Interview with John Dennehy (Zartis)
Zartis enables businesses to recruit employees using social media and other tools. I interviewed John Dennehy, Zartis founder to find out more. This interview is the thirty ninth in a series of DW interviews. Big thank you to John for the interview!
How would you describe Zartis in under 80 words?
Zartis helps companies grow by making it easier for them to attract and hire the best talent – including ones who aren’t actively looking.
By pushing your jobs to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other popular social media, your jobs will be found by the best candidates.
Zartis also helps you manage the application process, making it easy to narrow your search from a pool of top candidates to one great new hire.
What made you decide to found Zartis?
I’ve hired over 140 people in startups over the past decade. I don’t use recruitment agencies. I prefer to think that a direct link between an employer and a job seeker is best.
Social media is making it easier to connect. But it’s time consuming and difficult to manage the recruitment process. So we built Zartis to help.
We also think that thousands of small to medium sized companies want help with recruitment and don’t want to pay out huge fees to agencies. I guess that’s a big motivator for us.
What was technically the most challenging part of developing Zartis?
Integrating with LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, WordPress and client web sites poses a whole bunch of challenges. We’ve got a really strong internal development team. They’re up for the challenge.
How long did it take to put together Zartis?
We decided to build the product over lunch on May 8th, 2011. We didn’t have a spec or brand name or anything. We launched with our first client, a Lufthansa subsidiary, on July 25th – ten weeks after the lunch.
Where do you see Zartis in 5 years time?
Our crystal ball has a range of only five months. We need an upgrade.
Do you have any new features in the pipeline?
We’re totally focused on making Zartis a global success. We have a ton of integrations with third party companies we need to get complete. We all subscribe to the Japanese philosophy of kaizen – constant improvement involving everybody. Mashing that up with Eric Reis’ lean methodology is pretty much how most of our new features become features.
Using social media for recruitment, or “social recruiting” is going through a massive growth phase at the moment. We’ll continue to make it easier for our clients to take advantage of it.
Mobile recruiting another growth area we’re focused on and already have some early success stories to tell.
Has Zartis got the feedback and growth you expected since launch?
Hmmm. We’ve had about 1,000 customers signup for the free trial in the past 3 months. The difficulty is converting more of them into paying customers.
We spend a lot of time trying to make the onboarding experience better and better. Once people start using Zartis they seem to love it and get value out of it (so they tell us anyway). We just need to get more people using it.
I think if more B2B SaaS companies were honest they’d say the same. Privately most CEOs I’ve spoken to have all said that building the SaaS business is tough and takes time. We all hear the “overnight successes” but most of the really big SaaS success stories have been around a long time and generally have pretty high funding.
You have had a string of successful tech startups in the last ten years. What do you wish you’d have known ten years ago that you know now?
Apparently it was Oscar Wilde that said: “Nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.” Some things you’ve just got to learn the hard way.
Who would you say is your biggest competitor?
Our biggest competitor is inertia: people doing the same dingdong that they’ve always done. There’s always a time lag, that we always underestimate, between when something can and should be done and when it actually starts getting done.
Social media has incredible potential for putting employers in direct contact with employees. It’s dramatically changing the way companies attract and hire employees. But the mass market will be slow to embrace the potential.
Any big clients on your list?
Our first customer was a subsidiary of Lufthansa in Dublin. They’re fantastic to deal with.
All of our cilents are hiring. Which means they’re all growth companies. Some of them will make it very big.
A few really exciting ones to watch are Graze, a food company in London; IdealBinary and We R Interactive, in the digital entertainment sector; Ovation, a Sunday Times Tech 100 company; and GiggleGarage an animation company in Kuala Lumpar.
What is the biggest hurdle you personally have faced or are still facing?
Working in a startup is tough. It’s a constant challenge for everybody to keep focused on the ongoing development of the company rather than getting carried away with the ups or running away from the lows. That’s the biggest challenge (I think) every startup faces.
If you could only give one piece of advice to someone starting up a startup, what would it be?
Launch your product.
What are you most excited about at the moment?
Social media and the transformative effect it’s having. It’s a similar feeling to what was happening in the late nineties but now there’s critical mass of users.
Can you convince the reader to start using Zartis in under 40 words?
Do you want to hire the best people without spending a fortune on recruitment fees? If yes, goto Zartis.com. Else, throw away your money.
Finished reading? Check out Zartis!