Foundations: How starting a #Startup is really like… #Recruiterbox

linenStarting a startup is an exciting and also a challenging journey, right from putting together the Founding team, building a great product, persisting during times of roadblock, engaging the users, thinking long-term and so on. To help the fellow entrepreneurs, we have been speaking to recent entrepreneurs about their startup-journey, growth path and their learnings. In this series, we spoke to Raj Sheth, CEO & Co-Founder at RecruiterBox, about his motivation, decision to startup and his experience so far.

“Recruiterbox provides a one-stop portal to track applicants in one place with its online recruiting and resume management software, applicant tracking systems, Careers site management and Collaborative Recruitment”

What is your background, how did you decide to startup?

To give a background, I did my Bachelors from Babson college, US –  the place had a very entrepreneurial culture and the first startup I tried was a food-delivery startup in my college. After my college, I was working with EMC US for 3 years when I started realizing that I’m getting used to this habit of monthly paycheck. I wanted to solve a problem with a good product. Yes, startup isn’t easy, you aren’t going to make money in initial months – yet we decided to take this journey. Recruiterbox is my 3rd startup.

Could you tell us about the Co-founders and team?

Girish Redekar and Raguveer Kancherla are the two other Co-founders who have been instrumental in building the RecruiterBox product. Both are from IIT Madras and they were working with ZS Associates before they went on to work with HSBC and GE Genpact respectively.

Could you tell us about your Product, and how you chose this problem to solve?

All three of us have worked in large companies, and what we have seen largely is the compliance kind of products in use with little flexibility for end users. For hiring, we saw it to be based on emails, with big file attachments and separate XL tracking. In contrast, products like LinkedIn provides an easy way to share profiles through their online network portal. We wanted to build a product which would help recruiters to easily track applicants, manage resumes and the entire process seamlessly.

Tell us about the initial version of the product and its growth henceforth.

Initial experience I’d say was exciting, painful and challenging. We explained to an initial set of customers – they were happy with product – but the challenging part was scaling from say 10 to 100 customers. We incorporated RecruiterBox in US, and we had our initial customers in India as well, we used PayPal to accept payments. We had challenges in our initial product e.g. in billing, before we reached a stable product.

The co-founders had a very clear roadmap for the product – they took customer inputs and at the same time, clearly prioritized the right set of things to be added to the product in the given time. Also we interacted with head of recruiting in major companies, to gather their inputs and make the product better.

How important is Tech in RecruiterBox, and how did you go about acquiring tech-talent?

Technology is more important than anything else in our product Startup. Customers pay for a good product, so it all comes to better product right? in terms of how easy it is to understand the product, how usable, how robust, how secure. It should stay up all the time, should have useful functionalities and so on.

Having said that, acquiring tech-talent is one of the difficult things. You need people who can build better tech product, more so than as a service. There is a lot of time spent on hiring tech-talent, grooming them and getting them on board and this is one challenge faced by most product companies out here.

What has been the biggest challenge in this startup journey so far?

In the first year or even then, growth is the biggest challenge. Product is something in your control, you know what you have built, and what you are going to do further with customer inputs. But sales growth is a challenging one to crack. And we do many things like getting organic traffic from Google, email-marketing, Adwords, online-advertising, paid-Ads etc. And today we appear right at the top in Google organic search results, when you search for the keywords ‘recruiting software’ – this shows the quality of our product.

Ours is a B2B product and we get a big proportion of traffic from Google. For easy onboarding of our B2B customers, we offer online sign-up and free trial. And most customers eventually choose to buy our Product by paying online even without any intervention from our Sales team. We reach out to all customers signing-up and help them through screen-share, video-chats etc. Now with more advanced features being rolled-out, we look to expand with dedicated Sales-team to provide initial hand-holding.

What are your views on the startup ecosystem in India, and what would you advise the aspiring entrepreneurs?

Speaking of networks and VCs, I’d say there is a much better ecosystem now in India, than say 4 years ago. There are active networks, one just has to reach out to right people. Also Bangalore and Silicon Valley are quite well connected in terms of networking – you have to reach out.

Speaking of funding ecosystem, there is a lot of action these days in India as well as here in US. I’d advise aspiring entrepreneurs to focus on building the right Product in initial days rather than spending time on valuations. People wouldn’t easily invest in just an idea right? Learn to code, focus on building a Product which would address the problem out there, and things would slowly fall in place.