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How AI and Technology Are Disrupting the Recruitment Industry (Episode 103)

Evan Sohn is a veteran entrepreneur and visionary executive. He is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Recruiter.com, an on-demand recruiting platform that combines AI and video job-matching technology with the world’s largest network of small and independent recruiters. I am reaching out about having him on your show.

Evan is a frequent contributor to CNBC and Yahoo! Finance, and demonstrates expertise in a diverse set of industries, including Wi-Fi, Instant Messaging, data security, customer relationship management (CRM), and much more. Beginning with his own mobile computing company in the 1990s (later acquired by Dun & Bradstreet), Evan has aided a number of venture-backed companies in growing their business. These companies have been acquired by the likes of Symantec and Verifone, among others.

A mission-driven leader, Evan is also the co-founder and Vice President of The Sohn Conference Foundation, which aims to fight pediatric cancer and other childhood diseases. Formed after the death of his brother in 1993, The Sohn Conference Foundation has raised over $95 million to fund cutting-edge research, groundbreaking technology, and innovative programs to improve patient care.

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What you will learn

  • Why timing is the most important element of success for startups and entrepreneurs
  • Figure out if you are creating a new industry or market segment or disrupting an existing industry
  • The importance of productizing your services so they can be scaled
  • How artificial intelligence and technology is disrupting the recruitment industry

Transcript

Jeff Bullas

00:00:08 - 00:01:03

Hi everyone and welcome to the Jeff Bullas show. Today I have with me, Evan Sohn. Now, Evan is the Chairman and Chief Executive of Recruiter.com, an on-demand recruiting platform that combines AI and video job-matching technology and I'm quite curious about the AI part, Evan, so dive in a little bit later and has the world's largest network of small independent recruiters. Evan is a frequent contributor to CNBC and Yahoo! Finance and he has expertise in diverse set of industries including Wi-Fi, Instant Messaging, data security and so on. Beginning with his own mobile computing company in the 1990’s, which was later acquired by Dun & Bradstreet, that's well done, and Evan has had a number of, did a number of venture-backed companies in growing their businesses. These companies have been acquired by the likes of Symantec and Verifone, among others.

So welcome to the show, Evan. It’s an absolute pleasure.

Evan Sohn

00:01:04 - 00:01:06

Thanks so much, Jeff. Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.

Jeff Bullas

00:01:06 - 00:01:27

So I really love the fact that Zoom sort of brought the world together when we needed it. So it's really, really good. And you're, you're in next to Manhattan and I'm in Sydney and here we are having a chat. I sometimes feel like we'd be great to have a camera outside each other's home sort of scanning, showing the neighborhood, but that maybe get, that maybe get too too much.

Evan Sohn

00:01:27 - 00:02:18

You know, what's interesting is I've been using Zoom for a long time. I was with the Silicon Valley company for a couple of years in the payment space. We got acquired by GoDaddy. And, you know, we were using Zoom then, so we're talking about probably like years sort of all blend, but let's say 2018, something like that. And what was interesting was that in those days, Zoom really was a step up from a phone call, right? You know, let's do, let's have a video conference call, right? Do you wanna have a conference call then let's have a video call. And what's happened, I think because of Covid is Zoom really became a step down from a face to face meeting. You know, there are people now that you Zoom all the time that you actually never see face to face. So I find that to be just fascinating, but let's talk about.

Jeff Bullas

00:02:18 - 00:02:26

Yeah, I know. Well, I find it fascinating too. What I love about Zoom is its ease of use. Records, like for recording this, you know.

Evan Sohn

00:02:26 - 00:04:04

They're, they're great company. They're actually a client of ours. So I love them. They're great stuff. You know, I was on the phone with my folks over at CNBC the other day and I asked them, I'll be on CNBC, you know, I'm on like once a month talking about the job market but I've actually been up in their studios, etcetera. And I'm like, is that ever coming back? They're like never and it's pretty amazing that like, you know, the first time I was on CNBC, you'll like this Jeff, you know, I got a phone call from them, all right, you know, you're gonna be on. I'm like, I'm not coming into the studio, right? This is like May of 2020, like no, no, you're not allowed. There are like six people in the whole studio. I'm like, okay, so do you send me like a camera, like, you know, is there a crew that meets me outside and then go like, no, you'll get a phone call from someone from the tech operations and I get a phone call and they're like, okay, do you have Skype? Yeah, okay, like go on Skype click click click, do you have any books? Yeah, can you raise your monitor up a little bit? I'm like, sure. Alright, tilting back, tilting forward, whatever little here, okay, we're good to go. And it was really amazing because, you know, let's assume that Skype or Zoom in a live audience works, 98% of the time, 95% of the time. That's good enough now, like, it's just absolutely good enough, you know, no one apart. You hear a dog barking in the background, no one apologizes anymore. Oh, that's my, no one's like, excuse me, I'm really sorry, that's my dog. It's like, oh yeah, my dogs here, you know, it's, it's really a fascinating world that we're living in now, so sorry about that little musing around there.

Jeff Bullas

00:04:04 - 00:04:24

Yeah. Yeah. Well the other thing that fascinates me is that Skype had this technology and the market all to itself almost and dropped. Used to say let's go Skype, right? So Skype almost became a verb but Zoom's taken that moniker away.

Evan Sohn

00:04:24 - 00:04:26

Absolutely, right place. Right time.

Jeff Bullas

00:04:26 - 00:04:41

Exactly. And one of the, I watched the TED Talk recently and the guy had been behind 200 different startups and he had analyzed the reasons success was behind them and he came up with five. It was timing.

Evan Sohn

00:04:41 - 00:04:44

Timing. Yeah. I saw that TED talk, it was great. Timing.

Jeff Bullas

00:04:44 - 00:04:59

And you know what my whole experience and on reflection with both my career and businesses is if I got my timing wrong, no matter how hard you tried, it's just not going to work. You get your timing right. Wow. It's sometimes like a rocket ship so it's fun.

Evan Sohn

00:04:59 - 00:05:02

Yeah, totally agree.

Jeff Bullas

00:05:02 - 00:05:12

Evan, let's go back a few years back to the 1990s. You came out of college. And what sort of degree did you do back in college, Evan?

Evan Sohn

00:05:12 - 00:07:24

So it was, I was in NYU Business School and it was a combined double major Computer Information Systems and Management. So I'm 54 years old. So it was quite interesting degree then in those days.

I worked my way through college. I was a programmer. A bad programmer. But I was a programmer nonetheless. And then I took two engineers from that I worked with and we started our own place like the day after graduation. They were 10 years older than me, etcetera. And we really wanted to focus in mobile computing, so we were in, and my theory was then that the adaptation of mobile in the professional environment will really be through third party applications, you know, the individual is using mobile for, you know, a calendar, contact, directory, etcetera. And these were programmable and really saw the opportunity to really be like the prevailing person in, you know, professional mobile computing stuff.

So we did like the first wireless email system. My clients for like every major pharmaceutical company we’re like really, were really captured some very interesting markets, but it got me into lots of different industries all through mobile, grew the company over a decade. Clients included like Abbott Laboratories, Hoffman Laroche, NASA, AT&T, American Express, TD Ameritrade, I mentioned before and like many, many others. And we got acquired by Dun and Bradstreet in 1998, stayed there for a little while, got pulled out by a venture capital company to go to a company and like you know, got involved in the security space. So I sort of done what I used to call it, the trifecta was like the new market, new company. New market, new product. And then I've also done like sort of reinventing industry, so in the payment industry we sort of reinventing the payment industry for smart payment terminals. So I've just been very very fortunate to be around like some very very talented people throughout my career.

Jeff Bullas

00:07:25 - 00:07:49

Yeah, so it also sounds like timing was also seemed to work in your phone. Yeah, let's step back to the beginning of that mobile company. You said you met people that were 10 years older than you. So how did this idea and also the people you met to get together and form the mobile company? So were they ex-colleagues of yours from business school?

Evan Sohn

00:07:49 - 00:08:37

Just people, they were people that I had worked with. Well, I had a job through college and these are just people that I worked with, you know, real hardcore engineers, you know, in the early days of mobile, there was a lot of hardware that went around with mobile, so it was almost you had to be both software and hardware. So we made like the first, you know, we actually made the first docking station for a mobile device, like back in like ‘93 like really early on, like, so we were doing some very very very very interesting things with mobile computers back before, like what you have now, like, you know, I'm looking at my shelf of I have like every handheld ever made from like the dawn of time. And like the early days of like the Apple noon[a] and those things like we were part of that whole genre of mobile computing, like very very early days.

Jeff Bullas

00:08:38 - 00:08:46

So when you started the idea, did it come over a beer at the pub? Did it come over, did it come over like a discussion?

Evan Sohn

00:08:46 - 00:09:29

Little ego, a little ego thinking like we could do this better than the guys before. And so it was really about that, also it was really timing, you know, Sharp Electronics was really being a very dominant player in the handheld space and then we really built a good relationship with them and then we became their go-to-people. So when they would get a call from the likes of Mercure, Bristol Myers Squibb saying, oh we want a handheld but we wanted to do these things, they would say, oh that sounds really good, go call up Evan Sohn and they would call me up and like we would and we saw opportunities to sort of geez, we're doing a lot of consulting and then we productize the things that we were consulting on. That’s really how we evolve the company.

Jeff Bullas

00:09:29 - 00:09:33

Because the challenge with consulting is scalability, isn't It?

Evan Sohn

00:09:33 - 00:09:46

Yeah there's no scalability, there's no leverage, there's no scalability and you know either you got to be really good at consulting and charge like you know $400 an hour and keep really good tabs on your time or you leverage it and what we chose to leverage it.

Jeff Bullas

00:09:47 - 00:10:10

And I think it's important that as entrepreneurs, some people are very happy just being consultants for the rest of their lives. There's nothing wrong with that. But if you want scalability, you've got a productize and that's what you've done. So, all right, cool. So you've sold it to Dun & Bradstreet and so then you moved into what sort of spaces more from there? You did mention it quickly in..

Evan Sohn

00:10:11 - 00:10:13

Security, for a little while.

Jeff Bullas

00:10:13 - 00:10:21

Okay. Were these startups again? Is that before startups were not sexy?

Evan Sohn

00:10:23 - 00:10:44

You know, what was funny was like I, when I started my company I was 21 and it was at a time where like being 21, you were not the CEO at 21. I actually had a business card that said like Director of Marketing, like you know, no one's gonna believe that I'm a CEO. So like I had a card that said Director of Marketing which is like very very funny.

Jeff Bullas

00:10:44 - 00:10:46

Did you grow your beard? Did you grow your beard back then to make yourself bearded?

Evan Sohn

00:10:47 - 00:11:17

I grew my beard in ‘94. In ‘93, I grew a beard and that aged me a lot and I actually remember them asking my partner like someone go how old is he? And he would say old enough, like it was like, because it was really like this, like no one really, I didn't get married till ‘94. So this ain't, my ring aged me, my beard aged me, you know, so it was just not cool at the time.

Jeff Bullas

00:11:20 - 00:11:20

Did you get and buy some glasses and wore it?

Evan Sohn

00:11:20 - 00:12:04

I wish, I wish, but you know, it was just not, it was not a thing that was done. It just really wasn't done then, you know, certainly at the time, so it was, it was a very, you know, those were exciting times, you know, to be, you know, we were like probably the first transaction in the mobile industry, like the first like acquisition in the mobile industry and these things usually come in threes, you know, you take a new industry and like, okay, the first guy is gonna get bought, the second guy will get bought, the third guy will get bought by a lot less and then that's kind of, you know, that's kind of, it's and obviously the world's changed a lot, you know, but it was, you know, quite a fascinating time.

Jeff Bullas

00:12:05 - 00:12:31

So, you mentioned some interesting phrases like a new product, new industry, timing. Do you see sort of startups today? It seems like you see startups in three different lenses like what do you mean about like new product industry versus I suppose the other one you mentioned was like, reinventing an industry? So yeah, that sort of thing I'm talking about.

Evan Sohn

00:12:31 - 00:16:11

Yeah. So you probably need to look at it as in like, are you, are you asking people to spend new money or are you asking them to shift their money? You know, let's use the word jellybeans, right? Are you asking to shift their jelly beans to you? Or is it a whole new batch of jelly beans? And it's much, much harder to get someone to spend something new. That's that's a much and I've done it and it's really, really hard, you know, because you need a catalyst. So for instance, when I was in the security space, you know, Michelangelo, like if you remember the antivirus, you know, the virus Michelangelo really put this was like 1990 sorry, 2005, really put like anti virus software on the market. Michelangelo came to shut everyone's systems down for like two days is a huge thing. And all of a sudden everyone needs to have antivirus and anti spam. You know, think about, you know, the actual title Chief Security Officer didn't exist in the ‘90s, right? Came in probably end of ‘90s. So, you know, Wi-Fi security, network security. You know, these things all started to evolve and so you have to have a budget, right? In other words, it's much much easier to say someone, well, what's your budget for X? Great. Go spend it with me, you know, so we used to joke around and when I was doing payments, like you wanted a smart application for a business owner would be, one button says make you money, the other one says save you money. Like, because that's all that they actually really care about. So you kinda have to look at it that way. When you reinvent an industry, now you're actually coming in and saying, all right, however you've been doing and spending money, I'm going to change the way you're actually doing that. So, for instance, you know, my company in the 90s, back to mobile, one of our, like, our wireless email system. I used to call it my $50,000 wireless email system because only I used it. You know, it was very, we built it. It was very, very expensive to build and no one cared because no one was doing email then, right? So if you weren't doing, like, I remember landing on an airplane, we landed and I opened up my antenna and I was checking my email on my handheld and someone was like, what are you doing? I'm like, I'm checking my email, like, why would you want to do that? Not now, of course, in 2022, how could you even think that there was a time before when you didn't check their email every 13 seconds? But in those days it just didn't happen. So we were, you know, think about how long that actually took to evolve where your email became so pervasive but the industry that we did want to meet really successfully was the pharmaceutical sales force, automation pharmaceutical sales force, so in the US, when a pharmaceutical sales rep leaves a prescription drug for a doctor, they have to capture the doctor's signature, right, it's as if they were writing a prescription, you capture a signature. Well that was all paper based and they were, you know, I remember walking to a warehouse, there were acres of these sample cards, just all these cards, all paper based and we came in there and said, alright let's automate that whole thing. And we came in there and mobilized that whole industry really within like two years, three years is pretty cool. And so the money that they were spending on sample cards and and people to pull the card, you know, there was all this money being spent and they were spending lots of money on laptop, computers to give out to the reps. Meanwhile they only wanted to capture certain information. So we really became a cost savings for them that they took out all this cost, it's much, much easier to reinvent an industry when you're taking cost out than saying, hey I'm gonna make you spend money on something new.

Jeff Bullas

00:16:12 - 00:16:51

Yeah, you mentioned wireless and I noticed that you've been involved in Wi-Fi because, I remember back in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, before the advent of 3G, which I think was the start of being able to use mobile networks for data. Is that correct? I think 3G was the start of data driven mobile networks but Wi-Fi disconnecting people from their desks. It was really important. So how involved with Wi-Fi? Because I believe actually Wi-Fi that was created was actually created by an Australian inventor a long time ago, I think if I remember correctly,

Evan Sohn

00:16:53 - 00:18:50

Yeah, so Wi-fi was really interesting. I was in the Wi-Fi security space. So we started to see happen is that, you know, companies, would you have these rogue wireless networks, right? You know, you had Linksys, 3Com and Aerotek. So Cisco bought a company called Aerotek and that's what really propelled Wi-Fi. You also, wasn't called Wi-Fi then it was called 802.11, which was really the standard, the IEEE standard of 802.11, 802.11A,11B, 11C and 11N all these 802.11, Wi-Fi was the code, was the moniker code name for it.

And you started to see companies say, hey look, we're gonna have Wi-Fi, laptops started to include a Wi-Fi in their, in their computer or you had a card, a Wi-Fi card, I probably have one on my desk somewhere, a Wi-Fi card, you know, so you started to see these things sort of evolved and then security came out of them because how can you allow this and into 11G and roaming and all these other things that we all take for granted now that just sort of happen on their own. I remember I have a tri band phone that actually is, you know, wide area, low, you know, wide area network. Yeah. You know, so these are all things that were happening and remember, you know, in the ‘90s you actually saw handoffs and cell carriers also, you know, you think about, you had, you had your your cellular service and if you went from a different zone, you had roaming, right? You actually had roaming between network, like there's a whole, and it's pretty incredible how it's all sort of evolved over the last bunch of years. But yeah, you know, I was, I was involved in a company called ReefEdge. I have a tombstone around there someplace and, you know, venture-backed company, just the smartest people, you know, involved, it was just pretty, pretty fascinating stuff a long time ago.

Jeff Bullas

00:18:50 - 00:19:09

Yeah. Well some of the stuff that you brought up just sort of like took me back in time to, you know, internets and like you said, LANs and LANs, so it's, yeah, we take Wi-Fi for granted now, like the fact that we're constantly on, if we go into the country and don't get a signal and you almost feel like you're disconnected from the world now.

Evan Sohn

00:19:10 - 00:20:08

Right. You know, I was talking about e-commerce, you know, and you know what's funny was that, PayPal if you recall and you know, you're an old guy also, you know, PayPal was really started for people who wanted, aside from the fact that they had morphed their company a few different times, PayPal, you really started to use PayPal as opposed to putting your own credit card on an e-commerce site to buy a widget, you signed up for PayPal, you had your credit card with PayPal and they were sort of the broker because you wouldn't want to give your credit card, you know, to just some other e-commerce site, you know, we had no problem swiping it at a gas station or handing it to a 20-year old waiter at a restaurant, have them walk away with it, but you know, God forbid we put it into a website. And what's funny is, you know, we were so nervous about that years ago and now you get angry, like I can't believe Amazon recommended that book to me, what are they crazy? You know, like, don't they know me already how, you know, so it's, it's funny, we've just come this, you know 180 in such a very short period of time in terms of privacy of information.

Jeff Bullas

00:20:09 - 00:20:49

I know it's crazy. So what I love you mentioned about the startup scene was one either create a new industry but the trouble with that is actually trying to get budgets because there's no budget set aside for new products that no one's ever heard of or didn't think they needed. Then the other one you mentioned was actually essentially disrupting an industry essentially were taking over an industry. So let's go fast forward to Recruiter.com.

Jeff Bullas

00:22:03 - 00:22:15

Alright can you hear me now? Alright, okay cool. All right so the question I think was a Recruiter.com. So what was the inspiration for a Recruiter.com?

Evan Sohn

00:22:16 - 00:23:53

Sure. So about three years ago, I was looking to do something different and I called up an investor friend of mine who has a fund and I said to him look I want to get involved in a public company, I want to be involved in a small public company and use my skills and talents to sort of help them evolve and take them to the next level, etcetera. So I got introduced to what's now Recruiter.com three years ago, first as a consultant sort of helping, the company really was a media company. A lot of, you know, 3.5 million social media touchpoints. It's got a magazine, periodical, articles, LinkedIn profiles, all this other stuff, 48,000 quarter followers.

And my goal really was to take this media company and turn it into a you know a tech platform, a transactional tech platform. So we did a transaction, we raised some money, I became Chairman of the Board in April, in March of 2019 and then really at the height of the pandemic I became its CEO, we raised more money, got onto NASDAQ this past July so and now Recruiter.com really is an on-demand tech platform helping companies of all sizes hire talent through either our global network of independent recruiters, think of it as like Uber for recruiting or we have our own software, our own AI back software to help companies build talent pools and candidates, etcetera, so and we use them together.

Jeff Bullas

00:23:53 - 00:24:07

Okay, so you're basically an aggregator of independent recruiters? And you use your platform to actually aggregate them and then provide talent for them that they can on cell. Is that what you're saying?

Evan Sohn

00:24:07 - 00:24:48

Yeah, so our client is usually either the CEO or a hiring manager at a company, so either they're sophisticated, they know what they need, company needs 100 of this, 200 of this, 50 of this, 20 of this, you know, we typically don't do executive level, you know, we're not doing the, you know, we're not doing the CEO, but we'll do, you know, 100 financial analysts back office, whatever whatever they need. And typically these companies either need candidates, right? They've tried ZipRecruiter, LinkedIn, Indeed, whatever, and now they need something more proactive. They use our tools or they need recruiters, in-house recruiters paid by the hour, not, you know, not based on success only, or they need both.

Jeff Bullas

00:24:49 - 00:24:58

So the idea came out of you wanted to get involved with a small publicly traded company, was that and you went looking for that, is that correct?

Evan Sohn

00:24:58 - 00:25:17

Yeah, yeah, I went looking for, you know, what would be interesting for me to get involved with. You know, and these investors like you gotta check out this, you know, company Recruiter.com and I'm like, if you have a company called Recruiter.com, that's not worth a billion dollars, someone, there's a problem and let's go solve that problem. And so, it's been a lot of fun.

Jeff Bullas

00:25:17 - 00:25:41

So how did in terms of the challenges of any company's, number one is you can build a technology that's always a challenge, number two, because it's basically quite often started to get involved and they end up being in two big battles. In other words, battle for technology supremacy. Another one that battle for market supremacy. So in terms of growing, what are some of the things that have you grown Recruiter.com?

Evan Sohn

00:25:42 - 00:27:29

It's a great question. You know, I, I think I always joke around, we're like the opposite of every company ever created. Every company spends their early days looking to have a product market fit. Like what market are we in? You know, who's our, what market should we be in? Where was Recruiter.com? Right? So we are, we know who our market is. We were a market of recruiters, we’re a destination site for recruiters. They'll be like, Hotels.com saying, well, what market are we in? Duh, you're in the market of hotels, right? You provide people access to hotels. You don't go to realtor.com to find a plumber, you go to Realtor.com to find a home realtor, whatever you need. We’re Recruiter.com, we're not no Recruiter.com, we're not without Recruiter.com. We are Recruiter.com. So we know what our market is and what really did was experiment, I use that word a lot, really experiment with. Alright, what does our audience need? What does our market need? What do we have more demand for? What's our supply, like etcetera? And the reality is that, you know, whenever you build a marketplace, you either focus on, you know, demand or supply. You can't focus on both. It's too expensive. So Uber, right? They focus on drivers. Uber does not focus on Evan and Jeff, they focus on drivers, you know, they acquired us through a very simple $10 referral fee program, whatever they had in Sydney, Australia. But you know, their goal was to have this tremendous supply of drivers. So whenever there's a demand, they could fill that supply, you know, if you look at every marketplace, it's really one or the other, we have this incredible supply of recruiters, we have incredible AI software, we have incredible demand and we really focus on delivery that's really what we focus on, how do we get the right recruiter at the right company or how do we enable our tools for the right company and that's really what we focus on a lot.

Jeff Bullas

00:27:29 - 00:27:38

So you, so you focus on the hard, the hardest market first, which is actually getting the recruiters in other words, just like Uber did was focused on getting drivers, is that correct?

Evan Sohn

00:27:38 - 00:28:44

Yes. So we have a great supply, you know, the difference is that I think that the segmentation that you're seeing in recruiting is even greater than it used to be, right? It used to just be, you know, and again, recruiting looks a little bit more like law than anything else, right? You're in Sydney, Australia. If you were looking to do a real estate transaction in Sydney, you wouldn't get a real estate lawyer from New Zealand, you get one from Sydney, right? So it's not just not just someone that knows real estate, it's kind of no real estate in my area in my zone. And I think recruiting really takes more of that level. I need someone who's actually gonna be talked to the candidates in their language, whatever they're looking for, etcetera. So we we do that and our software is really, you know, really kick-ass software that we have, we've invested millions of dollars into our software. We have over 170 million profiles now in our software, you know, AI searching and engagement tools to get, you know, to really build candidate pools for companies. So it's very exciting how we put all this together for our clients.

Jeff Bullas

00:28:45 - 00:28:48

So in other words, you've created a platform that reduces the friction.

Evan Sohn

00:28:49 - 00:28:55

Yeah, that's right. You know, recruit talent faster and better. It's probably, you know, the tagline that we would use.

Jeff Bullas

00:28:55 - 00:29:06

Is that being one of the biggest challenges just trying to make the interface and you, I actually really low friction and easy to use. That been your biggest one, which is a lot of, a lot of complex technology sits behind.

Evan Sohn

00:29:06 - 00:30:46

There’s a lot of, there's a lot of complex technology, you know, you need to make sure it works. It's scalable. It's easy to use for the right people. It's delivering the results that wants, you know, I think the challenge today is that, you know, you know, if, if, if a company, if you're looking to hire an assistant and you're only willing to pay them $8 an hour, you're not gonna get anyone right? So there's this sense that you've got to make sure that the company that the offer to the actual individual is worth it as well, right? You know, Uber doesn't do name your own price travel, right? It's not, hey, I want to go from point A to point B and I only want to pay $5 and it doesn't work like that.

In fact the opposite, they have surge pricing when it needs to cost more and we've become accustomed to those things. And I think that in talent acquisition, the challenge now is, hey, look, you know, it's, it's not, it's difficult for us to say, hey Jeff, we're gonna we're gonna find you people right, we're gonna get people to raise their hands saying I'm interested in working for Jeff, but if they don't want to work for you because you're not a good guy or you're not paying enough money, there's just so much that we can do. But look, we've been very fortunate that our customer satisfaction is very high, our repeat customers are very high, our recurring revenue is, you know, is great. We grew over 40% between Q3 and Q4. So like we're doing really, really well, I'm very, very pleased. And we've also, you know, one of our priorities, it was really to build an A+ company, an A+ virtual company and we continue to do that. We have a great team, not just management team, but you know, top and bottom, the entire company is just really fantastic people.

Jeff Bullas

00:30:47 - 00:30:57

The big buzzword for the last few years has been AI, so how to use AI in very simple terms to in your technology to help recruiters?

Evan Sohn

00:30:57 - 00:32:00

AI for us, a lot of AI really is and we've trained our AI but like if you're looking for a software engineer, okay, but you don't really want a software engineer because in some companies they call it a coder and some answers they call it a Senior Engineer, but a Senior Engineer for one company might be, you know, an entry level engineer for another, you know, so AI really sits there and says, what are you really looking for? We also have a new feature, like call it like, you know, clone, like GI, I want to hire someone that looks just like Jeff, so go find me, everyone that looks like Jeff. And so there's a lot of AI there too, but it's, so for us, that's really what AI really is, is like, you know, what are you asking, what are you looking for? But what are you really looking for? So yeah, the best example is like a Vice President, that one company could be a Managing Director at another and it could be a direct, you know, there's a whole article that Facebook gives very, very low titles. Other companies get very high titles, so you need AI to sort of go between and figure it out, etcetera.

Jeff Bullas

00:32:01 - 00:32:09

So, in your entrepreneurial journey, Evan, what are some of the mentors and resources that have helped you along the way?

Evan Sohn

00:32:11 - 00:33:33

So I had a phenomenal mentor back in the back, like mid to early 2000's, phenomenal gentleman, Christopher Brody. Just a phenomenal individual, he told me something. I use it all the time, I had a meeting with him and I brought a deck and we walked through the deck and he goes to me, do you value our time together? I said, of course, of course I do. Obviously, you don't because if you really did, you would have emailed me the deck and then we could have spent an hour talking about the deck rather than you spending in the first, you know, half an hour walking me through the deck. So it was like a very good lesson in terms of like, you know, making sure that you're, you know, leveraging people along the way. But really I've met some very exciting people like, you know, you got to be learning. I always tell my kids there's something to learn from everybody and you haven't figured it out yet. You haven't, you haven't dug enough. I read a lot, so I just finished Extreme Ownership by Jocko, you know, the former Navy Seal, like I've done a lot of these reading books and stuff like that. So I've just been very fortunate to have some really interesting people. Silicon Valley has some really great people there too, just really great people along the way.

Jeff Bullas

00:33:33 - 00:33:56

I think a lot of people don't value how important books are from me. A book is for me is a distillation of decades of experience and expertise. Just put into a few 100 pages and that and that takes a lot of effort. So Stephen King calls the book a Time Machine. It takes people back and takes people forward.

Evan Sohn

00:33:56 - 00:34:03

Well, you know what, I'd rather learn your mistake that make one on my own, right? Exactly. You made a mistake, It certainly makes sense to do that.

Jeff Bullas

00:34:04 - 00:34:37

Yeah, exactly, and I know Warren Buffett reads almost, I think Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, they spend most of the morning reading. And the thing about I think is that I see reading sometimes a guilty pleasure because I enjoy reading so much. So I feel like when I’m reading, I'm not working because working supposed to be hard, right? And enjoyable. So just to wrap it up here, Evan, what are some of the most important things you've learned along the way that you'd like to share with our viewers and listeners?

Evan Sohn

00:34:37 - 00:35:43

All right, so I would probably say, you know, I have a series of rules that I like to live by when it comes to work. And I think they're very refocusing. So the first rule is you know, never do anything you're being measured, never do anything you're not being measured against. And part of that really is that we all love to be distracted, right? So I was going down this one path and there were distractions and you wake up and you're like, yeah, but because distraction is usually much easier to do, what you can do a distraction than it is to actually do your objective and you wake up and you sort of feel a short term, I have this nice distraction. I feel so good, I solve someone else's problem for them.

But at the end of the day here, I'm not being measured by that. So you know, if you think about your own self, I didn't hit any of my targets, but look at these nice distractions I had throughout the year. So real focusing thing there is really focus yourself and your people. I never do anything that you're not being measured against. And obviously I'm generalizing but to prove a point like it very, very focused on, you know, what are you being measured against etcetera. And I think that, you know, that really carries itself in other rules, right? Other will go into a meeting with one objective, not 19. And you know, and everyone always goes in with like here are the eight things we want to cover. If you have eight things that you want to cover, that means you have nothing to cover. What's the one thing that you want to accomplish in that meeting? Get very, very focused on that one thing and attribute the thing you're being measured against. And then finally, I would say that you know, my, one of my big mantra is at work is I want to be a client's first phone call, I don't care what industry. And I got this from my CEO at verifone, I loved it. You know, I want to be your first phone call and they've actually heard me on the phone with like clients saying was I your first phone call or I want to be your first phone call. Why? Because you know when you're gonna have a problem, I want you to call me first. I want you to come in and treat me like, you know, that we're in confidence with each other. We're partners, right? You don't call your gas station first. You know, who cares where you fill up your tank? It doesn't make a difference. But a partner is someone you go, Jeff, I have a problem. Help me out with my problem. I want to bounce something off you and if you're in a relationship with your client is calling you first. That's really the relationship you want to have. I'm your first phone call to solve your problem and I don't care what industry you're in. I don't, I really don't, doesn't make a difference because we're all sort of commodities at some level or another because there are other people doing what we do. But if you, if you are a client's first phone call that now sets you apart from everyone else there and you want to maintain that relationship and by the way, ask ask the client was I your first phone call. I want to be your first phone call. How do I make sure I'm your first phone call ? And you know, it's, it's, you learn a lot when the payment industry where there's so many competitors in that space, being a company's first phone call and in the recruiting industry, the recruiting industry, the talent acquisition industries, $76 billion in US. It's a giant, huge industry. Huge. So what's the difference between, you know, the big guys, Korn Ferry, Heidrick & Struggles, Robert Hayes, you know, these are all huge companies, Russell Reynolds, Manpower, Deco, Hudson. There are all these giant companies that someone's built a relationship with a client. And if you could be that person, if you can have that be that client first phone call, that's really gonna set you apart.

Jeff Bullas

00:37:58 - 00:38:02

So what's Recruiter.com's nber one big thing that sets them apart?

Evan Sohn

00:38:03 - 00:38:40

Our software is fantastic. Our software is really, I think the cat's meow and really gonna be that thing that enables companies to really acquire candidates and choir talent in a world where that's so hard to do. And we're seeing success today with companies that need mechanics to companies that need drivers to companies that need java developers, licensed therapists, recruiters, you name it and when you start seeing that diverse population of what we're able to deliver through our software, it's just really, really incredible.

Jeff Bullas

00:38:40 - 00:38:47

So you're managing basically literally thousands, almost millions of niches just done with technology?

Evan Sohn

00:38:48 - 00:38:57

That’s right, technology and then an army of recruiters really just an absolute army of independent recruiters on-demand, you know, working for companies on a daily basis.

Jeff Bullas

00:38:58 - 00:39:20

Yeah, it's fascinating. But I think software, I heard the term the other day and which is saying that software, we underrate the power of software to change your life or add value to your life. And we it's all done behind the scenes by incredible complex technology, but at the front end it looks simple, just like using Uber and obviously it sounds like just by using Recruiter.com.

Evan Sohn

00:39:23 - 00:39:27

Oh fantastic, I couldn't have said any better, so thank you very much.

Jeff Bullas

00:39:27 - 00:39:52

Well, thank you for your time and it's been an absolute pleasure. I've learned so much and I always do when I talked to some of the smartest tools in the shed around the world and just fabulous creative entrepreneurs, such as yourself, because I'm never, I'm always amazed by the creativity of all the smart, intelligent creative entrepreneurs that I meet such as yourself. So thank you for your time, it's been an absolute pleasure.

Evan Sohn

00:39:52 - 00:39:56

Really appreciate Jeff and let's catch up again and not too long, okay?

Jeff Bullas

00:39:56 - 00:39:59

Alright, look forward to that. And even maybe catching up in Manhattan one day.

Evan Sohn

00:40:00 - 00:40:00

There you go.

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