"it's easy to be persuaded by "influencers," but by the end of the day, you have to trust your own judgment."

Perry Oostdam is a co-founder at Recruitee. Headquartered in Amsterdam, the SaaS platform helps HR teams and employees to streamline the recruitment process, bringing hiring to the cloud. Using Recruitee teams can build career sites, promote jobs, source candidates and even conduct interviews.

Q: Please tell us a little bit about your company – what is Recruitee it all about?

Recruitee is a cloud recruitment tool for teams. Our motto is “build great teams together.” We aim to make hiring and team management easier and more efficient, by allowing teams to handle vacancies and candidates more effectively. Our hiring tool combines four products in one platform: employer branding, job promoting, talent sourcing, and applicant tracking.

Q: Please tell us a little bit about your background and how you started your company?

I come from a family of entrepreneurs and I had wanted to start my own business since I was 14. Two years later I launched my first company, Quality Technology, with my cousin. During university, I looked around for something challenging and at a global scale to work on. After graduating, I met Pawl Smoczyk online and we started founding companies together.

Anyone who has been through the process of hiring new staff members should remember how complex and time-consuming these processes can be; full mail boxes with resumes, excel files full of candidates, and agendas jam-packed with interviews. We faced these issues ourselves early on and started searching for online solutions that could help simplify this process. We found several handy tools, but none of them offered the overview we were looking for. Applicant Tracking Systems existed, but we believed they could be improved. We thought, “can it be stripped down and made simpler?” Our fingers started to itch. We accepted this challenge ourselves and went on to develop our own tool. From day one, we’ve focused on creating a tool in a way that we would want to use as a team. Simple, but efficient.

Q: What are some of the projects you are working on right now?

We are working hard to make the platform even better. We want to make truly intuitive software that companies want to use. A lot of alternatives might claim to be intuitive but we found them not to be. That’s a huge disadvantage, when only the most tech-savvy people on the team can use the tool.


Q: What are your plans for the future, how do you plan to grow this company?

We want to be the brand that stands for continuous innovation. We aim to become a company that is not seen just as recruitment software, but as a type of HR ecosystem of innovative technology.

Q: How do you bring ideas to life?

Whenever I have an idea, even if I’m in the shower, I’ll rush to my laptop as quick as possible and note it down. Then I’ll call Paul and talk about it. Luckily we’re in the same timezone, so we can chat often, especially at night when we have room to think about strategy and development. We also have team meetings twice a week to get everyone’s input. If the team likes the idea, we’ll work it out and test it together.

Q: What’s one trend that really excites you?

The way companies hire is changing. There is an awareness that the way companies have traditionally grown their teams is sometimes wrong. There should be a whole lot more collaboration. Teams should be more like cells and multiply on their own, not being controlled by one department – HR – in order to grow. Hiring should be decentralized. And new software means the power is put into the hands of the people who actually work with the new hires. In this transition, the HR tech vendors that survive will be the ones who are open to change and innovation.

Q: What were the top 3 mistakes you made starting your business and what did you learn from it?

  • At the beginning, I thought it was fine to hire “good enough” people. But it didn’t work out, you need to find people that you really trust. When I met my co-founder Paul five years ago we knew we had to trust each other, and when we add new people to the team, we really have to trust them too.
  • There were moments when I saw setbacks everywhere, and it was stressful. Then I remembered that someone once said that growing a company can feel like continuously putting out fires, instead of growing – and it’s true. Setback is inevitable, you just need to cope with it. This means persistence, turning those things around and dealing with them.
  • Lastly, it’s easy to be persuaded by “influencers,” but by the end of the day, you have to trust your own judgment.
  • You may come across many people who have good intentions and want to help out. But you need to have your own vision, personality and ideas of what you want to create. Take advice, but remember it will be based on different experiences. If we had followed everyone who gave us advice, we wouldn’t be here today.

Q: How do you go about marketing your business, and what has been the most successful form of marketing for you?

In the earlier stage, we identified over 50 thousand leads that hire actively, but do not have a system yet. We marketed our product by reaching out to them one by one, and follow up via emails or calls. This sounds like lots of work, but it gets things done. We focus on building a good product as a form of marketing. We get a lot of referrals from positive word of mouth. We keep our customers happy by providing the best support and create extra value as they use our tool. They love us and refer us to their networks.

Q: What would you say are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur – and why?

I’d say they are the three lessons I learned from the three mistakes:

  • First, hire people that you can trust.
  • Second, be persistent.
  • Third, make your own judgements. There is no other way to learn skills better than from your own mistakes.

Q: What are the top 3 online tools and resources you’re currently using to grow your company?

Very simple: Slack for communication. Trello for project management. And the Google Apps: Gmail/Google Docs/Google Calendar for documentation and communication.

Q: How can our community get in touch with you?

Feel free to tweet me anytime at https://twitter.com/PerryDam

CrunchBase: https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/recruitee-com