Talent.com wants to become the mother of all internet job boards

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Lucas Martinez is the founder of Talent, a portal that aggregates both job ads posted directly by recruiters as well as ads from third-party recruitment sites.

His goal is to post every job available on the entire Internet and he’s headed toward accomplishing it insanely fast. Find out how in this interview.

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Lucas Martinez

Lucas Martinez

Talent

Lucas Martinez is the founder of Talent, a portal that aggregates both job ads posted directly by recruiters as well as ads from third-party recruitment sites.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey, there are freedom fighters. I’m finally indoors. Um, joining me is Lucas Martinez. He is the founder of talent.com. How much did you pay for that domain?

Lucas: we still can’t say that , there is a, there is a, we are on the contract and we, we, we, we are not allowed to say, but on, in the lower six, uh, figures.

Andrew: low six figures. So we’re talking hundreds of thousands of dollars, not closer to a million. That is a fan freaking domain name for the business that you’re in. Luke Martinez is the co-founder and now CEO of talent. It’s a portal that aggregates both, uh, job ads that are posted online by recruiters as well as ads from third party, basically.

They want to have every single job site job listing on the internet, on their site. Am I right about that? Lucas?

Lucas: It’s exactly right, Andrew.

Andrew: What percentage would you say you’ve gotten to right now?

Lucas: It’s a hard one to know. We will always try finding new, uh, new websites to crowd and new carrier sites that appear, uh, new companies that, that, that pop up. And we are always on the lookout. Um, I hope that we are at least 80 to 90% of the market by now.

Andrew: So you really would want, if, if mixer, my site had mixergy.com/jobs, and I posted even using a WordPress page, a job listing. I see your eyes light up. You’re like, yeah, of course you wanna have your system scrape that, put it in your network. And then if somebody comes to talent.com and searches for a job, like the one that I listed, you’ll show it to them and then send them over to my site.

That’s your model?

Lucas: Exactly. That’s that’s, that’s the goal. So it’s, uh, right now it’s semi-automated. And so meaning that we have, uh, we have people actually on the lookout for it, and they have to teach the machine and how to look for jobs in that particular page. Once you do it, once they come back and come back and come back and do it themselves.

But the goal is to fully automate it at some.

Andrew: Okay. I should say, by the way, it’s kind of weird to be recording inside. Ever since I got to Austin, I’ve been recording from different places. And for the last few months I recorded outside here in our giant, uh, outside. I don’t even know if I could call it a backyard, lots of space. And then, uh, of. A friend of a friend came over here and set me up with a studio.

It feels so exciting to actually have things set up. Look at the color of the wall over there. Look at these freaking shelves. Are they beautiful?

Lucas: Uh, well, you, it looks like an amazing place. I, I wish you could show me around,

Andrew: I, and I put the desk on wheels so that I could have different position. Anyway, I fricking love recording in here, but it’s still new. I see some challenges. Hopefully someone in the audience will tell me what the sound is like for them. Gimme some feedback on how it’s sounding, cuz really as exciting as it is for me.

I care about what the audience thinks. Um, and so my email address is andrew@mixerg.com. If you can just gimme some feedback on it. Andrew mixer, g.com. Um, and I should say this interview is sponsored by two companies. The first I asked you if you wanted me and if you were okay with me talking about them, it’s a company that matches my audience with developers for hire it’s called lemon.io.

And you said, yeah, of course let’s do it. So we’ll talk about them. And then also, if you’re doing email marketing, I’ll tell you later on everyone, why you should go to send in blue.com/mixergy. But Lucas, I did a lot of yapping. Let’s have you talk what’s the revenue right now at talent.

Lucas: Um, so last year, um, we generated a hundred and a hundred million dollars.

Andrew: Hundred million.

Lucas: yes, it took a while though. it? Didn’t it didn’t happen overnight.

Andrew: how many years did it take to get here? You guys founded what? 2011.

Lucas: yes. We found it in 2011. Exactly. And, uh, you know, like first year, like $50,000. So, you know, we went, we went through a long way to get to, uh, to, to where we are today.

Andrew: You know, the thing is by 2011, there were tons of job sites. One of the few categories that actually made it out of the first internet bubble, the one that popped was, was job sites. It was dating job sites, kind of, you could say some search engines, Google and Yahoo survived, but jobs existed. What did you feel at 2011 missing?

Lucas: What, what we felt was missing at the time. And this is my colleague, Ben. Uh, we started a company with, um, that, you know, when he was looking for a job and I actually came from an E like, Like realizing that, oh, when I look for a job in those traditional sites from, from before, right. Those monsters and the career builders of the day, um, is that you wouldn’t, you wouldn’t see every single job available in a, in a particular economy.

So let’s say you, you, you are from Chicago and you wanna look for jobs in finance, in Chicago, you would only see jobs. That companies would’ve paid to display, um, on those sites in Chicago. Right. And the reality is that you could actually, there was so many more because on carrier sites, you have so many more jobs on those in those companies.

And that’s that, that was the goal. We like get every single job available in a particular economy.

Andrew: So sites like monster at the time worked. If I understand it right where companies had to actually actively list on them or else those jobs were absent from the sites.

Lucas: Exactly they would, they would appear on the, the carrier sites of those large and mid-size companies who had what we call application tracking systems ATS. Um, um, but if they, they wouldn’t yeah, exactly. If they wouldn’t pay those sites, they wouldn’t appear. And so you would have to go individually on every single of those large, you know, folks, 2000 websites to see everything that was available.

And that here, the value of proposition for the candidate was like, Hey, on this side, you would be able to see every single job available on our platform.

Andrew: Talk to me about where the idea came from, because it’s, it’s impressive that you got here with so many freaking competitors. And as you told me, before we got started, you almost could have been crushed by them. And there was a year when you nearly did, but it happened because your co-founder was looking for a job in finance and he wanted to know all the jobs, why it’s not.

I thought in finance Lucas, the way to do it is ask a few friends, look at the few firms that you really care about and move on. Right.

Lucas: it’s, it’s a good point. It’s a good point. I think it’s really because, you know, when, when you look for a job, like, uh, the job search is extremely aspirational and you wanna know, like you, you, on average candidates go to between 12 and 15 different sites because they don’t have the same searches on all, on all those job sites.

And they wanted to see it all in one single place instead of going and. In time in all those different sites before he could actually find his dream job. And he said, I can do better. I can actually create a Crowder, um, that go, that would go on all those sites and make sure that I could just do one single search and see every single job available that I’m looking for in, in, in this particular area.

So basically re recreating a Google, but for jobs.

Andrew: And then when you had that idea, why didn’t you think Google’s gonna do it? They’re already aggregating all the, I guess at that point they were already doing airlines, right?

Lucas: no, I don’t, I we’re not doing airlines at that point. Uh, it came maybe later. Um, but if you think about it, like, um, I don’t think Google has been extremely good at maybe at some, but like not very good. Vertical switch engines in some spaces are doing a bit better than others, but still, you know, like sky scanner still there even flights, right?

Despite Google, um, and doing extremely well and others as well, hotels, the same shopping as well. The same thing. There is a problem with the antitrust laws as well, where maybe they cannot do exactly what they want there. Um, but the reality, they tried with jobs as. Um, and the, the results are not so good because the information in the job space is not structured or is structured, but it’s very, it’s very scattered all around with full of jobs, um, from placement agencies, job boards, corporate sites, and some sometimes at the same jobs, the information is extremely difficult to actually get it to get.

Right. Um, and so one day went after it actually Google one. After it, I tried the results were actually. Average, uh, to say the least. And so I think that this is where specialization here in this aspect was, was key. Uh, and you see players like us and others that are doing better, a better job than they do.

Um, and this is, uh, and, and, and, and actually it sees when you look at traffic on our outside, people come and, and stay and stay for a long time.

Andrew: All right. He said, I’m looking for a job in finance. I’m going to scrape job boards and see if I could put something together. That’s not something you do when you’re really looking for a job in finance. Right. That’s something that you do when you say, Hey, you know what? Maybe there’s an entrepreneurial opportunity here.

Right?

Lucas: yeah. You know, he’s a, he is a, he is one of those, uh, people that, you know, like. When he has an idea, he really focused on it and just like spent his life, uh, just getting that right. And so the reality, he wasn’t even a developer. And so he started to develop before he had a, he had another idea. Uh, where he learned how to code by creating another, another website, um, worked well learned for him, how to code in PHP and learned all the, all the, all the, you know, all the, all the things he had to know to really like, uh, built his own Crowder.

Um, he built his own Crowder, uh, been by adding every single job available at the time in, in, in Quebec, in our own little region, you know, in, in Canada. Um, and this is, this is how everything. That we had to figure it out, how to make money.

Andrew: And this was, uh, was it Maxim or Benjamin?

Lucas: it was Benjamin. It was Benjamin.

Andrew: Did the, did the three of you have another business together? Was there something that you did that led you to start a company at this point?

Lucas: Yeah, so the, the way, so why I started with Maxim, uh, back in Switzerland, um, Maxim, uh, was in. Got to know Ben already in Switzerland as well because his, his parents were actually sent to work in Switzerland from Canada. And so they met there at their, at a earlier age. They always kept together. Um, and actually Maxim after university after college, when we, we, we were both working in London.

He, uh, he, he introduced me to Ben. um, and, uh, because they were close friends and, and, and Maxim already had invested, uh, in Ben because he, he, he believed that he was, uh, an amazing personality, an amazing entrepreneur. And, uh, and he already had started a first, uh, site, uh, in, uh, in the car trust in the car leasing,

Andrew: leasing. It was called, uh, room V R O U M pronounced room.ca. So it was a Canadian site related to getting rid of, I guess, car leases, right? Where if you have a car and you wanna sell it, it’s easy. If you have a car that’s leased and you want to sell it or the equivalent, you can’t, that’s what that site was.

Lucas: exactly you got it. And this is how Ben really got to learn, uh, all the tricks and, uh, and his idea after that was to say, okay, like I want to create something else. Um, at first he want, he had this idea of creating a, a competitor to PayPal that he felt that, oh, that might be a bit to, to, uh, to complex in terms of regulations at first, uh, at that time.

And so we thought, you know what, um, I’m more passionate about jobs. Um, and this is when he decided to, uh, to, uh, you know, to, to create Novo at the time.

Andrew: and he sold his previous company room. Right.

Lucas: yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly.

Andrew: Big exit

Lucas: Well, it was an average exit. It was a, it was a smaller business that, you know, it could have been a lot bigger if it, if, if he would’ve focused on this, but the reality, um, that is that, uh, the, the total addressable market in the job space. Um, and the, the value proposition, like the vision that we had for jobs was, uh, was a lot bigger.

Um, and so we thought that, well, let’s put this aside and let’s focus on.

Andrew: It’s it fair to say that he was really on the hunt for a new business idea, right? He wasn’t a guy who was saying, how do I get a job now that I sold my previous company, I might wanna work. And it was more like if I wanted to search for another job in finance. And I know that he had one before he was at the national bank of Canada for a couple years, it was more like him saying if I wanted to, what would it look like?

Ah, this is really difficult. I think we could do better.

Lucas: Oh, yeah, a hundred percent like, uh, I mean, he he’s, he’s, he’s an entrepreneur. Uh, he’s, he’s huge solve problems that he faces in real life. Um, and, uh, and yeah, that was, that was the whole premise of when, of, of Novo when we started.

Andrew: So then why, and that was the, the previous name to talent before you called it and got the domain talent.com. But why did he bring you in if he’s an entrepreneur already? Why does he need you as a co-founder.

Lucas: Yeah. That’s so, uh, this is when, so Maxim originally invested. Um, and I wouldn’t say in the idea, but really in the, in, in, in the man, uh, in ban. And, uh, and at that time I was already extremely close with my accent. I was starting career in, in, in B2, in B2B sales. And I max recognized that, oh, jobs, it’s a two sided marketplace.

Um, did you need a consumer side and need a business side? And so. Like when he told me, listen, I think you should talk to, to, to, to Ben because Ben is great at product. Um, but not so much at, in sales. And, and I think the two of you would be a great March to match, to, to start, you know, like to light up, um, the product and, and the business.

So this is when we, this is when we contacted, like with each other, we talked with each other. I flew to Montreal in December, 2010 to, uh, to meet Ben. Uh, I have. Of him for like five, five years already. And, uh, and we hit it off and one month later I moved

Andrew: Your sales experience was where, what was it that you did that made you such a good salesperson?

Lucas: I don’t know if I was such a good salesperson, but I started in a, in a, at, at, at TF, uh, which basically is, is a, is a Swiss slash Swedish company. Um, that offers like English, English, um, lessons for, for, for kids mostly as well as for corporations. And, uh, I was selling at the time in, in the middle east. So I was based out of London, but mainly based out of.

Um, for, uh, selling English language courses for, uh, for, for large organizations and governments in the middle east

Andrew: That was what you were doing, finding the big organizations to partner up with. They would then bring this to their members’ kids. If I

Lucas: ex what? Well, that, that was the other side of the business at EF, but like what I was selling here was just like four large corporations, uh, basically teaching English, uh, for their own employee.

Andrew: staff. Got it.

Lucas: Yeah. To this top.

Andrew: Okay. By the way. So I’m in this office, here’s a problem that I’m seeing. First of all, there is too much echo in here. Echo drives me, freaking crazy. And as much as we patted it and we have all this stuff, it’s too echoy. Anyway, number two, we have windows, which. The problem with recording on video is that windows let light in and then they don’t, as the sun goes in front of and behind trees, it just, it drives me crazy.

So I think we need better window coverings. And I think I need more, I don’t know, not sound panelings we decided not to do that. Are you obsess? You’re obsessive about details too, right? Like for you, it may not be this kind of detail, but you’re kind of an obsessive personality you were telling me about.

you were playing table tennis, right? Talk about how far you got with table tennis and what you had to do to get there as a kid.

Lucas: Yeah. Well, I, I, I, I won, uh, I, I won quite a few times. Uh I’m from Switzerland, right? So I played for the Swiss national team, uh, for, for quite a few years, won, uh, won a few, a few titles there in the, in the more. Junior categories, uh, and obviously played quite a, quite a lot worldwide. Um, you know, a lot of, uh, European championships, world championships, things like that.

That was a, that was a lot of fun and yeah, I was, uh, I was playing a lot. Um, so I was, I was playing like 40 hours a week, uh, during many years. Um, during my youth and, uh, and yeah, so pretty obsessive, uh, when I couldn’t play, I would, uh, I would, I would play, uh, with my record against, uh, against the wall and my parents’ place.

Um, and now in a house for four hours and bothering my parents with a, with little, with a little ball against the wall,

Andrew: P P P P. I

Lucas: much pop, pop.

Andrew: and table tennis is in the Olympics.

Lucas: Yes, it is since, uh, 19, uh, uh, 88.

Andrew: How close did you get to being on the Olympic team?

Lucas: Uh, so the it’s one of those sports where it’s not. Um, the top three or four of every single country that goes, but really like the best in the world.

And so I think at the time, um, Europe had maybe like 30, 30 places. Um, and so we played the, the qualifyings once, but like, uh, didn’t make didn’t happen at some point. It was time to decide between college, um, and, and sport. And, uh, I went the other route.

Andrew: How do you accept that? Like as a person who wanted it, who dreamt about it, who saw yourself doing it? How do you then dare to try to do something else? That’s big when you tried this and it didn’t work out.

Lucas: Well, I, I think I didn’t accept it yet. Uh, I still, I think it’s been 18 years, 19 years. I really like haven’t really played at a high level and I still dream about it. I still dream about it that I’m playing or that I’m I’m in competitions. Um, and that I can make it. And so I guess this is a very telling, I guess it’s, it’s I really, really, really haven’t really gone over it.

Um, and I guess this is something that I will, that will always, you know, pinch my heart because it didn’t, it didn’t happen.

Andrew: You know what I have to say? I like that answer more than the one that maybe you should have given, which is, well, I learned that I had this other path, what I feel like I don’t wanna give up on things that matter to me. And I’m almost going to die feeling like maybe I can still do it, um, or, or at least accepting that I want to do it.

All right.

Lucas: yeah. It was, it was a, it was a hard decision for sure. Yeah. Yeah. And it still is, I guess. Yeah.

Andrew: My first, uh, sponsor is lemon.io. The reason you are okay with lemon being a sponsor is your models are different. What lemon does is they are a matchmaking service, right? You are not a matchmaking service. You’re self serve listing site. This is an experience where they say, look, you come to us, tell us what you’re hiring for, tell us your needs, and we will match you.

And I know that they do this personally because I’ve seen the founder get in an email chain with people in my audience who have asked for help, and he will jump in there to make sure that people have, uh, a match. That is why they’re able to give you the 24 hour miraculous match guarantee. They will take care of you with concierge service.

They’ll also give you. Uh, developers at only 36 to 56% of the cost. And the way they do that is because they go to parts of the world where frankly, developers earn less money. Now, some people have been apparently upset about that, but it’s still higher than they would earn if they were getting local jobs.

And so those developers are happy to work on the lemon.io platform. If you’re looking to get started, you should know you get 24 hour match guaranteed. You’ve got, um, a multi-stage vetting process in your, in your favor. You’ve got an account manager who’s assigned to your project. You’ve got live support, real people there.

And it’s a phenomenal company that will give you even a lower rate if you use my URL. And that URL is lemon.io/mixer, G lemon.io/m I X E R G Y. Thanks to them for sponsoring. Okay. So now you’re scraping that part feels like it’s not easy, but it’s, it’s manageable. Your part seems hard. Now, did you have, you didn’t have a business model from the beginning, right?

You just knew if we could get all the job listings on the internet or as close to that as possible, people will come to our site, then we could figure something out. Talk to me about the different pivots that you personally had to go through to figure out what the business model was and where the revenue would be.

Lucas: Yeah, I think it’s a, it’s a pivot pivoting caps because we pivoted every single month for like I think for like a year. Um, and the, the reason is because I guess we, we were not from the industry, so we didn’t have that. That like clear idea of how we were gonna monetize. We knew from the get go that we had to figure it out.

Um, paper, click advertising in our space is now the norm and that’s, this is how we monetize today, but it wasn’t the norm. You know, 12 years ago when we started, when we first started, it was still a world where you had to pay to post. Um, and so we, we, we went through that and we went through different business models, but, and we started with postings.

Um, but it didn’t scale. Um, we

Andrew: people to post listings on your site, but why, why would they, why would anyone pay when your whole model is to scrape their sites and post it for free? Anyway?

Lucas: And this is a very good question that I’ve been asked also when we first started. And this is, this is why maybe sometimes you don’t have to be too smart when you are, when you’re an entrepreneur. Right. You gotta

Andrew: Got it.

Lucas: good thing is that we

Andrew: it it’s not the right decision. And in retrospect it was, it was off, but it’s one of the things that you considered, you said, look, we’re, we’re scraping the sites and I could guess I could kind of see it. Maybe some people wanna curate their own listing, decide what goes on your site.

Adjust it. Okay. So how did you know that model failed? What told you that, that wasn’t where the revenue would be?

Lucas: It didn’t it didn’t we had to re resell all the time. And it didn’t felt right, because you just like we had, even if we provided results, I needed to be all the time there, you know, going after the clients and make sure do you have a new need? You have a new need, you have a new need.

Andrew: Oh, really? Okay.

Lucas: A, and so this was the previous model.

And so we, we understood that if you were going to scale, um, we, we had to find a way where we could make money while we were sleeping. Um, and, and this is we, we started with different different models first, but it really it’s really, we understood that, um, we work very similar to Google, um, us even buying traffic, user traffic on Google.

Um, when we realized that we realized that, okay, this is what we are, we are verticals are changing in jobs, and this is how we have to monetize. But again, the good thing is that you don’t have to have too much ego in your ideas because the reality is that, uh, most of them fail that first year. And when we realized that and we made the switch, this is when things started to look better for us.

Andrew: Give me gimme another one of the failed business model approaches that maybe seemed right at the.

Lucas: Bounty hunter, where basically you could look for jobs. And, uh, we would, uh, we would say, you know, we would basically incentivize candidates to refer someone, um, and, and, and pay a fee, um, for placement by the company.

Andrew: mm-hmm

Lucas: and, uh, and that was that, that, that massive fail, no one actually was

Andrew: You know what? There were models like that. I remember in the hacker news community, right? Where the models were aimed at companies, they would say to companies, your people know the right people for you to hire. You want more people like the ones who are in your office anyway. Offer them a bounty and send them off to go and recruit their friends or classmates and so on.

I see. And so I get why you would want to offer that on your site and you say, okay, we’ll put that into our site and see if that works, that didn’t work. How did you know that didn’t work?

Lucas: Again, again, it was the same thing. Uh, well, first of all, on this side, on the candidate side, people were not going through the motion. They were not interested in actually providing candidates. Um, and that’s because we also assumed that we had more of a white collar population, but the reality was more of a blue collar population that we had on our side.

And they were not really keen on, you know, You know, refer people around them. Um, and so the, the, the, the, yeah, um, they were just not using the, the, the, that product. And so we decided to just that’s it, you know, and again, like it was it just with us having millions of jobs in our platform, um, just. Having one client for one job and for one bounty just didn’t make sense again.

And so the good thing is that we had an accelerated curve. an accelerated, uh, course on the industry because we tried every single model that was available out there. And I could, and now can actually tell, we can actually tell why they didn’t work. Um, and so that really helped us get to where we are. And actually I think it really helped.

Yeah. Yeah.

Andrew: I always wonder how do you know if an idea doesn’t work or maybe you just didn’t execute right. Or didn’t give it enough time, like frankly, doing these interviews for a long time, nobody was listening and then eventually people suddenly came, but it took a little while to get traction. How did you know if the ideas that you were discarding were just too early, maybe they needed a little more time or not?

Lucas: Oh, that’s, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a fair point. First of all, I’m extremely impatient so that’s not a very good, fair character. Um, but uh, extremely impatient. And, but at the same time we had to be impatient because we had 12 months of run rate. Well, 12 months of run rate, we didn’t have, we didn’t raise money.

It was, uh, it was a bit of money that, um, that Maxine. Um, I had put in the business for me from his bonus working in finance. Um, and that’s it. And so we couldn’t, we, we, we, we couldn’t afford to actually, you know, work on those ideas, but at the same time, they just didn’t feel right. Every single time didn’t feel right on the candidate side, didn’t feel right on the, on the, on the employer’s side, neither, neither.

And so we had to move on.

Andrew: Talking about that you needed to raise money. It seems like you’d gotten to tens of thousands in revenue. In what? The first year you said 50,000, I think was your first year revenue, right?

Lucas: Yeah. So 50,000,

Andrew: and that’s from all these little experiments, that’s from the experiments of you going to, and it’s how have you been able to get to $50,000 considering how little you had in place?

Lucas: Yeah. I mean, uh, I was, you know, I, I, I arrived in a country that I didn’t know. I used to, you know, I, I like to see the joke that, you know, and it’s true. Actually, I called the, the equivalent of Walmart in Canada and I thought it was a bank. And so I was. Cold calling someone, uh, that was, I thought it was a bank, but it was a retailer.

Uh, and so the realities I was making, like probably between 120 and 130 calls a day. And trying to meet every single person around. And I think, um, I think, yeah, I mean, just, you know, giving, giving some free, not too much, but people were like willing to help as well, um, to, to, to, to try us. Um, and, uh, and, and, and it work body weight,

Andrew: 120 calls a day. You would sit down, oh, your eyes just went. I wish people could watch just the clips that are important of this. Cuz when I said that your eyes just suddenly settled to this is serious. Yes I did that. You sat down a hundred plus phone calls a day, just working the phone. And some people would say yes.

And it seems to me that even if you have a bad product, if it’s, if it’s reasonably close in the hiring space, especially at that time, businesses were willing to pay because you’re not charging them a lot of money. It’s a small portion of their budget. They need to spend money to recruit. Right. And they’re looking for new avenues.

And so you had that going for you.

Lucas: Yes. It’s exactly that it’s, we, we have, we’re extremely lucky that it’s not a one player takes it all market. And so you. Different sites that compete different, uh, products that compete as well. Um, and, and we all play our part in the ecosystem, but as you say, um, employers have a budget and again, they have a very strong incentive to diversify their, their recruitment spent.

Um, and so they always have budget for new ideas, new, new players. Um, and so that’s what I was going for. I was never trying to replace the market leaders at the time, but really going to try to go for that little budget so that I could actually test our assumptions and see if our product worked. Um, and the idea, you know, that first year, the reality is like most of the, the companies we were talking to, like, they couldn’t even say what we were doing because we switched the model too fast.

And that was like our, our, you know, reputation in that local market of.

Andrew: How did you keep yourself going at that period? There’s so many people who are already successful with online businesses. Your friends were doing better than you were that year. How did you keep yourself going?

Lucas: Oh, we’re extremely motivated. We were extremely motivated, uh, as, as founders.

Andrew: Why, what motivated you personally? Lucas? What was it that made you say I’ve gotta do this.

Lucas: The adventure. I mean, I always wanted to be part of an adventure like this in business school. And you know, where I come from in Switzerland, everyone works in banking or in watches or in pharma. It’s difficult. It, it, the startup world was, was just. in the us, you know, that’s what you would hear from Europe at the time, you know, coming from Switzerland, um, and being able to, to be part of it on an adventure like this, it was like being back at table tennis again, you know, being back at sports again and being back and just like being able to compete and be, you know, trying to become the best again.

And that was the, the, the main driver.

Andrew: Okay, so now you’re continuing. And meanwhile, you say we’re gonna run outta money unless we do something fast. When you went out to look for funding, what was the challenge? Why, why didn’t anyone see what you saw?

Lucas: Uh, I think several things here, but I think the main one is that, um, many aggregators or quite a few aggregators doing the tech bubble went busted. Um, and it was hard for them. Uh, I, I won’t name them, but a few because I, I, well, no, some, some are still trying to make it happen, so I won’t, I won’t know.

Andrew: You mean in the, in the job placement in the job search category, there were enough players that were aggregating and didn’t make it

Lucas: yeah,

Andrew: of investors said, look, if they didn’t make it, Lucas, this is just not, it’s not a viable option.

Lucas: Exactly. And so that’s that, that’s what happened, but, uh, and, and, and, and, and so it was hard. We tried in Montreal and at the time Maxim was in a. In, uh, in, uh, in doing an MBA in Madrid at IE. Um, and he was using every single of his course at the MBA to talk about the company and trying to raise, uh, money with, uh, you know, it’s kind of an entrepreneur kind of MBA as well.

Uh, a lot of the business angels and small funds are around the NBA. They’re in Madrid and. And so he, he was, he was talking to everyone for like a year. Um, and, uh, and yeah, it was hard. But at the end of the day, we managed to find some, some business angels that I believe up to this day, believe more in the team than in the ID per se.

Andrew: What did they see in the team?

Lucas: That’s a good question. Uh, I think relentless, I mean,

Andrew: you were relentless?

Lucas: um, we were. I think Maxim was, um, you know, communicating with them every single, every single week and month about what we were doing. uh, about the different changes that we were, that were operating in the business. You had created this CR CRM of potential business angels and letting them know every single month about what we were in terms of revenues, in terms of product development.

Um, so that we, so that they would, you know, buy, um, and, uh, and you know, he spent a lot of time with them, uh, getting to know them personally telling them exactly. But we’re doing a committed personage to say like, Hey, I’m, I’m headed to Montreal right after the, the, the NBA as well. He’s not from Montreal, neither.

I swim Switzerland as well. And so I think that that mentality of, you know, also being, you know, humble in a sense that, you know, we, we, we didn’t know much, but we were ready to,

Andrew: working, but here’s what we’re doing. Here’s where we are constantly. Okay. I should say by the way, second sponsor send in blue, by the way, Lucas, for anyone, you know this as an entrepreneur. Anyone who’s building a business. One of the worst things is to have fixed costs. The problem with fixed costs is it’s you working just to pay the bills?

Fixed costs are the ones that come up month after month, no matter what the beauty of send and blue is, they do email marketing that. Starts out inexpensive and stays inexpensive for the life of the relationship that you have with them. And they do more than email marketing. They do SMS marketing, landing pages, conversion.

They do so much. I want you to go and check ’em out and get an even lower price than their other customers. By going to my URL, it is send in blue.com/mixer G send in blue.com/mixer G how you doing on time? By the way, I heard you typing over there feels like you’ve gotta tell someone that you’re running a little late.

Lucas: Oh, no, no, no, I’m totally good. I’m

Andrew: Are you good?

Lucas: going on on mute because I was coughing.

Andrew: Oh, all right. I, I feel like I did what you were doing just constantly going through and trying and, and adjusting. Was there one breakthrough that was enough to show investors? These, these guys, they have it, they figured something out. Maybe they could get a few more breakthroughs and it’ll work out.

Did any of that happen before you raised money?

Lucas: No, not even, I think we raised it more or less at the time we switched the model to, to paper click advertising, which was working. I think we, we were going through that, but we had no. We, we explained it that we were going through that, but we had no, you know, data points to say like, Hey, it’s gonna work.

So the reality is that they really believe that, you know, we could, they saw the twist and turns over over one year already and all the different, you know, like

Andrew: is there someone typing near

Lucas: we had. Oh no,

Andrew: No. Okay.

Lucas: that was a bit so, so maybe it’s my, my hand. Sorry.

Andrew: Maybe why Montreal, by the way, you talked about how it, it showed that your co-founder was determined because he was willing to fly and move into Montreal. Why not? San Francisco?

Lucas: Yeah, that’s one of the questions that we got a lot, like, Hey, why not San Francisco? And, um, um, and I’m actually extremely glad we, we did this in Montreal. Um, one because, um, we didn’t have any visa to, to be no one was from the us. Um, and so Ben was from Montreal. Um, I went to Montreal. Max as well in Montreal.

And the good thing about a, a place like Montreal is that you are in, in, in, in the American time zone, which is great because innovation in our industry comes from the us. And so you want to be close to the big players that are in your time zone, um, be with them, hang around with them and events and yeah.

And the other thing is. You you, everything is in French, right? In Quebec. So you, not every single us player, uh, is in Quebec because they just don’t want to translate everything into French, you know, like they have better fish to fry. Um, and so we, you, you can kind of. you, you kind of see everything that’s going on in the us and you compete in your own little, you know, like asterisk kingdom, you know?

And, uh, and, and, and, and, and that really helped us because we were able to, to make mistakes at a, at a, at a cheap cost. Um, whereas

Andrew: you publishing in French?

Lucas: well, yeah, every single job was at first, we was just in French when we first started in

Andrew: got it. And so this gave you a place to compete without a lot of competitors, small market, you could do well in it. And then if you did, you could expand. Got it. Got it. And so I see the advantage then of being me. Meanwhile, you’re close enough to the us that you can learn from what’s going on in the us, but you’re isolated enough that they’re not coming in and creating a French site quickly.

Got it. All right. Let’s talk about traffic then. And we can close it out with this. So now you’re starting to figure out the model, post job sites. What are some of the mistakes that you made until you figured out how to get traffic and what’s working for you now?

Lucas: Uh, so, I mean, we still make mistakes when we talk about traffic. Um, because when you talk about traffic, it’s also about matching, right? It’s the quality of that traffic and matching the right candidates to the right jobs. And I think this, we, we keep learning every single day, um, and it’s never evolving.

you know, um, world to attract candidates to our platform. Um, when we first started, um, we, we most, we started with a bit of SCM, you know, like, um, AdWords and others, uh, being advertising. Um, and we, we didn’t know that we needed, you know, we, again, we were not product people. We didn’t really understand how the world worked at the time.

Um, but one of the mistakes. We we made was not to have much retention, you know, not to create users and make sure that they would come back for free, you know, on our platform. Um, so what, that was the biggest mistake we were committing at first, but very quickly, we realized that, Hey, actually, people wanna sign up.

They want to see the new jobs on their email, on their email every single morning. Um, so we had. First iteration about email alerts with that, with a little coffee on an email, , uh, a, a JPEG of a coffee when you would wake up and see the new jobs, uh, appearing on your, on your emails. And that really changed the business fundamentally because.

You know, we were, were at first we sent, you know, a hundred emails to users and today we sent 1 billion emails per month, um, to, to, to two candidates. And it’s a big reason why we got to where we are today. I think 40% of our traffic today is still coming from emails. And today we are still learning. You know, we, we are going into those new platforms going where, uh, younger generations are.

Um, we buy. Different traffic places you could find, um, as well as, uh, you know, SEO, uh, and now we’re going into brand and this is something completely new for us. And this is the reason why we bought the domain talent.com.

Andrew: It used to be called Novo, which just means new. Right.

Lucas: So Novo is, uh, that’s another, uh, Ben’s inventions here is, uh, the reality is that, that the , it was all the domain names were. uh, in the job space. And so we went through Google translates and he found, uh, advisor in Finn was Novo. Uh, it was fun while it lasted, but the reality is our major markets are Anglophones it’s the us can and the UK and, uh, and no one can actually pronounce EU properly.

Uh, and so it just didn’t make much sense over the long run to keep renew vote.

Andrew: yeah, Google translate. Doesn’t show anything for it. Even when I do finish, it gives me a translation error. So I guess it’s a

Lucas: Uh, it’s if you’ve, you know, you need to write an E U V O in finish or Sue me, um, an EU V O yeah. That’s weird means advisor in a locally. Yeah.

Andrew: And so it was. You buying traffic. See if that works. And some of it works, some of it didn’t you had to learn how to buy the right kind of traffic that would, then you buy low. Then people come to a site with lots of jobs. Hopefully they click and add on your site that you make more in paper click.

Right? So that’s one of the models. The other model was to say, okay, let’s start collecting email addresses. And I noticed that right away on your home. You’re asking people to sign in. And so that allows you to bring in people again and again, and bring, repeat traffic. Then you said you went to where people are.

What was it that you were doing there? Just buying social media ads. Is that what you

Lucas: Yeah, exactly. Social media is definitely a part of what we’re doing today and evolving. I think the next for us is we don’t, you know, until now the company was always profitable. So we, we, we, we didn’t have the means to really create all the, all the products we wanted. But now we, we, since the last raise.

Early this year, we’ve been able to, uh, to, to, to invest more into product. And right now we’re gonna invest into having our own app finally. Um, and we’re gonna be able to actually enhance our, our, uh, you know, um, our, our product there as well. And, uh, we’re very much looking forward to that.

Andrew: All right. Profitable company, a hundred million in revenue last year. You’ve raised money. What was the last raise? I thought it was 54 million. Am I remembering right.

Lucas: So this was a series a, um, and so though it was mostly secondary to get the business angels, um, out because they wanted to see the color of the money. Um, and so the last round was in January, we raised 120 million plus 30 million in debt.

Andrew: Plus there. Wow. We, okay. So all that to say, you’re doing freaking phenomenal for yourself after all that trouble. What did you get for yourself? I see you’re smiling. We, we know what we’re talking about. Right? All those years of struggle, where you were not making anything where you were trying to figure it out, competing smart people, telling you were wrong, you finally did it.

What are you getting now? What are you doing to, to treat yourself a little bit? Do you get a boat?

Lucas: Uh, oh, no, no, no, no, no, no,

Andrew: No, none of

Lucas: we know, uh, I think we are, um, we, we still feel, we ha we don’t have this feeling of, uh, what what’s happening right now. You kind of hope that it would happen on year one or you two, you know, when you are, when you are as an entrepreneur, but I think success doesn’t happen over time.

And now we all have kids, all of our lives. We never. You know, we, we never, we never had this millionaire’s life, you know, like, and so what’s happening right now for us is completely new and we’re approaching, uh, um, our forties. And, uh, and so we are a bit more settled in our way of thinking in our way of behaving as well.

And so I think right now the goal is to keep our head. uh, and keep and keep, uh, and keep hustling because the reality is that we still relatively unknown to the consumer. Um, and, and we have a lot of work to do if you wanna become one of the largest shop site in the planet. Um, and so we, we haven’t, we don’t have this feeling of having making it, you know, like it doesn’t feel this way.

When we, when, when the few of us talk to each other, we still have this feeling of there’s a lot of things that we have to accomplish.

Andrew: All right. Well, I guess that’s why you’re doing this interview that you’re trying to raise your profile and it’s true. I didn’t know where you were. I hadn’t, I couldn’t even find enough interviews or anything to research you. So I’m glad that you’re out there talking about it. Congratulations on the success of talent, the site for everyone who wants to go check it out as talent.com.

And I wanna thank Sue sponsors who made this interview happen. The first is if you’re looking to, uh, hire developers, Go to lemon.io/mixer G they’ll match you up. And the second, when you’re doing email marketing, think beyond email marketing and think less per cost than you should, uh, than you would pay competitors.

And that’s what you have@sendinblue.com slash mixer. G Lucas. Thanks so much for being on here, man.

Lucas: Andrew was a pleasure

Andrew: Same here. Bye one.

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