New Brunswick’s VidCruiter offers HR departments an innovative, video-powered, automated hiring platform. The company’s interviewing solutions replace many of the repetitive tasks that occupy too much of a recruiter’s day. With VidCruiter’s solutions, companies can complete those redundant tasks in roughly a fifth of the time that it would take using traditional recruiting methods.
Opportunities NB (ONB) recently spoke with the company’s Founder and CEO, Sean Fahey, to learn more.
ONB: Where did the idea originate?
Fahey: I was in a transition period. In 2005, at age 25, I launched a retail business, Belts and Beyond. We had 13 nationwide locations, employed 30 people, and did around 1.5 million in sales at our peak. After the recession hit retail hard in late 2008, I decided to shift from selling belts and move to the insurance sector.
The insurance company I worked for tasked me with hiring 200 people across the country as quickly as possible. I figured there had to be an easier way to hire 200 people than the methods they were using. Surely there was a way to automate the process. That got me thinking of an automated hiring system, and I realized that video would be key to making that work.
The entrepreneur in me always made me dislike working for others, so I left that job and, four months later, launched VidCruiter.
ONB: The insurance role was in Toronto. Why return to New Brunswick to launch a business?
Fahey: I realized it would be too expensive to launch in Toronto. I’m from New Brunswick, so I knew the province had the resources and support for new startups and entrepreneurs. Ultimately, it was that mix of low business costs and strong entrepreneurial support.
ONB: Have you had trouble finding talent in Moncton?
Fahey: Not at all. There are plenty of skilled people here ready for a new tech career. I think we have a strong talent pool, but not enough people know how to sell their skills. Coders for example aren’t necessarily great at marketing themselves.
Still, there’s a lot of tech innovation happening here. I think it’s a healthy sector that will keep growing. VidCruiter is looking to expand, likely adding upwards of 20 to 40 positions here in the next 12 to 18 months. We may add more if we can secure certain contracts. We also have a global workforce that allows VidCruiter to operate 24 hours a day.
ONB: Who and where are your customers?
Fahey: We work with businesses of all sizes, including Fortune 500 companies. Some of our more notable clients include General Motors in Canada, KPMG in the Cayman Islands, and KIPP, one of the largest school networks in the U.S. We have clients as far away as Australia like Wilson Security, one of that country’s largest security companies. We can offer service to anyone in the world as the platform is now accessible in seven languages.
ONB: Is it an advantage working from the Atlantic Time Zone?
Fahey: We’re right between Europe and California, so we can serve Europe in their afternoon and California in their morning and afternoon. So yes, I’d say there is a bit of an advantage being in this time zone.
ONB: What have been the biggest challenges thus far?
Fahey: The first was the fact that I didn’t have a software background. Fortunately New Brunswick has a great talent pool for that particular skill set. So those first three years were really about learning how to build a software platform, and a company around it. I knew that if I could sell 1.5 million a year in belt buckles, I could beat that in software.
The second was finding the right market fit. An automated hiring platform wasn’t something anyone wanted to buy. We had to understand what the market actually wanted and re-frame from there. Our product had market potential, it just wasn’t being explained properly in the beginning because none of us came from an HR or recruiting background.
We’ve redefined it now to work better for market demands. The product itself hasn’t changed from day one, but we now market the Applicant Tracking system for recruiting, the Video Interviewing product that replaces phone interviews, and our Automated Referencing software as three separate products. Those can be purchased independently or as a unit. We brand the complete hiring system as VidHiring.
We are the first company in the world to build an Automated Hiring System, and it was great seeing professors, who specialize in research on this topic, talk about the concept of automating hiring years after I had the idea in place.
ONB: You have also formed notable partnerships to enhance the product. Tell us about those.
Fahey: We partner with Checkr for automated applicant background checks. Once someone is in our system a recruiter clicks a button and, within 24-48 hours, a background check returns, changing the applicant’s status accordingly. We also partner with IBM for interview questions, ZipRecruiter for job distribution, and Adobe Sign for electronic signatures.
ONB: Let’s wrap with your best advice for entrepreneurs.
Fahey: There were a lot of people that told us VidCruiter wouldn’t work or that I didn’t have the background to do this. My advice would be that, even if local experts and startup gurus don’t believe in you, it doesn’t mean you don’t have an idea worth pursuing.
How can you tell if you have such an idea?
If you find ten Unaffiliated Clients—that’s ten people with no affiliation to you still willing to pay you—you’re in business. I’m talking about companies that weren’t referred by a friend or another client, people that had no reason to buy from you beyond liking your product.
I mentioned Wilson Security in Australia, one of our first clients. Wilson had no reason to buy from a random Canadian startup; they just liked the platform and what we were doing. When that happened the rest of the team started to believe what I had envisioned —we had something big.
Even if local support isn’t what you read about in Silicon Valley, keep plugging away and find that client validation. NB’s low cost structure has been a massive competitive advantage for us, so you don’t need as many resources as you think. Above all, persistence is the most crucial trait in an entrepreneur.
Watch Sean discuss VidCruiter here.
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