Startup Spotlight: A Conversation With Daniel Chait of Greenhouse.io

This week, the Startup Spotlight shines on Greenhouse.io. We caught up with Daniel Chait, Co-founder and CEO. Our conversation is below.

What is your background?

I have a degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Michigan (#GOBLUE) and have been an entrepreneur in NYC since 1997. Greenhouse is my third company here. Previously, I cofounded Lab49, which creates technology for the financial services industry. It started as 3 techies at my kitchen table and grew to a worldwide business – that’s where I really developed my ideas about how to recruit.

Tell us about the team you have built so far.

It’s a great group. It’s not the first rodeo for any of us, so we all bring a ton of experience to the table. I love having a team who’s been there before because they all know how to handle the pace of change that fast growth demands. I know many startups lurch from pivot to pivot, wasting energy and resources, but with this group it’s been more or less a beeline from Day 1, and I credit that to the remarkable focus, vision and experience they all bring.

What financial support did you have to launch the business?

We raised an initial angel round from a world class group of early stage investors. With amazing successes like WordPress, Pinterest, ZocDoc, BabyCenter,com, and more, our early investors were able to connect us deeply into the VC community so that when we closed on our $2M round this year we were able to select from amongst many top tier VC relationships. Going with Resolute.vc and Social+Capital Partnership has been a great choice.

What problem are you trying to solve?

Put simply, talent is the #1 driver of company performance, but most companies do a poor job at hiring. Proven best practices have existed for decades, yet few firms manage to use them successfully.

Greenhouse is a software platform that makes it easy for any company to follow proven best practices and improve their recruiting.

Describe the business, core products and services?

Greenhouse is an enterprise web app that helps companies get better at finding and hiring the best talent.

Being good at hiring isn’t a secret—hundreds of books, newsletters, and articles explain the same best practices over and over again. The thing is, it’s tough to put these best practices to work. So most companies do what’s easy instead of what’s effective. And most recruiting software only does the simple stuff like tracking resumes and hosting a cut-and-paste jobs page.

Greenhouse is different. It’s been designed specifically to help companies get better at the tough, important parts of hiring— things like planning, keeping the whole team organized, and capturing the right data to make informed decisions.

Greenhouse helps companies craft a comprehensive plan for finding candidates. Our software makes it easy to create job campaigns that use multiple sources and to track where the most qualified candidates are coming from.

We also help companies design an organized, focused interview process and to identify the specific skills and personality traits of an ideal candidate. Then we help them build tailored interview kits so every interviewer is prepared with questions that focus on identifying those skills and traits. And we make it easy to capture that information so it’s clear which candidates are a great fit, and which aren’t.

And because Greenhouse is designed for continuous improvement, we make a point to measure every aspect of the hiring process. We provide companies with hard data so they can see what works and what doesn’t. The end result: companies learn how to write more effective job ads, conduct more focused interviews, and evolve their hiring process to be smoother, faster and more effective.

 Who do you expect your customers and users to be at launch?

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Greenhouse is solving the most important problem for nearly every company – finding and hiring the best talent, consistently. We really think that our solution is applicable across an extremely broad range of companies.

Having said that, where we’ve started is with the fast-growing, VC backed tech companies. That’s where the competition for talent is the fiercest, and they’re the most frustrated with the existing ATS’s. Amongst those firms, in just under a year we’ve gotten tremendous traction and built quite a good reputation for not only an outstanding product but great customer service and value too.

 Where do you stand right now with regard to funding?

We’re fortunate to be backed by world-class investors including Resolute.vc and Social+Capital Partnership who have great access to not only capital but resources beyond that. Having said that, there’s clearly an enormous opportunity in our field and it’s a huge undertaking to really solve it universally. So we’ve continued to meet with VC’s to see who shares our vision and passion for this problem space, to make sure the company is well funded for many, many years to come.

 What is the business AND revenue model? What is your strategy for profitability?

We have a saying at Greenhouse, “We’re not trying to innovate in that dimension”. It’s applicable in this answer – we just build great software and charge people reasonable fees for it, with no hidden B.S. We charge a simple, annual fee based on how big your company is. The model makes sense to us and to our customers, and it’s easy to budget for.

Did anyone tell you this wasn’t going to be successful?

Heck yeah! Though now it may seem obvious, believe me a couple years ago when my cofounder and I were going around telling people what we were planning to do, we got a lot of tilted heads and scrunched up noses. “HR ?!??”, they’d groan, “that sounds so dull!”.  Nowadays of course it’s a “hot” area. You can hardly go a week without reading about another new recruiting startup. But we didn’t listen to the doubters back then, and we don’t listen to the cheerleaders now.

How will you measure success 12 months from now?

We have one yardstick at Greenhouse – “are we fixing the problem?”.

If we can look back on our time here and say, “Yes, generally speaking companies are pretty decent at recruiting”, then I’d say we’ve done a good job. It might take longer than 12 months though…

Jeremy Roberts, SPHR, is VP, Customer Experience at HiringSolved. He is the previous Editor of SourceCon. Prior to joining the ERE Media team, he spent over a decade working as a recruiter, sourcer, and sourcing manager. This time was spent in diverse environments, including third party agency settings (retained and contingent), recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) providers, and internal corporate HR departments. His previous employers include the MHA Group, Ajilon Finance, Korn Ferry Futurestep, Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems, and Randstad Sourceright, US. He resides in Corinth, TX with his wife and 3 children.

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