|Alumni stories - Simon Werner-Zankl|
Simon Werner-Zankl, Entrepreneur, the co-founder of Trustcruit, graduated from JIBS BBA-programmet in 2008
Could you tell us what happened after graduating from JIBS?
I started working at a recruitment company called Framtiden. They called me 6 months before graduating and asked me if I would like to work for them as a financial assistant which I gladly agreed to. I stayed there for 7 years and worked mostly as a CFO. Then one day a friend of mine encouraged me to go to an idea pitching competition at Science Park where one could win 10 000 SEK. I won the competition and started building my company. It is based in Science Park Jönköping which has helped me to accelerate my business.
"A friend of mine encouraged me to go to an idea pitching competition at Science Park".
The first years of Trustcruit (formerly named Sprancher), from the idea pitch event to 2,5 years later, was about realizing that we had a big problem with a wrong solution, and we had the wrong solution twice. However, we still knew that there was a big problem which we tried to address, we just needed a different solution. Half a year ago, we talked to our customers and decided to go with a completely different solution which we sell today and which we have had a great success with and in only 6 weeks we have 4 of the 25 biggest recruiting companies as customers.
What is the problem that you are addressing with your product?
When one publishes job ads, there are few job applicants that are qualified for the job. Statistics shows that around 80% of the candidates see and browse job ads via their cell phones. However, they cannot apply for a job via a cell phone. Our own data shows us that only around 7% apply via a cell phone. All big e-commerce platforms measure different aspects of their business, they talk to their customers, learn from them, use services like Trustpilot and so on. However, nothing like this is being done in the recruiting business today. We have approached many different applicants, sent them a feedback form, measured how many of them apply via a cell phone and asked them how we could make this process better. This way we have created a tool to make the recruitment process better. We present the data that can be acted on.
The first solution that we have come up with was a marketplace where you could sign up if you had a job and wanted to change it. Companies could then browse in the system and find suitable candidates. We did not have that much success with that product. The second solution was a slight adjustment to the first solution. Today we have a lot of knowledge in this area. We believe that the solution that we are working on now will make the applications via a mobile phone skyrocket. It is also a much better business model. We could not have achieved this if not the failures that we have behind us. If you want to become an entrepreneur in tech industry, you must understand that it is almost never the first solution which is the right solution.
"We believe that the solution that we are working on now will make the applications via a mobile phone skyrocket".
Where, do you think, people should look for new business ideas?
I am sure that every human has business ideas, no matter if you are 98 or 10 years old. There are always things that could be done better and that is a good start. If you are that person who wants to take an idea and try it out in the real world, I could recommend you reading the book “The Mom test” which will help you evaluate your ideas. When we worked on our idea, we sold it to our customers before writing a single line of code. I love customers, they will tell you so much, both good and bad things. Learning how to talk to customers is what mom test is about.
"I love customers, they will tell you so much, both good and bad things."
Another advice that I have is to consider the Lean startup theory – taking one step at a time. If you can make one customer happy, there is a probability that you can make 2 customers happy. Build on that and continue developing in this manner. In our case, writing a code comes very late in this process.
How does your typical day look like?
We have a lot of structure but we are also free, in a way. We measure the output, not the input. It is not about how many hours you put in, it is about the result, the value that you bring to the company, regardless if you have spent 10 minutes or 10 hours finding a solution.Therefore, a typical day is never the same. Programming is the core of the Trustcruit´s product so we focus a lot on that.
How do you see your company developing in the future?
We have high ambitions; we want to be next Klarna or Spotify. But don´t get me wrong, we are not here for the fame, we know that we can help so many applicants and recruiters and this is why we do it.
Do you think that digital entrepreneurship is different from other forms of entrepreneurship?
Yes, I think so, and in digital entrepreneurship it is very important to reiterate, to be able to change things fast because there will always be someone else doing what you do in a better way. Therefore, if you want to make it scalable, the dialogue with customers is crucial.
"In digital entrepreneurship it is very important to reiterate, to be able to change things fast because there will always be someone else doing what you do in a better way."
What about the growth of the company, what signals would tell you when it is time to recruit more people?
In this business, we always have to adapt to our customers´ pace since they are the ones providing us with data and feedback. We could hire a bunch of programmers and work day and night but that would not work because it means we would run faster than our customers. For example, we have earlier developed this great dashboard for our customers with possibilities to analyze data from all kinds of angles. The response from them was “Can´t I just get a simple pdf file via email once a month?” They simply did not need another complicated analytics tool. Customers will tell you how they want to use your product.
"Customers will tell you how they want to use your product."
I am sure that there are many JIBS Alumni who have great business ideas. They can always approach me; I will be glad to give them feedback and advice. I am a proud JIBSer and we should support one another!