Abby Verma of SkillSoniq tells us about its AI-based recruiting app.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded SkillSoniq.
Abby Verma: I have 15 years of professional experience in Investment Banking, Tech Consulting, and Entrepreneurship and have studied on 3 continents in Asia, North America, and Europe from schools like the University of Michigan, Indian School of Business, and the London School of Economics.
I have been an entrepreneur 3 times now and started my first company at the age of 19 to sell paint jobs to homeowners in Detroit while studying full-time at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. This was my first experience as an entrepreneur and got me hooked on the hustle required to get stuff done. I followed it up with a stint in Investment Banking, which taught me the meaning of perseverance and quality testing when I worked 100+ hours a week on multi-billion dollar Financing and M&A deals.
I came across the idea of starting SkillSoniq when I was working with outsourced talent on a tech project a few years ago, where I was sitting in the United States and working with contractors in the Philippines. That experience was extremely excruciating, as I worked at odd hours to keep up with the time zone differences, had difficulty communicating with the contractors, and there was a lot of concern around IP security and trust. That experience put me in major depression, and when I started looking for better alternatives to hire talent in the US quickly and at affordable rates, I found that the recruiting space in the US was broken.
It takes 50+ days to hire on job portals. Staffing agencies are too expensive, and the existing freelance marketplaces connect companies with outsourced, low-quality talent, most of which sit outside the US in a totally different time zone.
Thus, I started SkillSoniq to solve my own problem of quickly sourcing skilled talent at affordable rates. SkillSoniq is an AI-Powered recruiting app that connects companies with skilled freelancers, giving companies the option to hire a freelancer (s) on their payroll after a “trial.” SkillSoniq is quick, affordable, and convenient – Something that traditional recruitment platforms are not.
Do you have small habits that made a meaningful impact on your life and business?
Abby Verma: I follow a few principles that have fared me well personally and professionally:
1. Put in all your effort into an endeavor you are pursuing – When you put in everything you have got, there are simply no regrets if things go sideways
2. Stay close to your family and friends – Close friends and family are a great source of strength and inspiration. Stay in touch with them and keep close to them
3. Maintain a sense of humor – Maintaining a sense of humor helps get a load off when things get tough and allow me not to take myself too seriously
How does SkillSoniq market its product/services online?
Abby Verma: We realized that conducting events at WeWork and other co-working spaces allowed us to get in touch with potential clients directly. When members came to talk to us, we could demo the product to them instantly, build rapport and follow up after the event to sign them up on our app. That personal connection helped in converting co-working leads into customers.
For us, doing a customer demo of our product was important to explain to companies how they could hire talent on “trial” on a freelance basis and convert them to their payroll if the fit was right. At each co-working space event, we took down the name, company, and emails of people who came to see us and followed up after the event to set up a demo with that lead. We then found that 20% of those demos converted into a “paid customer” for us, in other words, companies that would go on to hire a freelancer (s) on our platform.
Once a customer hired a freelancer on our platform, we would constantly ping the decision-maker for feedback and propose more skills they could hire on our platform. For Example, there was an e-commerce company that hired a videographer on our platform. Once we knew they were happy with the videographer, we would encourage them to hire a producer to set up video shooting schedules and the narrative, and perhaps a campaign manager who would create a marketing strategy around the videos produced. We found that this way, we were able to get clients to use SkillSoniq to hire more and more talent repeatedly.
While doing co-working events helped us come face to face with our customers, it was not a scalable go-to-market strategy. After closing our first seed round, we hired a Sales Agency in the US to help us generate qualified leads for companies and reach out to them via Phone, Email, and LinkedIn. After iterating on various aspects of the sales outreach process, such as what leads to target, which platforms to get leads from, what content to use in emails, and how many touchpoints to make to a customer, we realized that it took 7-8 touchpoints with a customer to book a demo. We also figured out that sending emails and pinging leads on LinkedIn gave us the highest conversions in terms of Lead > Demo > Paid Client. Using this sales channel, we have been able to double the number of demos booked and now do one demo a day, on average.
We have been able to use this omni-channel sales outreach to launch in more cities across the US, Canada, and India without spending a dime on Google and/or Social Media Ads!
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to manage your online marketing?
Abby Verma: On the sales and marketing front, we use several tools such as Mailchimp and Sendinblue. Mailchimp and Sendinblue have allowed us to send automated marketing emails to current and potential customers.
We use LinkedIn to approach potential clients with the goal of booking a demo. LinkedIn allows us to research actively hiring clients and connect with them easily. Since our clients are small, we are able to directly get in touch with CXOs and Founders on LinkedIn to be able to book a demo and thereby convert them into paid customers.
In order to generate valid emails for qualified leads, we use Snov.io. This tool allows us to generate valid emails for potential clients. Since we approach clients through email, this is an extremely important tool for us.
What is your hiring policy/process, and how do you retain your employees?
Abby Verma: We are constantly on the lookout for talent who fit our requirements (meaning they have the required skill-set) and have a champion’s mindset. This means not only do they possess the tech / functional skills, but they are also willing to roll up their sleeves to solve problems. This has been our main hiring mantra.
Once we hire great talent, we retain them by allowing them to work on interesting problems at the company with a singular vision of making hiring extremely easy for companies.
How are you funding your growth?
Abby Verma: We were initially bootstrapped and have raised 2 angel rounds to fund our company’s growth.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Abby Verma: We complete with staffing companies, recruiting platforms, and freelance websites. Our key differentiator is that we personalize our services to both hiring managers and jobseekers (unlike recruiting websites and freelance platforms) and are extremely affordable (unlike staffing companies).