SaaS Founder Interview with Jared Rosenthal, Founder & CEO of StaffGlass
Tony Zayas 0:05
Everybody, welcome to the SaaS founder show. It’s Tony Zayas joining with Andy Halko. On the show where we talk to some really interesting SaaS founders hear all about their journey along the way. So this week, we have an interesting founder joining us. But before we dive in, Andy, I would like to find out after 19 years of business, what is your favorite part of the hiring process?
Andy Halko 0:35
My favorite part of the hiring process? I would say, being able to present that offer, I mean, man, how fantastic it is to get through the process, have decided found somebody great. And say, I want you to be part of our team.
Tony Zayas 0:50
Yeah, that’s cool. And I liked it. I got the truck, a lot of you because the hiring process, it’s typically not fun than other people. It’s challenging. It’s hard. And so with that I’m going to bring on Jared Rosenthal, he’s the founder and CEO at StaffGlass. And it’s kind of cool. Their tagline is actually hire fearlessly that they have employee onboarding software that powers sound decisions. So, Jared, how are you doing?
Jared Rosenthal 1:18
I’m doing great. Good morning. Thanks for having me.
Tony Zayas 1:21
Yeah, absolutely. So Jared, we’d love to hear I gave the you know, the short version of what StaffGlass is all about. So I would love to hear your version, you know, explain to us what you guys do?
Jared Rosenthal 1:33
Sure, sure. So, you know, we actually started about 11 years ago, as an employer based drug testing company, drug testing background checks. And we got early on pretty into DNA testing for individuals and individual drug testing. And over time, we sort of pivoted towards software pretty hard, kind of figured out that these kinds of services were much more efficiently provided via a better technology than just going out and doing the test, you know, we started out actually, the way the company started, I bought a used RV, and we would pull up to businesses and do on site drug testing, and, you know, hire some nurses for the day or some text and just, you know, collect urine and drop it off in the lab. It’s very physical, very hands on, but really allowed me to learn the business. But they also saw some opportunities where we could do this over the phone, or we can do this via software that would be much more efficient, and provide a lot more value. And we pivoted real hard to that. And fast forward to the launch of StaffGlass, StaffGlass is sort of a wraparound for the whole street services that goes into other parts of that hiring process. We serve about 20,000, small and medium sized businesses. And, you know, they were asking for things that are not just at the point of hire, but all those other fun parts of the hiring process that you were referring to earlier, the recruiting and the interviewing and the and the up to the point of onboarding and then beyond. So we don’t have, we have a vision for a fuller suite of services from going north to the point of when you first think of what job you want to hire for writing a job description, posting it looking for people, you know, interviewing them, identifying them, evaluating them, you know, storing resumes, job applications, all the way to okay, I want to hire you now let’s do the background check. Let’s get you in for your drug test, and then start and sign some esign documents, do the whole thing digitally. And that’s, that’s the longer term vision for StaffGlass. But that’s that’s what we’ve begun.
Andy Halko 3:36
I’m kind of curious how difficult it was to build a software, you know, within a business. So you said you had a very physical business? Yeah. And I think for some people, the challenge is like, how do we build this other revenue line and build a software and grow that while we’ve got this other part of the business? That’s, that’s completely different.
Jared Rosenthal 3:58
It’s very difficult, because, you know, anytime you take away from one, you know, put into the other and you’re questioning, am I losing money? should I should I be doing this, I was making enough money to put food on the table yesterday, but now I’m gonna take an hour out of the day do something else. But it changed me one very simple moment. You know, they would call when I first started, someone would call an hour away, I was in Manhattan, someone called the far side of Brooklyn, and they need a drug test. And I would drive there and you know, there’s gonna be 100 bucks or whatever, drive out there and do the tests and then drive it back in and get another call and go somewhere else. And then one day guy called in, he’s in Boston, and I said, I really want to make this $100 How am I going to do it? So I researched it and I figured it out. And I figured out how to do it through software, not my own software, but using what was available and I got him set up and I had to pay somebody 10 bucks to do some some of the work for me and I said, hung up the phone and took the payments of men. That was a lot easier. I was way easier. So I said this Got to be more than that. That’s a scalable opportunity, you know. And that’s what I was looking for all along. But it was very apparent to me at that moment that if I could build that site, if I could build a network of clinics, and I could build a call center for staff to take these calls and a marketing program to drive the business, long term is going to be much better. In the meantime, I was still for many years, still driving in the middle of the night picking up the phone for truck accidents and going out to the scene and given breathalyzers, but you know, using that time on the road to think a lot about how to how to build it, but it is a difficult transition. Anytime in a business, when you’re starting it yourself. Every time you get want to get to the next level, it’s extremely hard, because you have to give up what you’re already doing, you have to pay someone to do what you were, you know, earning revenue earning profit on before you got to take money out your own profit. And oftentimes you have to stop doing what you were good at, and what got you there to take on something that you might not be so good at. And it’s challenging, it’s hard, you got to get through that multiple times multiple levels, if you want to really grow.
Andy Halko 6:06
Did you have a technology background, or no coding or anything like that?
Jared Rosenthal 6:12
You know, what I bought a book. I what I did in 2010, when I first started the business is after running it on spreadsheets for several months, I was looking for a software that could have no ceiling on it. But at the same time that I could learn myself. And I found that this program called FileMaker, which has been around for a long time. And what I liked about it was I could figure it out, it took me about six weeks of reading this book to just get out of the gate. But once I did, and I set it up, believe it or not, it’s still 11 years later was still running on that same platform. And that was what I was looking for it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in business was find something that was smaller, you know, allowed me as a small person with no coding background to figure out, what could you know that I could learn more, and each year I learned more each year, I was able to do more. And there’s really like I said, there’s almost no ceiling on it, it can be powering and it does power many professional organizations as well.
Tony Zayas 7:19
Jared, I be curious as to with running, you know, the other business and having ideas of ways that you can improve process, you know, using technology? How did those ideas like start to bubble up? And when did you know that it was time to say okay, yeah, let’s build this, to launch StaffGlass?
Jared Rosenthal 7:41
Yeah, well, I say, um, what another one of those really defining moments was getting to a level or seeing for myself a level of technology that I it was so apparent how powerful this was and displaying it briefly. But, you know, somewhere in there five years in, we had a call center running, we’re taking calls and but still it was very manual process. So my staff would get them almost like running a travel agency, you hear what the person wants, then you check this airline, you check that airline, you go back and forth with the client, there’s several minutes on the call, and you book it, you find the lab to find a technician, all those steps. And then I somehow figured out that I could make the system connect all of those dots, and tie it all together with almost no human interaction whatsoever, almost like converting a travel agency to something like an Expedia, right. And, and I got a programmer on the phone that I had been working with a little bit. And I made him explain to me what an API was. And I spent hours with them. It’s just telling me what to say, how do I do this. And I really had no business trying to connect an API. But with this help, I finally got it’s working. And, you know, one of the things we did in that process is we would get an authorization code from a lab, then you would cut and paste it and put it into our system, right. And when I finally set it up, and I pushed this button, and within a blink of an eye, the code popped into that field. It was like ecstasy, you know, like, wow, you know, we didn’t have to do any of those steps, it just work. And I just saw that I got to do this more and more and make this work. Because it can be that 10 minute phone call can be a web interaction that has no cost, beyond, you know, the software side. And that was really a huge thing. And I just never stopped from there.
Andy Halko 9:38
We talked to a lot of, you know, a lot of our audiences founders and people that are trying to start businesses. I’m kind of curious for those other folks out there that are, you know, like trying to teach themselves and dive into it. And, you know, and really, I think what’s great that the people that hack it, they you know, they just figure it out and they make things connect and work together. What was would be your insight for those folks of like, how do you go about that when you’re kind of starting in this different place, and you’re trying to learn and, and build at the same time?
Jared Rosenthal 10:12
Yeah, um, you know, attitude is a huge component of it. I mean, you have to be relentless you had, you know, especially if you have a brain like mine, where it takes the hearing something 10 times for it to sink in, but you got to allow enough time for those 10 times, and you have to believe that you can get through it. And you know, you have to be reasonable, you can’t take on every tech project that you want. So it’s important to have all the data points and be able to assess what really has a return on the investment in your time. And you have to, you know, you have to know when you need outside people to do things, when it’s worth investing in them, it’s, but those those things are all very difficult, especially if you are in my type of context. And my context is, it’s just me as the owner, and and so every decision becomes a lot more important for you know, because it’s coming out of the, you know, the, it’s coming out of the profit, or it’s coming out of your savings, or, you know, it’s really important. So you don’t have the ability to say, Hey, we got investors, we got millions of dollars, we can run in the red for several years. So it’s a lot harder, and it’s a lot more intense. And it’s important to know how to how to deal with them.
Andy Halko 11:33
Yeah, I love that word, relentless. I think that’s such a big piece of anybody that’s trying to start a business is, you know, just keep going after it. Right.
Jared Rosenthal 11:43
Yeah, you know, they’re little things, you know, I remember one of those early times, was, every morning, one of my staff would come in and fax certain paperwork to the clinics, you know, maybe 10 appointments for the day, and she would fax paperwork. And I spent an entire weekend trying to get the system to automatically, you know, wake up in the morning, and faxes, because every now and then she’d be late, or sometimes he would forget, you know, and so he was process is never going to be 100%. And if I said myself the whole weekend, what am I wasting my time, she can just come in and do it, it’s, it’s not that big of a deal. It’s not worth 20 hours of my time. But once I set it up, you know, years later, it still gets up every morning in factories, and we never miss any. And, and yes, it is worth it. Because it adds up over time. But you you, I couldn’t have done it if I didn’t have that, you know, feeling of being relentlessly trying to make it, you know, just being inspired by the opportunity that he could actually. That’s cool.
Tony Zayas 12:48
So Jared, I would be curious to hear what the MVP looked like, you know, when you have this idea, you decided to turn into a product? What was the first you know, what did the MVP look like? And how did you get those first customers?
Jared Rosenthal 13:05
Okay, so you know, with StaffGlass, we started from a point of, of already having Help Street running for 10 years. So, so we had customers and we were able to like move people in and beta test and that sort of thing. So maybe the question is more appropriate for the house street situation. And that MVP, you know, again, starting a business, you can do it in many different ways. If you’re going to go out and get investors and pitch an idea, that’s a whole different ball of wax, and then saying, Alright, I’m going to use my savings and try to make it on my own and build it improve it. And, you know, it’s I think a lot of people have this idea that starting something, and MVP is sort of like, come up with that idea that nobody thought of, you know, that that dream or I’m going to invent something and it’s just going to take off and nobody ever thought of it before. That’s one way to do it. But it’s a really long shot. You know, and, and I messed up a couple businesses that I started before, you know, kind of blew my life savings, doing things like that. So this time, I was not going to make that mistake. And I was going to be more conservative in my approach to what I was going to do, and figure out innovations along the way. So that’s another way to start a business in got into this drug testing thing by saying let me do the hardest thing that is within this business where there’s already a market for it. I don’t have to worry about going out and evangelizing and starting a new market for something which is very expensive and very hard. Let me get into the market there exist fulfilling I mean that that was very hard, which was you know, answering the phone at three in the morning when the train slides off the tracks and driving two hours and doing the breathalyzer drug test. And that was that was a foot in the door. There was a hard way to start and it was very physical and but it was exciting to me because I’d be driving and saying hey, they really pay me for this one time they He put me on a boat, New York Harbor to go out and test. Another boat that had run aground, the rocks and the US Coast Guard was there. And I’m in the middle of New York Harbor, in the middle of the night, looking at the stars, saying I’m getting paid to be on this is great. And I did it myself. So the MVP was like, alright, really, you know, do the hardest thing that, that you can that you think the other people aren’t doing, sometimes even get paid better for that, because it’s harder, it’s harder to find people doing it. And then establish relationships, established your clientele, and then try and move into the sort of the higher volume, you know, better long term scalable kind of area areas.
Andy Halko 15:39
Yeah, I think we’ve heard that story from a number of founders that, you know, they really validated the market first with a very, like, hands on physical business, and then just innovated until they got to the point that they had a platform. So how much have you shifted, you know, fully, the software versus that physical business, has it been a wholesale, you know, shift to it are you still kind of mixed or running both,
Jared Rosenthal 16:09
It’s 99%, towards the technology side of it. And why because it’s just a much better business, you know, it just is, it’s much harder to build that clientele on a national basis, rather than hang a shingle and have people walking in the door. But it’s just a much more effective way to run it, you’re more in control. And you know, and then what we’ve done is established a network of collectors of folks that maybe started out like, I’m sorry, I started out, that are in that stage that are doing the on site, and then we farm out the work to them if we need somebody to do it. But this way, we can scale, you know, you, if you’re by yourself, no matter what you’re doing, if you’re doing it yourself, you’re limited by the number of hours in the day, you just fart, right? So and but if you’re doing something where let’s say it’s a website, or call center, we’ll do the next level, and then a website, even even beyond that, where you can, you know, if I can take one call myself, I can take 10 calls with, you know, a staff and I can take 100 people on the website, and it goes on from there. So it, it’s, you know, scalability, in the end, if you want to, you know, if you’re dreaming big like I am, and always will be, you know, scalability is king, you got to look for those opportunities to pivot the business towards scalability. Now, I do still strongly believe that when you’re starting out, it really does help to validate that and find revenue, you know, you’d be shocked how many business owners and entrepreneurs forget that seemingly very obvious thing of, you gotta have revenue, you know, you gotta have customers. And, you know, we hear stories about, I’m not talking about these big VC backed things where they can run for years with no revenue, and somehow they’re worth billions, I don’t understand that, I don’t get that. And I don’t want to do that, I want to actually have a business that has customers and value and, and prove that first, but you can’t forget them. Because if you don’t have revenue, you’re gonna run out of money.
Andy Halko 18:11
Now, were there any like one or two things that you think were big turning points or catalysts that help you scale that, you know, software side of the business, like customer acquisition, like, where there are some big things that may just have a huge impact?
Jared Rosenthal 18:29
I think I would say that moment, I describe it the API and then taking it to the point where I can allow the customers to do the entire process of finding clinics for the services that they need, in an automated way, just by you know, entering a zip code, finding that service, booking their tests and connecting all of the dots. It goes slowly until it goes fast, meaning if there’s, you know, seven dots to connect the customer, they be, you know, the business employee, they want to test the clinic, they gotta go to the lab, the doctor that reviews it, our software, getting it back, you got to connect all that and until you connect all of it, you don’t really have you don’t gain speed. But once they’re finally all connected, and you put it out there in a way in a software that’s elegant enough and enjoyable enough for people to use and understandable enough and simple enough, then all of a sudden boom, you know and you go from you know, maybe 10 pairs I think I went from 10% online orders to 50% within a year you know that was you know all of a sudden you say okay, this is some data I can sink my teeth into and say Wow, it really made a change now let’s get it to 75% Now let’s invest in marketing online to get more people because we know it works you know she could put good money behind good money rather than keep chasing, you know, losses.
Tony Zayas 19:56
Curious Jared to hear a little bit about you know, as you said, Have you kind of dove in to learn the technology side of things? You know, who what did your network look like of people that you leaned on? As you dove into this venture? Did you have mentors or, you know, colleagues or people that he reached out to for insights and feedback and thoughts? What does that look like?
Jared Rosenthal 20:22
Uh, you know, I think the mentors that I had, were the people that I learned from before I started the business. When I when speaking about business mentors, right? Most people in my personal life thought I was crazy, you know, and, you know, you get a lot of resistance when you’re starting your own business, because people bring their own emotions to the conversation, or they, you know, it just usually sounds crazy, hey, I’m gonna start a company, it’s gonna be as big as Shopify. Yeah, right. You know, like, but you know, it’s so so and because there are a lot of examples of people who say that, and, you know, go belly up. And I certainly had my experiences where I started things that didn’t work, and, you know, but so, so people resist it, I think, and, you know, so there’s a lot of emotional stuff that goes on as an entrepreneur. And there’s a lot of things, you got to work through mentors on the tech side, I think the best thing I did was was look for people that were involved with the software that I had chosen to platform. And from there, learn from them. And you know, you know, so even the people that I hired became mentors in terms of the technology. One thing that I didn’t do, which I realized eight, nine years later, is that there was a whole community of people around that technology that I could have tapped into. So I would, I would encourage people to do that, look into the communities of people that use the software, because they’re very giving oftentimes, and they’re very willing to provide knowledge that they have, they’re willing to share it, people like to share knowledge, often, and that helps you a lot. So I did a lot of researching the, you know, the boards and ultimately found the community where there are people that are willing to put stuff out there on podcasts and, and videos, explaining how to use and learn and grow with the tech.
Tony Zayas 22:14
You mentioned a couple of times, you know, talking about your prior ventures, sounds like a bit of a serial entrepreneur, which is exciting, and it’s great. I would love to hear, you know, what are some of the lessons that you learned from other businesses that maybe didn’t succeed the way you would hope they would? And how have you taken that what you’ve learned to be useful with StaffGlass?
Jared Rosenthal 22:40
I would say the one of the biggest things is this issue of thinking, you know, what the customer is going to want, and how important little things are. And stripping away all of the things that are not part of that MVP, that are not part of what’s required to learn more from the customer. And it’s really hard. And you get into this issue of over optimization, too early on that cost too much. And you just run out of time and or money or both. And, you know, I would just say you think you know, but you don’t know, you know, you have an idea, get the product out and get out of your mind, all of the things that are adding time to the Dev cycle. Before you get it out there, get it out there, learn from the customer, because it might be a completely different feedback that you’re getting from them, versus what you thought. And when you thought that you know, this button was going to be the most important thing for them. And they don’t care about that button. You know, maybe they don’t care about the product at all, and which you better learn that quicker than than later. So but it’s really hard. It’s much easier said than done. And you don’t you know, you really don’t want to run out of time and money before you launch. Because that’s really frustrating, then you never get to even know if there’s going to be value there.
Andy Halko 24:08
Yeah, we actually just talked founder, I think, on another show recently, where we talked about the 20 year overnight success where everybody kind of sees, you know, the way in and you’ve gotten here, but they don’t see all the sludge that you had to go through to get there. Yeah, I’m kind of curious. And it sounds like you’ve started businesses and some of them at work. What do you think about failure? Because there are some people that are like afraid to fail? Yep.
Jared Rosenthal 24:35
I you know, I’ve heard this this story that you know, on the east coast where I am in New York, you know, people the failures is not good. People look down on it. And then in Silicon Valley, it’s a badge of honor. I’m not sure that that’s entirely true. I think that’s maybe partment failure sucks. It really does and and you have to know when you’re going into business, you got to know the stats, you know, four to five fail in a year, nine to 10, five years, whatever it is. And you have to be willing to know that if that happens, you can’t crawl up in the fetal position and not get out of bed, you know, you got to figure out alright, what am I going to do next? For me, at one point, I went back to what, you know, I had been in corporate world, I was a CEO of a division of a publicly traded company for a while and ran national marketing sales, and I but I never was fully satisfied, I just knew I had to be alone. And I tried it, and I blew all the money I saved and went back to work, and you know, how to do it, you know, I got, you know, how to feed my kids anyway. But I knew I knew in the pit of my heart that I had to be on my own. And I just said, Alright, I’m going to do it differently. I’m going to eat rice and beans every night. And so this thing makes money, you know, because it’s, it’s so important to me personally, that it is, there’s a few things you can do in this life, that radically change your your circumstances in life and your view of yourself and people’s views, and all kinds of things. And starting a business is really one of them. And, you know, if you fit, you have to understand that there’s a good chance of failure. And and what does that mean? Does that mean you’re a failure? Does that mean it was just a step in your learning process? You know, and you got to take the heartened stories, like Hershey who failed, you know, 10 times before he invented the chocolate bar, or whatever the story is, you know, yeah, you really have to believe in that stuff. On the other hand, you have to, you know, it’s not all just dreaming and believing, right? It’s not all this emotional stuff, there’s, there has to be a business and and to describe it to other people, it’s very hard, because, you know, I never want to, like inspire people to just follow a pipe dream. But on the other hand, maybe that’s, that’s kind of what I did. And but, but I feel like there has to be some rational rationality and some logic, and there’s a physicality to it, you got to work your tail off, you know, to make it happen. There’s no question.
Andy Halko 27:11
I’m kind of curious how you feel about that nature versus nurture. Piece of being an entrepreneur, do you think it’s something that like, people are kind of inherently have the traits and, and, you know, pieces for in them to start and grow something? Or do you think they can, you know, learn and it’s something that they can become?
Jared Rosenthal 27:34
Well, I mean, I like to say that I have natural talent at nothing, right? Everything I do, I have to bust my behind to learn. So I’m a big believer that nurture is available to everybody. Now, if you’re somebody that that, you know, just really is afraid of not having a steady paycheck, you know, then that’s a different thing. That’s, that’s, I guess, you could say, is nature, but it’s not saying you couldn’t be an entrepreneur, but maybe you just don’t have the risk tolerance for, or it hasn’t yet been modeled for you. What, you know, what that really means, right? The fact that getting out of bed is taking a risk, you know, and, and really understanding in terms of learning skills. And I think, you know, I’m a big believer that nurture is hugely important and available to you. It can be learned, you could read books on leadership, right, but but there is there is a skill set. And yes, certainly, some people are more natural added, like anything else. But I think also, I mean, there’s a social element here, too, which I would really like to mention, which is that, you know, some folks, some communities, some some economic groups, it’s not modeled for them, as well as maybe it might have been modeled for me, it was modeled for me, because my grandparents were entrepreneurs. And my parents, everybody in the family was within their own business, or they were a teacher. And so, you know, I followed that path. And I had teachers in life that showed me what good leaders were. Right. And so I think it’s important, like what you guys are doing here and getting the word out and modeling it for people that maybe they didn’t have those role models for, because you can learn it, you know, you got it, you got to believe in yourself. But you know, you can’t learn it all. You can’t make it up all yourself. You have to have the role models, or seek out that learning.
Andy Halko 29:27
I’ve been having a conversation with a couple of my, you know, entrepreneur, friends about risk tolerance. I’ve had my business now for almost 20 years, you know, in this idea of like risk tolerance of, you know, are you , as you go, are you still willing to make as big of risks or, you know, or or taking risks often has yours changed over time, your risk tolerance, or do you feel like it stayed the same and you’re still kind of as wild cowboy as you might have been in the beginning?
Jared Rosenthal 30:02
is a really great question, and it’s one of the hardest parts of being your own business. Because in the beginning, in some ways, the risks are bigger, but in other ways, you have a lot less to lose. So you know, as you grow the, the propensity to take a risk that as the risks get bigger, right. So if you want to grow from from zero to 100,000, you know, you kind of just shooting in the dark, you’re maybe you’re, you’re, you’re risking having to go back to get a regular job. But if you’re at $10 million, and you’re trying to get to 11 million, it’s not gonna change your life. But to get to 30 or 40 million might split, the risks you have to take to do it is much bigger, and you could potentially put your business at risk to do that. And so it’s a really hard decision at that point. So I will say, unfortunately, you have to defend your turf. First, it’s the only way, like, you just can’t put it, because now you’re putting other people’s lives at risk, their livelihoods, you know, in terms of their jobs and whatnot, if you’re a business. So you got to make those those calls. And unfortunately, just like becoming a parent, you know, you tend to start to mitigate, you know, start to become a little bit more risk averse, necessarily.
Andy Halko 31:20
Yeah, over time. Yeah. And I’ve talked about what I started when I was 22 years old, I’m 40 now with two kids, and I think there’s also just life circumstances that influence your, you know, like you said, desire to put everything up, potentially the double growth versus, you know, are you just putting a little up to have a little bit of growth? So,
Jared Rosenthal 31:44
Yeah, and those, you know, they’re hard decisions, but it’s the excitement of being entrepreneur, right? I mean, just making these decisions every day is a privilege and it’s exciting. It’s like, okay, now we actually do have an opportunity to double or triple or quadruple, but we got to be careful, you just can’t be reckless, you got to defend your torso, you don’t want to, you don’t want to just fall back only on what got you there, you have to risk you have to keep taking risk. But you got to be.
Tony Zayas 32:15
Sure, what does your team look like?
Jared Rosenthal 32:18
Okay, so we have, you know, in the last batch, sort of halfway through maybe four or five years ago, we brought in a tech team. It’s based in Cleveland, and that’s sort of the the core of our software development. And then we have, you know, manager and a call center that runs the day to day and takes the call services, the clients handles you know, problems come up and, and tracks down, you know, specimens and stuff like that. And the sales by half the calls are still sales calls. And the other half service calls and, you know, the call center was growing and growing for a while until we really put in the tech. So each year, they’re able to do more and more with the same same people. And then we have very selectively picked really valuable consultants that help out and things like Dev, SEO, for sure, is a crucial part of it and finance.
Andy Halko 33:20
So I’m always interested in the marketing side of things, but you know, that’s a big area for us. What did you, you know, how did you guys look at marketing? And what kind of tactics did you use to grow the business?
Jared Rosenthal 33:33
Yeah, I mean, I came from a marketing background really, and, you know, originally, the way I approached it was physical. So like the RV, I painted it up, first, I put a, a urine cup, you know, cup of beans. And, and then we started doing DNA testing. This is sort of an interesting side note, I had come up with a slogan, who’s your daddy, so I put the Who’s your daddy on the side of it. That blew up, you know, like, like, nothing I had ever experienced and you know, TV producers started calling we VHOne per season with the with the DNA testing newspaper, you know, we were in the paper all the time, it was just madness on one slope. You know, it’s like I spent about $4,000, on on paint, local graffiti artists that I knew, and we did it up one weekend and, and mostly got millions and free marketing exposure from the real Grand Slam from that standpoint. But from a long term scalable, and we still get business from from that exposure and that establishment of ourselves as a authority in the DNA testing space, because of all the press that came around that. You know, he flipside was SEO really because I really just realized very early on that the business was coming from Google. I mean, there was just no way around it. Google was driving the business The ads were going to be too expensive to survive, you know, you’re going to lose money on ads, those come in later, when you can afford to invest in them. Because you know that in the long run, you might earn money from them. But SEO is huge. I went out and sought out firms that had credentials and expertise in SEO, and they’ve really been the core of our marketing strategy. I could talk all day about SEO or anything you want about that as well.
Andy Halko 35:27
Funny, Tony painted a urine cup on his car, but he’s not even a business.
Jared Rosenthal 35:34
Hopefully, it went better for you then
Andy Halko 35:38
Yeah, I mean, you know, I think people always struggle struggle within marketing, like what is the right approach and channel to take, I love the like, you know, come up with some ideas that are a little bit different than what other folks would do, like the tagline and some of these other things is, I think too many people are timid in marketing, and are afraid to scare people off. And what they do is they create no, like, real impression, because they were too like, mediocre and diluted.
Jared Rosenthal 36:12
I couldn’t agree more, you can’t be boring. You can’t be outrageous, you know, sometimes you could, it depends on who you are. But but, you know, it’s taking risks, there was some sleepless nights blaming, putting who’s your daddy on the side of trucks, I was afraid people would misinterpret it, you know, but it was a big risk. But it worked. You know, so, so yeah, you have to take those kinds of risks. And you have to calculate carefully that you’re not over, you know, extending it to the point where you can really cause damage to yourself. But yes, you know, you can’t just do what everybody else does. I think the holy trinity of businesses is you got to have you got to have something unique, right? You have to be able to have, I mean, has to be desirable, has to be something that people want. And you got to defend that, that that uniqueness, right? If you can’t be something that people can just copy, and slogans are a part of it, for sure. Right. It’s a key part of it, I spent a lot of time looking at the trademark database, you know, it’s online. USPTO. And it’s really interesting, you know, like, just understanding what trademarks are you learn a lot about how to market things like slogans, and, and what’s trade markable you know, if you just say, my software, you know, the software is, American Express is the, you know, credit card, it’s the best credit card, you know, you can’t you can’t trademark that, but don’t leave home without it. It doesn’t really say anything about credit cards, it gives you a feeling about what that is, right? So thinking about that and learning. So how can I create a slogan that gives an impression about what we’re all about about what our brand is? Without just spelling it out? It’s challenging. And then you think of it and then you check the trademark database, and somebody already did that one, you know, and then you got to go back to the drawing board. That’s a challenge. It’s a hard, it’s a lot of hard work you got to put in there. But if you catch the right one, can you be real good. Game Changer.
Tony Zayas 38:12
So I’d be curious, Jared, to hear a little bit about what is, you know, what’s coming in the next, you know, 12 to 18 months as far as StaffGlass, you guys evolving the product? And where’s at?
Jared Rosenthal 38:29
Well, here’s where it’s at. And this is might sound crazy, as well. But, you know, over the last several years, we’ve realized and dealing with other businesses that 20,000 clients we have as well as our consulting firm, that we have really good technology for a small business, right? So we have a marketing platform that tracks our ads, and does attribution better than almost anybody else, we need way, way better, even friends of mine that work in big companies, and they say, Wow, you can do all that you can track an ad to a phone call and a phone call to a sale and figure out which ad works better. And, you know, say yeah, you know, we built it ourselves, you know, and it’s, and, you know, goes on and on our publishing platform we built ourselves and in terms of web publishing, you know, and, and so what our goal right now is to go beyond just giving companies the opportunity to do the onboarding, and the recruiting, but to sort of put out this whole suite of business services that we built for ourselves, including the web, publishing the SEO and analyzing keyword density and, and doing it all in an integrated fashion. And the idea behind StaffGlass was was it is an integrated employee record, that you don’t have to key into background check software, and then a drug testing software and then he signs his own one. So you scan the person scans or driver’s license in from their phone, and the employee is off and running. And then that record powers all of those things and that cuts down on an enormous amount of errors and double and triple work and all that. But that whole idea of integration applies to the whole business as well. Because if you’re doing ad tracking and one software and you’re doing inventory and another and you don’t pay with one another, and it just goes on and on, and small businesses were told all the time, you got to use these software’s and some of them are great. Because they are but the fact when they’re, they’re segregated, it creates a burden after a while, 10 different language 10 different, you know, and they don’t speak to each other. And so what, what the power of what we’ve done internally is to build this system as an integrated system. So when somebody clicks an ad, the ad is tied back to the phone number that’s tied back to the client that’s tied back to the sale and all the way through. And that’s just the marketing integration. Same thing applies on the web publishing. And so the clinics that we have available are in our database, and that gets pushed directly into our website. And to have that all in one system is massively powerful. And our goal is to release iterations of StaffGlass or beyond that allow companies to take advantage of that same thing, building it for ourselves was was hard building it for, you know, generically enough that people can use it on their own through the web is 10 times harder. But that’s my that’s my dream, that’s my goal is to is to put pieces out there starting with the web publishing stuff, because that’s just amazing how how not to say, honestly, how bad some of the folks, you know, small business websites are, they just don’t understand the technical aspects of SEO, the speed, you know, what Google’s looking for, and we can help them, we can help them we got to help them somebody’s got to push back against Amazon taking over the world. Right? So that’s, that’s, that’s what we’re hoping to do.
Andy Halko 41:52
To that point, have you changed your mindset about, you know, raising money versus bootstrapping to kind of get to that next level? Or do you see trying to continue the bootstrap to get to that, you know, bigger vision.
Jared Rosenthal 42:06
You know, I wrestle with that every day. You know, they think the ways that I’ve tried to get to that vision is setting up a stock option plan for the staff. So when they used to work 10 hours a day, now they want to work 12 Just getting that excitement, excitement and motivation. But you know, again, at some point, we need resources. And you have to make that calculation, how realistic is it that we’re going to get a return? If we put our own money into it? Should we borrow? Should we get investors, and you know, the investor thing is one of those where it’s only worth it, if the value is such that the valuation of the company such that what they’re putting in, really feels like it’s going to change the game at a level where I’m still comfortable with, with my own desire to run it, and own it.
Andy Halko 42:55
you kind of touched on people like, how have you built your culture? And how do you incentivize people? And what’s what’s it look like when you’re trying to get people behind the vision for the business?
Jared Rosenthal 43:08
Yeah, well, a few different things. I mean, sales, spokes are sort of one flavor of it. And that’s our call center. And we have always had like an incentive compensation plan, that, you know, I’m really love working on these things. They’re really hard because you have to figure out ways to incentivize people. And everybody’s incentivized by different things. Some people like long term incentives, some people want to get bonus every month, some people like recognition, some people just want money, you know, so you got to figure out a way to do it in a way that makes sense for the business, but hits upon as many of those personal motivations as possible. But, you know, for the business, you also have to set a culture and I think the stock option plan is critical for incentivization. Because it gets everybody on the same page, when I worked in a public company that that was the thing that I learned the most, that having stock options, no matter what all the executives would argue about, and people want to advocate for their position or their division over another division. But at the end of the day, what they all really wanted was for the stock to go up. And I realized this stock option thing is a tremendously unifying methodology. So for the tech folks, as well as their staff, you know, we have that there. And, you know, I think that that’s critically important for that for the culture. But you know, make no mistake about it, the people are the most important part of any company’s culture. And the hiring is you know, figuring out the right people to hire you know, fire fast and hire slow you know, all these things are really, really important because at the end of the day, that’s that’s what your company is it’s gonna it’s gonna roll or fail based on on people you have.
Andy Halko 45:02
Yeah, no, that’s great. How have you found the best people for the company? You know, and how do you evaluate? Bringing on the right folks?
Jared Rosenthal 45:14
Yeah, um, it’s, I think it’s a lot of all of the all of the less networking with people that I know, then think I’m not a big, I don’t do a lot of that, like calling people I know and say who do you know, but I find that asking once you have good staff, asking them who they know, can be a very powerful technique, because they already know what it’s like, in a very intimate way, what it’s like to work for the company or to work for me, or they know the culture, and they know their former colleagues, and who’s good at what, from a work standpoint. So that’s been a pretty effective way. And, you know, I’m open to anything to find to look at, you know, there’s, there’s, there’s a lot of new kinds of businesses that have cropped up around the idea of vetting talent for a particular industry. And that’s been effective in some cases for us. And say, listening to podcasts and shows like this and and you hear what people say that are leading these shows that are often you know, consultants themselves, you really get a sense of
Andy Halko 46:27
Jared Rosenthal 46:29
philosophy and how they revise and the type of shops they run. So looking for consultants, that’s been pretty effective.
Andy Halko 46:36
That’s pretty good.
Tony Zayas 46:39
Jared, I’d like to ask you, so currently, do you still Help Street you’re still running that as well? Yes. Yes. With, you know, between StaffGlass, Help Street, and then big plans on the horizon, how do you a lot of times we like to talk about, you know, work life balance or work life harmony? How do you manage the day to day and keeping yourself you know, rejuvenated and focused? What does that look like for you?
Jared Rosenthal 47:10
Well, um, you know, exercise every day, exercise is non negotiable. So I work out every morning. That’s critical, that sort of level, setting your whole mind and body and spirit to face today and sit down at the computer again, because you can really face burnout, especially with the, especially if you’re just looking at code all day, driving, nuts, you know. And, and, yeah, you know, just remembering when my kids call that, I can’t talk to them while I’m looking at the screen. Because that’s, you’re not going to be present in the conversation. And even though they’re looking at the screen, most of the time, you know, they’re gonna figure out if you’re looking at one, two, and they’re not gonna like that. So making sure you make the time. You know, and, you know, working from home for I resisted that during a pandemic, until much later on. Part of it was getting, you know, reliable connection that was fast enough to work, work from home. But once I finally jumped into that, yeah, that definitely freed up an hour or so from the community lately embraced that I’m not sure if was a big with it. But that that’s, that’s helped a little bit to to get some time with the family.
Tony Zayas 48:23
How did pandemic affect your business?
Jared Rosenthal 48:27
Well, putting people from the call center into the homes was really scary, really scary, because I just figured out it’s phones, they can, you know, it’s not gonna work when they send them home. But amazingly, we worked it out and went through some challenges, we had to, you know, have to staff didn’t have internet at home, we had to go out there and set them up and pay for it and stuff like that. And you know, there’s there’s issues of put with, with connections, mostly, a lot of it is internet stuff. But when the, you know, the main office went down before or had two offices, just for sort of balancing out the load. One of them went down, half the staff was down. Now if one of them goes down, 10% of my staff is down. So in some ways, it’s better, right? Because you don’t have that. That vulnerability, that fragility, you have everybody’s on one network connection. The downside of it is it’s very hard to train the people on a product and how to become a salesperson. Something that probably takes three months of what used to give sit with a manager for three months, one on one. You know, you got to do that over the phone, you got to figure out different ways, forces you to innovate and spend time learning that and come up with training different ways. But I think it’s ultimately can be very effective.
Andy Halko 49:50
That’s great. So I have a question I ask every founder if you were able to go back in time. Before you started, let’s say you know, the technology business or even you know, the original business and have coffee with yourself? What’s one piece of advice you would give? Future? Or you know, past you?
Jared Rosenthal 50:14
That’s a great question. Um, future advice, the past me, I think you know, I don’t have regrets as much. So it’s not like I wallow in thinking I should I wish I did this differently, or they think differently. But I think, you know, the idea of believing in yourself, and the idea of gambling on yourself is, is critical. And as much competence as, as maybe I thought I had is, you know, there’s all voices in your head saying, I can’t do it. And, you know, you got it. If it’s in you, that’s your passion. If that’s what you really want to do. You could learn it, you can go out there, you can figure it out. And you’re gonna fall and that’s okay. That is it. There’s something that I told my firstborn in the CFO that he that he looked at me like I was out of my mind, but I realized it was really important that I wish I had done this earlier, which is that a part of running on businesses that it’s a bit of your own art project? And it’s okay, if you’re not Michelangelo? Is your art, right? So I said to him something to the effect that sometimes it’s okay, if I make mistakes, because I wanted to do it, I wanted to learn how to make a website and I wanted to learn how to run an ad program. I didn’t need the the top expert in it, I could make mistakes, but I did it. And I learned from it. And he thought I was out of my mind. And I think at a certain point, yeah, that is a crazy way to run a business because you got too much at stake and other people relying on you. But I think that’s good advice that I would have liked earlier on, which is it doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s, it’s a reflection of yourself and your, your art or your, your your work. And it’s okay, it’s not perfect, but it’s more important that you go out and do it. And that’s yeah, that’s the value that you get out of it.
Andy Halko 52:16
I like that. I like that a lot. And I, you know, personally, I try a lot of things because I want to have a little bit of knowledge about it, if I’m gonna talk about it or hear other people talk about it. And, you know, and so I totally on board with that. I love it.
Jared Rosenthal 52:31
Yeah, there’s this, this notion that that, why would you start this business when so many other people are doing it, or who’s gonna buy it from you, and they buy from someone else. But that’s in and of itself is not a reason to not do it? Right? He’s like, alright, well, I’m going to do it, and I’m going to do it my way, and I’m going to learn it, and I’m gonna make mistakes. And, and guess what, I’m going to get customers too. And maybe that’ll grow into something. And then somewhere along the way, I might innovate. You know, if I know myself, I’m going to keep thinking, I’m going to keep saying, hey, what if we did it slightly differently. But I can’t think of that beforehand, because I don’t know the details of the business yet. But one day, a call is gonna come in, and I’m going to talk to clients that, oh, wait a second. And then it’s going to turn into something. And you have to, you know, sort of embrace that, that whole process, if you want to do this business thing, certainly in the way that I’ve done it, which is like, say on your own without gathering a team of investors and all that.
Andy Halko 53:21
Tony Zayas 53:24
Well, that’s great. So Jared, just to wrap us up here. Where can people who are tuning in that want to learn more about you, your businesses? Where can they find you and learn more?
Jared Rosenthal 53:37
Well, we’re on you know, on social media, Help Street or StaffGlass. There’s emails on our on our websites that help-shoot.net, staff.io and coming soon, the web publishing platform is going to be glasspress.io.
Tony Zayas 53:56
Very cool. Well, Jared, this has been a lot of fun. We really appreciate you taking the time out to you know, share your story and a lot of what you’ve learned in some really good stuff. So thank you, and everyone tuning in. Thank you guys for joining and we will see you again next time. I take care guys. Take care everybody.
Andy Halko 54:18