Blue Ocean of Opportunity: From Zero to 400 Thousand Video Interviews

    Julia Kardash, marketing director of HR-tech service VCV, spoke at the Epic Growth Conference about the launch of the product in a market where there was no demand.

    See the transcript of the report under the cut.

    From casting to recruiting

    VCV stands for "video summary." In 2010, the product was launched by the casting director, who solved his problem of finding actors for various projects. Then he, teamed up with a friend, a web developer, launched a service for the job market as a whole.

    However, it soon turned out that no one needed the product in that form on the market. For recruiters, the problem was not solved, but created. They had to look at random interviews of people with random information about themselves. And the applicants were not eager to upload such videos and record themselves on camera.

    How the service began to work

    In 2013, Arik Hakhverdyan, an experienced HR consultant, proposed changing the concept of the product - from video to video interviews - and changing the target audience from b2c- to b2b-market. In the foreign market, we found similar formats. There was confidence that this could work in Russia too.

    There is a system in which the HR manager works. He creates a vacancy and adds exactly those questions that he wants to hear from the candidate. Further, a link to this vacancy is sent directly to the candidate. The latter, using any device with a camera and microphone, records answers to questions in real time.

    Thus, the format of the actual interview is preserved, because the time for preparing answers is limited and there is no way to rewrite. The interview is stored on the server, the recruiter reviews it at a convenient time and makes a decision on the candidate.

    Product-market fit and first customers

    Six months after the “reset,” VCV entered into contracts with three major customers - Sony, British American Tobacco and Beeline. After 100 video interviews, they came up with rave reviews.
    Guys, this really works and saves us time. Within one month, we can let through more candidates, choose the coolest guys.
    The HR market is not so big in Russia, and as soon as a completely new technology appeared, the whole market learned about it very quickly, without any movement on our part.

    The first inspiration quickly ended as soon as we started to encounter the first very stiff barriers that the market of this blue ocean dictated to us.

    Barriers and Solutions

    The main reason when you enter a non-existent market is that you think you have no competitors. This is actually not the case. Competition is a conservative approach that is very difficult and expensive to break through and change.

    Typical objections and how we fought with them

    Who are you at all

    ? We did various offline activities for b2b. For example, closed business breakfasts for our potential audience. The concept of our presence at the event was not aggressive advertising. We gave them cool content, experts and networking.

    Plus, we were very helped by PR in the media, which we launched on our own. If you really offer something fresh, the media will be happy to tell you.

    This will not work.

    And here, of course, various cases are very cool to work out if they are already in your piggy bank. Text cases, video reviews, successful projects, media coverage - this is the basis, but it works.

    Or the format of a demo day, an event where the audience is your potential customers, and your current customers are performing on stage. About the service say current customers, potential completely trust.

    Our candidates will not record video interviews, they are with new technologies. Dinosaurs.

    The most popular question in the field of HR-tech. To dispel this myth, we launched a series of webinars where our real clients from the areas where the objections came from tell us that the VCV service really works and is not at all complicated.

    A video interview, of course, is great, but we need ...

    At that stage of development, at which we were at that moment, we decided to work individually with each client, that is, to do large projects for clients. At some point, it worked, and in a short time we gathered a base of large clients with which we work to this day.

    In 2016, we managed to achieve self-sufficiency. During the year, the video interview service served 75 contracts for 15 million rubles. Revenues doubled compared to 2014.

    However, as soon as you prove to the market that a product like yours is needed and relevant, you should be prepared for the fact that, like mushrooms after the rain, competitors will appear on the market who will copy you shamelessly, go to your own customers and offer similar technology is absolutely free.

    In this situation, we realized that competitive advantage in the form of superiority in the market does not work, it's just a myth. Only two things work - people and technology.

    The decision to work with your service is made by a person who is very important that his pains and needs overlap. No matter how technological your company may be, you should always think about service.

    Technological stages of development of the VCV service

    Our basic tool is a video interview service. Following is the development of individual HR solutions.

    When you have a startup and large clients appear who want individual pieces for themselves, your resources begin to go to that. If you agree, then the product at this time quickly becomes obsolete. If you make decisions for someone, they should be typical so that you can then easily scale them to the entire product and offer them to the entire market.

    Finally, a multi-functional platform for searching and selecting people. It covers the work with candidates in three stages: at the stage of searching for candidates, selecting and working with current employees. This is a large number of functions that can be used depending on the needs of the company.

    The story of the experiments

    There are candidates in retail who want to work, for example, at Auchan. On their trading platform, we installed booths with tablets on which you can record a video interview. It would seem a rather bold experiment, but it paid off, and today it works.

    Where to go further
    We decided not to dwell on just one thing, but to try everything in parallel.

    • Entering the mass market in Russia in the format of the hypothesis that our tool can be relevant for both medium and small businesses.
    • Going abroad. In 2017, we entered the San Francisco 500 Startups acceleration program and became the only Russian startup that went through all the selection stages and received investments.
    • The conquest of the global market. When you enter the international market, completely different requirements begin to appear for your product than they were in the domestic market. We decided to focus on product development in the areas of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and emotion recognition.

    How to survive in the blue ocean

    • Focus on market needs and people's pain.
    • Quickly find the product-market fit.
    • Experiment.
    • If you have two strategies, try both.
    • Make typical scalable decisions.
    • Always keep the service in focus.
    • Rely only on your own strengths.
    • Focus on the international market.
    • Stay ahead of the competition.

    If you don’t want to get into depressing statistics that eight out of ten startups die in the first year of creation, you need to quickly find the product-market fit.
    To do this, you need to run a maximum of hypotheses in testing, to experiment as much as possible. If there are several ideas, take everything, try and then what works, just scale it.

    More reports on product marketing can be found on the @epicgrowth Telegram channel .

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