SaaS Founder Interview with Eropa Stein, CEO & Founder of Hyre
Hyre is a multifaceted digital HR platform creating solutions for the shift-based workforce.
Tony Zayas 0:04
Welcome to the SaaS Founders Show where we have fascinating conversations with successful SaaS founders and hear all about their interesting and amazing journeys along the way. I’m Tony Zayas joined by Andy Halko, who is in his bunker. He’s in his bomb shelter, joining us here today. How you doing, Andy?
Andy Halko 0:25
I’m good! It’s, you know, kind of like the horse and buggy of internet right now. My power’s out and connected to my phone through Wi Fi. So I feel like just trying to, you know, chisel messages into stone and send them through the internet to you. So…
Tony Zayas 0:44
if you weren’t able to jump out, I was gonna tell people, you’re on the second week of your vacation, because they have knowledge as well. So…
Andy Halko 0:52
I keep coming up with excuses to help you out.
Tony Zayas 0:56
So, yeah, so let’s get into it! So this week, I’m excited to talk to Eropa Stein. She is the CEO and founder of Hyre. And I want to just really talk about what she’s doing but essentially, she’s created a digital platform. It’s tackling outdated HR space, and it’s really moving the industry into the 21st century. Sounds really exciting. And let’s jump right in. So let me bring her on.
Eropa Stein 1:23
Tony Zayas 1:23
Hey Eropa, how are you doing?
Eropa Stein 1:25
Good, how are you?
Tony Zayas 1:27
Good. Thank you. Thank you for joining us. We’re excited to have you here. I guess just to get started, tell us a little bit about Hyre. We’re gonna dive all into the backstory and everything but tell us about the business.
Eropa Stein 1:41
Yeah, so Hyre currently is an all-in-one HR platform. And we specifically target like the shift workforce. So we help shift managers manage their own schedules, fill in gaps, using like a temp staff pool, as well as help them with their payroll, onboarding and everything HR related, but specifically for shift workers. Yeah.
Tony Zayas 2:06
Andy Halko 2:07
Yeah, that’s fantastic. So we always like to start with kind of the the backstory, the origin story. How’d you get into this business?
Eropa Stein 2:17
Yeah, that’s interesting. I mean, I’ve always had like an entrepreneurial type of interest. An entrepreneurial interest in general. But I was also very much into academia back in the day. So I was doing my undergrad in psychology, specifically, I did my thesis in industrial organizational psychology. So it kind of bridges the gap between psych and psych in the workforce. Uhm, how to mitigate burnout and how to increase like, eustress which is like thriving the opposite of burnout within the workforce. And then I always knew I wanted to do my Master’s. And at that time, I PhD because I wanted to be a psychologist, but I also wanted some real life experience. So I went into the workforce, and I started consulting for quite a few different industries. And one specifically, one company I was consulting for was an event staffing firm, and I was there helping them with their processes in HR, in overall business, strategy, finance and everything. And I really, it was there that I saw the problem firsthand when it came to staffing, and HR. And it was just extremely outdated. All they used at best was Excel, they had 1000s of paper resumes that they were using for the candidates and their whole process. There was such a leaky funnel, that it was extremely expensive to operate this, this manual machine. And it just didn’t seem like a very good way to proceed, especially with like tech emerging as as being the powerhouse for this type of, kind of workflow. And on top of that the experience for at the time, we were working with hotels and venues and experience for those clients when they weren’t providing them with temp staff was all negative like they were getting pretty frustrated by getting the same people sent back even though these event organizers told the agency many, many times not to send that person back. And the staff were also upset they were getting paid minimum wage. They never got to select the shifts they wanted to work and so on. And so this experience really shooked me and when I went and I continued on to do my Masters, it kind of stayed with me. And so I applied to a bunch of business competitions as a student because they were all available to me with this idea in mind of having a platform. At the time it was a platform for event staffing, so one that would connect the organizers of events that venues and catering companies directly to events that, such as servers and bartenders, without the middleman of a staffing agency whatsoever. And I saw that it was really gaining traction, I was winning quite a few competitions. And I accumulated a good lump of money in my bank account that I couldn’t use on myself. So it just kind of happened. That I, after I graduated, I decided to dive in first, dive in and applied to Techstars, got in and started developing, developing the platform and launched in mid 2017. So that’s kind of how Hyre started. So from a problem for sure.
Andy Halko 5:39
Yeah, that is a fantastic story. And I love the problems’ solution. And, you know, just going forward and going into those pitch competitions and raising money. You know, I’m always curious about those, like, how challenging were the pitch contests? You know, what kind of things did you do that really helped you stand out to do well, through those?
Eropa Stein 6:03
So I think I mean, they… Some were more challenging than others. There were some that were very strict in terms of the methodology they want you to present. Like some, I remember one look at the Lean Startup method at the time, I wasn’t very familiar with it so I completely botched that one. But, but overall, like the second time around, when I did the Lean Startup method type of pitch, I won that one. So it was it was helpful as well. And what helped me stand out was that I actually experienced a problem. And so there was a lot of passion when I was talking about it, compared to a lot of my counterparts. They just came up with it in business school, or their ideas in business school. So they were coming at it from the perspective of like, Oh, this could be a good idea, because we researched it a bit, versus I came up with my idea, because I felt it and I was in it. And it was something that I wish we had back when I was working in the industry. And so I think that was the biggest differences. I remember, even my first ever pitch, my first ever business competition was I flew to Frederickton. And it was, it was a really bad pitch. But, um, but I remember I won it because, like question and answer period? Where it’s a completely off script. And I just talked about my problem, I completely blew that out of the water. That’s what the judges said. And so I think that was the biggest differentiator between myself and like others pitching?
Tony Zayas 7:34
What some, what tips would you give someone because we talked to a lot of people that, you know, go through the the process of pitching. Any tips you would give for someone that, you know, has one coming up?
Eropa Stein 7:47
Yeah. I mean, it goes without saying, Tell a story and try to tell a personal story. If you have one, if you don’t have a personal story, then just make it as personal as you can. Because anyone can relate like, you can’t really relate to a problem that you’ve never felt. So you have to get the audience to, to be there with you that this is. The skill is storytelling. And that’s like number one, you have to position it in a way that people are on the edge of their seats. And then you break it down with like, this is my solution. This is this is what I’ve come up with and people start getting more engaged. And the whole pitch just kind of goes from there. Once you lose their attention. If you lose an audience’s attention, it’s very, very difficult to get back. So you just kind of have to ride this wave up, and then just drop the bomb of solving. Yeah.
Andy Halko 8:43
So you started right out of college? The business? Is that right?
Eropa Stein 8:50
After my Master’s, yeah.
Andy Halko 8:52
Okay. I so I started my company, right when I graduated, I’m kind of curious about that, you know, thought process of going somewhere and, you know, spending some time getting some experience and building a network versus diving in and doing it and obviously, after a Master’s is a little bit different. But, you know, talk to me about kind of that, you know, I guess early drive to just get in and, and make a business happen.
Eropa Stein 9:19
Mm hmm. Yeah. So, it wasn’t my plan. It just kind of happened. Between my undergrad, my Masters, I took about two, two years off. And that’s when I experienced in consulting, and I worked with these industries. And then when I did my masters, I kind of already went through that whole like, work a bit get experience and I was still planning on working after my Masters before starting it. But what had happened, funny enough is that the last, one of the last pitches I did at the end of my Masters, it was just to like this business school in the in the city that I was living and one of the audience members was a general manager of like a really big hotel in that city. And it was all I had was a PowerPoint presentation and an idea. And he called me the next day. And he said, Hey, can you come in, I really want to use your platform. And I said, I don’t have a platform. This was just a presentation. And, and he said, Well come in anyway, I want to talk to you. So I went in the next week, not knowing what to expect. And him and his bank manager, were sitting there and they said. Listen, like, you don’t have a platform. But like, we love your idea. And we want to be your first customers, and how can you just try it without a platform. And so that’s kind of what happened is just, they were my first customers with no tech. And I just didn’t, at that point, I didn’t, I didn’t see a reason not to start the business, because I already had a customer. I mean, that might have been naive of me, because it’s only one customer at the time. But I think it was a good decision overall. And just kind of hit the ground running with an Excel sheet. And a lot of time and effort.
Andy Halko 11:07
I think, it was like drought before rain, right?
Eropa Stein 11:11
I know that now. I mean, back in the day, I thought, Oh, it’s so easy like that. I mean, now it’s different. But yeah, at the time.
Andy Halko 11:22
Tony Zayas 11:24
No, I was just gonna say that. That’s so interesting, right? That’s like, an MVP that you didn’t even really design. Just the desire for it. How did, how did you go from there? Like, how did you implement, you know, what you offer without having that tech solution built? And then how did? How did that help shape the product as it grew from there?
Eropa Stein 11:53
Yeah. So I remember, like, we didn’t have tech for like, almost a year, or I did I don’t know why I say we all the time, it was me in the beginning only but there was that for almost a year. And I wanted to, I did that consciously. Because I wanted to understand from the perspective like from the platform perspective, like what to build before we build something that might be incorrect. So I created like, I was it was very scrappy, I just created a bunch of forms for for candidates to sign up. And then there was like, a lot of operations in the backend. So like we got, I got hundreds of people to sign up, I would call each one of them, scheduled an interview, they come in, I’d like interview them on their skills and their flexibility and just in general willingness to work. And I pitched them this new payment method that I believed in, which was pay what you want, rather than what I tell you that you should get paid, and like earn your pay. And then with the clients, I also created a form in terms of their order form. And then I created this like illusion of them getting matched up with different candidates for the shifts that they posted. And in the backend, it was just me calling and texting and, like 1000s of Excel sheets and like doing all the operations of it. But for the users it looked at that time looks more like, like, maybe like a rudimentary product MVP. So that kind of lasted for like eight-nine months. by month, like four or five, that’s when I started building because I understood, okay, this is this form is working, because it was easy to like, change the forms myself when it wasn’t built. So I had rapidly tested, like the onboarding method of these candidates in the clients and how they would work together for four months. And I understood what at least needed to be built as the foundation of the platform. So that’s kind of how I started just like from things I knew that wouldn’t change your word tested by myself and then moved with from there.
Tony Zayas 14:03
Andy Halko 14:04
I love the I love the true MVP format. And, you know, most people talk about like six months of development to come up with an MVP, you are the case study for like, the real, like what it’s supposed to be is down and dirty and like prove out the model and then take it forward. You know, when you weren’t in it, doing it that way? Did, did you see it that way? Or is it just kind of how it happened?
Eropa Stein 14:32
Ah, it’s a little bit of both. I mean, it happened the way it happened. Because what on one hand, like when I told you about that first client, I had already kind of like, thought about what I would build as an MVP. And one day like a month after a meeting, they called me on Saturday at like 8pm and they said, Hey, we need 25 people for Monday at 6am. And I was just like in shock because there was nothing. I didn’t have any people there was just, it was just like these forms that I started collecting information on. And from, like, I had less than 48 hours to get them 25 amazing candidates at their door at 6:30 in the morning. And so I like, cried for an hour, and then started working. And was kind of forced into this MVP that we’re talking about now, in terms of like getting those people and they remember booking like 10, I booked, I booked the room for Sunday, the next day at this innovation hub. And I booked like hundreds of people somehow I don’t know, at the time, I was able to get hundreds of people in there and interview them and get like at least 25 people for 6:00am, 6:30 in the morning. I even interviewed people at 5:00am on Monday, just in case. So. So that was like the beginning of the MVP of the scrappy, kind of like, no MVP type of times of tempo operation. But that was I was forced into that. And then on the other hand, when that when that actually happened, it was like an awakening moment for me that I said, Okay, well, I’m learning so much right now, I realized that, like everything I thought I would build like most of it was was wrong, based on this experience this like, like 48 hours. So I then consciously made the decision not to proceed, because at the time I was interviewing, like dev firms and things like that, I made the conscious decision not to proceed with them, and just continue the operations like manually for the next few months, even though I had the money in the bank to develop it. So it was a little bit of both like, it happened because of something but then I made the conscious decision to continue.
Andy Halko 16:53
That I love that it’s like one of my favorite, almost origin stories, just because I think that’s what it’s really supposed to be. And you know, I don’t hear that enough. I hear a lot of people jumping a lot further, early on, and not learning the lessons or understanding the market or really doing the research to get feedback. And it just really sounds like you did that in the way that it’s meant to be. So that’s, that’s just so cool.
Eropa Stein 17:22
Thank you. Thank you.
Andy Halko 17:25
In transition to that next stage with a tech company or with developers, did you find a CTO? Did you, you know, hire a firm? How did you go from, you know, what you had in an MVP to an actual platform?
Eropa Stein 17:42
Yeah, so I hired, I hired a developer, a senior, like mid-intermediate developer at the time, just to build those, like, the MVP that I had in my head and on paper, I guess? And he helped me over the next year, to develop this. I mean, we launched it, like you said, within six months, but at least at that point, we had an MVP, that was well thought out in terms of like, where it could go in the future. And it was a pretty good guess, of what we needed. And we didn’t make any, we didn’t make any major changes since then, in terms of the core product, we’ve just added features. So he helped us through that period. And there was, it was a very good experience and learned a lot in terms of managing developers and, and kind of working with them, but I loved it. Love it. So…
Tony Zayas 18:37
Do you have any sort of tech background?
Eropa Stein 18:40
Myself? No. Psychology mainly. That’s
Tony Zayas 18:45
No, that’s great. I’m just curious, you know, we typically have a blend, there’s either the the technical founders, or the non technical founders. So how did you find like, how did you work through that process to really get to understand the developers more, to articulate what you wanted? How did that work?
Eropa Stein 19:04
A lot of trial and error. I would say like, I think there was a lot that I wasn’t expecting with people work very differently. I mean, in general, I think people work differently, but specifically like the tech teams, and so I did a lot of research in terms of how the different methodologies that exist. Like whether it be like Waterfall or Agile or Scrum, things like that. But then I kind of tried and tested with the developer that I had at the time and saw what worked best and just a lot of like, very open, honest communication about like objectives and try to just be very clear with what everything should look like at the end and the functionality and like what testing means because I didn’t realize like, okay, once a feature is fit, that feature is pushed. It doesn’t actually mean that It’s ready. Like I didn’t, I remember, the first time I was like, What are all these bugs? Like, this doesn’t make sense. Like, it doesn’t actually go to the page, I’m supposed to go to How are you? Like, how are people supposed to use this? And it’s just like working through a lot of that. And like, setting time aside, or like just testing and just reiterating. Yeah, there was an experience. I mean, I think now we have like a great like, team that we have a good process, a project manager that kind of works with the team to like, develop the features, but also in sprints. So like one or two weeks sprints, and we have like a firefighter. So one developer, on and off, that would just work on bugs, and another one that would just work on features, and then they switch. So it’s interesting. So I mean, we’ve we kind of have like a fun, little like, team now that we’ve, we’ve gone to a group into a group that works based on all my other experiences.
Tony Zayas 20:56
That’s a nice transition, we typically like to hear about teams. So what does the team look like? And how do you guys communicate?
Eropa Stein 21:06
Yeah, I mean, so right now, in terms of it, like culturally, we’re very diverse, background wise, we’re like, in terms of academic background, we’re also extremely diverse, I try to promote that. And I really want to have people from different backgrounds come and work with us, because I think everyone has like a completely different opinion and way of solving problems. So that really adds to the user experience of Hyre in general. And everyone reflects like our values, which is like, open, honest communication. And just make sure to like, make, make sure to bring things up, like if you believe that we’re building something that shouldn’t be built, like, let us know, no matter where you are in the company, if you’re an intern, or like a senior manager, like you need to come bring this up, because we all benefit from these types of conversations, even like having a conversation with someone and just like fully flushing, flushing out the flushing with the idea and explaining why you’re doing what you’re doing is helpful, not only to the person understanding it, but to the person explaining it. So we tried to communicate that and how we communicate now. I mean, obviously, we’re all in lockdown. So right now, it’s mainly Slack, Google Hangouts. And yeah, so I can Google Hangouts or go to, but we get on a lot of like, hangout meetings. So we try not to have discussions via slack so much, like, unless it’s just a little note here, and there like, Hey, can you pass me this document or whatever. But I think we often try to default to Google Hangouts because the face to face conversation, there’s just something that you, you miss out on it, if you don’t have it, like, if it’s not in front of you, you’re not talking to that person face to face. And a lot can get lost in translation with Slack, or just with text. If you don’t get the tone. It takes so much longer to explain, you’re waiting on an answer. I truly believe in like video communication.
Andy Halko 23:18
Is there are there any philosophies, methodologies or systems that you use either for development process or running the business?
Eropa Stein 23:29
Um, yeah, so I think like we tried to do like the sprint type of type of firm methodology like weekly sprints or, or bi-weekly sprints, depending on the team and what our objectives objectives are. But like, for example, with development now, we have like a big product coming out at the end of March. And this product was scoped out to take about three months to build. And we’ve divided all the tasks and like compartmentalize them into like two week chunks. So every two weeks there, I mean, even though we ship almost daily, we still have like the end to end compartmentalized feature shipping, like bi weekly. So that’s that’s worked really well with development on our marketing and Growth Hacking Team, we try to try to shift like try to come up with different strategies on a weekly basis and just have like little tiny experiments on a weekly basis. Sales is a little bit more difficult, because it’s kind of ongoing. So we have like these ongoing tasks. And then we have like experimental tests that we also tried to implement like spring methodology.
Andy Halko 24:45
For that, how does your role personally evolved from you know, when you started doing the MVP, and you were kind of everything to know where the businesses so for you personally, how has your role evolved?
Eropa Stein 24:59
Yeah, Um, so I mean, obviously, when you start a business and you’re the only person in it, you’re doing everything, like you mentioned, it was CEO, CTO, CFO, CMO, everything. And that was the case for a long time. Even when I did have a lot of like, a lot more people helping us like in year one and two, it was still the majority, like, everything was on my shoulders, and I was doing a lot of the operations. And it took a lot of time, and a lot of effort for me to let go of a lot of tasks and delegate. Over the past year, I’ve really tried, like, that’s been something I’ve worked on myself on over the last two years to just delegate. And like, trust teams just do it on their own however, they want to do it as long as it gets done. And it just, giving people more ownership and autonomy to do it the way they want. And so because I’ve implemented that, over the last two years, my role has shifted, and I’ve become a much more like strategy. And I’ll have like team meetings, but I won’t really have as many like one-on-one objective, objective meetings, like setting objectives to one specific person, I’ll just be more like team and like a quarterly objective, quarterly objectives, and then they kind of run with it and all kinds of more work on like higher level partnerships, and strategy and investments and things like that, like financing. So that’s my role now. Next phase, obviously, I’m thinking like, I would love to be more involved in terms of like, just strategy. And then in terms of the day to day finances, hopefully get a CFO on board in the next year or two.
Tony Zayas 26:47
To go back to team a little bit. How do you guys, how do you implement culture? Because you said that it’s, you know, that’s something that’s important to you to have diversity, and, you know, different perspectives and all that. And, you know, your, your solution as a hiring solution, right? So, how do you find those people? Like, how do you find the right people that match what you guys are focused on building? From a culture perspective?
Eropa Stein 27:17
Yeah, that’s really tough. I mean, we try our best. And what we do, I mean, it takes us probably longer to hire someone, like we’ll go through many more interviews. We’ll be very diverse, and where we post our ads and like, reach out to as many people as possible, the upfront time is quite extensive in terms of finding that person, but we really don’t want to settle. So like, we don’t want to just hire someone, because we need some role filled, like I’d rather like be a little stressed in terms of the workload than like offload that to someone that’s not a cultural fit, and whether if it takes an extra month, like it takes an extra month, but then we have someone that is a much better fit with our team, like culturally speaking, and overall, like, would stay there longer and just have like, a lot of a much bigger impact. So to answer your question, like, just trying to trying to, like be more diverse in our hiring and like, take more time? I think.
Tony Zayas 28:20
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I mean, I that’s, that’s hard for everybody hiring thing. And just, yeah, that’s a good perspective. But I think, you know, we go by that, that mentality of, you know, hire slowly, fire fast when there’s not a good fit, you got to, you know, it’s too important for the business to sacrifice. So
Eropa Stein 28:39
Exactly. I mean, the costs of a bad hire are quite expensive. And if you keep them on, it just drains the team, you see it, like the toxicity seep in, it’s not worth it. It’s it’s hard to fire, like, it’s very difficult. I mean, probably emotionally. It’s not that, I don’t know, but um, you just need to do it. It’s like ripping a band aid, it’s best for everyone. Usually, other people are thinking, why is this person still here? And that’s like, not a good thing for your team. So
Tony Zayas 29:09
That’s probably how that usually comes out. Yeah. You’re like, thinking, you know, should we do this? And, you know, and then everybody’s like, Oh, thank goodness. is so yeah, it’s interesting.
Eropa Stein 29:22
Yeah. Yeah, exactly.
Tony Zayas 29:27
That I’m curious about any mentors or people that you lean on, you know, as you go about this journey as a founder, you know, you’re, you’re the captain of the ship. So, who do you do you have mentors? Who do you lean on bounce ideas?
Eropa Stein 29:45
Yeah, so um, I’ve always, I’ve always been wanting to seek out mentors before I started hire I actually reached out just to talk about my idea to the founder of Elance. Who is Elance… Elance and oDesk merged into Upwork. And so he is an advisor. I reached out to him, he was very helpful. I spoke to him quite a few times. And then when I went to San Francisco, we met a few times for lunch. And it’s been, it’s been invaluable just speaking with him and bouncing ideas off. And he encouraged me to kind of move forward. And he said, Don’t be scared to not do your PhD like this is this is going to be worth it. Regardless of what happens, you’ll always have a, you’ll always be able to find a job, it’s, it would be a risk not to do it. And so in that sense, like starting up, that was my, one of my main mentors, and then I tried to find lean on meant finally non mentors specific to the problem that I’m having. So I have like, many, many mentors, I don’t talk to them. Like, I don’t talk to every single person that often but I always, I always know that I have them in my corner, if I have a problem that I want to just kind of talk about whether it be like team or whether it be like sales, or how to get customers or product, like I tried to. I tried to just meet people, network, and like, bring them into this, like network that I have of mentors, I just think that you’re always constantly evolving as a company. And as a founder, that you you do need to just make sure you’re you’re casting a wide net, but not to to why they are overwhelmed, just like wide enough that you can like have the resources available to you when you need them. And, by the way, like I also want to give back. So I’ve been a mentor now for the past three years as well. So I make it a point to leave at least three, four hours, minimum three, four hours a week for other startups to reach out to me and talk to me and like we’ll help them with anything that they need, essentially, if I if I can be a value. So I have like time slots that are available on weekends or early mornings before my workday starts. But I’ll just talk to founders are in the evenings and tried to try to help out as much as they can. We need to grow together, right? Like, we lean on mentors, then when we learn enough about something we should become mentors. That’s my belief.
Tony Zayas 32:23
Yeah, paying it forward. It’s fantastic.
Andy Halko 32:29
Yeah, one of my favorite experiences in business has been in mentorship programs both ways, like you said, where you have a mentor, and I’ve tried to keep it very structured, but then being able to give back. And, you know, it’s been one of the most powerful lessons that I’ve had for sure. I’m curious of vision. So how do you develop the vision for where you want the business to go? And, you know, how do you define that and share it with the team and, and these different pieces?
Eropa Stein 33:03
Yeah. Um, so my strategy is like, listen to customers, like, understand your audience as much as you can, like live, like, live through that experience with them. And then you’ll hear you’ll like, by putting your year click listening to your customers as much as you can, and talking to them reaching out and just like having like, friendly conversations with them going out to lunch with them and everything, you’ll start hearing more problems that are coming up, naturally. And that could help you define your vision. I mean, we heard early on that when we, when we launched hire as a marketplace, specifically only a marketplace for event staffing, connecting like the temp workers to the hotels and the catering companies. We also heard our customers say, Oh, we we love this. We love this platform, and how digital and automated it is. I wish I had this for my own staff. So we heard that a lot from our own customers. And we said, well, well, if you have this problem with your own staffing with your own scheduling platforms, and maybe there’s a potential to grow into a scheduling platform, and then it becomes Oh, it’s you know, we, we onboard so many people every single day and every single month, and then there’s a lot of turnover, it costs us a lot of money to advertise and get people and a lot of paperwork and then like, okay, that can develop into an aqueous platform. And so it becomes like, each product is like a result of listening and like truly listening and experiencing the pains that your customers are feeling. So, I mean, simply it’s just getting to know them better. And just making sure you’re always there keeping in contact and like not being annoying, not like calling them all the time just to hear problems and talk to them but just like truly, genuinely trying to help Look, I think if you really want to help your customers, you will be able to help your customers, you just need to listen and synthesize information.
Tony Zayas 35:09
Yeah, that’s great. So do you have a, like a structured process to take that feedback? So if you’re talking to customers, or if there’s other ways that, you know, you gather feedback and input from them, do you have a process for like collecting that? And then perhaps working that into the roadmap, as far as you know, features and enhancing?
Eropa Stein 35:32
Yeah, for sure. So I mean, I think that, when it comes to like the initial discovery of the problems, I tried to make it a very natural conversation. And therefore, I have like maybe some bullet points or some topic that I want to go over just to like, steer the conversation in a direction that can like elicit that types of those types of responses. But I do try to make it as natural as possible. So I don’t really try to structure it too much. And those are just conversations, once I have enough information, and an idea of like, a specific product that could help solve the problems that I heard, then we typically like wireframe, something, and then go back to them and say, Hey, I heard that you’re having this problem. I’m really interested in helping you solve this. I sat with my team and came up with these wireframes. Like, what do you think about this, and then so they’ll kind of go over it. And they’re usually pretty grateful that we took the time to kind of go back and after listening to their problems, go and try to solve it for them. So they’re pretty interactive in that stage, and will help us feedback and I usually tell them, like, I’ll record the session, just so I can like, go back to my team and, and work on this feedback. And then after that, usually there’s like a second or third iteration based on like multiple people’s feedback. And I’ll go back, obviously asking for feedback again. And then as the process continues, eventually, it kind of leads to like building an MVP for this. And then once we have the MVP, they’re usually the first people we are, they are the first people to go to to use the product, but they usually do become the first customers because it is a product that directly solves their pain points. So that’s usually how we kind of structure it. But as I said, the first questions and the first conversations, I try to make it as, like, open ended as possible and like just natural.
Tony Zayas 37:36
Well, it’s true. How do you do you ever have multiple, you know, multiple challenges or ideas to improve the product or offer, you know, a new element that you have to figure out? Like, how do I prioritize? You know, what we’re going to work on? How do you guys deal with that?
Eropa Stein 37:55
Yeah, that’s always a toughy. I think like, at the time, when you get excited about ideas, they all seem super important. And usually the one you’re most excited about, I mean, it doesn’t actually equate to the most important one, like in terms of for the customer. So you really have to be very strict with yourself, and very strict with yourself and your team. And understand that. Just because you like an idea doesn’t mean it’s the idea that you should go with and prioritize. And so you should always go back to your customers, and talk to them about these ideas and the options and see which one is the most pressing problem for them to be solved. Just always default to that. And if they are willing to pay for it, because I think it’s easy for customers to just say yeah, like, especially, I think in Canada, people feel like they’re very polite, like people here are very polite. So they’ll never really say no. So you just kind of have to say like, great, like, how much are you going to pay for this? Or are you going to pay $100 a month for this or whatever? Just to get the qualifying response that you need like a yes or no, because I’d rather get a yes or no rather than a maybe like a maybe it’s the worst, because you’re not really getting good information. Not response.
Tony Zayas 39:15
Once you get a sorry.
Eropa Stein 39:16
Yeah, sorry. Sorry.
Tony Zayas 39:19
Yeah, a lot of that.
Andy Halko 39:22
Where’s your target market? Are you currently focused on Canada? Are you worldwide? How are you targeting customers?
Eropa Stein 39:32
Currently focused in the States actually, so we focus on like all shift managers in the States, typically, our main clientele right now are long term care centers, health care, long term care centers, and then still actually in Florida like catering companies and venues. So any, any manager with like a workforce of over like 20 people that constantly changes week over week is like a perfect customer.
Andy Halko 40:01
So how did you determine that that perfect customer? And how do you stay, you know, focused on who the right audience is. Because a lot of times when we talk to founders, one of the challenges is, you know, our product could work for so many people, let’s go after everybody. How do you keep yourself focused?
Eropa Stein 40:21
Yeah, it’s a it’s a lot of like, I I’ve, I’ve determined that it is best for like larger organizations, because of the way we structure like and manage the data that we have, like non data in terms of backend, but the tables and like the employee information, it just works for like bigger teams folk. And we do organize teams in departments and facilities. So like a franchise owner, that would be perfect for us, because we have like multiple different views for that, like, bigger team setting. And versus smaller teams like, it might be a little like the user experience might not be as as good for them, because it’s a little bit more complex. And we need the depth that bigger teams have. And so we do know, in the market, there are competitors that are just much more like better positioned for the smaller target market, and we don’t really want to compete there, like that’s not our target. And so I have to be, we just have to be very strict with like, just because somebody’s interested in using our platform, if they’re not the right customer, we should be very strict ourselves. And our sales team should know like, Don’t get excited over that that’s not the right customer, we shouldn’t, like entertain this, because it just doesn’t, they won’t have a great user experience. And it’ll cost us a lot more in the future. So we need to know, we have to stay in our lane. And just like focus on our, the customers that we can help the most.
Andy Halko 41:51
How do you coordinate that and with the team to try and keep people staying in their lane? Like how do you communicate that and, you know, almost keep people accountable to it at the end of the day?
Eropa Stein 42:03
Yeah, constant feedback. I mean, we have like, check-ins, weekly check ins, and we talked about the customers, we’ve had conversations with leads we’ve had conversations with who is interested in who is not. And then during those meetings, I will always just have like a little spiel about this. Remember this their target audience this like the story going for why we don’t want to go for the little guys that because of this, this and this, like, it just doesn’t make sense to us. Even if you get interest, like, don’t move forward with it, or like at least, like, let them know that this is what our offering is, and it doesn’t suit them the best. So we just have to constantly reiterate to the team and everyone and understand what we’re good at. Because that’s super important to understand, like, who we serve as what we’re good at. Because that goes a long way
Tony Zayas 42:55
Eropa, I’m curious about what has worked from a marketing standpoint? Well, for you guys.
Eropa Stein 43:03
Yeah, marketing. So it’s interesting, because marketing hasn’t. Luckily, lucky for us like until like 2020, we actually didn’t require any marketing, we were growing organically, pretty rapidly. We had, we had very little investment in sales as well. I mean, our customers were just referring other customers constantly. And we were always in a position where we just had too many customers and not enough resources to supply them. And we, like since COVID hit like when COVID hit. Because our main product was the marketplace connecting like within hospitality connecting the event workers, temp event workers with hospitality professionals, like catering companies and venues, everything kind of changed. At that moment, our sales went to zero in 48 hours. And we were just like, oh my god, we’ve never been in this position where we didn’t have clients. So we kind of had to go back and like re strategize and think like, Okay, what does marketing mean? Like, what do we do here? What? What should we try to kind of focus on because it was just a blue ocean and like, didn’t have anyone on the team at the time that was in marketing at all, because we just didn’t need it. And so that’s when we started thinking about it. And we, I’m very proud of the team because they have really worked hard on it and come up with like an amazing strategy that’s working. A lot of like, content marketing has been working really well for us. Just like talking about again, like I mentioned the problems that we’re solving or talking to clients and helping them with any other problems that they are facing and telling them like encouraging them right now to refer others People with like coupons and just a lot of resources that we send them free resources or like in terms of marketing or free resource section has been probably the best overall. And we just see people downloading our resources all the time. And that’s a great lead gen. And we’re not trying to sell them at that point, we just want them to get to know Hyre, and get to know how we can help. And that’s been a key factor in growing since, like, COVID, hit til today.
Andy Halko 45:31
What’s the future look like for the business? You know, where are you guys? What do you see in this next year, feature-wise? Growth, strategy? Where are you going?
Eropa Stein 45:44
So yeah, we’re building out a lot of our HR functionality. Right now, what we have is, we have a scheduling platform, we have a template platform for those who use a scheduling platform to plug into, and we have an ATM system. And we’re building out this year. And next year, we’ll we’ll build out a payroll system. So we already integrate with payroll companies where you can just like pay all your scheduled staff in a click of a button, and everything’s there, ready to go. But we will probably be building that out on our own as well soon, in the next year, as well as additional like functionality for the clients that we do have to connect to potentially other agencies as well. So we want to make sure that we don’t lose sight of the fact that a lot of clients do always need temp staff. And we were not the ones who will be able to supply them with that all the time. So we want to connect them to others. That’s kind of where our product is going.
Andy Halko 46:48
I’m kind of curious about you know, just shifting gears a little bit, but personality as a founder, what do you think skills and traits for yourself personally have, you know, helped you in this journey and, you know, help make you a great founder?
Eropa Stein 47:07
Um, I mean, I don’t want to sound like a broken record. I’m sure many people said this. But like, I think resilience and perseverance, like it’s two key things that I’m so thankful I have, just because like, there’s so many lows, like, obviously, there are highs and ther are lows. And the lows. I mean, I’ve experienced them multiple times. But I think something unique is that I don’t I try not to take it personally. And I understand that whatever happens, it comes and goes. Like the highs Come, come and go, the lows come and go. And you just kind of have to get through it, put your head down, keep working, like stress management work on yourself, and, and just persevere. And so like, that’s been key for me. I’ve seen it so many times, like when COVID hit, like sales went to zero. I mean, that was a shock. And we didn’t know if we were going to survive. So that was like cortisol levels through the roof. But they’re really trying to like really sit back and say, okay, it is what it is. Everyone’s going through something right now. And it’s not, it’s not going to take it personally, it’s not our company, it’s everything. And like, how do we, how do we mold ourselves to the norm right now? And, and how to just like, really think about, like staying relevant. And as a founder being resilient to these changes that are happening all around me and just dedicating my time like day in day out to solving this problem?
Andy Halko 48:44
How do you balance the you know, and I think a past founder mentioned it is, you know, work like harmony, work life balance. How do you you know, I know that a lot of founders can get obsessed with their business and their vision and growth. How do you balance your personal life and, you know, all of that with being a founder?
Eropa Stein 49:09
I mean, I don’t know if I’m the best example at this, but I sleep less? I, I’m naturally only slept like five, six hours a night. So I think that that’s helped me a little bit because more hours in a day to do other things. But I tend to like wake up really early, I workout in the summer, go for a job like 5-6am. And at that time, I’ll listen to like a podcast or if anybody’s awake like a social conversation. Maybe I call my mom or my friend and just kind of, I always try to kill two birds with one stone. So whatever I’m doing, I’m multitasking. And I’ve gotten kind of good at that. So it’s just kind of allows me to do more during the day, but also because I start my day earlier. I’m able to get a lot done by like seven o’clock, and then that leaves me some time to like I love. I love cooking. So I try to cook a meal every every evening. And like, that takes about half an hour. But I’ll do that while I’m on the phone with a friend. So I’ve caught up with my friend, or maybe invite somebody over to help to cook and that can be a bigger social thing. And then we’ll work together. So it’s just like, just doubling up on things. I don’t know, that’s a great answer, like in terms of probably, you should probably just set aside time to just do like certain things instead of double up, but it works for me.
Andy Halko 50:34
It’s great. I just read an article where it said like one to 2% of the population has a gene that you know, means there, they don’t need as much sleep as others. So maybe you got that lucky one on that?
Eropa Stein 50:49
Yeah, I hope so. I am. Yeah, without an alarm clock, I usually wake up with a five and a half hour mark. Regardless of the time it is. But, but yeah, I did do my DNA test. I don’t think I saw like, I think I looked for that to you. But I didn’t find it. But there are apparently like I remember reading about it last year, and there’s a combination of other genes as well. So that’s like, the bunch of genes that kind of work together. And, like, determine how long you or your body needs to sleep every night.
Andy Halko 51:29
So, you know, another just interesting question of that. Do you think founding and running a business? Is nature or nurture? Is it something that’s in somebody or something that they can, you know, learn to do?
Eropa Stein 51:44
I’m more on the nature side of things. I think like, in my perspective, nature, ever since I was like, five years old, I have wanted to be an entrepreneur at the time. I mean, I’m like, I’m turning 32 now, like, in a few months, so back when I was five years old, that wasn’t a thing like entrepreneurship. I mean, that’s a pretty like, pretty new concept. I think within the last 10 years that people are like now hora, I want to be an entrepreneur. So at the time, it was, was mainly like, the idea I had in my head was like, I want to be an inventor, I want to be, I want to start a business. But like a new business, I don’t want to just start like another restaurant or like a store, I just want a business. And so I was six years old, and I was like, getting my classmates like during recess to, to draw to cop like Dr. Seuss books. And like as like a fun club that I made, and they collected it all. And then I would sell it at scholastic fairs, and then pay them like a little fee for like the work. So that was me at five and six, and my parents didn’t definitely did not teach me that. I wasn’t taught entrepreneurship. And I had many of these types of things throughout high school and university. I tried a few startups as well. And so I really think it was always in me. I don’t know where I could have learned that. So I’m more than nature side. But what’s your opinion?
Andy Halko 53:15
You know, I think it’s a little bit of both I, you know, for me, I think there are definitely things in nature that you’re just naturally have certain personality, but I do think there’s something to, you know, being able to the growth mindset, you know, you’re not a fixed person, you can evolve, you can change. But definitely, there’s an advantage for some of those inherent personality traits, for sure, so,
Eropa Stein 53:44
Andy Halko 53:45
My, my last question that I’ve asked almost every founder this year, if you were able to go back in time before you started the business, and sit down and have coffee with yourself, what advice would you give yourself just starting out?
Eropa Stein 54:04
I think that I would go back, I would probably tell myself to just kind of, because there was a time in the beginning of the startup, like, even in my, in my Master’s, I was just doing the competitions. And it was just like a long, like validation period? I think I would just tell myself to just kind of go for it quicker, like just dive into it, do that Manual Test a year earlier, and like, just go right into it, and then really capitalize on the market at the time because like, at the time, like there were absolutely no solutions for this anywhere. And so I think by starting it a little bit earlier and just like not being scared, and I would also tell myself to move to San Francisco and just like be around people that like everyone likes that the hype of like It’s the startup bubble. And just like be around like minded people all the time and find that right talent and just like do this like much faster. So that’s what I would tell myself. My own self back in the day, but we’d probably be drinking tea because I don’t drink coffee. But that
Andy Halko 55:20
Me, either we’re the same.
Tony Zayas 55:23
Very cool well, Eropa, where can viewers find out more information about you, about Hyre?
Eropa Stein 55:32
Yeah So um, so we have a few channels I mean our website, Hyrestaff.com. It’s with a Y so H-Y-R-E-S-T-A-F-F.com and then on Instagram, it’s at Hyrestaff.com spelt, @Hyrestaff, spelled the same way. Twitter, it’s @Hyrestaff spelled the same way. We have a LinkedIn Company Profile again, Hyrestaff spelt the same way. Essentially, it’s always Hyrestaff spelt that way, because we couldn’t get higher. We couldn’t get the Hyre.com if it’s owned by I have no idea I’ve reached out many times. But yeah, so that’s how we can find us. And then if you want to talk to me about startups, personally, it’s just my name [email protected] And if you want to talk about your startup or like, bounce ideas off one another. Also be happy to chat.
Tony Zayas 56:26
That’s awesome. Thank you so much for joining us here today. This has been fantastic. Really appreciate the time that you spent with us and enjoy them as much as we did. Thank you. We’ll be back again next week for another episode. But thanks, everybody, take care.
Eropa Stein 56:43
Take care. It was a pleasure speaking to you both and meeting you.
Tony Zayas 56:46
Andy Halko 56:48