CEO INTERVIEW - Recruiter Insider
New Success Stories - Asia
CEO Interviews - Exclusive for HR Digital Today with market leading HR Tech pioneers - Recruiter Insider
Justin Hillier, Founder / CEO at Recruiter Insider
1. Please share with us briefly what you do.
I am the CEO and Co-Founder of Recruiter Insider. As a start-up founder, my days are never the same and never dull - one hour I might be writing up new functionality requirements, making sales calls and attending client meetings, looking at our finances or talking to a potential new partner about how we can work together.
We are a data business so there’s not a day that goes by that doesn’t involve reviewing the huge amount of data we collate, something I never thought I would be saying 2 years ago.
2. What were you doing before this?
Good question. My career has been in the recruitment industry for the past 18 years. I started off as a recruiter and then worked for Seek for 5 years. I’ve worked in 3 recruitment tech businesses before, so I guess it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that I have now started my own.
3. Describe your product. How does it work?
Recruiter Insider is a platform for recruiting agencies that collects feedback from candidates & hiring managers throughout the recruitment process. We benchmark and analyse the data to identify each individual consultant’s performance improvement opportunities.
We help consultants improve the service & skills that directly impacts their financial performance.
4. What are the key benefits?
One of the major benefits is being able to identify how each consultant in the business can improve the candidate and client experiences that they provide and thus enhance their skills at the same time. We do not only focus on a specific stage of the recruitment process, but specific skills as well. We have been able to track this right the way through to financial performance improvement and even a complete shift in consultant’s attitudes towards the service they deliver and their own personal demeanour in the workplace.
5. Who are your closest competitors?
Hmm, tough question. Directly, we do not have a like for competitors. (fingers crossed never!). There are other tools in the market that agencies will use to collect feedback, but none of these are purposely built for our industry. I typically see agencies using NPS tools, Surveymonkey, Mailchimp etc. as a solution, but these are terribly time consuming and predominantly manual and don’t provide the relevancy and depth of data that is required to make a great deal of impact to the business.
6. Who is your first customer and how did that happen? What were they using before this, and why did they switch?
Design & Build were our first Live customer. Prior to partnering with us, they actually had no measurement of the candidate experience in place, so choosing us from that perspective was quite straightforward. The greatest attraction though was that we could focus right down to each individual consultant and highlight points where they could improve. The performance improvement results that have been achieved in just 8 months are quite remarkable.
7. What motivated you to start this business?
Would you believe I actually received a call from a recruiter that was probably one of the most shocking calls I have ever heard of or experienced. She had found my profile on LinkedIn and wanted to pitch a job for me, but was told that I was too senior for the role and the salary was going to be below my expectations,…this all before I had a chance to really say anything.
It was one of the most bizarre and disappointing call I have received from a recruiter but that encouraged me to do something about improving the candidate experience and consultants skills.
Sadly, I can’t remember who the recruiter was or who she worked for. So, if you are out there and you remember this call, please let me know, I want to shout you lunch :)
8. What is your biggest sacrifice to make this work?
Any kind of social life or weekends; as a founder your job never really stops. I can’t say my girlfriend is a fan, especially when I’m replying to emails when we were about to go up to the top of the Eiffel Tower, or whilst were at dinner in a nice restaurant, but she sometimes gets just as passionate as me about the business.
More seriously though, I stopped working when I had the light bulb moment and actually started driving Uber to help with paying the bills and allowing me the flexibility to keep setting up the business. The toll it took mentally and physically over such a long time was challenging. What's more amazing to the whole journey so far is that, whilst driving Uber, I met one of our current and largest investors. And it was a sacrifice that was meant to be made and I don’t regret it for a minute.
9. How did you get funded?
Well apart from the story above, we have been lucky enough to secure funding from some private investors, which includes those on our advisory board as well as friends and family.
We will be looking to go out for a Seed Round first half of next year, so stay tuned or get in contact with me :)
10. What has been your most successful form of marketing?
For now, emails directly to an agency CEO/MD. It’s the best way I’ve found so far to firstly get in touch, say a little about a product and gain interest. Your email needs to be succinct and your product offering unique - it doesn’t work every time, but so far we have had some great success, given that we are also a new product with little brand awareness.
11. Describe a typical workday
Typical… I wish! The first thing you learn about running and building a start-up is that no day is typical. Hour by hour you could be talking to your accountant, lawyer, business partner, industry partners, dealing with a technical issue or 100 other things that arise. No day is typical.
Viewing all of the data that is coming back into the platform though is a key part of my day-every few hours. Looking at review numbers, response rates, scores, anything that I can see, is impacting a consultant or an agencies results. I like to stay on top of the data trends as much as possible, so I can communicate to our clients on what is happening and where they should be focusing their attention.
12. Who has been the greatest influence in your business and why?
To name one person would be totally unfair on the many that have had a hand in making my lightbulb moment come to life. I have purposefully asked for feedback at every turn, trying not to discount the ideas or thoughts I don’t like, as they might form a part of another idea down the track and invariably that happens.
I have found out that it’s incredibly important to listen to all points of view and ideas and take away the bits you like, that you know will make a difference.
If I were to truly pinpoint one person though it would be my partner, Rachel. Whilst she doesn’t have a direct hand in the day-to-day business, she most certainly is the greatest support and influence on helping me achieve my goals. She puts up with many weeknights and weekends of me simply working and without that, the business would not be where it is today.
13. What has been your proudest moment in the history of your business and why?
Going Live to market with the platform most definitely. After 18 months of hard work, learning and knocks, seeing it all come to life was certainly an achievement I am extremely proud of. Though Live, the real work starts there.
14. What is your favourite business failure (and what did you learn from it)?
Quite comfortably, the 2 minute pitch I did as part of The Movement - a reality TV type show for start-ups and recruitment technology. It was quite daunting walking into a room with 40 people… all eyes peeled on you, you hit the mark on the floor and it’s GO TIME.
I thought I had a great pitch, I was so wrong!
The feedback I got not only on the pitch, but on how I was coming across was brutal, but warranted. Even though the majority of the people giving the feedback wouldn’t stand there themselves and do it (chickens!), it was interesting to hear how in 2 minutes you can totally have people against you.
The advice, support and feedback I received were instrumental in my moving forward to the next round of the competition and the performance I achieved. If it wasn’t for that whole experience, I am fully certain that the business would never have gotten off the ground.
You asked before who has been the greatest influence in my business, whilst I acknowledge Rachel as that person, she would agree that without my failure at the start of The Movement and the advisors support I received thereafter, Recruiter Insider would not exist today.
15. If you could go back in time to speak to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell him/her?
Keep doing what you’re doing and never, ever give up. One day your day will come and when it does, grab it with both hands and never let go.
16. What’s one productivity hack you can’t live without?
I’m old school so it’s not any kind of fancy technology, it’s a simple To Do list for the week. I write everything down what I want to achieve and and get to work on it then tick off along the week. It expands and shrinks as the week progresses, but without it I would be lost. I attain a lot each week by sticking to it. It also gives me a sense of achievement seeing everything I have accomplished.
17. Where can people find out more about your product offerings and you online?
LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/justinhillier/
Twitter - https://twitter.com/recruiterinsidr
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
18. Rapid fire questions
- First job
I used to cook your Big-Macs and cheeseburgers
-Someone you admire
- Favorite Film
The Dark Knight
- Favorite Music
- Favorite Gadget
Does Recruiter Insider count?
- Last holiday
- When you are not at work, where can we most likely find you?
Golf course, the footy