Jerome Ternynck Of SmartRecruiters Successfully Addresses Unemployment
CEO Jerome Ternynck of SmartRecruiters is invested in helping the unemployed find work. Considering the economic climate worldwide, and specifically within the United States, this an issue that needs to be addressed in creative ways.
The United States has within it a society that grants a diversity of opportunity to its inhabitants, and while no system is near perfect, there are certainly better systems than others. The private sector in the U.S. at its best is providing individuals with both vision and passion the opportunity to address social issues that some argue, should be left for government to resolve.
However, the private sector can get it right as well, and with startups like SmartRecruiters, jobs are created and the unemployed are shuttled into a network in which they can find work.
San Francisco continues to be an important center of innovation because the city contains a significant number of people who believe that their ideas can affect the world towards the positive. Ternynck is one such believer who is making a difference.
We had an opportunity to speak to Jerome regarding SmartRecruiters and how he sees his company making an impact. Here’s what he shared with us:
In your own words can you explain the primary benefits of SmartRecruiters and how it you see it transforming the user experience, job market, and the way it has benefited employers?
SmartRecruiters makes hiring easy. From creating and posting a job to managing candidates and making the right hiring decision, the SmartRecruiters platform takes complexity away from the hiring process, giving millions of businesses unprecedented access to the best talent for their company or organization
When did you first get the idea for SmartRecruiters and how long did it take before you launched the beta?
I recognized that complex enterprise software systems failed to get it right from both the user and candidate side. It was also clear that,as an industry, we were failing to solve the massive recruiting challenge that businesses face, leaving a widening gap with millions of jobs vacant and people unemployed.
SmartRecruiters was founded in September 2010 to solve that problem in the US. My agenda was and continues to be very simple: Build the best recruiting platform and make it available and free on a global scale.
From there, we raised a seed round in October 2010 backed by Mayfield, assembled a team and launched in March 2011.
Looking back now, is there something you wish you had done differently in the early days of SmartRecruiters?
I see the start-up world as an accelerated learning course so, yes there are several things that I think I would do differently in retrospect.
Having said that, SmartRecruiters is in a great place – and because of that – I wouldn’t change anything about how we got here.
Switching gears now, can you discuss the advantages and disadvantages of being an entrepreneur in San Francisco?
I couldn’t imagine a better location for entrepreneurship than San Francisco. It’s the only place in the world where people are crazy enough to think that they can change the world. Not only change the world, but bring the vision to life from assembling the company, getting funded and attracting top talent.
What previous business experiences has informed how you approach running SmartRecruiters?
All my previous experiences have led to this. I have been an entrepreneur in recruiting and recruiting technology for 20 years now. SmartRecruiters is my fifth business but the first one that allows me to focus on solving the friction within the labor market rather than making money from it. It feels great.
And how do you go about marketing SmartRecruiters and what is the demographic of your target market?
We started with inbound marketing through our blog and different social media channels. While we see the customer benefits and brand value from ongoing social engagement and relationships, it’s been word of mouth that has brought us 15,000+ companies. In a way, we crowd-source sales and marketing to our customers. In the world of free, your product is awesome or it’s not. And if it is, then your customers are the people who spread the word.
Can you tell me about how funding began and how it has developed with SmartRecruiters?
It is a good time to be an entrepreneur. With the right plan, fundraising is not difficult. Fundraising is not about convincing people, it’s about finding the other innovative believers. Upon moving to San Francisco, I networked and met about ten VCs for our Series A. Eights weeks after introductions, we were backed by Mayfield.
What are the most immediate and important adjustments you have had to make with SmartRecruiters as the user base grows?
We are focused on making SmartRecruiters more and more awesome. We listen to customers and invest heavily in building out a platform that scales. We also leverage data to help our customers anticipate business decisions and then make smarter company decisions.
So, overall, how do you approach business? That is, what’s your vision of the business world and how does that concept affect your business choices?
I approach business with an emphasis on people and interactions. Business is finding the simplest solution to truly add value to people’s lives.
And in terms of feedback from users and employers, are there common but surprising reactions that weren’t initially anticipated?
I didn’t anticipate the extent of excitement we’d receive from customers and candidates. Coming from the large enterprise software space, I forgot how nice it is to receive customer satisfaction and brand endorsement.
The other day, a customer tweeted, “Have I told you how much I LOVE SmartRecruiters? Well, I do. It makes my life so much easier.”
You’ve got to enjoy those moments.
We also have customers calling the office to ask if they can donate money, which is an honor and those relationships are certainly meaningful.
What’s your day to day like of running SmartRecruiters and how do you go about organizing your list of priorities for each day?
I wake up a 5:30 and work two hours from home before I make my wife and daughters breakfast; this is an essential part of the day. I then ride my motorcycle to the SmartRecruiters office in SOMA. Most days start off with an open conference call with the development team in Krakow, Poland. The rest of the day is spent working closely with my staff on projects until they are perfected. If the project is not awesome, the project is not done.
Can you talk about some of the future plans of SmartRecruiters and how you see SmartRecruiters evolving?
I see SmartRecruiters products becoming more and more social. While we already have a Facebook company careers tab, insider connections, and integration with Twitter and LinkedIn, we have just scratched the surface. In this connected world, there is always a friend – or a friend of a friend – who can help a company find talent.
As an entrepreneur, what’s an important lesson that you’ve learned with running SmartRecruiters?
The importance of purpose is one of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned from running the company. We continue to build SmartRecruiters to help eradicate unemployment. It’s a clear and simple purpose which making business decisions clear and simple. We just ask ourselves, “Is this going to make hiring easier, faster, better?” If the answer is yes, we do it.
Do you have a particular company culture that reflects your business philosophy or what you aim to achieve with SmartRecruiters?
I thrive on transparency, awesomeness, speed, innovation, disruption, effort… I don’t do well with complexity, politics and assholes.
What advice would you offer someone interested in launching a startup?
Be obsessed and paranoid. Learn fast and clear your agenda for the next ten years.
When you’re not working on SmartRecruiters, how do you like to spend your time?
I like to spend my time with family and sailing.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by clean design and people who make this world a better place.
How do you motivate yourself?
I installed a flat screen in the office which displays a real time counter of the jobs that were created through SmartRecruiters. This morning, it read 82,354. That’s not enough to eradicate unemployment but it is 82,354 people who found their dream job a little faster with our help.
There are 3.5 million jobs open in the US right now. If we make hiring easy and give businesses better access to talent we can make impact millions of people. That’s what keeps me going.
What do you find is the best way to balance your work life with your personal life?
I make my personal life a priority and let work fill up the rest.