Rich Linden is the Cali guy who traded his white-collar jobs for a more chilled-out gig. And, he wants to help you do the same. I had a very entertaining sit-down with the casual CEO to talk surfing, Spanish, and of course, startup on this session of The Startup Sit Down. Hey Rich, thanks for taking the time to give us the MyNextGig lowdown. Our KillerStartups fans are looking forward to being inspired!
How was MyNextGig hatched and what makes it different from other job search websites?
Richard Linden: You know it’s funny, I was in England at the time working for Allianz, and my little brother (19 at the time) called me and said, “Dude, I have an idea- we should do a Facebook for jobs.” I said, what do you mean? He said, “Well, no one my age wants to fill out paper resumes, knock on doors, or look at job boards. So, basically, there really needs to be an intersection where businesses can leverage technology that’s out there and users can be found the way they want to be found. The classic search a job on Monster, send an email, etc. is antiquated.
So, I flew home, met with my brother, got a couple quotes on some sites, and thought, “What if we did video resumes, where people can video pitch themselves?” Companies don’t hire paper, they hire people. We kept building the idea and thought we could do video conference interviews too. So, if businesses need to staff an entire store, they can do it remotely, and they don’t need to have 15 HR individuals go through 3,000 resumes.
We want to take the job search to the 21st Century.
Tell us a little about where you’re coming from
RL: I went to San Diego State, got a job working for Morgan Stanley for 5 years, from age 18 to 23. Then, one day, I was looking around for a dirt bike to buy online, and came across this website called global sources, and after I did a little more research I found that in 2002 Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, all these major brands changed their engine frames and sold off all their tooling material, etc. to these no-name factories in China. So, I ordered a couple for myself and it turns out they were pretty bad-ass legit bikes. So, as my senior project for my International Business class, I got a loan from my step dad, bought a container of them, [and did] $738,000 in sales on EBay, I was 24. It was epic.
After that I worked at Toshiba Solutions doing technology consulting for a couple years. And then I went to ADP Small Businesses consulting division where we focused on consolidating business vendors, servicing profit leaks–basically I got to fire a lot of people for 3 years.
Then I quit and started this.
What keeps you busy these days? What’s your current project?
RL: MyNextGig. Seriously. I tell everyone I work half days…12 hours. I’m addicted to Muay Thai, so I get up at 6am every morning, and then coming to the office and I do school work when I get home. I’m working on my Doctorate in Business Administration (from Wharton) focused on management, leadership, and organizational behavior. I don’t know, maybe one of these days I’ll put a suit back on and go be a CEO for somebody.
Are you focused on growing any specific part of MyNextGig at the moment?
RL: Yes, there are two things that consume 80% of my time. Funding of course, one of the biggest hurdles to overcome for any startup. We have an awesome user base, but we are moving from a free trial for businesses to charging and it’s hard to get them to convert, so without real revenue coming in, I’m focused on getting Series A or an angel investor.
We got runner up out of the entire nation for the Most Innovative HR Tool of 2012. We’ve had write-ups in Huffington Post, we were also on the OC Metro cover, so we’re definitely getting some exposure, but it doesn’t matter if the product is not producing revenue.
The other thing I’ve been focused on is visibility. I’m reaching out to bloggers in this space, and pretty much anyone that would be willing to tweet our name, talk about us, or do a write-up.
RL: Exactly. Like lovely people like you.
Biggest startup surprise (good or bad) so far?
RL: Good question. There have been 100 surprises, good or bad, but I would have to say the first surprise is when you land your angel funding and you think, I’ve got hundreds of thousands in this account, but you don’t realize how quick it goes. I could live on that amount for 5 years! All I need is a beach apartment and a couple boards. But, we had a staff of 13 at one point, payroll, marketing, T1 infrastructure, etc. You don’t realize how much everything costs and how quickly the money goes.
Where do you find inspiration, Rich?
RL: I have a quote I put on everyone’s desk:
“Nothing in life worth having comes easy.”
I believe down to my core that you have to work your tail off for the things you want in life.
What would you be doing if you had one year off?
RL: I just want to travel. Maybe hit every country in the UN. I’m 34, I’m not married, now’s the time to do it.
Excellent! That’s what I would be/am doing.
Seriously, you’ve got to do it while you can.
What is MyNextGig’s success sweet spot? Goals you want to accomplish?
RL: I want to take us to a million users and 10,000 businesses. We’re at 100,000 users already, and today, we signed on 402 businesses.
When are you thinking you’re gonna hit the million user mark?
RL: I would say 18 months. Our site is free, so our user base is growing at about 500 a day. The key is to get businesses on board to recognize we have the candidate pool they need. Essentially, that’s what it is. Whether businesses like it or not, the candidates want to be hired the way MNG invented it. We want to do a national champagne and just scale up.
What’s your office vibe?
RL: It’s cool. I’m like the grandpa in the office, everyone is between 20-25. We all have Nerf guns to bombard people. We like to put videos up on YouTube. We have cases of energy drinks, and every office has a couch. [Rich gave me a video tour of the office]. Here’s our awesome office view of the ocean, and everyone in the office.
Hi everyone! Love the chill vibe. Different than Morgan Stanley, no?
RL: Oh yeah, I had to be in my seat at 6:30am every morning for the Pacific Stock Market open. Holly, I don’t want to go back!
Favorite tech tool, app or site you use every day and can’t work without?
RL: I would say my Android, but that’s so cliché. I love my MacBook. If my house was on fire I would grab my cat and my MacBook, that’s it. YouTube is my favorite site. I call it the world wide waste of time–I would guess the average person will waste a year of their life on Facebook.
Parting words of wisdom for startup newbies and wannabies?
RL: Persistence, of course. And, my quote again that nothing in life worth having comes easy.
If you really believe in something on an intrinsic level and work hard for it, it will happen.
Thanks for the office tour and banter, Rich. Looks like you have a great little team and a pretty sweet set-up. Anyone looking for their next gig, check out the site for sure. And, for all the lovely ladies, Mr. Linden wants you to know he is VERY single. So, if your next gig happens to find you in Orange County, make sure to give him a tweet.
KillerStartups recently had the opportunity to try out MyNextGig for ourselves and our editor / recruiter found the site easy to use, with impressive results. We were able to add our company logo, social media contact info, and “About Us” details to our company profile; and edit our profile and gig information with just a few clicks.
We posted a listing for a Writer for KillerStartups.com for 10 days and received 100 responses. The candidates we received on MyNextGig were generally higher educated and better qualified than the responses we’ve gotten from postings on Craigslist and other sites. MyNextGig also allowed us to add pre-hire questions to our Gig posting, giving us valuable information about candidates before contacting them.
For low-cost job postings with impressive results, check out MyNextGig.com.