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Chris Cardell

Interview with Girish Redekar (Recruiterbox)

Recruiterbox is a online application that helps small businesses manage hiring new employees. I interviewed Girish Redekar, Recruiterbox co-founder to find out more.

This interview is the sixteenth in a series of DoesWhat interviews. I put together an overview of the first week of interviews last month. Big thank you to Girish for the interview! You can follow Girish on Twitter.

How would you describe Recruiterbox in under 60 words?

Recruiterbox helps startups and small companies manage their hiring process. Our primary users are members of small teams that take time out of their regular responsibilities to assist in hiring (co-founders, early employees of small companies). We do not cater to larger enterprises, recruiters or staffing firms. Our use case is best described here.

How and when did you come up with Recruiterbox?

We (the founders) worked for about 4 years in a regular job before starting Recruiterbox. During that time, we happened to be early members of the teams we joined. We became naturally associated with the hiring process when these teams started to expand. The teams used email and excel sheets to organize candidate information, evaluations, interview schedule, communications etc, but this soon became messy to manage. Often important information was lost beneath a pile of email, applications were falling through the cracks, and no one had any idea of what was going on.

We tried a few “Applicant Tracking Systems”, but they turned out to be a much bigger overhead and were cumbersome to use. That is when the first idea of a simple, collaborative hiring tool germinated. We quit our jobs, and the first alpha version of Recruiterbox was built by Mar 2010.

Has Recruiterbox got the feedback and growth you expected since launch?

Yes. It turned out that the problem was more widespread than we initially anticipated. The first version we built was a minimum viable product – something that only had basic functions – but it still got us our first paying customer. We made a lot of iterations over the next few months by taking feedback and closely monitoring how the tool was used. While making any changes we obsessed over usability even at the cost of removing features.

Today, our users discover, register and start using the tool completely online and without human intervention. Getting started takes less than 5 minutes (including signup). From humble beginnings, Recruiterbox has gone on to process over 100,000 candidates and 3,000 openings to date.

How is work split between you and co-founders Raj Sheth and Raghuveer Kancherla?

We are a small startup, and all of us are pretty much involved in most tasks, especially the important ones. That said, each of us has a primary responsibility. I (Girish) handle most product design related stuff, Raghuveer is our engineering and backend guru, while Raj drives our marketing and business development.

Has your initial vision changed since launch?

No. We are still driven by our original vision: To build a simple, intuitive tool that we’d love to use ourselves, and are proud of.

Hiring in a small company is extremely crucial and has an exponential impact on the company. Consequently, it often involves a lot of hard search, internal discussion, and back and forth interaction with the candidate. At Recruiterbox, we get this. Our vision is to help companies manage this with least hassle. We feel privileged and happy that we are a part of an important phase of a company’s life.

Who is your biggest competitor?

Email and Excel. I know this might sound weird, but we are serious. Our target audience uses email and excel to manage their hiring tools today. That’s because they already use these tools for other purposes and consequently they are easy and convenient to get started with. People tend to stick with these tools even after they become unmanageable. Our biggest task is to educate our potential users that Recruiterbox is equally easy, yet more powerful.

We do not worry about the zillion other recruitment softwares because they target either larger companies or recruitment firms. They are meant for dedicated hiring personnel and their design requires users to “learn” how to use the software. Our users want something that gets out of the way, and not becomes a job in itself.

What is the biggest hurdle you have faced or are still facing?

Our audience does not search for recruitment software. Consequently, it is harder to reach and educate them of how we can be useful. We are currently working on ways to solve this.

What research did you do in order to come up with your 4 pricing plans?

We did some A/B testing before arriving at our current pricing. We added a free plan to help users get a good taste of the system when they have very small requirements before committing to us. The price and structure of the paid plans were determined after feedback from existing customers.

What was technically the most challenging part of developing Recruiterbox?

We directed a lot of attention to ensure that Recruiterbox is fast. Making a responsive web-based tool, especially one that processes a large number of files and data, is not trivial. Getting it to work like a desktop tool (in terms of speed) was technically the most challenging thing we have encountered (and enjoyed) so far.

Recruiterbox has provided services for large organisations such as Groupon China and Levi’s India. How did this come about and have you faced any difficulties in working with these customers?

That’s an interesting question. Though we set out to build software for smaller companies, we were pleasantly surprised when some larger organizations adopted us. Both Groupon China and Levi’s India found us when they were looking for recruitment solutions. It helped that they could really try and test our software before adopting it. Unlike an enterprise software sales where a lot of time is spent on the sale itself, these companies actually field tested us. When they adopted us, we were initially curious about how this was going to work but we haven’t faced any difficulties with them. In fact, their adoption is sort of an extreme stress test of our tool. It tells us that we have got the fundamentals right. It is also comforting to know that when some of the smaller companies who use us grow to become bigger organizations, we are already equipped to handle their needs.

What are you most excited about at the moment?

We are excited that we are solving a real and widespread problem. There are millions of small companies with little or no access to quality software. This presents a huge opportunity to us (and others) who make software, specially targeted at this segment.

Can you convince a business to use Recruiterbox in under 60 words?

Imagine you are business trying to hire. You get the word out, and soon enough, you have resumes trickling in to your inbox – interspersed with all your usual mail. It is tedious to download, open and screen each attached resume, not to mention tracking interviews and reviews. Recruiterbox helps you organize all hiring related information in one place.

Finished reading? Check out Recruiterbox!

Interview with Angus Bradley (safedrop)

safedrop is an online service that provides a method of securely sending documents and messages. I interviewed Angus Bradley, safedrop MD to find out more.

This interview is the fifteenth in a series of DoesWhat interviews. I put together an overview of the first week of interviews last month. Big thank you to Angus for the interview! You can follow Angus on Twitter.

How would you describe safedrop in under 50 words?

High security messaging. Or the long version: a way of sharing files and messages using the internet where every communication is encrypted, audited, and will self destruct when no longer useful.

What made you decide to start working on safedrop?

It really bugged me how hard it was to send sensitive data securely, that geeky dance of gpg or winzip that most people will never be able to do.

I was also really annoyed at the environmental waste I saw everywhere, where people had to send things on paper or CD because email wasn’t suitable. Now we have councils replacing 400 page print outs and a motorcycle courier with just one safedrop. Saving cash and carbon!

How did you come up with the name?

My wife and I came up with it over a bottle of Malbec. We had to buy the name from one of those crazy squatter sites, and I think it was about $1,000. But I like the name, and really wanted a short, snappy URL.

You use a quote by Bruce Schneier at safedrop, “The user’s going to pick dancing pigs over security every time.” How true to you believe this to be at the moment?

Isn’t that a great quote? I still think this is very true. We see it all the time with our Projectfusion dataroom service. When we charged for extras only a handful of folk ordered SMS token authentication or automatic IP restrictions, but nearly everyone paid a bit more for their logo.

That said, things are improving. In 2002 when we started, people just weren’t interested in data security. Now it’s finally becoming good practice to provide a protocol for sharing sensitive information, and that protocol is no longer the fax machine, it’s services like safedrop.

Which email service do you personally use day-to-day?

Gmail for regular emails, the search is just great, and I’m becoming addicted to the priority inbox. And of course safedrop for anything sensitive.

How long did it take you to put together the first version of safedrop and how much time has been spent on it since?

The very first version took 3 weeks, and was hacked up as a proof of concept. We couldn’t sell it (back in 2002 there was interest, but nobody really wanted to pay), and so the idea was shelved until late 2009, when we thought the market was ready. The next version was built robustly and took about 12 man months to build. Now we just keep iterating and making things better as we find out what people really want.

Who do you see as your target audience?

Small to mid sized business who have to handle and share sensitive data.

Who is your biggest competitor?

Probably Accellion, they’re well established, and have good momentum with larger companies. Their saas option isn’t as good as ours though!

What is the biggest hurdle you have faced or are still facing?

Getting the exact product fit is tricky. When we started we focused solely on security, it took a while to work out that read receipts were actually equally important for many people. Getting good feedback from people is hard, we need to work on that.

What has been the most technically challenging part of building safedrop?

Seamless upload/download with encryption at rest at all times was tricky, as nothing is stored unencrypted at any point. Making a site that looks nice in IE6, which many of our clients still use, has been mentally challenging – and has cost us loads of time!

What are you most excited about at the moment?

Well we have some big deals pending and of course I’m excited about new features. This year we’ll be doing some great things to make safedrop even more secure.

Can you convince the reader to start using Safedrop in under 50 words?

If you need to send anything sensitive, or need a guaranteed read receipt, you need safedrop. Simple to use, very secure, and to receive a safedrop you just need an email address.

Sending an email is like sending a postcard, sending a safedrop is like a message hand delivered by 007!

Finished reading? Check out safedrop!

Interview with Boris Krstovic (NewsCurve)

NewsCurve is a simple website analytics tool for bloggers, editors and publishers measuring their content effectiveness.

I interviewed Boris Krstovic, NewsCurve founder to find out more. This interview is the fourteenth in a series of DoesWhat interviews. I put together an overview of the first week of interviews three weeks ago. Big thank you to Boris for the interview! You can follow Boris on Twitter.

How would you describe NewsCurve in under 50 words?

NewsCurve is an analytics tool providing effectiveness metrics of online content in real-time. Using our measurement technology (“Pulse”), it will help you identify content, topics and authors that generate highest level of engagement at any moment, and promote ones that do well.

How and when did you come up with NewsCurve?

We’ve been in online publishing with our news CMS product – Vivvo since 2006. During that time we developed a deep understanding of the publishing industry, competitive landscape, key business drivers and market trends. We realized how much publishers and editors need a reliable helper, a side-kick analytics tool that doesn’t just measure page views and hits in real-time, but provides necessary support and big picture to content writers and editors in life cycle of an article. This led to NewsCurve draft in late 2010.

How do you split your time between NewsCurve, Spoonlabs and Vivvo?

Spoonlabs is the company behind Vivvo CMS and now our focus is on Newscurve. We have no other projects apart from this at the time being.

When is NewsCurve moving out of public beta?

I think in about a month. Don’t think that is the most important thing right now, especially to our users because Newscurve is free as long as we’re in Beta :)

How is work on NewsCurve split between you and Slobodan Utvic?

I’m responsible for something that’s lately usually referred to as “customer development”, in other words the sales/business aspect, while Slobodan handles product development. We also have a number of people helping out tremendously.

Has NewsCurve got the feedback and growth you expected since launch?

At this stage we’re not so interested in actual growth as in being positive that we reached perfect product-marketing fit. The growth from private alpha in January till now is remarkable, we’ve started with few early adopters who we’re very much interested in the tool, and now (in April) we got around 400 accounts, mostly SMB’s (small-medium businesses). And we’re still in private Beta.

Who is your biggest competitor?

At the moment, I think there are no real-time analytics tools for publishers in SMB market. Chartbeat is launching Newsbeat service, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what they have come up with. It will be most interesting seeing how they tackled the problem of giving actionable insights to publishers.

What is the biggest hurdle you have faced or are still facing?

Finding the perfect product-market fit. Getting out of customer validation process as painlessly as possible.

What are you most excited about at the moment?

The answer would definitely be – playing with all facets of web analytics – measurement, reporting and insights. Looking into massive amounts of clickstream data we get every second, and trying to convert it into valuable insights to companies using Newscurve.

At the same time, it is immensely exciting getting out of the office, talking to potential clients, seeing how they react on the tool, and trying to figure out what usage take out of it and communicating with guys at the office about that. It is really great fun developing Newscurve and seeing how it grows.

Can you convince the reader to use NewsCurve in under 60 words?

For a content rich website with frequent updates, Newscurve will provide important ad-hoc decision support to publishers – editors, journalists, bloggers and decision makers. By measuring traffic, interaction and social sharing for each individual story, Newscurve will allow you to fail fast, react just in time, anticipate viral lift and identify & promote topics and authors that do well.

Finished reading? Check out NewsCurve!

Interview with Chris Byers (Formstack)

Formstack is an online form builder that provides an easy way to design and create powerful web forms without any programming or HTML knowledge.

I interviewed Chris Byers, Formstack CEO to find out more. This interview is the thirteenth in a series of DoesWhat interviews. I put together an overview of the first week of interviews three weeks ago. Big thank you to Chris for the interview and to Erica for setting it up! You can follow Chris on Twitter.

How would you describe Formstack in under 50 words?

Formstack provides businesses of any capacity a simple way to develop, design, and manage online forms with little to no HTML knowledge.

Users can create any type of online form desired, start collecting data, share data with others, use our API, and integrate with other third-party applications.

How long have you been Formstack CEO?

My job as CEO started in March 2010 so I’ve been at it just over a year.

How did you get the position?

My start with Formstack actually goes all the way back to College. The Formstack founder, Ade Olonoh, and I started a software company together back in 1998. Though we went different paths after selling that company, when Ade decided to raise money for Formstack, I was a part of one of the initial company investors. So, when Ade launched a successful personal Q&A service, I asked if he needed some interim help. That turned into a full-time role at the company.

Formstack launched just over 5 years ago. Has Formstack’s vision changed since launch?

Five years ago, Formstack was set out to solve the hassle and tedious work of creating online forms. It turns out; many people really liked the service which allowed it to grow. Today, we are focusing on being the best way for businesses and non-profits to collect and manage data online. In addition to form building we determined that many of our customers need to create quick micro-sites or landing pages to collect data. So recently we moved to create a new product to serve that need. Our hope it to me a tremendous business utility for customers.

How have you marketed Formstack? Which tools and techniques have been most successful?

Our marketing tactics to date have included a focus on in-bound marketing strategies. The strategies we use include PR, Social Media, Blogging, Paid and Organic Search, as well as great word of mouth from our terrific fans and customers. All of these strategies allow us to be found when someone is searching for an online form builder that will meet their needs.

Who is Formstack’s biggest competitor?

There are several online form builder applications doing similar things we are doing. Of course, just like any tool, you have to find the right one for you. Wufoo would probably be a big competitor of ours but the reality is, there are still many small businesses and organizations who are still using paper or Word forms to collect data. We still consider Word, PDF, and paper documents to be the biggest barrier/competitor to getting small businesses, non-profits, and other organizations to start using our product to begin collecting data online.

What gives Formstack a competitive advantage?

While every form solution has its advantages and disadvantages, we’ve found great success in our integrations with third-party applications such as Highrise & Constant Contact, our WordPress plugin and widget, our Joomla extension, and payment integrations.

We also provide the opportunity for our users to connect with us. We pride ourselves on being one of the more available web apps out there in our space. We can be reached by email, live chat, or phone. Most of the time, people are surprised because other web services are not as easily reachable, especially by phone.

What advice would you give to your past-self on becoming Formstack CEO?

Be more aggressive. Sometimes in the past I have held myself back trying to be conservative in the way I run the business. I forget that only 7% of small businesses last year used cloud services and to be at the forefront of that market, I need to aggressively get in front of the new cloud users every day.

What’s the most interesting tech article you’ve read this year?

It’s actually an article from MailChimp on going free – one year later. Going Freemium: One Year Later

The reason this article stands out is how much it represents the world today. I am thankful to work in a very transparent industry. People don’t mind sharing their successes, failures and being pretty detailed about the thoughts and actions they take. This is super-helpful as we consider our business.

What is the biggest hurdle you have faced or are still facing?

The largest hurdle is by far figuring out how to grow into the future. Business is good but we always want to be improving and gaining without loss of the fundamentals that got us here.

What are you most excited about at the moment?

I am pumped about the fact that so many businesses have yet to use cloud services. As they adopt more not only can we play a part, but so many awesome new web tools are coming. Business will play-out on a day-to-day basis as we make these tools accessible to all.

Can you convince a reader or business to use Formstack in under 50 words?

With our online form builder, web designers can create powerful forms in just minutes. The opportunity to customize the look and feel of the form using CSS or HTML as well as the ability to add third-party integrations provides endless opportunities that otherwise might not be available.

Finished reading? Check out Formstack!

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