Matthew Rotella – Co-founder of rankedHiRe

Put everything on your calendar! I’m a stickler about it. Entrepreneurs are busy, and it’s the best way to stay on top of what you need to do.

Matthew Rotella is the co-founder of rankedHiRe, an online recruitment platform that matches employers’ job vacancies with staffing firms’ talent. After graduating from the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University in 2007, Matthew joined the investment banking practice of Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. He performed financial due diligence for Fortune 500 companies in the energy and power sectors and advised clients on mergers and acquisitions, as well as efforts to raise capital. After a yearlong role as a consultant at Princeton University, Matthew joined viagogo, an international ticket marketplace, as a business associate in its London office. Working alongside the head of European operations and chief financial officer, Matthew was responsible for direct-to-consumer marketing, partnership monetization, and global payments during his three-year tenure. In 2013, Matthew co-founded rankedHiRe. This year, the company was accepted into Capital Innovators, a St. Louis accelerator that recently was ranked the No. 6 accelerator program in the country.

Where did the idea for rankedHiRe come from?

We originally were working on freelancer rating software to help individuals and small businesses more accurately source contingent labor. While at the Capital Innovators accelerator program, we had numerous conversations with mentors, advisors, and corporate recruiters and realized that there was a more immediate market need for our technology. We’re addressing the major inefficiencies in the communication process between staffing firms and hiring entities.

What does your typical day look like, and how do you make it productive?

I’ve always been a morning person, so it’s important that I get to the office early. With the help of the staff at Starbucks, I get my best work done between 7 and 11 a.m. For me, the key to being productive is 90 percent tunnel vision and 10 percent spontaneity. I pride myself on being able to “put on the blinders” and focus on the task at hand, but it’s the spontaneous jokes or quick conversations with team members that make the 14-hour days possible.

How do you bring ideas to life?

We’re big believers in brainstorming sessions. Some days, we’ll take a break to pick up lunch and just let the ideas flow on the walk. We generally have an agenda, but the topics can be anything from new product features or new target customers to a new marketing channel we’re considering. When we get back to the office, our team will sit around our whiteboard and determine whether our best ideas truly deliver value to our customers.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

The role of big data in the talent management industry is really exciting to us. A bad hire can cost an employer as much as 200 percent of that employee’s annual salary. Using data to make more informed hiring decisions is a huge opportunity. We’ve seen a number of players utilize big data in the direct hiring space, but very few have tackled the staffing industry. We think that applying a more data-driven approach to sourcing from staffing agencies will benefit both enterprises and the agencies themselves.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I’m an extremely boring person who has never been good at sports or games. This has led to my not having a ton of hobbies outside of work, which in turn, has led to my approaching weekends as two bonus workdays. It might sound weird, but there’s something about coming into a dark, empty office on a Saturday that excites me.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

In college, I worked as a sales representative at a men’s clothing retailer. I was responsible for keeping the racks fully stocked and helping customers find their sizes. Not only was it physically exhausting being on my feet for 10 hours a day, but it was also stressful because so many customers were incredibly rude. I think the most important lesson I took from that experience is that the customer is always right, but it’s important to treat others with respect.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I would move faster. Succeed fast, fail fast. Whatever happens, faster is better. Looking back, we basically wasted six months on stuff we thought was important at the time.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Put everything on your calendar! I’m a stickler about it. Entrepreneurs are busy, and it’s the best way to stay on top of what you need to do.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

Be open to suggestions. We’ve been fortunate enough to have a team of accomplished mentors and advisors who offer guidance when we need it. It’s important to know what you know, but it’s more important to know what you don’t know. Taking advice from others with an objective, third-party view has been really helpful.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I fail every single day. Whether it’s through sales calls that don’t go as planned or a presentation that needs to be completely rewritten, entrepreneurship is a continuous stream of successes and failures. Early on, I would take each failure personally, but I’ve grown to realize that it’s all part of the process. If you can’t take constructive criticism, you can’t be an entrepreneur.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I think someone should invent cups that add a touch of flavor to your drink. Instead of using vanilla or cherry flavoring, you could just add your drink to a vanilla- or cherry-flavored cup. Someone get on it!

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

It was probably a little less than $100, but I bought a NutriBullet blender. I’m not a big fan of eating fruits and vegetables, and I was never really a breakfast person, but having a smoothie in the morning has given me added energy to start the workday.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

I love Skype. It’s a great way to keep in touch with my former colleagues and friends in London. We use HipChat to communicate internally. It’s convenient to be able to message with your colleagues without breaking your work stride.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell. It will (hopefully) change the way you view the world. Once you understand why things happen, you can understand how to begin solving those problems.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

Malcolm Gladwell, Peter Thiel, and Elon Musk — these three have all helped me look at the world in new and exciting ways.


Matthew Rotella on LinkedIn: