Referrals and recommendations remain key ingredients for job seekers and recruiters to find one another despite all the new technology at our disposal. Writing personalized recommendations takes a lot of time, and following up on a person’s references perhaps even more. During 15 years as an Internet executive, Jesse Gant learned firsthand how finding employees – not to mention, managing his own career – can become a time consuming, draining process.
Now he’s the CEO and co-founder of the startup Recmnd.Me, an online social tool that allows working professionals to rate and recommend each other. Scoring individuals based on skills creates useful measures for ranking and comparing workers. The hope is that Recmd.Me will give job recruiters a powerful tool to find top talent quickly. And just maybe make the referral process slightly more fun for everyone involved. Scoring is anonymous to encourage honesty, but you do need a person’s email before you rate some one.
Gant’s venture is self-funded so far. Recmnd.Me intends to build user traction before it goes hunting for revenues. While his company sets out to quicken and enliven the hiring process, Gant reminds us that entrepreneurs can also have families. No, you’re not misreading that sentence. Gant even found time to answer a few questions for KillerStartups, further proving that it still requires a skilled human to run a lean, startup machine.
How did you go about starting your company?
I came up with the idea after presenting “Essential Tools for Product Managers and Marketers” at the ProductCamp SoCal. I started wireframing what the experience could look like, then got with a visual designer and a development team to actually start building it out. I met up with my tech co-founder a couple weeks after that.
What time do you usually start work each day? Do you have an office or work at home?
I check email about 7 or 7:30 a.m., but then really start working about 8:30 a.m. I work from home right now.
What’s the first thing you do when you leave the office at the end of the day?
Since I work at home, it usually entails eating dinner and hanging out with my family for a couple hours. After helping them to get to bed, I’ll hop on the computer a couple more hours.
When do your best ideas come to you? In bed in the morning? During dinner? After working for 16 hours? While out jogging? On your third beer?
Definitely morning, usually while jogging. Sometimes I get thoughts right before bed, so it’s helpful to have a notepad or device bedside to jot it down.
We want to know about where you spend your day! What’s on your desk right now?
Well, since you asked… soccer signup forms for my kids and some printer cartridges and a netbook that I hope to sell on eBay. Otherwise, I have Recmnd.Me designs and to-do’s.
A lot of people have big ideas. What gave you the confidence to actually put your life on hold and realize yours?
Lots of prayers — and I had about three to four months where I could give a startup a try. I have to find some balance though; my co-founder and I both have families that we need to take care of and spend time with.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs struggling to get their business off the ground?
Pick an idea that you know intimately (but excites you) and one that is fairly inexpensive to fund yourself for awhile. Keep in mind that securing funding takes just as much time as building and launching your product. Hard to do both at the same time, so expect things to take longer than you expect (i.e. plan for it!).
Who or what inspires YOU? Role models? Quotes? Running? Video games? Snack food?
“No other success can compensate for failure in the home,” by David O. McKay keeps me grounded in what matters most in life. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be professionally ambitious and do what we can to provide for ourselves and our families, but it does mean we need to find balance or it will be self defeating in the end anyway. I also enjoy a good game of beach volleyball. M&Ms get me through those long startup hours too!
Who has been your biggest cheerleader throughout this process?
Surprisingly, my wife. She’s the first to FB “Like” anything I post.
How do you picture your company in 5 years?
Still in Orange County. The temptation to move to Northern Cal will always be there, although the LA tech scene is progressing. I’d like to help build one of the bigger, more successful OC tech startups. Need good traction by working professionals and college students to make that a reality.
What would you be doing if you had one year off and $500,000 to spend?
London Olympics followed by a Mediterranean cruise. Then the rest would go towards a house.
Web App or site you couldn’t live without and why:
Gmail, Netvibes for tech news, Yahoo News and CNN – in that order.
Mobile App you’re in love with:
I love controlling Sonos from my iPhone/iPad. Kids apps are a close second.
Dogs or cats?
Cats. I had more of those than dogs when I was growing up.
Where can our readers get a hold of you?
Recmnd.Me is the first site to launch from Recmnd.Inc. Also keep an eye out for Recmnd.Us, where users will be able to find and recommend the best service providers.