Are you looking to create a digital staffing and recruitment experience for your hiring managers and candidates? On this episode of The Staffing Show, Jan Jedlinski, founder of Candidately and the World Staffing Summit, shares his experience creating cutting-edge software that provides a convenient and accessible interface for both hiring managers and candidates throughout the staffing and recruitment process. He also talks about creating a future-focused, online virtual conference for staffing owners and operators.
David Folwell: Hello everyone. Thank you again for joining us for another episode of The Staffing Show. Today, I am excited to be joined with Jan Jedlinski, who is the founder of Candidately and the World Staffing Summit. Jan, why don’t you go ahead and do a brief intro on yourself?
Jan Jedlinski: Thanks so much, David, and thanks for pronouncing my name right. I don’t get that often. I get 27 variations of that, usually. But yeah, thanks for having me. I’m super excited to speak with you today. My name is Jan. I’m the co-founder and CEO of Candidately, which is a software product for staffing and recruiting companies. We say it’s the digital storefront for the staffing and recruiting companies.
So, we are trying to basically build the Shopify for the staffing industry, enabling staffing and recruiting companies to be more digital present online with their customer communication and the buying process for their customers. And I’m also a curator or co-founder, you could say, of the World Staffing Summit. It’s an online conference for staffing owners and operators that we put up in January early this year, and we have another edition of that coming up in January 2022. So, I’m excited about that. Yeah, thanks for having me again.
Folwell: Awesome. And I know for a lot of our listeners, I imagine you’ve probably … I know the World Staffing Summit, your LinkedIn presence is quite broad. I saw all kinds of posts this last January, and I imagine it’s only going to get better this next time around. To start off, why don’t you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into staffing?
Jedlinski: Sure. It’s actually quite interesting, as we just spoke before the podcast, we have a similar background. I started in hospitality actually, originally. So, the last 10 years before I started Candidately or the World Staffing Summit, I worked in hotels and restaurants all over the world. And actually, I’ve been an employee of staffing companies pretty often. So, I’ve been on the worker side, on the candidate sides. At some point early 2016, my co-founders and I decided to start a staffing company. We said, “Hey, there is a need…brand a better staffing company.”
So, we basically built this concept, how we can place students to work and again, stayed in hospitality. So, our staffing company was mostly focused on placing students in short-term jobs, mostly in restaurants, hotels, or promotion jobs. But after one-and-a-half years working and building a lot of technology and a lot of tech for ourselves, for our internal processes, we said, “Hey, look. There is a much bigger need to build technology for all the staffing firms out there than just for ourselves, and it’s a much bigger opportunity for us to grow, as well.” And that’s when we decided to start a vendor management system, actually.
So, I flew to the U.S. and visited the VMSA conference, and I learned about VMS and MSP and all the cool things in that industry. And then when we started building the product, we actually got accepted to Y Combinator, which is a startup accelerator in California. So, with this big vision to change the staffing industry and the recruiting industry with better technology, but at some points while building the VMS product, we obviously realized, “Hey, that’s a lot of tech to build, right? To compete with the Beeline or Fieldglass, or even on the enterprise side to build that technology to make it really work.” So, we actually ended up selling the technology to staffing companies, so staffing companies became our customers.
Then we, over the last two-and-a-half years, been very involved in the staffing community in the U.S. We’ve personally moved to the U.S., so I spent the last couple of years living in New York and in San Francisco. And just recently, actually, a couple months ago, we launched Candidately, and the product really stem out from conversations and feedback that we had over the last years with all our existing customers and prospects in the market to solve the specific pain points. So, we had an interesting journey from starting in Austria, moving to the U.S., and actually now being around in the industry for a while and learning a lot.
Folwell: It’s pretty impressive. For those listeners that don’t know, Y Combinator is quite the pedigree and a very difficult program to get into. I don’t know all of the big companies, but I think it was like DoorDash, Airbnb, Uber.
Folwell: Stripe. They crank out some of the best tech companies in the world, so it’s pretty amazing that you were able to be part of that. I remember from one of our earlier conversations, you actually told me about kind of the application process, and then also how quickly you moved to America. I just think it’s a great story worth sharing.
Jedlinski: Yeah, for sure. We applied, and the application process is basically a form and a video that you submit, and then you get invited to an interview. It’s pretty exciting, really, when you are invited to an interview. It’s already a good step forward to actually being accepted.
So, we got invited, we flew into California. Y Combinator pays for the flights and for the accomodation. They bring you in for a 10-minute interview, actually. So, we had to fly from Vienna and Austria for the weekend, and had the interview, I think, on a Monday. And then literally the day that we were interviewed at YC was the day that the batch, every six months there is this batch of startup that joins YC, started.
So, we got out of the door, we took the cab back to San Francisco, halfway, we got a call that we are accepted. So, we turned around with the cab, had the first office hour. This was the starting day. And literally next day we just flew back home, took our luggage. And on the next day we came back to San Francisco. So, it was a very quick move to say, “Okay, we’ve got to leave everything behind in Austria to actually-“
Folwell: 48-hour turnaround on moving across the world.
Jedlinski: Moving across the world. And yeah, and then we were here. I was already on the phone with staffing owners and staffing people in the industry. So, it was definitely challenging, but a very exciting move.
Folwell: Oh, that’s really cool. And the other thing I’d like to point out, and I think it’s always great. We’ve had a couple of guests on like this, but you’ve actually had the staffing agency. So, you have that experience, started scratching your own itch with software for yourself. Sounds like you went down the VMS route, which is a robust, difficult thing to build and then kind of pivoted towards Candidately. Why don’t you tell us a little bit more about the challenge that you were solving for yourself when you came up with the idea of Candidately and how that will impact the staffing industry going forward?
Jedlinski: Sure. We had the idea for Candidately always in the back of our head already, when we started the staffing firm, but we sort of tried to build technology that would get us to the point that we were actually in.
We tried different routes and pivoted and built the VMS and other technologies we thought we will help us get there. But actually, when we were running our staffing firm back then. For us, it was how can we differentiate ourselves against the existing incumbent staffing players in the market? Which were mostly pretty much offline. So, when you looked at the buying process on the customer side, the only thing that you would find on a staffing-agency side is a request form or a full number. So, there was no real way to basically get in touch with the firm and see which candidates could be available today, or who is the staffing firm representing. So, if you compare this to other industries like real estate, or if you compare it to the grocery industry today, or if you compare it even to insurance, the buying process for those industries over the last five years completely moved online.
But I feel like staffing has basically stayed where they are like 10 years ago. And it’s nothing bad about having a website or that process, but it’s not state of the art, right? So, we were looking already like, “How can we improve that for ourselves?” And obviously, then the other side is the candidate experience. So, it all ties together where we felt like, “Okay, there must be a better way to build technology that will enable staffing companies create this digital experience for their customers.” And specifically with COVID, the entire digital transformation journey for the traditional staffing industry has, I think, accelerated massively because now the traditional staffing owner is realizing, “Oh, wow. There’s the Upwork. There’s the Fiverr. There’s a couple of online staffing firms that I have to compete now, but I’m running on email basically. So, if I’m not in traditional MSP VMS programs and I’m submitting my candidates into a VMS, I’m mostly running my entire process on email.”
So, I think that has to change. And that’s something that we’ve realized already when we’ve been starting the firm. But over the last, I would say year, this entire journey has accelerated. And that’s how we ended up essentially launching Candidately and working with customers now to make that really happen.
Folwell: And tell me a little bit more then. So, how is Candidately transforming this for staffing agencies? How is it making the buying process or the candidate selection process digital?
Jedlinski: There’s two use cases that we currently solve. And the one use case is candidate presentation. So, when you look at an account manager currently submitting candidates to a client, this would typically be a resume attachment in an email. And the process is pretty tedious. You have to submit a couple of candidates, you’ll follow up with the hiring manager.
You maybe haven’t heard from the hiring managers, you’re going to follow up and you become this annoying account manager that’s following up about feedback with the client, right? So, we are taking this process and digitizing that. So, with Candidately, instead of attaching resumes into an email, you create your Candidately profile for your candidate. So, you just drag and drop a resume into an interface. We transform it, parse in the data and create this nice digital profile that represents your firm and your candidates. And now, instead of attaching a resume, you simply share a link with your customers. So, wherever they are on their phone or on their computer, they can open it, click a button, they immediately see the digital profile and they can give you a thumbs up, thumbs down feedback, check with your account manager and essentially have a better way to select and take the next step of what is usually the interview.
So, that’s one part, which is what I call candidate presentation. The other part is candidate marketing. So, out of the same interface, instead of basically spamming customers with available candidates, you can take this process off the best placeable candidate or most placeable candidate to the next level. So, you can now create talent pipelines for customers with candidates that are coming off assignments. Or you can create candidate pipelines with people that you have interviewed, but not placed, and basically taking the buyer journey. So, from the customer side, it’s much easier to see who is available, who we can get in touch with and basically make that hiring decision much, much faster.
Folwell: That’s really amazing. I think the last time, I mean, it was a while ago. It was like seven years ago. I worked with a staffing agency to find a CTO for Hotel Engine. And I just remember getting a PDF of resumes, everything was PDF via email.
And nowadays, I mean….
Jedlinski: It’s still like that.
Folwell: It is still like that for most, I would love to know what percentage of agencies are still sending resumes that way versus having some form of digital format. Do you have any data on that?
Jedlinski: It’s amazing, actually. No, there’s two components to that. So, we tried it out because we were looking at how can we give staffing firms this real-estate experience. I’m coming to those staff meetings website, I see which candidates are available. I can see some data points already, get in touch with the account manager. Like I would look at an apartment on a broker’s website. And when you look at the process today, you would have staffing firms that would not even reply to your request on the website. I know maybe some are busy, maybe some don’t want to take on new customers, but we actually tested it out and sent requests for an actual role that we were hiring for to a hundred staffing firms and only four people replied.
And one of them said, “Okay, I’m super busy. I cannot take on new customers.” And the others sent some weird stuff like calendar invites and perhaps schedule calls two weeks out. So, there was nothing that we could get instantly to make that buying decision faster. And that’s what it’s amazing to me and if you look across the market from individual recruiters to literally national staffing firms, the majority of their business is emails. So, unless you have an end customer requesting you to work into their ATS, or if you have a VMS MSP program, you would find most account managers sending emails.
Folwell: That’s pretty amazing. I frequently compare the staffing industry to travel and hotels. And I was looking at it like, it feels like the nineties and the online travel agency world, it was like, “Who’s going to be the Expedia and the Booking.com. And who’s going to be kind of the big winner on that front and that experience.”
I feel like staffing’s kind of picking up on that and we’re kind of going through that same transformation right now, but I have not thought about it in terms of real estate. And as you’re talking about this, the first thing that came to mind, I think it’s my realtor, I’m actually looking for a place right now, I think he’s with Compass and I have my own portal where he custom-selects houses, sends me those houses. And at any point I can go in and look at them and let him know what I’m thinking about it. And it’s a way better experience because I can kind of do itself on my own. He can also provide things there, but it really does ease the burden really on him while also giving me a better experience, which I have not thought about this, you kind of mentioned the speed to market is something that so many staffing executives talk to me about.
It’s always, “We need to improve speed to market. The faster we can place candidates, the more money we’re going to make.” And really, if you can put that purchasing decision and give that information to your customer, to the client, earlier and faster and easier, you’re going to improve your speed to market. I love that use case. I have not thought about that.
Jedlinski: Yeah. And the example you mentioned, with Compass, is really great because we’re not trying to take away the broker, the Compass broker or the recruiter out of the process because it’s a similar dynamic. You’re spending a lot of money on an apartment or a house is similar to spending a lot of money on a new contractor. It’s not like you’re spending a $10 Uber ride, you’re spending maybe $150,000 for this new hire for the next 10 months.
So, you want to make sure that it’s the right person. You want to get that opinion. You want to have maybe some hand-holding about their account manager and recruiter. So, this talent curation that is enabled with technology, which Compass is, I think, doing a fantastic job on the real-estate side. And that’s where I see the staffing market definitely moving into next three to five years.
Folwell: That’s awesome. And with that then are you, from a product standpoint, are you tying into ATSs or is that on the roadmap? How do things look on that front?
Jedlinski: Absolutely. So, I think for us, it’s super important to sit on top of the ATS. We say we are the digital storefronts, so for the staffing firm, the core system would always be the ATS. So, we currently integrate fully with Bullhorn. We are Bullhorn marketplace partner. So, whoever is using Bullhorn can essentially, out of the box, start using Candidately as their candidate presentation and marketing tool.
And we’re definitely going to be embedded with most of the recruiting and staffing agency ATSs that are out there.
Folwell: Oh, that’s fantastic. And it does seem like this is a problem that needs solving and also something that it’s a cool solution that it seems like you guys are in place for it. Do you have any specific kind of use cases or stories about how people are, I mean, you’ve kind of given me the broader use case, but are there any agencies specifically or examples of how it’s being used?
Jedlinski: Yeah, sure. So, we have what we call a waiting list. So, we have an early access phase for customers. So, we’re basically trying to do a white glove experience for the first initial staffing and recruiting companies that are trying Candidately, that are starting to work with us. So, we see individual recruiters, but also very large staffing companies already starting to use it.
One cool example was a staffing company out of Canada, large firm. I think they do business in the U.S. and in Canada, they literally set up their Candidately account. Shared their first list, made a hire after five minutes. So, that was an extremely cool use case to see how fast it was and how their clients reacted to it because I was a little bit scared. I was like, “Hmm, will the end clients really adopt it right?” Because the staffing firm is usually very cautious and they want to make sure that the interaction for their clients is perfect. They don’t want to mess it up. They want to be on point and how we’ve built the product, it feels like the clients are really adopting it. So, I was super excited to see actual placements happening that fast. And we had a couple more of those.
So, that’s what I see daily now on the product. That’s what I’m looking for. People getting requests, people sharing lists, people actually actively getting their clients to use it. And the feedback is super positive. So, yeah. We’ll see how it goes. We are still in early shoes. We are building new features almost every week now and releasing, but it looks really promising.
Folwell: That’s great. And with that, one of the other things that you mentioned was kind of the idea that it really helps you differentiate your brand, which is something I think in staffing can be very difficult because you’re frequently competing on the same job and occasionally competing for the same talent, depending on what vertical you’re working in and how the suppliers in that specific vertical at the time. Are there any other specific examples that you’ve seen where agencies are doing unique things to differentiate their brand in a way that’s meaningful or impactful?
Jedlinski: Outside of obviously the Candidately use case where we enable the staff and company to fully brand their appearance, so they can have your links on your own URL. You can have your custom header, logo, color, quotes, really want to make it look as much as your brand and have Candidately stand out in the front. But what I see generally, in the market, is the branding aspect with staffing firms that is becoming more and more important, both from the client as well as on the candidate side.
So, we do see examples. I think The Mom Project is a great example on how to build a really good brand in staffing to attract both candidates and clients to a specific vertical. There was a few other firms that are doing really great job on trying to find a vertical and trying to build a really, really good brand that is appealing both to clients and candidates. And I feel like that’s super important for the majority of staffing firms. When you look across the market, the traditional firm will not spend as much money or even spend any marketing money compared to an Upwork or a Fiverr or Mom Project.
And I feel like that’s something that needs to change because the traditional buyer is used to a much different experience, right? When you use your DoorDash app on a daily basis, when you use your Uber Eats app, use your Uber app, you use your brokerage, which is on an app, then you’ll have a different expectation towards the staffing services on a daily basis. And regardless if it’s with Candidately, where you can create this branding aspect, in general, I think the branding in staffing is going to change a lot. And staffing owners will have to really step up their game when it comes to that.
Folwell: I could not agree more and I have a marketing background and one of the gaps when I first entered the staffing industry, I was blown away by how few staffing firms have a marketing executive or a marketing team.
I mean, there’re companies that are 300 people, 500 people, and they have zero marketing employees or they’ll have one. I mean, I think the average for across all businesses, like 8% of revenues should go to marketing of some sort. And I don’t know the percentage in staffing is actually something I think we might’ve asked on a survey at some point, but I would guess it’s closer to 1 or 2% in the staffing industry. And I think that that is going to change drastically as companies realize that your storefront is your digital presence and the marketing side of what you do is more important than ever to help stand out.
Jedlinski: Yeah. And I think it’s super important also to stand out on the candidate side, a lot of staffing firms are complaining, “Oh, we don’t get as many applications and we don’t get as many candidates as we would like to have.” But then basically their presence to those candidates is, compared to the average candidate that is really used to a much, much different buying experience with the Amazon, with the DoorDash, with the Uber, it’s super crappy.
So, I think that part needs to be improved. And I think the staffing firms will see a big return on investment when they invest in brand, invest in their online presence, as well as their storefront may be on the client or on the candidate sides. And it will definitely help them with their business in the future.
Folwell: Absolutely. And kind of jumping off of the differentiation, which I think is a major trend. I think more and more staffing firms are looking at how do they stand out? And I also, to your point on The Mom Project, I think the hyper-specialization is always a good strategy. I mean, most of the time it’s just a good route to go when you are the one company for that specific thing that people are trying to do and also trying to provide social good.
I think we’re starting to see staffing firms lean into a little bit where they’re trying to go beyond just making money, which I think all businesses should be looking at and considering with this day and age. Are there any other major trends that you’re seeing from staffing agencies that you’re talking with?
Jedlinski: Yeah, so there’s definitely obviously more investment in technology. So, I think you guys had this question in your surveys, but I know that tech labs guys, I think they’re coming up with a new survey end of the year where I already have some indications that the spent per employee on technology will be much, much higher. I talked to Maurice Fuller from StaffingTec and he mentioned that as well. So, I feel like the staffing owner these days realizes that maybe hiring more employees will not help.
Maybe it’s the technology side that we need to improve and maybe move away from a legacy system that they have maybe built themselves or implemented 15 years ago, to be more agile. And I think that’s something that, obviously, everybody’s talking about for a couple of years already. Digital transformation, that’s the word that was on every conference over the last two-and-a-half, three years. But I feel like with COVID that is accelerating much, much faster. So, I think brands, but technology is a big point. And then, yeah, I think those are the two things that I would see on a daily basis. And obviously diversity, diversity is obviously a big topic these days always has, but also accelerated. And that’s something that staffing companies are taking a look into as well.
Folwell: Is funny you mentioned kind of the acceleration of the digital transformation from COVID and I brought this up on the podcast again, but every time I hear that or think of it, there was a Reddit post that I just thought was hilarious.
So, “Who drove the digital transformation at your business? The CEO, the CMO, the CIO, or COVID-19?” I was like, “Yeah, COVID basically, I think, maybe moved us forward a few years.” And I also think that now that we’re in the U.S. right now coming out of lockdown, at least, we are seeing that the staffing firms that leaned into the digital transformation are now coming out, they’re rehiring their recruiters if they had to lay people off, but they’re doing so with a different level of efficiency. I’ve talked with some agencies that implemented three or four technologies in the last year and are seeing gross profit per recruiter up 30%, 40% this year, because they’re now more efficient with the systems that they implemented. And I always think that it’s funny because it’s like, “All right, well that opportunity existed two years ago as well, but you took the action because of necessity.”
And it’s just going to be interesting to see if those companies continue to drive down that path, hopefully they do, I think it makes sense. And actually, I’ve got one question that’s kind of a little off target for what we’ve been talking about, but it’s something I think about a lot, I bring up occasionally on this podcast is, do you think that the staffing industry will continue to be as fragmented as it is? I know there’s a lot of M and A going on right now, or do you think it’s going to be closer to a winner takes all? Or kind of replicate what we saw in online travel agencies with Expedia and Booking taking the large market share?
Jedlinski: Historically, when you look at staffing, it was a very local business, right? So, you had a local staffing firm, local candidates, local clients, right? And I think COVID, obviously, has taken this to a different level. As a local staffing firm you can now be super international. You can hire, if you’re sitting in New York, you could hire somebody in Australia for an Australian client and you would have a new employer of record helping you to place that candidate there and employ that candidate compliantly in a different country. So, I feel like that might be some consolidation in the industry. I see it specifically with more modern recruiting products or even online staffing firms now looking to acquire traditional staffing firms. One of the big aspects here is sales, right? You differentiate yourself usually only with “We have the best candidates.” Some differentiate themselves, obviously, with brands.
So, the companies that have better brands, their pitch is usually pretty much the same as the traditional staffing firms. So, it’s hard to get through the noise on the customer side, right? Then the emails look the same, the pitch looks the same, right? So, the more modern online staffing firms, I will probably see them acquiring a lot of local, established staffing firms with a local or established customer base to just get into that storefront for the customer. You’ll see some consolidation, I think, and you’ll also see some more individual recruiters being more prominent, right? Because now, what do you need to start a staffing company? You need a computer or you have an employee of record that will handle all of your compliance. You’ll get an ATS, you’ll build a website or web flow and you maybe get Candidately for your online presence. You maybe have staffing referrals to get this entire machine going, but you could be a one-man show somewhere, right? So, I feel like individual recruiters that will sort of do more temporary staffing will be definitely something that you’ll see more.
I don’t think necessarily it will be the Booking.com scenario. Not at least in the next couple of years, I do feel that the market is still too fragmented and the outcome of the market it’s not a hotel room. It’s usually the person that you’re talking here about, right? So, there is a lot of opinions that go into the actual hiring decision. That’s why I feel like taking this away and making it more automated specifically on the professional staffing side is going to be more complex. I do see it more coming on the light industrial side. Let’s use the word Uberization of staff. I don’t see that coming on professional staffing, but I do see it coming more and more on jobs that are, I would say, on the lower end, blue-collar, light industrial type of roles that will require also more automation because of the margins that a staffing agency has there. But I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of the Booking.com scenario yet.
Folwell: Yeah, I think I agree with that. And especially with such a relationship-focused business where people really want to work with somebody they trust. That side, I do think that the companies that are implementing new tech and looking at it, “All right, how do I make it so that my recruiters can spend as much of their time building relationships and as little of their time on anything that is not building the relationship,” are getting a pretty significant advantage. One thing I just heard this maybe three times this year now from different staffing execs that are starting up, what you were talking about, how the cost of starting up a staffing agency.
I’ve had a couple that actually are trying to go at it without an ATS and using just different software, piecing it together, using their own database, but kind of taking a different approach, which I think probably falls into the Uberization category, but I’ve even seen some that I don’t think are particularly well-funded that we’re going that route and that was interesting and kind of cool to see some of these trends happening.
Jedlinski: Yeah. Definitely, I spoke to a few firms and people ask me like, “Hey, how would you do it?” When we started our staffing company, actually my co-founder, then, we didn’t really know how an ATS would look like. So, we actually put together, I think, 12 of 13 products together with Zapier. So, we had Airtable, we had a website, we had a Pipedrive as our CRM. We had Zapier basically sending automated notification through SendGrid. And we booked 12 of 13 existing SaaS products together to make the engine running and obviously low costs. And I feel like when you want to start today, it’s probably pretty easy and fast. And I think that’s the advantage of the new technologies, because if you are a staffing company with a legacy system and moving away from existing structures, it’s going to be much, much harder than new staffing companies entering the market with better brands and much more agile technology and a better way to interact with clients and candidates. I think that’s going to be super exciting to see over the next two to three years.
Folwell: It is pretty fun just to see how much the candidate experience is transforming and how staffing agencies are transforming along with it. Shifting gears a little bit from kind of the candidate experience side of things. You also have the World Staffing Summit. So, we spent a lot of time on Candidately. Why don’t you tell us a little bit more about what the World Staffing Summit is and how you came about starting that?
Jedlinski: Sure. So, we were thinking that there is a need for a place for staffing owners and operators to come and learn. So, we tried to create this online conference that will basically help a staffing professional, usually a staffing owner and operator, and with operator I mean anybody who is working at a staffing company and running the business, to learn what’s out there, what’s new and to get takeaways out of the presentations that they could use the next day in their business.
So, the World Staffing Summit is an online conference. So, we are organizing it every year. This year, it was in January. Next year, it will be in January as well. And next year it will be a four-day event where we bring in speakers from all over the world, are usually staffing owners. It will be usually people that are building technology in staffing or that are maybe running MSPs or BMSs, or basically out of the entire ecosystem to create interesting content and topics for people to learn and grow their business. So, the conference is free to join. So, you don’t have to pay to access the conference. You also don’t have to pay to watch the videos on demand, and you can come and basically learn all day on topics that are on top of mind for each staffing on an operator.
Folwell: And you did something unique, if I remember correctly, it reminded me of Chatroulette, the networking component of it. You were essentially randomly matched up with people to have a one-on-one video conference. So, there actually was a networking aspect, which I feel like a lot of online conferences are trying to solve and we are going back to in-person. But I still think that there’s a lot of value-add for that. Tell me a little bit more about that and how that worked out.
Jedlinski: Sure. So, we use this really cool tool called Hopin. I think it’s an amazing story in general. Hopin, I think it’s the fastest growing SaaS company ever, ever to reach a billion-dollar valuation and build a really cool tool for online conferences. So, we use that for the World Staffing Summit, and they have this really cool feature where you can match up with other participants pretty much randomly.
So, what we did is before the conference we asked people, obviously, to send us their information and if they want to match up with others, and we put that information also on our website. So, you could see on the World Staffing Summit site who is attending, what they are, what they are interested in. So, you already saw who was coming and which peers from your group are there. And then you just press the button and it randomly connects you to somebody for a five minute conversation, I think, and this was actually super successful. I think we had over three-and-a-half thousand meetings on that day that happened, which is really crazy. The conference was over and we still had the time of the tool that ran after, I think, one-and-a-half or two hours after the conference, there were still a couple of hundred people.
Even after, we as the organizers, left. It was midnight for me. I think one o’clock in Austria. So, I just turned off my computer. But my co-founder said like, “Hey, there is 250 people chatting in the rooms there.” So, it was pretty cool to see that. And obviously, COVID was one of the big parts, people could not meet. So, everybody was excited to get in and have conversations. So, I think that’s a big part. And I’m super excited, actually, for some in-person conferences this year to meet everybody again.
Folwell: Yeah. And will you ever consider doing an in-person conference or do you think it’s going to be all online?
Jedlinski: So, ours are going to be probably always online. So, we will probably not do an in-person, but who knows? That’s the second edition next year and maybe the year after, we’ll figure it out, but I’m pretty sure it will be online.
Folwell: Well, that’s great. And it seems like quite the success and at least year one to have that many conversations going, is pretty cool that you pulled that off.
Jedlinski: That was exciting, yeah.
Folwell: So, jumping into just kind of a few personal questions, first off, in the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?
Jedlinski: That’s a good question. And I think there’s always new beliefs and behaviors that I try to establish almost every year or every month. There’s always this period when I try to figure out, “Hey, what can I change to improve my personal life or work-life balance?” And there’s always the sport aspect and other things coming into my mind. I’m trying to be very strict about it, but it’s hard, right? So, I’m working so much for the company and I’m working long hours. So, it’s sometimes really hard to actually stick to something.
But I think I’m really into podcasts. So, I got this rhythm where I, in the morning, listen to New York Times Daily or a few other podcasts to catch up. I think that’s something that I got into this rhythm. And I’m still trying to do more sports. Yeah.
Folwell: Any specific podcasts that you recommend?
Jedlinski: I’m actually catching up on a lot of staffing-industry related podcasts, which is interesting. I never thought that there was so many out there and there’s quite a few. So, that’s interesting. I know that William Tincup has a good one. Your guys’ podcasts is amazing. So, I’m actually glad to be here today. Then I have the usual, I have a New York Times Daily that I listen to. I have a couple of startup podcasts to catch up on what’s happening overall in industry. I have a couple of local podcasts here in Austria that I listen to, which are news. So, I like to catch up on what’s happening in the world every day. So, I have my rooster of things for the morning coffee.
Folwell: That’s awesome. I’m a big podcast fan as well. The one that, as you mentioned, the startups. SaaStr. Do you listen to that one at all?
Folwell: If you have a SaaS business, that’s a good one. And what is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? Could be an investment of money, time, energy, et cetera.
Jedlinski: I think it’s my dog.
Folwell: I love it. What kind of dog?
Jedlinski: I think it’s my dog. It was definitely not a money investment. So, we adopted the dog, but it was a time, I think, investment. And it’s something that, I think, changed my daily habits and life because I have to go out more and I think about family much, much more.
It’s a small dog, its name is Pablo. We got him for over a year now. So, that was definitely something that was very spontaneous again. With this move to the U.S., one day, throughout COVID, my girlfriend said, “Hey, we should get a rabbit.” And I was like, “Why should we get a rabbit?” Because now we have a garden and a rabbit is nice, but like “No, we should get a dog.” And we decided we’ll adopt a dog. And this was a good investment, health and time investment.
Folwell: That’s wonderful. I’m also looking at a dog this year. I need to get a yard first. I need to move out of the high rise first. What is the book or books you’ve given most as a gift and why?
Jedlinski: So, to be honest, I haven’t given many books as a gift.
Folwell: Or a book that’s been impactful for you. How about that?
Jedlinski: When I think about it. Yeah. So, there’s a couple of books, but one that I was very excited about that I read recently was Bob Iger’s biography.
Folwell: I heard that’s great. Yeah.
Jedlinski: It’s a really good one. Obviously, it’s a management sort of strategy, thought leadership book, but I would definitely recommend if it’s not the traditional habits type of thing. It’s just the story of Bob Iger, how he ran meetings, how we ran the business, how he met with the Apple CEO and all those things that sort of, when you read the book, you’re really in his mind running this large organization. And I really admire that. So, I think that’s something that I would definitely recommend reading.
Folwell: That’s fantastic. I’ve had a couple of people recommend that one. I got to add that to the list. So, with that, are there any closing comments that you would like to share with our audience?
Jedlinski: Yeah, nothing specific, to be honest. I’m super excited, actually, about everything opening up. I’m super glad that we’re almost at the point where maybe things are getting better, overall, for the staffing industry and generally the world. And I’m excited to be able to travel again. I think that’s something that a lot of people will consider this year. And I’m excited to get back to the sort of the rhythm of meeting people and doing some more in-person business, which I miss. Over the last one-and-a-half years sitting at home in the home office is good, it’s definitely productive. But I think the human touch is something that I’ve missed a lot. So, I’m excited to do that. And yeah, I hope everybody that listens to the podcast is doing well and will be enjoying some in-person meetings soon.
Folwell: Absolutely. I also can’t wait and hopefully we’ll get to meet you in person this year at one of the conferences.
Jedlinski: One of the conferences. Yeah, for sure. I’m definitely going to reach out when I’m traveling to the U.S.
Folwell: Awesome. Well, Jan, thank you so much for joining today and I hope you have a good one. We’ll talk soon.
Jedlinski: Thank you so much, David, for having me. It was a pleasure.