[quote style=”boxed”]”Being okay with failure lets me try all sorts of things I might not have attempted otherwise. Almost all of my best successes came out of this process.”[/quote]
Joshua Siler is the Founder and CTO of HiringThing, a Saas provider that helps companies post jobs online, manage applicants and hire great employees. Prior to HiringThing, Joshua was the VP of Technology at Babcock & Jenkins, a relationship marketing agency specializing in high-tech B2B, where he designed marketing strategies and online marketing tools for clients such as Adobe, Microsoft, Oracle, BMC and many others. Siler has been designing and developing innovative software solutions since 1996 – past projects include software and analytics for marketing, automotive, agricultural and health insurance industries. You can learn more by reading the HiringThing blog.
What are you working on right now?
Our startup is called HiringThing, and it’s online software that helps companies post jobs online, manage applicants and hire great employees. We started at the beginning of 2012, and so far things have been going great.
Where did the idea for HiringThing come from?
I was the VP of Technology at a marketing agency, and we were always looking for new talent. We built an internal system for our own use, and it worked pretty good. One day, we say “Hey, this might work well as a standalone company.” And HiringThing was born.
How do you make money?
We’re a SaaS (software as a service) company, so all our revenue comes from monthly subscriptions to our software product.
What does your typical day look like?
I’m not really a morning person, so I’ll start off working through emails and managing tasks that don’t take much brainpower. That helps clear my plate and let’s me focus for the afternoon, when I’ll buckle down and focus on the hard tasks that take concentration and creativity.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I believe strongly in taking an iterative approach. Once I have an idea, I’ll start off by building a prototype, and see how it feels. I can then start improving it until I feel like it’s worthy of the concept, or proves itself a dead end.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
3D printing. Maybe for my next startup…
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I had a job once where I had to dig out crawl spaces under houses. The crawl space would be only 6 inches deep or whatever, and we had to dig it out to 18 inches to meet code. So we’d use these little half shovels and dig sidewise, hauling out dirt in big Tupperware bins. I suppose it taught me how to buckle down and get work done, regardless of how awful it is. Dragging your feet doesn’t help.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Fail. The more ambitious a project, the less sure you can be that it will succeed. Being okay with failure lets me try all sorts of things I might not have attempted otherwise. Almost all of my best successes came out of this process.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
In one company, I attempted to work on a startup idea while consulting for revenue. We did well, everyone got a steady paycheck, but we were never able to spend enough time on the “big idea.” We had a great prototype, but didn’t have the focus to get it off the ground. A year or two later another company took the same idea to market and sold it for $3 million. Lesson learned.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I’ve always wanted a “404” page service that I could plug into websites I manage, that would alert me whenever someone got a 404, and let me wire up redirects using an easy online interface. Would be great for sites that change URL structure and ensuring visitors aren’t lost. Developing something like that would be pretty easy.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
I’d love to change how software patents are handled. The current system is deeply broken and damaging to our economy. It slows down progress and allows patent trolls to run what amounts to legalized extortion scams. It’s going to take some brave politicians and aggressive legislation to solve.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
I was the Divisional Calculus Champion in high school (after I got kicked out of Calculus class for not doing my homework.)
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
- Amazon Web Services: HiringThing runs completely on AWS, and it’s so much better than trying to run our own servers. We can add servers with the push of a button, and the management tools are second to none.
- Evernote: I store everything in Evernote, including business cards, receipts, notes and other stuff. Having a huge personal searchable database with me at all times let’s me stop trying to remember trivia.
- Campfire: Campfire is a chat room service by 37 Signals, and we use it at HiringThing to stay connected and communicate amongst the team. It helps our team stay connected, despite the fact that we all work from different locations.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
For entrepreneurs, “The E-Myth Revisited” by Michael E. Gerber is a must read. It’s been around for awhile, but sheds light on why so many small business fail to grow beyond a certain limit.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
Personally, I only use Twitter at events to keep tabs on what’s going on around me. For my day-to-day, I find the signal-to-noise ratio too high to be useful.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
I’m sure it was a cat picture on the internet.
Who is your hero?
My wife. She’s a doctor, works incredibly hard and cares about people in amazingly thoughtful ways. I’m still hoping some of it will rub off on me.
How did you end up in the recruiting space?
Plain and simple, we saw a clear market opportunity. The existing options for small and medium sized business to manage recruiting were either antiquated old-style software or too expensive. I was a hiring manager in mid-sized company, and was frustrated by the process and lack of options to make it better. By creating an easy-to-use, cloud-based solution for companies, we were able to fill a gap in the marketplace.
Best way to relax?
This year it’s been skiing in the Colorado mountains. Summer’s here so there’s less of that, but getting outdoors and away from the grid is still my favorite way to disconnect for a day or two.
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