Today on The Fastest Growing Companies podcast, we're talking to the Co-Founder & CEO of WizeHire, Sid Upadhyay.
Today on The Fastest Growing Companies podcast, we're talking to the Co-Founder & CEO of WizeHire, Sid Upadhyay.
Today on The Fastest Growing Companies podcast, we're talking to the Co-Founder & CEO of WizeHire, Sid Upadhyay.
Chris Ronzio (00:33):
What's up, everyone. Welcome back. I'm Chris, Ronzio. And today we're here with a special guest Sid Upadhyay. Hey, Sid.
Sid Upadhyay (01:05):
Hey Chris, thanks for having me, man. Really appreciate it.
Chris Ronzio (01:08):
Thanks for being here. So, founder and CEO of WizeHire, tell us, what is WizeHire?
Sid Upadhyay (01:13):
Yeah. So WizeHire is a small business focused online recruiting service. We're here to help small businesses. If they've never hired, they've hired before and hadn't had success. We're here for them. We're a deeply personalized platforms. We focus on a few key industries. And when I say personalized, we go really deep. For us it's all about the person that is wearing too many hats. Hasn't posted an ad before. Doesn't know how to interview. We're going to solve their problems, not just with software, but actually with people. So our process is all about connecting that business owner. That's super stressed. Having a coach on our end, teach them how to post an ad, possibly how to interview, think about compensation and just set them up for success. And as a result, they're a better business. People are getting great jobs and it's just why we get super excited every morning.
Chris Ronzio (02:00):
I love that. So we were joking before we started recording here that you and I should basically be best friends because the small business market that we care about, you guys help them hire people. We help train them once they're hired. So I mean, match made in heaven. So, I'm excited to talk about this, the pre hire kind of stuff that we're not usually involved with, but everyone that's listening to this has to go through adding people to their small business, taking off those hats, delegating, like you said. So I want to talk about it both from your kind of expert point of view, but also from your being in the driver's seat of a growing company yourself. You mentioned you guys started back in, was it 2014?
Sid Upadhyay (02:41):
Yes. 2014. Boot strapped company.
Chris Ronzio (02:44):
Yeah. And growing from there very organically to a team of 30 and now a team of 50, you mentioned. So a great people growth along the way. And so, let's tell that story. Let's go back to the beginning. What gave you the idea for this? How'd you get into this business?
Sid Upadhyay (03:00):
So, you know, I think, much like as we were saying, there's such a deep, like kinship we have with this customer base and it all actually went back to like this bigger idea, which is just that small businesses don't have the access or knowledge that big companies in the fortune 500 size. When we got into this space, we were actually, it sounds crazy, but we were a personality assessments provider. I came to personality assessments as a skeptic. I was working with my co-founder, who had a previous business in the space. And again and again, we were just working with big, like fortune sized companies. We'd have like the big consulting companies get involved with them. And we saw this repeated pattern, which is that when you found the right people that were aligned and motivated with work, that actually was meaningful for them.
All of a sudden you had overnight success, turnover is increased or reduced. People are happier. And so the dream really was can we take that, and as you all are doing, you know, democratize it for small business. We got into it and realized small businesses had so much more on their plate, but they needed, I mean, they didn't have the right candidates. They weren't thinking about, is this one job or two jobs? Are we paying enough? And so thus, we kind of went down this awesome journey of helping small businesses, just one step at a time, rolling up our sleeves. And here we are today with an online recruiting platform. That's well-rated, well liked, but we have a lot still to do ahead.
Chris Ronzio (04:23):
Yeah. And thousands of customers around the world. I mean, you're not just getting started, you're really taken off here. So, talk to me a little bit more about like, you've got this platform, but also it's, there's people behind it, right? There's a, the service element. So what's that hybrid look like behind the scenes.
Sid Upadhyay (04:39):
Yeah. If you think about the closest analogy, almost maybe like a staffing firm or a consultant. The midsize companies, the big companies, if they need to hire like a VP, that's what they're going to do. They're going to get someone that's going to handhold them, you know, help them ideate that job, do a little bit of interviewing, teach them how to like, think about it. And that's really where, what our hiring coaches do for small business comes into play because we're taking the power of technology and automation. We're giving the people in our business the ability to help hundreds of customers at a time, all because one, we or so industry focused. Our business is not one where it's just, oh, like every applicant tracking system out there, here posted job, get the applicants, you know, you do your thing.
It's so much deeper because we think about an industry we figure out like, what are all the jobs in it? How do you hire for that? We're asking questions. It's like, I feel no one asks. Which are like, oh, if you have a license to do this trade in North Carolina, can you also do it in South Carolina? Those are the questions that we ask. And then we can like educate the customers on that. And it just leads to like amazing success because our customers are becoming better employers as a result of this up-skilling, and just bringing great jobs to people at the end of the day, which is just so fulfilling.
Chris Ronzio (05:51):
So I, I've never heard of a hiring coach, you know, in my world. And in my experience, it's been either you struggle through trying to do this yourself, or you pay in a really expensive recruiter and you pay 15 or 20% of someone's salary. And so is hiring coach like a new thing you've created?
Sid Upadhyay (06:08):
I very much think so. We fell into this world mainly because we have this ethos in our company, which is just to ask why and go deeper for the person on the other end of the phone or the live chat. And the role of a hiring coach, actually, initially it was just a moniker. Hey, this is a support role. We'll call it hiring coaches. But today these are truly coaches. These are individuals that have helped hundreds of people make the same hire. They've got a lot of experience that they've built. And then our tools are giving them the ability to like scale out that empathy and insights that they have, just to hundreds of customers at a time.
Chris Ronzio (06:42):
I love that. When I was running my consulting business before Trainual. I had this HR consultant that I used to bring on to help companies for exactly that it was like, just interview them, sit with them, like, you know, more than they do. Because as small business owners, a lot of times we just don't know what the heck we're doing when it comes to hiring.
Sid Upadhyay (06:59):
And that's the hardest thing, right? We have to know like where our bounds are, where we might have blind spots. And I mean, we're premium product in the space, we're getting customers that are growth oriented. They're coming to us saying, Hey, I've tried this myself haven't had the success, please help me. Once we get to that point where we're able to lgive them that education, you know, rejigger their ad. I think given the content that they need, teach them how to interview, they're just set up for success as a result.
Chris Ronzio (07:23):
Yeah, that's great. Okay. So how about for you, who were your first few hires early on? You had a co-founder it sounds like. What was that early team like that you found success with.
Sid Upadhyay (07:33):
We have been on this long slog of the journey and I'm happy to say that, just about everyone has actually stayed in our business. It's a testament to the team that we've found. I used to think values and mission and vision are fluffy, and now I'm like the biggest believer of like, be clear about it. Why are people excited about this? Hire for that. And then you're just going to have so much more success with the people that you bring on. So, yeah the story is my co-founder myself, my co-founder Jay and I, first few years just like doing a lot of consulting, helping customers with this type of problems. My friend Nick joined us to start actually building the applicant tracking system portion of the business.
Soon we hired Kathy, Melissa, who are now leaders in our business and actually like leading our coaching team and pulling all these other departments. So it's been a great journey, but I'll say that we have all, I think much like, as we hope to upskill our customers, we've got to go through that. And I think that's such a common thing with all small businesses or startups, you're wearing a hat, you're making mistakes, you're learning. And now you're giving that away to someone else along this bigger journey. And that's, I think the best part of the job, honestly.
Chris Ronzio (08:41):
Yeah. I mean, it's so similar, the paths that we're going through. So, you know, because you have this expert hat and you know how to do hiring, you're helping people with it, what kind of tricks or tips would you have for people that are posting their first jobs or trying to find the right people? I mean, are there some just broad tips that you can give?
Sid Upadhyay (09:00):
Totally happy to share. And I think the first thing, especially for someone that's, let's say a business owner or an operator, I think it's the hardest part is to come from a place of empathy and realize you might not have actually applied for a job in some time and the market has changed considerably. We see this often, which is that, you know, like CEOs of companies will describe the job as they think it is, put it on an ad. Maybe it's not as descriptive as they want, but think about this, you're hiring for people that are experts in things that you're not good at. So it's obviously a challenge. You've got to like describe that well. I see this common issue where, you've got very quick deciding execs that are like, oh, I need an admin.
It's a two sentence job description. But think about this on the opposite end, the person you're hiring is a detail oriented admin who wants to see like a lot more insights into what is this role about? So first and foremost, put yourself in the shoes of the ideal candidate. Think about what describes success, work backwards, describe the job you might want to research other people in your area. Now, especially the second thing that I'm telling a lot of people is to actually research your market. You know, we're in this interesting time, especially with the pandemic and like what's happening in the economy. One there's millions of people that are out of work, but on the opposite end in certain industries, people have been able to work through the whole time. So we've actually had this very like interesting thing happened where, the number of jobs that are open and active right now on the job sites that are like hiring actively, it's actually doubled in the last six months, but there's actually not as many candidates.
It's one thing, you have to have patience, put yourself in the position of the job seeker. I highly recommend all employers, research or market look up the job that you're about to post for, look it up on a job site and just see how many other people are hiring for it. Go a step further, check out the LinkedIn's of the world and research how many candidates there are actually out there. It's a really important thing just to note, so you can take temperature and get a sense of like the best expectations, because I meet so many people all the time where it's like, wait, my buddy in South Dakota was able to get this person very quickly, but like I'm having so much trouble in my city. It's a geography thing. Finally, if you are able to hire remote, lean into it, cause people are really looking for remote jobs, especially right now.
Chris Ronzio (11:16):
That's such a good tip about the research piece there. So I'm going through a process right now with a new website, for instance, for some of the speaking I do. And in the process with the designer, they asked me to show them other websites that they like that I like or don't like, and that's just part, it's a normal part of the creative process, but I don't think anyone does that with their job description. No one's out there searching for like, how are other people marketing this job? What's good? What's bad?
Sid Upadhyay (11:42):
It's such a challenge. Right. And I mean, I think of like writing job descriptions almost as like a college, I say problem. It's like, I know what I want to say. I don't know where to start. I really think like, steal like an artist, look at others, get a sense of what people are looking at, what they're receptive to. Highly highly, again, just recommend go to a job site. You know, the Indeeds, the ZipRecruiter is search for that job and see what are job seekers looking at? Because that's going to give you way more insights. We work in a lot of niche industries and this is the funniest thing. Sometimes they'll have very specific job titles. I'm a director of first impressions. Well, that's not a title. That's like, if you search on a resume database, you're going to see a thousand people for. It's like four people out there. Having to take a step back, remove some of the jargon and just make it assessable.
Chris Ronzio (12:32):
Sid Upadhyay (12:32):
Rock star is the most common one that we see. Yeah. You never want to use rockstar
Chris Ronzio (12:37):
Unless, unless you're a band.
Sid Upadhyay (12:39):
Unless you're actually hiring for a band. Yes.
Chris Ronzio (12:40):
Yeah. That makes sense. One of the things that you mentioned, you went through this pivot early on, it says you started as a like a personality assessment tool. Is that what it was?
Sid Upadhyay (12:52):
Yeah. So we were in the business of working with consultants that would use personality assessments and we saw these awesome outcomes. And we wanted to bring it to small business and we thought let's maybe take some of the insights that the consultant has, put it in a product. Say if you're hiring and using assessments, we'll tell you who to interview. That's where like things got really interesting, cause it was just, we got in there, we were talking to customers, they got value out of what we needed, but then they were done using the service. They were done hiring, or they didn't have enough candidates. And thus, we began the journey down the rabbit hole of, oh, you don't have enough candidates, let's get you more candidates. Let's get your jobs on job sites. Let's build you a tracking system. And here we are seven years later.
Chris Ronzio (13:35):
It's one thing led to another, but that's interesting, you know, you listen to your customers and the product evolves so smart that you did that. But another part of your journey is that you started off bootstrapped, but recently became venture funded. That's something that a lot of people struggle with on whether they should do that. So I'm curious how, how just he philosophy changed or how the approach to growth changed in your business.
Sid Upadhyay (13:59):
Yeah. Being the person that talks about values, we did this from a values perspective. We actually took stock of the fact that we had lots of people on the team that this would impact. While we thought there was an awesome opportunity to learn, to make sure the team was bought into this. So we actually did our series A, out in the open in front of the company. I pitched to the company, we told them about how meetings are going, who we're talking to. I have to say that a couple of big changes and for anyone that's like thinking about this, especially the trajectory that you've been on as a bootstrap company, obviously we know like the expectations are for a different outcome or a different growth rate. Those are all like superficial.
I think there's so much more underneath the hood, you might now have partners like board members and investors. It's a different relationship that you might not have had before thinking about that. I especially think that for first time founders, whenever I talk to them, think a lot about the other party. It's not just capital at the end of the day, it is a relationship. There's all these like blog posts and jokes about how it's a marriage, but it really is. I mean, these funds are going to be with you for 10 years. And I think the person at the end of the day, on the other end of school, you really want to make sure there's great alignment with. For me personally, a lot of growth throughout that moment, uh, incredibly humbled, all the friends and family and people that were just encouraging us, the team and everyone just to like, you know, keep at it.
Sid Upadhyay (15:18):
It is a, also I think it's well documented. A pretty brutal process. You're going to be faced with a lot of rejection. Know that upfront it's part of the process. Right? You have to be, I think really, really, especially as a bootstrap company aware of what you don't know, but also what you need to unlearn. Cause that's, I think the second hard part. Once you've got capital, if you're focused on growth, there's just changes in the business. Cause you're probably used to running a P and L in the black or whatever the case.
Chris Ronzio (15:46):
Yeah. Yeah. I remember before we took on investment, I always thought that investors would kind of be like the principal at my high school. That I was scared to go visit and talk to it. Like it's a bad thing if they want to talk to you. And they were more like the guidance counselors, they become like amazing mentors and partners. And so I think that's such a good, it's a good way to put it.
Sid Upadhyay (16:09):
They're going to challenge you. They're going to be like your thought partners, for sure. It's like such a good relationship when you find the right person.
Chris Ronzio (16:15):
So, over the last seven years or so and thousands of customers, there's gotta be some moments for you that you could pinpoint where growth really started to take off. And it sounds like the verticalized content is a piece of that, but what would you point to, to really say like, this is why that the brand was just getting going?
Sid Upadhyay (16:37):
I think one of the scariest and also like most eyeopening moments for us was actually at the beginning of the pandemic. I've said this. I've written about this. We actually overnight in the first few months of the pandemic a year ago at this point, lost about 50% of our revenue overnight. We were working with small businesses. We were in bootstrap team. We were committed to keeping everyone on the team. But in that moment, we realized the things that made us successful and there were some things that we didn't even realize that we needed to lean into. The first one was that, the scary days for small businesses, that those were right, this was calamity. People didn't know what was going to happen. I remember that the entire team just like roll up their sleeves were hopping on the support lines, talking to customers through this.
And because we had actually solved this really complex, messy problem of hiring, when customers were calling in, they weren't just saying, oh my gosh, I need to close my account. Like click. It was more so what are y'all doing? And this is where like another shift in the business came to us, which was, wow. We kind of owe it to customers to tell them what we're doing, because know we're living the same journey with them. And so at that time, I was like reading about the cares act line by line. I tried to apply for a PPP loan. I'm talking to customers and they were unaware of this stuff. And so we did something that I think is now the next part of our business, which is we actually launched PPP inside of our product. So we started like connecting customers to banks.
About 300 customers got loans as a result. And now I kind of like reimagined the business, which is, we've got this personalization, we're going super deep. We went into lots of industries and that's how we recovered from the pandemic, but long into the future. I mean, we just want to be partners for these companies, helping with everything beyond the hire, partnering with you is a great example of that. So now we're just like, we've got a much larger vision ahead of us, lots more work to do, and we're just excited about it.
Chris Ronzio (18:33):
That's cool that you looked for all the opportunities on how to help customers during that. What I thought you were going to say as we pivoted into firing coaches instead of, instead of hiring coaches, like the George Clooney movie, Up in The Air. So you mentioned this, you alluded to this a little just deepening the partnership relationship, but, is that what you're most excited about thinking out in the next three to five years? What's the, what's the big picture?
Sid Upadhyay (19:02):
I have to always be careful. I say it's not for like signaling our strategy, but more so like, these are really like heavy problems and they take a lot of time, but the way I get excited about like the five, the next 10 years, whatever the case is, we're making these great relationships with small businesses that have never had someone backing them. And if we can take the insights that we have from being so industry-focused, we can get them the help that they've always needed. I mean, think about any time that you or I, or maybe one of your listeners has had to like, you know, spend an afternoon calling like an insurance broker. Cause they have to like buy this thing or whatever the case, like we can solve that. Right. Here's the best thing that you need right now for your business, based on all the experience that we have for your industry, working with hundreds of people. So a little amorphous I'll leave it like purposefully vague, but we're super excited just to like back companies, connect them to the service providers that they need. And just to help companies grow the way startups grow at the end of the day.
Chris Ronzio (19:57):
Well, I think we share the same passion of just making the small business experience a little bit easier.
Sid Upadhyay (20:03):
So hard for them. It's got to get easier. Definitely, man.
Chris Ronzio (20:05):
Absolutely. All right. So if people want to connect with you and learn more, where can they find you?
Sid Upadhyay (20:10):
Yeah. So why is wizehire.com. And my name is Sid. I'm on Twitter @Sid. My email is also pretty easy to guess if you need anything, don't hesitate to reach out. We're always here to back small businesses.
Chris Ronzio (20:21):
Well, thank you so much said hopefully if you're listening to this, you've heard how Sid was able to bootstrap this company from the early days with a partner to pivot from their original idea and mold the product and the service, to fit the market they were going after. They used verticalization to just be smarter about how they were asking questions and helping their customers. And they really, at the end of the day, deliver a pretty unique solution with their hiring coaches, which I think they made up. It's like a new, a new category. So check them out, see how everything that WizeHire has to offer. They also have a ton of cool job description templates. So if you're looking for an ad. Go and check out their job description templates, but, Sid, thank you. Listeners, hopefully you've been able to take a page from Sid's playbook to put in yours and we'll see you next time.
Sid Upadhyay (21:08):
Thanks again, man.