FIRING SQUAD: Hirevisor
Startup Hirevisor faces the firing squad. Will their warm-and-fuzzy, sharing-is-caring business model pass the test? Gotta listen to this Talroo exclusive if you want to find out.
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Joel: All right. Time for another Firing Squad. I'm ready, Chad, how about you?
Chad: I'm excited.
Joel: On today's show, we have Patrick Hillstrom, co-founder and CEO of Hirevisor, which by the way if you don't have a tchotchke visor that you're passing out to people, I think you're really missing a prime opportunity. Patrick, welcome to Firing Squad. Give us the 15 second intro on you.
Patrick: Well, thanks Joel and Chad. A quick intro on me, my name is Patrick Hillstrom as you folks mentioned. I'm the CEO and co-founder of Hirevisor. I'm based in San Francisco and ex-LinkedIn alum, and very excited to be here.
Joel: Excellent. Chad, tell him what he's won.
Chad: You've won the opportunity to stand in front of the firing squad. That's what you're getting. We're going to go ahead and set the format out for you. You're going to have two minutes to pitch us on Hirevisor. At the end of two minutes, you'll hear the bell. Then Joel and I will hit you with some rapid fire Q&A. If your answers aren't concise, Joel is going to hit you with either the bell or crickets. That means you need to move your ass on. Tighten up your game, be concise.
Chad: Then at the end of Q&A, Joel and I will give you our honest feedback with regard to your pitch, answering of your questions, and you're going to get graded in one of three ways. You will either receive big applause, that means you've kicked ass and you've taken names, a golf clap, which is my favorite because it's so pathetic, but that just means you're not ready for primetime, and then the firing squad. You should probably pack your shit up, go home, and rethink this whole thing. That's firing squad. It's time to buckle up and pitch. Joel, it's all you.
Joel: Are you ready, Patrick?
Patrick: I am ready.
Joel: All right. At the bell, you have two minutes. When you hear the bell again, you are done. Go.
Patrick: All right. In a sentence, Hirevisor is a peer-to-peer talent exchange. Now, what that means in practice is our platform provides a way to invite their second place candidates to leverage all the efforts that we put into application process toward finding roles at our other partner companies on the Hirevisor talent exchange.
Patrick: There's really two pieces to the platform. On the one hand, we're a candidate experience, candidate engagement talent branding tool that frankly will interact with most of the candidates who go through your application pipeline and make sure the vast majority of folks have a way to still feel like they had a great experience with your company.
Patrick: On the other side of our platform, we're actually a sourcing tool. All of these candidates who accept their invite to join the Hirevisor platform, they're now searchable on the Hirevisor talent exchange. The main value here is these candidates who join, again, they can leverage their efforts in the process toward finding roles at other companies, and hopefully be able to find roles at other companies without ... Excuse me. Without having to fill out another application, without having to do more work than they've already put into the process.
Patrick: This really comes from a personal place for me, because as a candidate, I've been second place more time than I can count, and we really wanted to build a platform where as a candidate you're able to, interviewing has been historically a parallel yet siloed process. It's the first time in our platform all of this work can help you land roles at other companies.
Patrick: Two pieces of the platform. It's a candidate experience, candidate engagement piece, and also a sourcing tool that helps companies find better talent faster, and builds an overall better candidate experience.
Joel: In 15 seconds, where would someone find more about you?
Patrick: Hirevisor.com. You can sign up today, or you can request a demo. I'm happy to share more about it.
Joel: All right. That's your first piece of critique. Make sure in every pitch you tell people where can you find out more.
Patrick: Got it.
Joel: Chad, he's all yours.
Chad: Yes. Three part question. First and foremost, are you familiar with AllianceQueue?
Patrick: AllianceQueue? No, I'm not.
Chad: Are you familiar with Jobfox?
Patrick: I've heard of them, but not terribly familiar with them.
Chad: Okay. When it comes down to the actual pitch that you're trying to make, how are you different when it comes to going after active job seekers than all the other products and platforms that are out there?
Patrick: The main difference about our platform is that we're directly integrated with your applicant tracking system. We're as much a sourcing and candidate engagement play as we are a systems integration play. It takes 10 minutes, you get up and running and integrated with your applicant tracking system, and candidates are automatically invited to our platform. The value of this being that we know for sure, hey, this candidate interviewed for this roll, and we have the date and timestamp of when that happened.
Patrick: While there are plenty of platforms out there to your point that say, "Hey, we've got the best active job seekers," we know for sure in a data driven way that these folks are ready to go.
Chad: This is a platform that is focused heavily on the active job seeker's side in an environment and/or landscape market that is very tight, so therefore, active job seekers are very low. Why are you focusing on active job seekers, when to be quite frank, most people are trying to re-engage with those passive job seekers?
Patrick: It's a great question. The way we see it is almost as a philosophical difference about the future of the talent ecosystem. There's plenty of companies out there like Beamery, both Lever and Greenhouse have offered these sort of talent relationship management ... Excuse me, talent marketing tools that help you to your point re-engage with candidates who've been rejected and may or may not be interested in the company later on.
Patrick: We see that as fundamentally inefficient. What we're offering is a true talent exchange that almost in a way is just-in-time recruiting where it's more efficient if you have this person who was just rejected from a role and they could be a great fit at another company who's looking for someone like them right now. Why not make that connection, versus introducing this additional, what we see as additional inefficiency in the process.
Patrick: To your point, we see it as almost a difference in world view.
Joel: Patrick, I'm always interested in the genesis of an idea. You mentioned your LinkedIn past. I'm interested, what did you do for them? Was this idea of this company born out of LinkedIn? Tell us about the lightning bolt that hit you that made you come up with Hirevisor?
Patrick: Sure. I was at LinkedIn for two and a half years, and I worked on the business operations team and worked very closely with the product teams as well, specifically on content products like SlideShare, Pulse, the publishing platform, Groups, and then also when LinkedIn acquired Linda.com, I helped lead the BizOps effort for that integration.
Patrick: A lot of what I was doing was working with product teams and understanding how different users were using LinkedIn products and services, and how that was incorporated into the overall growth of the company. I would say what my time at LinkedIn really did was give me a sense for how the 800 pound gorilla in this space thinks about the talent ecosystem and what their sense of how the market is shifting, where it's heading, and product strategy, et cetera.
Patrick: That definitely informed some of the things that I'm doing right now with Hirevisor, but really the lightning bolt for this idea came after two and a half years at LinkedIn, had a great time there, but really felt this itch to try something on my own. LinkedIn's a fantastic company, I would've stayed if I didn't have this itch basically. The original genesis, even more so than from working at my time at LinkedIn was just born out of personal experience. Again, as I mentioned, I'd been a second place candidate more times than I could count, and coming from a ...
Joel: You're barely into your 20s. How can you have so many second ...
Patrick: Welcome to the Millennial struggle
Joel: There we go. The Millennial struggle.
Patrick: I had to throw it in there. I had to throw it in there. In all seriousness, I graduated with a history degree, right, and I managed to weasel my way into finance first, and then from there, weasel my way into LinkedIn. There was a lot of learnings that came from branding myself and how do you actually understand and navigate this job market. The process sucked, frankly. That core sort of feeling about the candidate experience married with my time at LinkedIn helped inform the genesis of this idea.
Patrick: Do you want me to get into the specifics for this, because this particular idea is actually a pivot. Our original idea was more of a core candidate experience piece, but this is more of a pivot. I'm happy to get into that if you want as well, but that sort of, that core genesis.
Joel: Typically people a little bit more grizzled or they have some experience in employment, which you do, but not that extensive, or people who've had startups before. Their story is a little more cut and dry. To me, yours is a little less so, so I wanted to just have you sort of create some color around your story. You're also I believe a Penn, a Penn grad?
Joel: So Ivy League kid, LinkedIn, now doing this. Got it.
Patrick: Correct. Correct.
Chad: When it comes down to a silver medal candidate-
Patrick: Quick question. Do you guys like that term or dislike that term? I've found it's polarizing. There's people who love it and there's people who hate it.
Joel: Hey, we're asking the questions here, pal!
Patrick: All right.
Chad: I don't think it matters. Second, I'm a company, and I have silver medal candidates, it's a tight job market. There's no way in hell I'm giving you my silver medal candidates. How are you getting companies to actually come on board and say, "Oh yeah, I'll give you all my great talent into your shared resume database"?
Patrick: Another great question. I will admit, there is a profile of company that is much more excited about this idea than say other profiles of companies. They're typically high growth, mid market, call it 100 to 1,000 employees sized companies, folks who basically, they needed to fill a req a yesterday. Whereas, if you talk to say much larger enterprises, you're getting some of that reaction where they say, "Why would I ever share my candidates with you? Our talent pipeline is bigger than yours will ever be."
Patrick: There definitely is a sweet spot in terms of profile of company we're working with. To directly answer your question, the way the pitch basically works is we say, look, you need to find better talent faster, active candidates. Our platform provides you a way to do that where you can see candidates who have been interviewed by other top companies on our platform.
Patrick: If you buy this hypothesis that hey, if I'm looking for a software engineer, this person made it to the final round at Facebook or final round at LinkedIn or you name it, if I know that company has a high bar for talent and this person just recently joined the platform, chances are I want to talk to them and potentially fast track them through the process.
Patrick: At the same time, the other piece of the puzzle is the candidate experience, candidate engagement piece around closing the loop with all of these folks who don't ultimately end up getting hired at your company. Frankly, we've actually had a number of emails come from candidates and from our customers alike saying, "Thank you so much for this opportunity, I really appreciate it."
Joel: Patrick, you said something earlier that really I think struck a nerve with me, and it was Millennial. Aside from saying get off my lawn, your business feels so Millennial to me. Like, let's all share candidates, hold hands and sing kumbaya. Are your clients Millennial-driven, are they Millennial ... Do you have Toms Shoes? Is there something in the DNA of these customers that you have that screams Millennial, and does that create a ceiling for your business?
Patrick: First of all, I threw Millennial in to be sort of tongue-in-cheek. I more see what we're offering as, it's just ... it almost feels like a no-brainer. We see an inefficiency in the market where just the numbers game, supply and demand, you have a finite number of openings at X number of companies and you have vastly more number of folks who are applying for these roles.
Patrick: For any given req, you have 100, 200 people who are under consideration, and you hire one person. Chances are, the top 10% are still pretty good. If someone makes it to the final round only to get rejected at the 11th hour, it's not because usually they lack skills or qualifications, it's timing, budget, commute, salary, some other factor that comes into play at that point.
Patrick: Again, the core genesis of this platform is well, it seems inefficient that these folks who got this far in the process aren't able to leverage all that effort toward a role somewhere else, versus having to start all over again.
Patrick: Again, I said Millennial to be tongue-in-cheek, but really it's just a looking at the numbers game of the market.
Joel: But my question is genuine and not tongue-in-cheek. I'm really interested to know if this business is a uniquely Millennial strategy.
Patrick: It was, maybe just by virtue of the fact that people are switching jobs more and more, there could be that, especially in the "Millennial age group". That could be part of it, but it's not, nothing in our marketing or advertising-
Joel: Customer wise, you're being embraced by Boomers, Gen X-ers, and Millennials? All of those decision makers are deciding to buy this product?
Patrick: I would have to check and see the age group of all the folks we're working with, but I would say probably more Gen X-ers/Millennials. There are some Boomers who've been interested in the product as well, but again, it sort of comes with the territory of some of the companies we're working with in the Bay Area that do tend to have more Gen X/Millennials in these heads of talent roles.
Chad: Okay. Patrick, what we're seeing is, we're seeing a good amount of companies, new vendors who are actually trying to help companies re-engage their applicant tracking system, their database and their applicant tracking system, because some companies have spent millions and millions of dollars to create that database. They haven't done anything with it, but these new technologies are allowing them to do something with it. You on the other hand are going the polar opposite way and saying, "Hey, look, why don't you share those resumes and those candidates?"
Chad: Why are you going really the polar opposite of some of these other technologies that are out there?
Patrick: I would just look to the data. I would say what actually is the hire rate off of the re-engaging candidates that have been in your database for six months, a year, two years. At least what we've seen anecdotally is you're not really getting any meaningful return off of that until a few years later.
Patrick: You may, you have touch points with candidates in terms of their reading the marketing emails you send out to them, but really at least what we've heard anecdotally and speaking with other recruiters is, you're not getting a meaningful hire off of resurfacing someone in your database unless they've actually had a meaningful title bump. Like say originally if they were under consideration for a software engineer and now they're a senior software engineer, it might make sense to re-engage and talk with them for another role and potentially hire them.
Patrick: Besides what I was saying before earlier about this different world view around just creating efficiency in the talent ecosystem, just looking at the data as well, we haven't seen, and I don't have the numbers in front of me, but at least anecdotally, we haven't seen meaningful hire rates off of reservicing folks beyond say one or two years out of the original application date.
Chad: So, you're really creating a shared community-like database that is fueled by the attraction strategies of these employers over the years.
Patrick: It's really in addition to how I answered the question earlier around this different worldview of is it really efficient to "recycle" candidates versus actually try to help them find other roles and find candidates who've been invited by other companies, and just looking at the data, at least what we've heard anecdotally, candidates are only really resurfaced and rehired, at least, this is what we've heard from the recruiters we've spoken with, when a meaningful amount of time has passed beyond their initial application.
Patrick: If you're marketing to someone for six months after they've applied, chances aren't super high they're going to get hired for a role at your company, but say one or two years later after maybe they've had a meaningful title bump from say a software engineer to a senior software engineer, that's when we've seen it make more sense at least for some of the folks that we've talked with.
Patrick: At the end of the day, it's, we just see it as, our worldview as being more efficient around why not help this person who's looking for a job now find a role at one of our other partner companies. At the same time, you can find these candidates that weren't a fit at our other partner companies.
Joel: Patrick, do you think PR is a big issue and privacy and things like that? Are there any issues with your business in terms of sharing candidates, what kind of control do they have in terms of their data, how long is it stored? Talk about that for me.
Patrick: Fantastic question. I just had an hour call with our attorney yesterday about this-
Patrick: May 25th, right around the corner.
Joel: That's for you, that's for the attorneys and the conversation that you had, I'm sure.
Patrick: Two, within the actual user profile itself, candidates have toggles where they can say, "Hey, I'm searchable," or, "Show my profile," toggle that on or off. That determines whether or not they're searchable on the platform.
Patrick: They can also determine whether or not they auto accept connection requests from recruiters. If it's on, basically, when a recruiter requests a connection to a candidate, it will automatically connect them over email to start a conversation. If it's off, the candidate needs to basically say, "Yes, I want to talk to this recruiter before I do that."
Patrick: In addition, candidates have complete control over how their profile appears in search results.
Patrick: As I mentioned, we get information about how well a candidate fared in a process from the company that invites them to the platform, but the candidate is able to control how they want that to appear on their profile. What that means in practice is, let's say a candidate made it to a final round at company A but bombed the interview at company B, they'd be able to say, "I want to show company A my profile but not company B." So they have control over that.
Patrick: Lastly, if a candidate does say, "Hey, I want nothing to do with your platform. I'm off it," they can email us and we can delete everything about their profile.
Joel: Have you guys taken funding?
Patrick: Only friends and family so far, so we're bootstrapped.
Joel: Is there a plan to raise money? Are you actively looking for money?
Patrick: Right now, yes, we are. The reason behind that is just, well, one for the two years that we've been working on this, neither myself or my co-founder has taken a salary, so it'd be nice to get paid at some point.
Patrick: More practically for the business itself, we need the team, we need to scale the team to actually meet the goals we've set for the business, and actually really create a meaningful presence in the market, not just in terms of marketing, but also in terms of the size of our customer base and the continued growth of our candidate pool. We need capital to do that.
Joel: Aside from keeping bologna in the fridge and mac and cheese in the pantry-
Joel: And adding some team members, what's sort of the vision in terms of features that we should expect in the future? Is the business primarily a sales and marketing organization? Is there going to be more development behind this? What does the future hold?
Patrick: Great question. At the highest level, where we would love to go with this is actually, almost a social good angle, where you say, you have candidates in Silicon Valley or you have candidates in companies in Silicon Valley, candidates in companies ... I'm from Florida originally, a small town called Bradenton in Florida, and there's plenty of companies in that area who are looking for great talent, but no one from Silicon Valley knows about these companies in Florida or elsewhere in the country for that matter.
Patrick: It would be great to expand and get the platform to a place where you can actually connect these disparate markets and have talent actually move to different geos and areas where there's high demand, it's just folks don't know about it or don't know the opportunities that exist there. At the highest level, that's somewhere we want to go, and really connect these different geos and regions who are looking for great talent.
Patrick: On a more practical product level, there's also an interesting thing that we're exploring around this idea of how is there a way that we can actually Hirevisor meaningful for in-house recruiters, right? What we've seen is that as a recruiter, the only real way to really make a name for yourself and build a brand is to go out on your own and have an agency or a consulting business in that way. If you're in house, it's sort of hard to do that, let alone carrying your book of business with you so to speak.
Patrick: Stay tuned for some of the interesting things we're going to do around building your reputation as a recruiter on the platform as I mentioned, say, we know, hey, Jane Recruiter at XYZ Company referred these candidates, and if we can say for example, hey, the candidates that Jane Recruiter refers tend to get clicked on the most out of anyone else, or at a 10X higher rate than other recruiters and you build your clout and professional reputation on the platform.
Patrick: It's an interesting avenue that might help us break out of this frame of being just another sourcing tool. We're exploring different ways to do that, in addition to moving towards this vision of actually connecting different communities and supply and demand of talent.
Chad: How much does it cost for me to give you my silver medal candidates? What's the pricing on this thing?
Joel: Is there a bronze pricing and your thanks for participating pricing?
Chad: Participation medal pricing.
Joel: Participation pricing.
Patrick: Our primary applicant tracking system partner is Greenhouse. If you are a company that uses Greenhouse, it's actually free to join. It takes less than 10 minutes to set up and get integrated, and then you're squared away to both send invites to candidates and automatically push folks that you source out of the platform to your ATS. You would only pay us on the back end if you do end up hiring someone out of the platform, and our list price on that is 12.5% of the candidate's first year salary.
Patrick: If you don't have Greenhouse, there are obviously plenty of companies that don't have Greenhouse, what we do is provide, you can still access the platform, but there's a subscription fee to access the platform. Again, the idea being that since you're not actively submitting, sharing candidates with us, you can pay to access the pool of talent that have been invited by other folks. That pricing is $3.99 per user per month, and then there is a success fee for folks that do you hire out the platform as well. The same 12.5%.
Chad: So if you're not sharing, you can still access the database. That's the millennial side. You still have access to the database, but you have to pay for access to the database.
Joel: Patrick, you mentioned in terms of growth looking at different geos, to me, and you live this every day, I don't, but to me, it seems like this is a business that may really take off in the association space or the government space. Has that been a target for you? If not, why?
Patrick: Fantastic question. Our different sales channels obviously are direct companies, but that only has so many legs. The other channel that we're looking at is exactly that, associations, groups, venture capital portfolios. In fact, one of the groups that we're working very closely with is the Collaboration for Talent, which is an umbrella ... Are you folks familiar with Collaboration for Talent?
Patrick: It's an umbrella org and a bunch of nonprofits, including the Rockefeller Foundation, the Gates Foundation, a few other folks. One of the things we're exploring is, okay, for groups like this who are looking for nonprofit talent and are always starving for that talent, is there a way that our platform could be used to actually help these folks share talent and find great folks within that community.
Patrick: So yes, that's definitely something that we're looking at as well.
Joel: I'm getting the signal from Chad that he is ready to go and I think I'm done with my questioning. Are you ready to face the firing squad, Patrick?
Patrick: I'm ready.
Chad: I've got to say, Patrick, you've got a big heart, man, and that's a big Millennial heart you've got there. I also have to say that some really, really smart guys have preceded you. I asked about AllianceQueue, Jason Kerr actually headed that up and then Jobfox, Rob McGovern who actually was the first CEO of CareerBuilder, you've got to know history before you recreate it in any industry. Those are two glaring platforms that, to me, I saw come and go very quickly because they were in this exact same niche.
Chad: We've seen it over the last couple of decades. The model won't stick because you're trying to share candidates in a very tight labor market. I know, you see that was an obstacle, but I believe that you're not going to see it to be big enough of an obstacle unless you start to pivot out of this.
Chad: These companies have spent millions of dollars in creating these applicant tracking system databases, and they are learning how to re-engage them, because they understand that they're not just candidates, they're also customers that are impacting their bottom line, actual sales bottom lines in some of these brands.
Chad: Which is a reason why, if I was a VP of global talent acquisition, I wouldn't be giving away any of my candidates. I would be treating them better, right? I agree with you. You have to be treating them better.
Chad: I believe you're on the wrong side of demand in both cases, which is one of the reasons why I've got to open up the guns on you.
Patrick: There we go.
Joel: My turn, I guess. Patrick, Chad mentioned that he sees a big heart in you, and I agree with that, but I see a big brain as well. I've met you personally, just from a small sample sizing of being around you, I can tell that you're a smart dude.
Joel: You're also very young, which I know from your statement of you've been in so many interviews and you've gotten so many silver medals, doesn't necessarily ring true with me, because you are a young guy. Your experience, education sort of proves that out.
Joel: To me, you are going to find that great idea. This is actually a pivot, we didn't talk much about that. There may be another pivot in your future. I don't even know if the employment space is where you will end up. I do say with some assuredness that I think you will do great things in the entrepreneurial realm and create something great.
Joel: This business for me, it's just really hard to get over a lot of things Chad said. Get off my lawn, but get out of my database, leave my candidates alone. I spent so much money to get them into my pool of candidates, sharing them is just, I think, a concept that Chad and I can't get our head around. Maybe it's a product for younger folks or younger businesses or startups who don't give a shit. A Boeing, a Walmart, I don't see them embracing this in a way that a startup in Silicon Valley would.
Joel: Where Chad's gun was just put you out of your misery, my gun is more of a mercy killing and saying this idea, to me, isn't the idea that you're going to end up with. It's going to be the idea where we look back five or 10 years from now and go, "Man, remember when Patrick did that, and it's so close to that one idea that he's doing now that's really successful?"
Joel: So, Patrick, you're a great dude. I think you're really smart, but the business idea, I think there's another one in your future, and this one, to me, isn't it.
Patrick: Fair enough.
Joel: Balls for being on the show, kudos for that as always. If you have any comments or feedback, that's great, otherwise we appreciate if you just want to get the hell off the show and throw darts at our faces.
Patrick: No. Thank you so much for having me. This is great, and I appreciate all the feedback. I'm still standing even though I'm not on the firing post, but yeah.
Chad: Awesome, man.
Joel: Enough said. Chad, another episode. We out.
Chad: We out.
Speaker 4: This has been the Firing Squad. Be sure to subscribe to the Chad and Cheese Podcast, so you don't miss an episode. 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.