada yada, yada, let me be friends with you guys sort of thing.


Matt (11m 9s):

And for us, we'd rather partner with the applicant tracking systems that are motivated to push. Our solution assuming we're offering good service and assuming we're helping make them money and assuming we're help making their product more sticky, which is all things that we do and we want to be able to do, but ultimately, you know, we want partners that are not afraid to push our product, or we can form a partnership that's obviously mutually beneficial, just above and beyond a, Hey, here's our list get in line sort of thing.


Joel (11m 32s):

Gotcha. Well, yeah, one of the benefits when we talked to chat bots is, is ghosting. And I'm really curious from a video perspective, do people like, what are you, what's your bounce rate on videos? How many people that are invited, don't do it. How many bail through the process, or is it like a really high level of completion rates on these?


Matt (11m 54s):

Yeah, again, a little that's dependent upon where in the process, this lives. Certainly front end portion of the application, you may have higher ghosting versus, you know, once you've already had a few touch points with the candidate. So, from what I know in the industry, the assessment world, it's about a 30% completion rate. When you send out an invitation for somebody to complete an assessment, we're our average or our completion rate is hovering right around 50% between 51 and 52%. Now, obviously, as we scale up that those numbers, we hope to continue as well, but there's certain things that you can do that drastically shoots that up, like text reminders or email reminders or deadlines. And those are all things that we're actively working on, you know, pushing through.


Chad (12m 37s):

So Zoom, Teams, whereby Slack, Facebook video's everywhere, and instead of buying another platform, why wouldn't hiring companies use what corporate HQ have already purchased them and integrate that into their hiring process. It's what they already know. It's part of their daily routine. So why get into another platform like Wedge instead of just integrating with one of them?


Matt (13m 6s):

So you can throw other names my way, and I can address these, but the ones that you just listed are all what's called synchronous platforms or live platforms. Wedge is not a live solution. We are an asynchronous video interview solution. So we are a pre-screened. You would set up a series of hiring manager would set up a series of questions. Candidates will respond to those on their own time, comfort of their own home from any device. And then you get to review those results on your own time, comfort of your own home. So we're an asynchronous platform and so different than Zoom, which is synchronous and it requires us to schedule and beyond Zoom at the same time. Now, with that being said, we're not trying to get rid of Zoom, and we're not trying to get rid of resumes, but we're trying to be a pre-screen that allows you to determine who is at least worth bringing on to that time when it requires us to be live.


Matt (13m 52s):

And so to the other point, you know, about the systems we learned, that was kind of ultimately why we went down. The applicant tracking system approach is that if we're selling our product direct, at some point in time, they got to figure out where it lives in the system or where it lives in their hiring process, where if we integrate with any of our different ATS partners, we can literally set wedge up so that you barely even know we exist. And it's, you know, dropped in simple, right in that, right in your ATS. And there's things like automatic workflows, they're singing like triggered response or batch invites, all of which allows the whole process to be so super seamless and lives right in the ATS, so you don't have to be bopping around different platforms. So two part answer, hopefully I covered both.


Chad (14m 28s):

Yep. So why is the one way interviewing process better for candidates? And then also, why is it better for hiring managers?


Matt (14m 38s):

For candidates, I mean, and I know, I know you both may roll your eyes at this, but my sort of tagline, and I actually believe this to be true is that I think everybody has a story and those stories worth telling. And I think right now, when you're applying for a job, you're talking about a single dimension sheet of paper. That's supposed to tell your whole story and why you're worthwhile moving to the process. We're talking about a resume. We're talking about basically however much life experience that you have, or trying to boil that down to one sheet of paper that is supposedly a good determining factor of whether that person has cultural fit or that person would, would work well with the team. And I think that's not enough. And I think that's actually a really bad representation of people. I'm not trying to get rid of resumes entirely, but why Wedge is worthwhile for the candidate is it's a brief opportunity to share a little bit more about yourself so that people have a better understanding of who you are before you walk in the door, supplement that with a resume, great show, your experience, your qualifications, all those different things.


Matt (15m 30s):

But for the companies that stand up there and say, we love hiring for culture, but get in line if you only have 10 to 12 years experience, we want a PhD too. You're not hiring for culture, you're hiring for qualifications first and then maybe culture. But I think the narrative has shifted. And I think people want to know who they're working next to. And that's why I think asynchronous are one way or a brief one to two minute long video is a phenomenal way to at least leverage that. And then the company side, you know, think about the number of bad phone screens, the number of bad zoom videos, or the number of hundreds of schedulings that you have to deal with and what Wedge is trying to do again, we're not trying to eliminate phone screens or Zoom, but what we're trying to do is say out of your a hundred resumes that you just reviewed, you whittled that down to 50, that you have time to phone screen.


Matt (16m 10s):

Why don't you have those 50 to a video interview? Why don't you have those three to a video interview and at least determine who's worthwhile to bring i