SaaS Founder Interview with Ninh Tran, Co-Founder & CEO of Snapbrillia

Tony Zayas 0:00
Hey everybody, welcome to the SAS founders show. We’re back here for the new year. I’m your cohost, Tony Zayas joined by Andy Halko, our founder and in Insivia. Andy, how are you doing? What is your New Year’s resolution?

Andy Halko 0:20
Oh Tony, man, that is a tough question. I haven’t even made a New Year’s resolution yet. So now you’re putting me on the spot. How about you, you tell me what your New Year’s resolution is?

Tony Zayas 0:32
You know, every year, my New Year’s resolution is pretty much the same. That’s you know, do the things you know, you’re supposed to do, do less of the things you know, you’re not supposed to do and be good to people. So I don’t know something like that. I try not to do any good solutions, because it’s kind of sets you up to fail.

Andy Halko 0:50
Well, that I’m stealing yours, for sure.

Tony Zayas 0:52
Very cool. Well, excited to be back for essentially a new season. We took some time off from the show. And excited we have a great lineup here over the next you know, couple of months of really exciting founders. So we’ll just get into today’s we have Ninh Tran, he is from Snapbrillia. And just to give you guys an idea of what they do, they’re an AI powered interviewing and technical assessment platform that accelerates the quality of hires and actively works to eliminate systemic biases and disparities in the technical hiring process. Super interesting stuff. So with that, hey Ninh, how you doing?

Ninh Tran 1:34
Hey guys, what’s up? Happy New Year.

Tony Zayas 1:37
You too. Happy New Year. And thank you for joining us. We’re excited to have you on just to get started. If you can just I read the you know, the script there. But tell us about the business. What do you guys do?

Ninh Tran 1:50
Yeah, absolutely. Think thanks so much for having us here. So Snapbrillia I started that because, you know, before before Snapbrillia I was I was doing Harshil. And over there, I helped hire almost a million people just during COVID, just in 2020. That’s a good milestone and good achievement. I think I can sleep pretty well with that at night. But because we serve companies like Amazon, and Google and Facebook and all these fortune 10-50 companies, huge companies, very blessed to be able to do that. Right? But I saw that, because companies are hiring so quickly and so fast, they don’t really have even a ton of diversity in their hires, especially in tech. And they can’t afford to be super picky or exclusionary, to any underrepresenting group. And at the same time, they have to hire the best people fast. A lot of times, like the goals were yeah, we want to hire, you know, 3-5 million people in five years. I’m like, okay, good luck with that. Right? Someone would say good luck with that. The internal recruiting leaders they were pulling their hair hairs. How can we actually achieve it? Right now? Maybe they’re doing, you know, 500k? The whole year? So they want to 10x in five years? How can we achieve that? How can we find new channels? And with my previous company, we provided additional channels to them. But then when they got a lot of applicants, and a lot of people to apply and get them to talk about the job. A lot of people also got rejected. So imagine you’re getting a ton of leads, right? For your for your positions. And somehow, you’re still rejecting a ton of people, you’re disqualifying those leads, because they’re supposedly don’t meet the bar. But at the same time, the bar these days is set by, you know, randomize non practical coding assessments that don’t really have anything to do with the day to day engineering technical job. It’s something that, like, new graduates are grinding for for months, right? And then once they start a job, it’s like, yeah, it’s completely different. Something else I mean, they do have value they they test computer science and other fundamentals, things that people would learn in school, but it’s not really indicative of real work performance once they start on the on the job itself. So that’s why we set out a step to change to build an AI powered coding assessment and interviewing platform that has the practical real world tests and helps helps companies test candidates even from their own projects. What is a better way to to see if if someone’s good than to give them a project from your own stack, right? And see how they do within 30-60 minutes improve candidate experience because nobody wants to just grind, textbook, you know, and go back to college after you’ve had like 10-8 years of experience coding, and you’ve proven yourself. Right. And, and also make sure that the interviewers and the hiring process throughout the whole enterprise hiring is, is as as fair as possible. You got to realize none of us are born as great interviewers, some of us are, you know, I’ve met some, like, hit it, right on the on the ball. But most of us interviewing is definitely a skill that can be trained and learned. And we use AI technology to measure and to give insights to interviewers and how they could improve, especially when it comes to unconscious biases that they might have between one or other group. And because of that we power we help companies power their recruiting their target funnel, increase the conversion rate, to help them hire the best people faster from any walk of life.

Andy Halko 6:41
So I’m always interested to hear from the perspective of like, what would a day in the life of one of your customers look like using your software? So like, how do they get started? How they use it? And how does it end game day?

Ninh Tran 6:55
So we have, I’d say we have two types of customers, maybe three, on one side is kind of the engineering hiring user, whether it’s interviewer or hiring manager. On the other side, we have the recruiting sites, right? It could be a recruiter or recruiting leader, you know, CHRO, CTO on your site. And the last one is the job seekers, right. The ones that use it the most are going to be engineers and recruiters. Right? So from the recruiter point of view, they would post a job, or they would source a candidate somewhere on LinkedIn, or hardship or wherever, right? Bring them in to phone screen. And then put them into like application tracking system. It’s like a database of candidates that they use. And then from there, they would pull and integrate with our system and just tell us, hey, why don’t you?

Andy Halko 8:01
Sorry, did you lose his mic?

Tony Zayas 8:03
Yeah, I think we just lost your audio. Yeah.

Andy Halko 8:11
New Year’s technical challenges. I will say I did think of a New Year’s resolution though, Tony, they said I’m gonna bring Mohawks back in style.

Tony Zayas 8:21
Okay, that’s a big one. So tall task, the whole

Andy Halko 8:25
Everybody will have one and by the end of the year, just so you know. But, you know, while he’s getting ready, I will say that the process of evaluating the right focus is is always a challenge. Still can’t hear you.

Ninh Tran 8:42
Okay, give me one second, because

Tony Zayas 8:44
Here we go.

Ninh Tran 8:50
I cannot hear you.

Tony Zayas 8:52
Okay, you can’t hear us?

Ninh Tran 8:54
Give me a second. Let me, let me put headphones up. One minute. I’ll be right back.

Andy Halko 9:00
You’re okay. So now we got to talk about hiring right, Tony?

Tony Zayas 9:04
Yeah. Well, I think it’s a great conversation. Because, you know, it’s such a challenge universally, especially technical people, hiring good, you know, developers, engineers, etc. It’s really hard, such a competitive environment, and you’re facing a great resignation. And we’re actually going to be talking on a webinar about this pretty soon, but hiring is always a big challenge. So I’m super excited to dive in a little bit further with him.

Andy Halko 9:35
Well, we’re hiring a bunch of roles right for our own company, and I’ve been going through resume

Ninh Tran 9:41
So you guys can hear me now?

Andy Halko 9:42
Yeah

Tony Zayas 9:43
There we go.

Ninh Tran 9:45
Okay, you guys can’t hear me. The problem is, I can’t hear you.

Andy Halko 9:50
Oh, no.

Ninh Tran 9:51
Let me see if I can do this real quick. There’s something

Tony Zayas 9:59
Crap. Can you hear us?

Ninh Tran 10:01
Yeah, I can. Yeah. Maybe a little bit of an echo.

Tony Zayas 10:10
Let me uhm

Ninh Tran 10:12
Good?

Tony Zayas 10:13
Okay, yeah, we’re good now.

Ninh Tran 10:16
Awesome.

Andy Halko 10:17
Well, Tony and I were just talking about the challenges of hiring. And I was telling Tony, that we’re hiring right now in a number of technical roles. And I think to your point, I look at resumes. And I don’t know whether they’re good or not, you know, it’s hard to tell. So that is a challenge. And it sounds like your solution really helps solve that.

Ninh Tran 10:41
Yeah, absolutely. You know, personal resumes or blogs themselves, right? You need experience to get experience. From my, from my hiring to people, interview thousands of people, I’ve realized that the best times I’ve had, were always super passionate and had great demonstrated interest and just had the right attitude to a can do attitude can jump into it. And if you mix that with the right expertise, domain knowledge, that’s that’s super powerful

Andy Halko 11:28
We lost your audio again haha

Tony Zayas 11:39
Would chalk this up to why 2k?

Andy Halko 11:42
Cause these problems? Why 2k 22, Right? I blame everything these days on y2k. I pretty much think if anything goes wrong, it’s y2k.

Ninh Tran 11:59
Haha yeah, all on me, guys. Can you guys hear me now?

Andy Halko 12:06
We can.

Ninh Tran 12:08
Awesome. So for for resumes, right? You know, just because someone adds like, hey, I know Python, i know Java, i know JavaScript, doesn’t mean that they actually are proficient or can code at all. So a lot of employers, let’s say, and the reason why solutions like Snapbrillia exist in the first place, is because you get in post a job. And if your enterprise, then you get thousands of applications to a job. And maybe right now under hunting to put for, for applicants to hire is about 0.2, 0.02%. So maybe out of thousand application, you may get to hires, right? And imagine you actually read to a thousand resumes, to get those two hires, and that’s hiring today. Right. And there’s matching software will serve this with better resumes up and all of that, but at the end of the day, you wouldn’t know whether they can actually work unless you give them a project, I’m gonna stay. In the worst case, I’m gonna just start, right. And I love giving people chances. Right, I do that all the time, I snapped earlier. But I also found out that, you know, if you give a person like a hands on project, something that they would do in their regular daily job, then that is as good as work sample work sample is very much a number one predictor of how well someone’s going to do on the job or performance has about 63% correlation. Way better than interview skills, someone can be excellent interviewer and can be yes, their way into. Yeah, I can actually code. But when it comes to I can, you know, and then once you hire someone, you you’re stuck with them. Right? You got to give them a chance and so on. And that’s all good, but make better hiring decisions. And as all entrepreneurs ending Tony, you guys have hired people. Right? You know that. It’s all about the people. It’s all about people.

Andy Halko 14:47
Yeah. Some of the shift a little bit into hearing your entrepreneurial story. You know, we’re here, trying to talk to founders and give them an idea of what it’s like to build a business So, you know, it sounds like you were involved in another company before, but what was your kind of entrepreneurial journey? How did you get into, you know, this idea of, I want to start my own thing, and I want to be a lead?

Ninh Tran 15:13
Yeah, so for me, you know, I started kind of late, or normal, I guess. My whole family is entrepreneur, they own small businesses, you know, all over the place, in Czech Republic, in Vietnam, in US, like, all over the place, and they used to do like, like a brick and mortar with great restaurants, hotels, and so on. Right. And they went from nothing, literally, my, my mom, she went from $10 in her pocket to owning several beachfront hotels now. So I’ve seen her work hard. And to take care of us, right. Me and my, my younger brother, like day in and day out, and she was actually, you know, single mom. At that time, so she remarried, and so on. So in retiring now, right, in, she was able to help her family, my family and aunts and uncles start their own businesses. So I saw that and I said, Hey, I could have a pretty decent life, just living with my parents, nothing, didn’t have to do anything. But I really wanted to do something that I can be proud of myself and contribute to the society. And it didn’t really, it didn’t really hit me until I was in, in my last years of college, I was wanting to solve poverty, and you have studied a bunch of stuff to be able to draft policies for that. And then I realize, you know, at the end of the day, it’s all politics, all the policies are there. Right. Poverty is actually being solved by businesses today, like the economy as well. Right? Look at that, look at China. Right? Like food is, Elon Musk even said, food is pretty cheap these days, right? Even even in Africa, they’re solving problems, just because the economies are scaling, starting to scale. So I realized, Okay, well, I want to if not poverty, then I want to have more impact myself, and how can I do that in business? And entrepreneurship wants to answer. I went to high school of business in Berkeley, and had an amazing entrepreneurial advisor could bear. And he helped me launch my first startup TracPhone, which was, you know, food, food truck, tracking, app, plus ordering, and so on. So that was super fun. I didn’t know anything about startups or tech. Somehow, we built the app launched it and was, you know, used by thousands of people. But didn’t know how to create a business. I only knew how to launch a cool app. Right at the time. So originally, we closed doors, of course, there’s a ton of things that I learned as a team of people helped them get jobs at Facebook, Google and all the all the big tech companies in the Bay Area. And I went to Google recharter for a year, I was like, I just need a break for a year. You know, somewhere in somewhere great. Not too bad descent. And that was that was rough. Like a failed startup. super rough. For sure. I gain like 80 pounds, unlimited food. Right. Over there. And yeah, and and after a while, I just, I just said, you know, this stuff is unlimited. And all you can eat buffet, six hours a week work. Right? And then automated half of my work. So I just, I did QA engineering, so I didn’t really see too much there. I felt bored. And I realized it’s not for me, right? I’m a startup that I’d love to get my hands dirty. Build something how to picture see, you know, ideas come to life and and talk to people that that say hidden in you know, because of what you build. I can feed my three kids, right? To enable other entrepreneurs and people who are movers and shakers and people who want to make impact either in the world to have their own companies or even in their own life to be able to do that. Right using technology and, and I saw and then I saw her teammate at the time, right? Two guys, and they invited me to join in farming team sound like yeah, why not? Okay, yeah, I’m kind of bored here. So let’s do it. And, again, we didn’t know anything, obviously had a cool tech people using it had a ton of traction, but we didn’t have a business model, the one that they kind of try to kind of talk, we kind of taught that it’s going to work it did it. Right. So we had to pivot and we pivoted, probably six, seven times, and you’re really lucky, very blessed to be able to hit, hit it again, on hand with finding the right product market fit, finding the right pain point to solve and quickly become number one product in that space. And the rest is history. High eight figure, AR SaaS with higher retention with all the companies that you’d like to have as clients on your portfolio and growing. But at the end, right? Even seemingly, have had a ton of impact there. But even during COVID 940 over 140,000 people hire right into Google, Facebook and hundreds Visa MasterCard, like we had pretty cool logos. I realized, well, you know, there’s so much disparity right now. And there’s so much going on, like so much bias, discrimination, and just that interview, it’s happening today, no one’s doing anything about it. No one’s really doing anything about it. So I’m gonna just create another company that has a deep core social mission at the center, and solve real problems that will help people change their lives, like, arguably, if, you know you go to school, right. But even if you don’t go to school, but you put a ton of work and ton of effort to learn a craft. And then you can’t get a job. For most people. Most people are not entrepreneurial, and you can get a job, then finance kind of nothing. But you go and get a PhD or master’s degree, you can’t get get a job. You know, and I have friends in my personal life who went to Berkeley and got masters and then they work retail right now. But it sucks, right? They spent so much money so much years they’re super smart, super talented. But because they you know, job search sucks. I remember when I when I was out of college and tried to search for exam, like, you know what, I’ll be entrepreneur, way better way cooler. And even after my startup failed, right to look for a job, but it was it was grueling, it’s depressing. It’s like lonely. There is no support groups or job seekers. But like, you don’t get feedback, no one talks to you. Right? You just apply a thousand times and it goes into the resume black hole, ATS. And it’s, it’s because recruiters, you don’t have to go to thousand resumes to get to hires. Right. So there’s it’s so inefficient. And then you hop on a call and interviewers, they, some are just straight up at interviewers. Right? So the atmosphere that day. But I asked myself, well, you know, when are the moments where people’s lives really change, right? And one of them is when they graduate or when they when they get to a point where they get a good job a well paying jobs, can start taking care of their families, kids buy a house and so on. Right. And so that’s why it’s not really we want to make sure that everyone has a fair chance to at least interview for the job that they can do. Right.

Tony Zayas 24:43
And I would like to hear a little bit about you know, how you, early on you identified in drew out those biases and disparities that exist that are specific to the technical hiring process. How How did you uncover that? And then how did you guys address it? Through the platform and the the events?

Ninh Tran 25:07
Oh, yeah. For sure, right. So I have a ton of friends in tech, we are in the Bay Area, but I guess the closest person to me, I can’t like, like I work in tech, but HTML, we’re kind of a majority in tech. Who cares, right? So but even though like, actually, I grew up in Czech Republic, and I was one of the three Asian kids in my whole high school, like thousand people, wait, so I’ve experienced a ton of discrimination in my life, in my early, like, adolescent life, but then, you know, my friends, people who just ran it against me, after years, six months, they became really close friends. Because they, you know, it, instead of like, the surface level fear and, and kind of just fear of the unknown the different way, when they actually got to know me and got to know that we started forming bonds. So we went from the superficial to real, right. But in tech, you don’t like doing interviews, you don’t have months to get to know the person, right? You just have 30 minutes and hour at most, or even six hours, right? And the more hours you add, the more the whole interviewing process sucks. Because who like, if someone asks you, Hey, can you can you spend six hours to just interview and maybe you’ll get a job? I’ll say, I don’t talk to that at the moment. Right now. Right? Especially if I have kids to take care of, and so on. And, and imagine if everybody wants to do that. Right? All the big companies are moving forward for rounds of interviews. And that’s what my, that’s what my wife was going to. She’s a software engineering manager now. Right? But in the past couple years, just engineer and she was getting maybe 30 to 40 messages a day. Hey, you know, take this interview, we’d like to talk to you. I’d love to have you join us? You know, perfect fit. I’m impressed with your background, all the all the BS, right? All the recruiting lingo. But once they get to it, like, okay, they want me to actually take an interview during my workday, so I have to take time off. Right? They want me to finish the coding test. That’s four hours coding test. It’s unpaid, right? For a job that maybe will pan out maybe it won’t. I don’t have time for that. It is so inefficient. And once once she passes all these and gets to the on site interview, she was telling the story so people just you know, just pretty much manhandling her. During the interview. They just just telling her how to solve it. what exactly it is and so on. Didn’t let her even speak. Or just stone stone face still mall. No interaction, no way to, to connect. Is this bad interviewing experiences? Right? Or people told her Hey, because you’re a woman, you can’t cope. Just straight up like that. Right. Like, normally I don’t think that people are people are like that ignore it. But yeah, I can see that like interviewing is a skill. Right? And unless, like you don’t have the third person a lot of time short interviews. Right. So you don’t know like what’s happening actually during the interviews oftentimes. Sometimes companies have like a feedback person or interviewer shadowing and feedback on feedback. But most companies don’t because it takes resources right it takes training it takes all that good stuff. Most companies they just care about hey, I just want to hire fast and equal and they don’t they miss the insight too much that don’t measure the missed insight that okay, maybe there’s there are things that they can improve significantly small changes that can give them a significant boost. When it comes to screening selection and interviewing and improving and making the hiring process much faster and better for all sides in immunity also complain? The enemies are too long. Right? I’m tired. I don’t want to talk to you like 20 people and at the same time have to deliver on my product tomorrow. Right? Why not just 30 minutes and you tell me this great good guy can do the work or not? Right. And he, you know, I’m sure you’ve interviewed a ton of people. Right? And sometimes I wish this could be.

Andy Halko 30:25
I always think that,

Ninh Tran 30:27
Yeah

Andy Halko 30:28
There’s, and I’m hiring right now. And it is a huge challenge to go through. And like you said, look at code repositories or portfolios. And, you know, you could be missing a diamond in the rough.

Ninh Tran 30:43
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, absolutely. It’s a it’s a nightmare. But it’s something that, that we have to do like, as managers as leaders, right? We have to hire the best people to be able to grow our business. It’s all about people. Like at the end of the day ideas, execution plans, relationships are done by people. Unless you give me like a robot AI worker, you can do that, you know, then I’ll be out of business completely. But that would be ideal, right? We can, we can probably all retire just live off AI.

Andy Halko 31:19
So that’s the dream, right? Yeah. Um, you know, shifting gears a little bit, one of the questions we always hear related to founders is how’d you get initial customers? You know, so you’ve got this idea, you start to build an app. Okay, how do I actually start making some revenue from it when I have no track record? So what does that look like for you?

Ninh Tran 31:45
My advice is to look at not having a track record. Everybody starts somewhere, right? Everyone, including myself, we start somewhere, and we starting somewhere, again, and again. And sometimes you go back to the beginning with nothing, right? And that’s, that’s a beautiful part of the entrepreneurial journey. Right? When you have nothing in you create something. Now the process of creating something, hopefully is towards product market fit in how you achieve product market fit. So we, you know, initial journey of trucks out we had traction, and it was about implementing business model, it’s a little bit different, right. But product market fit is more like where Hartsville at the time where we were, like, built in, we build the job board. And then we realized is a bunch of job boards already. No one cares, right? So we pivoted into a candidate Relationship Management System, or ATS, and then there’s a bunch of boats and no one cares, right? So we had to actually talk to, instead of, you know, making random ideas ourselves, so Well, this would be super cool to build, right? To actually talk to the end users, right? And see what is their biggest problem, right, in hiring, or in whatever they are, whether it’s software engineers, and so on. So same same ones that really we just talked to the end users, the recruiters and senior managers to leaders, interviewers, CTOs, you know, recruiting leaders, job seekers, what is the what is the problem that they have when they’re searching for a job? When they’re trying to hire an engineer? Right? And listen, don’t have anything, so just listen, ask good questions. Right? And, and synthesize this information. Sometimes you might even want to say, Hey, do you mind if I just go in and hang out with you for an hour in watching work? Right, while you obsess, or when you schedule interviews, or when you do whatever it is that we’re trying to solve? And see, okay, are they really are is, what is the hardest part of their work? Right? That they’re doing right now? How do they go about solving let’s say, find a contact information, once they find a candidate, how they go about, like finding the right candidate, and then reaching out to them? Right? In whenever you see like, the switching screens, or they’re doing like a man pulling the hair or whenever you see like, they have a win moment, like, oh, yeah, I found I found that contact and now I’m gonna reach out to them. And they said yes, to me. That’s real business value there. Right? And, and with if you’re able to build a product and solution that can repeat these high moments for the end user, whether you’re able to shadow them or not. Or if they say, Hey, you know, for me, I’m not getting in a good technical talent into my pipeline. Most people the interview are rejected, right? We don’t have enough burski I spent, I spent three times the amount of work to get less than half of the hires for the from underrepresented groups. And sometimes I don’t even have time to focus on diversity hiring, right? Because there’s nobody, there is nobody and people that I bring in the they can they can pass a coding test. Right? Then, you know, that’s, that’s fundamentally something that’s truly frustrating people. And then you have to ask, How much do you actually care about that? Right? Is it a real problem? Or you’re saying it just to be cool? Right. And that’s what I found with Snapbrillia like, diversity, equity inclusion, right? It’s a very controversial topic for many. There are people that, that truly care and they’re like, super champions. And they want to, they want to have more inclusive teams. Some people, they don’t care, they just Yeah, diversity is cool, but I still want to hire the best. Because, you know, they may not know, okay, the best may be looking like anything, right anything? And they say, Yeah, I don’t I don’t look at color, or skin or race or whatever. And although that sounds well, and that sounds good, right? You know, I’m colorblind, pretty much, right. You know, when you actually mentioned the data, when they go on a call with someone who’s different skin color, whether bright or dark? Right? They already have assumptions in their mind. Right, despite them saying, hey, you know, I don’t think this guy’s already not going to be good. Or, you know, I don’t want to look at anybody who’s over 40. Because they cost more, they don’t work as hard. You know? Yeah. That’s the stuff we’re dealing with. Right? So get really deep into, is it a huge problem? And do people care about this? Right? Obviously, hiring managers, some don’t care about all 40? They wouldn’t. You know, and you have to have a really close relationship with the person to be able to extract to say, No, one’s just gonna say, Yeah, I’m racist. No one’s gonna say that. Right. When did you hear anybody say, I am racist, even racist. People don’t say I’m racist, right? They say, Oh, this is their problem. But because of XYZ, whatever. But you got that sense. Is that, okay? Why it happens, right? And if people say, if there’s any way that I can get more underrepresented groups, in your interviews, to pass your coding tests, and to be well, in your job, without work? Absolutely. Most people absolutely, yes. Right. And if I asked him, if it takes some education, and improving your interviewing process and your coding challenges, and the way you assess it and new candidates, would you be willing to make the change? And they said, some would say, Absolutely, yes, I’ll do it today. And someone say, Okay, I want to know more. And that’s, that’s good enough, that’s best when you know, okay. You know, you have a viable business, you have a viable product, validate every feature and every step, right. And that’s how you reach product market fit. It Apphia product market fit, like, if you build something people love to drive your business value, make someone’s life easier, gets people hired, or whatever it is that you worked on saves lives, increases revenue and makes things easier, faster, cheaper. Right, then making money is easy. That’s what I also learned after failing at doing business models couple of times.

Andy Halko 39:16
So the foundation is really that product market fit. Yeah. But you know, I’m curious. So were those folks that you interviewed in those early stages to learn product market fit? Did they end up becoming customers or did you have to get on the phone?

Ninh Tran 39:32
Yeah, thanks for pulling me back to your original question. Yeah, so in the road to earn product market fit you gotta realize like a lot of people that you’ve interviewed and you connect with they’re not gonna become customers and that’s fine. But as long as you can fill the need of people like them, right whether the engineer or hiring manager they are retreat leader, like companies to cop hiring and tech engineers, right? If you can, if you can solve one company’s problem, highly likely, you know, that problem exists at all different companies. So some of those people, it’s it’s a volume scale, like sales, it’s about value, array volume and conversion, really. So it’s about getting enough people that you talk to that have been some of them will have immediately and the timings right, and they have budget and they want to buy, right, and you have to gauge that relationship. Is this a customer potential? Right? He went during the beta stage, or the, you know, rollouts of Product Market Fit stage, right, an asset, if I launched this today, or if I had all these features or the roadmap, right? Could we could could we do business? And they’ll tell you, and this is kind of tricky. They’ll tell you, Oh, I need these features, or I need this integration, or I need this and that, right? And then that’s fine. If I can do all these things, then are we in business? Right? And I need what else I need. Right? But keep my you gotta talk to the right person. Right. Ideally, you would have a decision maker, right? The buyer

Andy Halko 41:23
All those request can take you off track sometimes. You have to be careful about that, right?

Ninh Tran 41:28
Yeah, exactly. But the cool thing is, what if I built all this, then are we in business? And then if they say yes, and then you ask enough times, you can get say, Okay, well, all these 10 people they ask, or these five things, they’re the same. Right? And these five things are not the same. They just their own thing. So you know, you can go back and on the next week, say if I built these five things, right? Are we in business? Only these five things? They could say yes or no. And maybe, maybe you’re, you know, a software has to be super customized. If that’s your case, I’m very sorry. It’s not as scalable, you know, unless they pay you a couple million dollars to customize the business. That’s also an option, just a bit small changes, right, depending on on, you know, the type of solution in your market.

Tony Zayas 42:32
Then from a growth and marketing standpoint, what are some of the tactics that have been successful, that have helped you grow the business?

Ninh Tran 42:41
Yeah. You know, people first time I thought about advertising and spending, I need to millions of dollars to get market share and the word out and whatnot. But I learned it’s the best marketing channels actually word of mouth. People in product focus growth, right? When you build something that people love, and they can talk about, the topic is controversial enough, right, that people can talk about during dinners, or with their friends. Or it just works. And it’s so good that people just just recommend it all the time. Right? You want you want to tap into the community, like every industry, no matter how large whether sales, marketing, HR, recruiting, hiring, whatever, right? It’s pretty small. Like you have millions of people, there’s over a million people, million recruiters in the US, right? It’s so large number. But when you think about it, the people that really lead the industry is about 10%. Right? Like, that’s 100,000. And out of those actually engaged in a community, probably probably less than 10% of that. So about 10,000 people, right? And when you think about, okay, how can I get into the HR tech or hiring or recruiting whatever, I don’t just need to get to the top, the person that everybody listens to, right? That one influencer, that one person that everybody’s like, you can ask like, who is your who’s your go to expert in this space? Right? Who’s your go to expert for recruiting for hiring? Who do you listen to? Right for hiring, you know, could be different. Recruiting could be different. But then you reach out to them. You build a relationship, and you tell them your story, just like I’m telling you guys, right? And you pick their brain on the top thing like what do you think about diversity, equity inclusion, what do you think about hiring and tech and all that good stuff and take it as a product market fit? It’ll be the same thing because they, these influencers, experts, they will have a good pulse on what the industry needs, what companies are looking for what products are there, right? What is not there, and what is truly needed, feature wise, whatever was right. So build a good relationship they are, they’re intrinsically motivated to push their industry in their, their role their profession forward. And they oftentimes don’t love new technologies. Right. And, you know, ten thousands are in, in the community, and maybe 5000 listens to them to that one person, you know, you already, and they may write a blog or do something when you launch, right? Like, like this podcast, right? And people get to know about it, they listen to it, because they subscribe, right, and they’ve had good insight and feedback from past episodes or things that they’ve done. And so, like knowledge, that’s valuable, spreads fast, because everyone wants to be better to people that want to be better at their job, they proactively seek out knowledge, and want to improve themselves. Right. And that’s really 10% that will tell the rest of the 90%, right? How to go about doing that, what’s the coolest new technology that’s going to help us to get to, you know, the thousand percent world, or whatever.

Tony Zayas 46:47
Now, that’s super interesting, I would say, just to go further on the whole idea of word of mouth. You know, I think over the last couple of years, everyone has learned a lot about viruses. And, and, you know, the idea of viral marketing, you know, going along the lines of word of mouth, I’m a big believer that in order for things to, you know, spread quickly, it has to be easily understood and consumed. So, obviously, human beings love stories. And the more simple, something you share with me is, then the East more likely I am to pass that on to someone else. How did you get to distill that story down to a simple manner that people understood? And then would share with others? Or Or did that just come naturally for you?

Ninh Tran 47:35
Yeah. I, you know, our premise is, did you know that if you’re black or Hispanic, right, did you know that blacks are Hispanic, if they apply for a tech job, right, they’re 50% more likely to be automatically rejected in the first three stages of hiring. That’s why you don’t have you know, underrepresented groups in tech. But everyone’s working so hard to get them in. And then when you say that people will have opinions immediately. That’s not true. either. It’s true, or whatever you want the reaction you’re going to have. Tony, you said, simple, perfect. This is pretty simple, right? It’s something that people win if they work in the industry, they can relate to, right, everyone. If you’re hiring, you get it. If you’re a leader that cares about, hey, I want more diversity in my company, so that we can withstand different changes in how the economy the market changes, and so on. Right? We want to serve more audiences more consumer base, you get right. And you’ve tried a lot of times you try, like I, this man are only focused on hiring female engineers. You’ve tried to like give a 110% and then you realize it’s impossible. And you didn’t know why. Because you don’t have you know, so hearing that would say, Yeah, makes sense. So, so what, right, what do I do about it? And that’s, you want them to have start a conversation, right? Or get to once kind of the conversation starts get to a point where people actually start recommending your solution. Right. And the message should be simple, something that people can repeat over and over and over again. Right so with with Harsha was recruited by spam were recruited by spring our mission is to, you know, make your life easier every day. Because recruiters life suck man because of hiring sucks, recruiting sucks. Nobody helps them. Right. They’re always taking care of job seekers and they get to get all the crap about not giving feedback and lying and all the BS. Yep, impressive background. Well, it’s up to you but Sorry, you’re not a good fit, right? So they get all the BS from hiring and oftentimes the hiring manager like, yeah, it’s not a good fit, or she’s not a good fit, and so on. Right? So nobody’s helping them if there’s some technology that’s helping them, they’re all about it. Right? So, so making stories, making whatever you’re pitching, marketing more human. Right? Because ultimately, people are using unless you’re selling API’s to make it super technical. And also, it’s, again, about Developers Live, right? They don’t want to have to wake up every day and, and be like Pete zero all the time. And try to, you know, fix the server at 4am every single day. So making it like, Hey, man, do you get out the three or 4am every day to fix the server? Yeah, it’s terrible. Hey, try this. It really saved me. And my team, like, I’m sure the guy will. Oh, well, what’s the name of the solution? Let me write down, right. Yeah.

Andy Halko 51:13
So what do you see? What’s in the future for Snapbrillia like, what do you see? How do you see growing in the next five years? What kind of interesting things you met? Do you envision happening? What’s the future look like?

Ninh Tran 51:31
Yeah, you know, 1 million people that wouldn’t normally get a job to get a job, right into high paying jobs, you know, that that are fulfilling, that are not dead end, you know, that can increase economy and, and ultimately, like, beyond these five years is people that that will eventually gain the skills and experience and then go on and build solutions to the problems that they care about in their communities care about, you know, like, mundane, I’ve seen, someone told me during conversations like, yeah, you know, there’s a ton of tech companies that say they care about diversity, inclusion, equity, and all that, because you know, recruiting, it’s cool to care about the AI, because everybody’s cares about the school. And most companies, they just put it out to the head, we have like a blind hiring bow. Or we can help you find diverse candidates as a feature, but their core business is still just recruiting and hiring, right? So they can afford to just have it as a feature. But if we position our business, this is our core focus. This is what we do. And this is what we care about the innovation and the spend the time, the amount of thought that goes into solving this problem is not limited, right? It’s not just hey, we just want to build something to check a box for companies, right? To essentially say, Yeah, we care about diversity, because we have this one thing, or we help you with blind hire, whatever, right? To go deeper into that, because this problem is a huge problem. It’s not just tech, it’s huge in society everywhere, like globally to, like, you know, imagine a China or anywhere else, they’re all Chinese. So they don’t have these problems, right. But they have problems they have, okay, they just everywhere, right? But also, hey, he’s coming from this province, or this, this geographic location, they must be like, totally bonkers. Why would you ever hire? Right? So you get a tunnel that like, everywhere, and, you know, there’s a ton of problems. So you can’t solve it just just to solve it just to check the box, but you can or you can really solve it will educate the companies and the interviews the hiring to, to, you know, hire better people. Right? It’s a place I eight players, and B players or B players and so on. What if we had a way to have everybody be able to higher up their skill not down? Right? That would be extremely valuable to you? Right? Like, if he could, if he didn’t have to interview at all right? Be like, wow, that’s it and know that you hide, like, you’re solid. Right? That is people at the end of the day, it’s the unfair advantage that any business like unless other business take away to poach an employee, right. That’s, that’s your that’s your call. And if we have, like really skilled, really talented people that have experience and building cool things, right? Who are Hispanic, Black, female, whatever. And then they go on and start being entrepreneurs themselves and start building solutions. You know, most underrepresented communities, they don’t benefit from the tech world today, right, they’re still in, they’re still where they are. Right. And so, if you have people, we have somebody coming from that community, or close to that community, or just being connected with me, they make it and then they start building I don’t know, could be poor profit, nonprofit, could be any solution that makes, you know, those guys lives easier or could be educated, educating them getting over whatever challenges they have day to day. Right? Then those companies can benefit they’ll hire from their communities. The one reason why I started trucks on was a lot of incarcerated and previously incarcerated folks, they can’t get a job because they just have a record. Right? And so no one would hire them. And this foodtruck drivers, right? Owners, they are from their communities. And a lot of times they don’t care. Really, you know, you’ve been in jail before, but you can cook. So let’s cook. Right? Yeah.

Tony Zayas 56:27
And before we ask you our last question, to kind of wrap up here, just love to give you a chance to share with people who have been watching and listening in less places where they can check out snap notes, nets, that Snapbrillia as well as learn about new and follow what you’re up to.

Ninh Tran 56:48
Awesome. Thanks Tony. So we have very simple snapbrillia.com, right, just like it’s set us up my shirt, is @the.com. Snap, just like snapbrillia, like brilliant, where we just just chopped off the ante at the end, to make it a little bit more feminine. And cooler, you know, for 2022 startup. And if you want it to follow me, I’m very easy to find just your Google nature. And I’m on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, all social media out there. Ping me, I’d love to hear from you. Right, we’d love to pick your brain on diversity, equity inclusion or technical hiring, if you’re hiring engineers, happy to chat. But we I can give you some pointers or just want to know like, what is what are the issues that you see? Right? Ultimately, we just want to build something that that makes a real difference. In the way people hire engineers in the way people are building their companies to be more inclusive, more diverse in and are the best, regardless of who they are. Yep.

Andy Halko 58:10
So my question that I always like to ask at the end of these, for founders is, if you were able to go back in time, and have coffee with yourself before you started the business, what advice would you give?

Ninh Tran 58:26
Yeah, I would tell him, my younger self, right? For sure. Do it. 100% do it. And don’t care about pay as much. Money comes and you’re always going to be taken care of no matter what. Right? My comes as long as you build something that people love. And that’s useful. And it makes a difference. You don’t have to worry about how to monetize. There’s ways to monetize however, so, you know, use this I tell him, you’re very blessed. You’re very blessed. And the reason why you’re blessed, it’s because you were able to bless so many others. So keep on doing that. Yeah it’s awesome.

Andy Halko 59:18
Thank you, Ninh. It was great talking to you today.

Ninh Tran 59:22
Awesome. Thanks, Andy. Thanks, Tony. Great show. Just chatting. I love this format. Sorry about my mic. I think the battery just went off. spin on it. Yeah, I’ve been doing it guys.

Tony Zayas 59:36
Happy New Year. Thanks a lot. So Ninh Tran. Snapbrillia. Check it out, guys, and thank you everyone for tuning in. We will see you next time. Thanks again. Take care.

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