Startup Ideas: Wouldn't it be cool if...

I’ve been jotting down startup ideas as they come to me for years. Most, if not all of them, are terrible. I thought it would be fun to share some of them, in case they are helpful to someone brainstorming:

How Talk Hiring Started Working With High Schools

Back in February of 2019, we had just started piloting our mock interviewing tool with a handful of career readiness programs. We had very few users, and I personally knew every person that was rolling out Talk Hiring in their organization.

Customer Feedback as a Product Loop

I recently discovered Kevin Kwok’s Blog. I especially enjoyed his posts about the product loops in Figma and Superhuman. I was talking to Matt Ayers this week, and he helped me realize that I’m building a product loop, but this one is around customer feedback.

Free Trials: Do they see the benefit?

“Do they see the benefit?” is what my business coach always asks me when we’re going down the list of where prospects are in the sales process. It’s all about structuring a sales process that helps the customer see that the benefits far outweigh the costs. Pricing less than customer value is a good thing! My customers are nonprofit job training programs and public schools, so I have an especially uphill battle.

I'm not doing enough

I was reading Clair Minson’s article on how workforce development needs a reckoning. I’ve felt many of the same feelings.

User testing and user feedback

Over the past two years, I’ve tried some relatively unconventional strategies to user test Talk Hiring. I’m proud to have worked on a product that is so easy to use that people who claim to be “bad at computers” can still use it.

How much should it cost?

Talk Hiring sells its mock interviewing tool primarily to nonprofit job training programs, and more recently, high schools. There are playbooks online on how to price online educational tools for schools, but not as much for nonprofits. I’ve spent many days squirming around, trying to figure out the optimal strategy for pricing the tool, and I thought that walking you through my pricing evolution may be helpful.

Transitioning from free pilots to a paid product

We launched our mock interviewing tool in late January of 2019. This initial product was pretty basic, but we had honest interest from a handful of job training programs. We ended up running about 10 free pilots over the course of 4-5 months. Transitioning from free pilots to a paid product was messy and awkward.

How Talk Hiring got its first users

Talk Hiring (talkhiring.com) is an automated mock interviewing tool. To date (May 2020), we’ve conducted over 3,000 automated mock interviews with job training programs, high schools, and colleges. I’m the Founder/CEO and have been working on this business full-time since August 2018.

So you want to run a study?

We ran a study to measure if using the Talk Hiring mock interviewing tool improves interviewing skills, and we have proven that it does! Here’s a link to our study setup and results. Running this study was much harder than I thought it would be. Here are my learnings for others who might want to run their own study!
image Why did we run a study?
Our product helps job seekers become better at interviewing. To make a claim like that, we wanted to back it up with data. First we thought, why not measure hiring outcomes? There are too many confounding variables to measure hiring outcomes from people who use or do not use our tool; plus, it would take much longer to prove or disprove. Then we thought, can we use our existing interview data to measure interviewing improvement? Users practice with over 100 different interview questions across different industries. It’s hard to compare interview quality across different questions, let alone across different industries. We decided to run a study so that we could control variables and prove the worth of our mock interviewing product. image Recruiting Participants:
As the operator of a self-funded startup, I initially tried to run the study without paying participants. Talk Hiring works with workforce development organizations mostly in NYC, and I tried to recruit participants through those organizations. We were able to recruit a few people through those channels, but the study would have dragged on for months if we had continued down that path. I tried running free mock interviews with people, and using those interviews as data points in the study, but that was taking up so much of my time with lots of people canceling/rescheduling. I finally decided to recruit for the study via a $10 Craigslist posting and through my existing Talk Hiring user base.