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Vervoe Revisited

Can you name the first startup to face The Chad & Cheese Firing Squad? It was Vervoe, and almost three years since facing The Squad, the company has raised money from the most popular job board in APAC, Seek, and have grown the company to 8,000 customers, including Walmart.

So, how are things and what does the future hold? Gotta listen

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Intro: Hide your kids, lock the doors, you're listening to HR's most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheesman are here to punch the recruiting industry right where it hurts. Complete with breaking news, brash opinions and loads of snark. Buckle up boys and girls, it's time for The Chad and Cheese Podcast.

Joel: Oh, my God. We got Vervoe on the show today. What's up everybody? You're listening to The Chad and Cheese Podcast, I'm your co-host, Joel Cheesman.

Chad: And I am Chad Sowash.

Joel: And on today's show, we are honored to welcome the first ever survivor of Firing Squad, Omer from Vervoe. How are you, buddy?

Omer: Hey guys. I'm great. Thanks for having me again.

Joel: So it's 11:00 PM in Australia, you're sipping on a nice cognac, I'm sure, with the smoking jacket. So welcome. Welcome to the show. Yeah, we were reminiscing, it was 2017, you were our first ever firing squad. What do you remember from that day? And what's been going on since then?

Omer: Wow. I remember that I had no idea what I was talking about, back then.

Joel: We didn't either.

Omer: Yeah. And a lot's been going on since. It's extraordinary. We sort of ... back then, we were just trying to figure things out, and now we're working with some of the biggest companies in the world. But in some respects, nothing's changed, the vision is the same. At a fundamental level, we help companies see how candidates do job related tasks so that they can make hiring decisions based on who can do the job. We're just working with a lot more customers, bigger customers all over the world.

Chad: If you could point back and say, when we made that decision, that that helped out tremendously.

Omer: This might sound like a cliche, but actually listening to some of our biggest customers ... we had ... In the beginning back when we spoke to you, and this is probably on tape from that original podcast, we thought we were going to get, attract a lot of small companies that were all just going to pay via credit card.

Chad: Yeah.

Omer: And while that happened, what surprised us was that big companies came knocking on the door. And they had a real problem that they wanted solved, a high volume of applicants that they wanted to filter through very quickly. And we were totally unprepared for large companies in the beginning, in terms of getting through their procurement process, security, and all the SLS. And what happened was the companies, the large enterprises that really needed our solution kind of educated us and were patient with us, and sort of taught us how to execute in the enterprise, and really told us what features we need to have, and influenced our roadmap. And instead of being stubborn about it, we just used that to help us find a market and it shaped our product and it's influenced where we are today. And I think we're much better off for that, just for listening to those customers that really cared about the solution and led us in the right direction.

Chad: Well, and SMB is getting smashed right now, right? You thought that, you look at the ZipRecruiter's of the world, there are a lot of companies that are out there that are SMB focused, and right now they are taking huge amounts of damage because SMB is nonexistent. Changing and pivoting from an SMB platform solely to more of an enterprise platform, I see that as a big pivot. I see that as a big pivot.

Omer: Yeah. And the other thing is, when you talk to investors, they always want to know with a high degree of specificity, who's your ideal customer? Which industry? How big? How many employees? And we've always thought that we solve a problem for a lot of companies, for companies of all sizes and across industry. And what we've found is that the companies that are the ideal customer for us, are companies that believe what we believe, that want to hire based on skills, that want to give every candidate and opportunity, and so on. And today, we've found ourselves in a situation where we've got customers of all sizes across all industries and across multiple geographies. And like you said, that sort of diversification in some respect has saved us now from being in a tough spot that a lot of other companies, a lot of other startups and vendors are finding themselves in.

Joel: So I'm curious, the elephant in the room in every interview that we do now is a little thing called COVID-19. In your neck of the world, Asia-Pacific, you've handled it much better than we have here in America. How has it impacted the business, the sales process, have you had to have ... go through a round of layoffs like most other folks? Talk about that.

Omer: Sure. So, there were three things that we immediately focused on when it became clear that this is going to be a very severe situation. The first was health and safety of our team. The second was the financial health of the company. And the third was to understand the opportunity and what's actually unfolding in the market. Now we've not done any layoffs, not taken any pay cuts. We have a number of cost saving measures. But the impact on us has been ... there's been some churn and we definitely have some customers that are in industries that are impacted, but the net impact on us has been a positive. And the reason for that is that while less companies are hiring, the companies that are hiring, are seeing a far more applicants on average per role. And it's not 10 or 20% more, it's like five times as many. And so the sense of urgency around the problem that we solve is much greater. And so we've seen a large increase in demand, and not just demand from new customers, but our existing customers are expanding. So we're in a very fortunate position as a company that we're actually doing really well. But the other point I want to add to that is, we are still venture backed and capital markets are somewhere between shots and difficult. And so we're still being very conservative and very cautious around how we manage our capital.

Joel: And I'm curious, a lot of businesses have had opportunities sort of fall in their lap with the spread of coronavirus. And you guys talk a lot on your website about diversity and unbiased recruiting. Has the messaging on marketing turned a little bit more towards safety, having your automation, having your recruiting team not have to talk to folks on a face to face basis or not have job seekers come into a dangerous situation, has that been a little bit of a re-spin on your marketing message or not?

Omer: No, we haven't changed our marketing at all, and I don't know if that's a good or bad thing, it's just the fact, we haven't. We've basically just continued to do the exact same thing. But what we have done is being more flexible in how we implement. So for example, prior to this, a few months ago, we hadn't really done anything in healthcare, or in government, for example, and those sort of industries, we consider them to be slower to adopt, and bureaucratic-

Chad: Yeah. Yeah.

Joel: .. and not something we should focus on. Now, we're doing a ton in healthcare. We've had healthcare, not just health care, aged care, health insurance, mental health, come to us and ask to do, one week sales cycle, like can we implement next week? And we've helped hire 150 mental health counselors. We've helped hire dozens of personal care assistance in aged care facility. Something we wouldn't have dreamed of doing a few months ago. And so we've been really flexible. And again, coming back to the point I made earlier, we sort of let our customers take us in the direction that makes sense for them so long as the product's being used in the right way. But the messaging has not changed.

Chad: I like that you are what you are. My question is really beyond just our industry, but being down under in Australia right now, and knowing how well New Zealand also handled this crisis, as you look toward the United States, what are you seeing? Right? Because we're here, we know what we see, but in another land, across the globe, what are you seeing?

Omer: Yeah. And I want to be careful what I say, because I don't want to get political, and obviously I've got a strong opinion. But there are some stock differences, and I think this pandemic has exposed a bunch of problems in society that existed long before.

Chad: Yes.

Omer: And people aren't sort of ... I can't imagine a situation when 0someone can't be admitted to hospital because they don't have money. That's just not a concept that exists in this country. Right?

And some of the reasons that I think we're doing so well in Australia, some of it's to do with luck. But some of it is structural. So we have a healthcare system that is a very high

standard. We also have ... we fund out healthcare very differently, so healthcare is not attached to your employment.

Chad: Right.

Omer: And people aren't sort of ... I can't imagine a situation when 0someone can't be admitted to hospital because they don't have money. That's just not a concept that exists in this country. Right?

Chad: Yeah. Yeah.

Joel: And so we have that, we're more spaced out, and our government took precautions very early. So, I've been following the US very closely because I consume a lot of news, but also we have a team on the ground in the US, on the East coast, near Boston and in Dallas. And some of it is scary. It's scary to see that you've got parts of the United States like New York, and then you've got other parts that are acting as if there's nothing happening at all.

Chad: Yes.

Omer: And all I can do is look after my team, we moved the whole company to work from home in, I think it was the first week of March. We've relinquished all our offices. We'll do everything we can to support our team and their families. And we can't control everything that's happening in the world, but it is scary.

Chad: Is work from home or working for you? Number one. Number two, if it is, will you just stay in that posture and not incur the overhead of doing any type of physical locations?

Omer: So for the time being, yes and yes. It was a pretty smooth transition because we're already in three major time zones, so people already had worked from home part of the time and take calls at weird hours of the day and night. But there was ... we do see a benefit in being co-located in an office and spending time together and socially, it's enjoyable. But for the time being, we are in a permanent state of work from home. It was a very easy cost saving action to take. And what we've said to the team is that until further notice, and at the very minimum, for all of 2020, we will be working from home, and it's the equivalent of a few people's jobs. So it's just, it was a very easy decision to make. Now, I think when the world changes and/or we raise the next round of capital, we'll consider it then and see if it makes sense to take up an office. But for the time being, we're working from home.

Joel: We have a lot of vendors that listen to our show. And if they don't know about you before, they're going to go out and check out, and see that you have 4,000 plus customers. I know that was a year ago. Has that changed?

Omer: Yeah. Over 8,000 companies.

Joel: They're going to see 8,000 and go, "Holy shit!" And so my question is, are you fudging those numbers? Are you cheating a little bit? Or how did you get to 8,000 in like three years? What's your secret?

Omer: Yeah. There's absolutely no cheating. And if you ask our customer access team, they'll tell you the exact number of tickets that we have, and may feel like it's 80,000. So, the

way that we did it was we opened the doors. We did a number of things, we introduced

a free tier, and at various stages we had a free trial, but basically we've opened the

doors, almost every single vendor in the talent space, and certainly all of them that are

selling to the enterprise closed. So what I mean by that is, you can't just go on to the

website, go into the product and [Crosstalk [00:13:38.19]

Joel: Free demo.

Omer: Right. You basically have to contact sales and they'll schedule a time to speak to you.

And what we've done is, we've just opened it up and let people use the product,

whether it's for a limited time or limited amount of usage. And we did that because we

believe that we build something that we're proud of, and also you kind of need to see it

to believe it. And so what we wanted to do was it's really a new way of doing things, so

we wanted to let people experience it. Now we've also paid a price for that because

some people have come in and they don't get it, and it's been so hard to activate them.

Joel: Yeah.

Omer: But by and large, I think it's been beneficial. And so when you do that, you attract all

sorts of companies from all over the world. And the vast majority of those 8,000

companies are SMBs, and a lot of them are struggling at the moment. And then to the

side of that, we have this core group of super enterprise, huge companies, and they're

just very different in nature to these small companies that are hiring three times a year.

Joel: So you know my next question, of those 8,000, how many are actually writing you a


Omer: I'm not going to disclose that number, but it's a significant enough ... Right. But it's a

significant enough proportion to make economic sense.

Joel: So it's a freemium model, essentially?

Omer: That's right.

Chad: Yeah.

Joel: Okay.

Chad: So, tell us a little bit about your relationship with SEEK and how that is maturing or not?

Omer: Yeah. So SEEK is a major investor, and for those who don't know, SEEK, they're a major

job board, just like Indeed or ZipRecruiter.

Chad: The only job board in Australia, right? Really, they are the 800

pound gorilla.

Joel: Huge.

Omer: Pretty much. And they're also ... they've made over 20 investments in startups and

they've got a presence in Asia and Latin America. And their main competitors would be

LinkedIn and Indeed. And so SEEK is an investor, and we also do a number of other

things with SEEK. So we're working with them on a partnership that will ... I can't say too

much, but you can imagine what it will look like. There'll be accessory, SEEK's platform

to do skill testing, and it'll give the job seeker's own sake and opportunity to stand out

when they're applying for jobs. So that's something that's being worked on. And SEEK is

interesting right now, and a lot of this is public and similar to other job boards around

the world, it's a very difficult environment if you're a job board. Job ads are down over

50%. So SEEK's sort of going through that. And interestingly, the vast majority of the

startups that SEEK has invested in are actually doing very well. So, that's an interesting


Joel: So, we took a trip down memory lane and talked about, Firing Squad two years ago, and then we sort of know the current state of the company. I'm curious about going

forward, what does the company look like two, three years from now? Let's assume we

get a vaccine for this thing in the next 12, 18 months, which might be optimistic, but

let's just pretend that we're in a little bit of a vacuum, what does Verveo look like two,

three years from now?

Omer: Yeah. So hopefully a very big and very important company to a lot of major employers around the world. But some of the things that we're working on, are improving the, what we call the core transaction, so the fundamental activity on our product. So we're

always investing in enhancing the candidate selection experience. So we're investing in

better functionality to deliver assessments and that'll include more immersive, sort of

audition style testing. We're also enhancing our machine learning capabilities

significantly. So that's sort of going to be out of this world. Yeah, I think beyond that, it's

just growing and accessing more customers. And coming back to the point we talked

about earlier around freemium or not, we really want to do business differently, so we

want to make it possible for companies of all sizes, we want to make it easy for them to

discover and buy, right? They shouldn't have to go through a complicated lengthy

process. They should be able to come on, it should be easy to figure out, and then they

can go and hire someone. And if they think that's great, then you can have a discussion

about a bigger contract or deployment. And I think if we can do that, that's business

model disruption, so we can really access a lot more companies faster.

Chad: I definitely like to say, in wrapping this up, that back in August of 2017, I gave you a big applause, just don't know if you remember or not. But the vision that you had back

then, and you're still carrying through today, where you allow the system to do the work and the people to self select out, to allow the requirements and the people to be able to

take tests, these are the types of systems, I believe, we should be using now and through the future. And also, as you were saying, this crisis, I believe, will allow people to really get through the noise and see platforms like you for what they really are. They're platforms of the future. We really appreciate you taking the time.


Omer, do you remember what I gave you?


It wasn't applause, it was something else.


It's a golf clap. Was it a golf clap, or was it a ...


I believe it was a golf clap.


It was something painful.


So, clearly my motivation drove them to be better-




... than what they were.


Yeah. Now.


Anyway, Omer, for those who want to know more, where should they go?


Yeah. So, the Or reach out to me on LinkedIn. I'm pretty easy to find. And we're pretty easy to access through the website. So we'd love to talk to anyone who is interested in learning more. And guys, to both of you, thanks again for giving us an opportunity to tell our story and-




... hope that you continue to stay safe in Indiana, and in the US.


Thanks, man.


We salute you, Omer. Omer Molad, if I pronounced that right up, or I didn't. And with that, from Australia, we out.


We out.


This has been The Chad and Cheese Podcast. Subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcasts, so you don't miss a single show. And be sure to check out our sponsors because they make it all possible. For more visit Oh yeah, you're welcome.


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