Week 5

WIN EQ Hire vs Brand Cre8tor

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Welcome to the first season of Go Pitch Win!   Each week Greg is joined by a guest judge to hear 2 entrepreneurs pitch their business or product.  After hearing the two pitches they will pick the weekly winner to move on to the final 6.  At the end of the 6 weeks, Greg will select the top 3 and then we need you to help us pick the winner!  Once the 3 finalists are announced we will open the voting for you #FreedomBuilders to choose our $10,000 winner!

Host

Greg Mercer, Jungle Scout Founder

Greg is the founder and CEO of Jungle Scout, a suite of tools that empowers freedom builders. As a successful entrepreneur, Greg leads a team of 65+ employees. He is also an influential educator, offering free and inspirational content that has helped thousands of people build their own businesses and freedom.

Guest Judge

Steve Chou, My Wife Quit Her Job

Steve is a seven figure seller, owns the e-commerce store Bumblebee Linens, blogs about his journey at MyWifeQuitHerJob.com, and is the host of a top 100 podcast, My Wife Quit Her Job.

WIN - EQ Hire vs Brand Cre8tor

Greg: This is my favorite part of Go Pitch Win because we've heard two pitches today of two different businesses and this is where me and you get to compare and contrast them, deconstruct them, tell about what we like or don't like. So this is my favorite part of the show, I'm excited to chat with you about it.

Steve: Yeah man I'm excited to talk about it too.

Greg: let's start by having you give the audience a quick overview and your thoughts on EQ Hire, who was founded by Kelechi

Steve: Yeah first of all I wanna just say that I really admire Kelechi. Like he taught himself how to code and put together a good MVP product. And he actually got a customer in that nonprofit organization to come in and actually use his product. All those things are admirable and then the fact that he's tapping into the NLP and language processing tech part of it, I think that's all really impressive for someone who's self taught.

Greg: Kelechi's definitely like the hustler. Like this dude's just trying to make stuff happen. Like he's working this part time job to help fund it. Um for those listening to this episode who didn't hear Kelechi's pitch, can you just give us a one or two minute overview of what EQ Hire does?

Steve: Yeah so what EQ Hire does is it basically allows a company to save money on their human resources department. So you basically you feed in a bunch of potential applicants and based ... And then there's some sort of questionnaire. Or uh sorry, you write down what questions you wanna ask a potential applicant and then that applicant records their answers. And then based on EQ Hire's natural language processing, it gives out a score for that person based on certain metrics that allows you to easily screen out a bunch of applicants that you potentially might not want to hire right off the bat. So think of it like a tool that allows you to prescreen applicants so that you can weed out that ones that you actually want to bring in for an actual interview.

Greg: One recurring trend it seems like on this show is that like the founders and the owners of these businesses have a hard time clearly articulating what their business does or what the value prop is. But Steve you did a nice job with that so thank you for that. And uh just to give you guys a little bit of an overview. You know Kelechi, he built this V1 he had like the one customer on it. He got some pretty good feedback but I guess ... This one wasn't totally clear to me but I guess the person has to have at least a pretty good laptop or computer to run it. I don't know if it ran locally or how it looked. But essentially he's trying to build a V2 that instead of having to go to this website or instead of someone having to have a computer, it would just give them a call and it would kind of like ask them the same questions.

That's what he wants to use the money for. And just like continued development to build this thing.

Steve: I wasn't actually worried about that part of it. And mainly because like even on my Android phone the Google speech recognition is actually pretty good. And I think his algorithms just depend on the actual words that are being said. So I'm pretty confident that he'll get that part down, at least in my mind.

Greg: Yeah totally. So before we dig in too much about like you know the challenges we think you'll face ahead or what you like about that business, tell me a little bit more about Gino and Ben from Brand Creator.

Steve: Yeah so Gino and Ben from Brand Creator. I actually really like the energy. Like Gino, you couldn't really see his face or I don't is the video gonna be available for this?

Greg: Yeah you can watch this on video but some people are probably doing audio only.

Steve: He's like this really cheerful, smiley, optimistic guy that you just love just as soon as you start talking to him. That was my first impression at least. And when he presented his company there was a lot of passion there. And the fact that his product actually targets E Commerce businesses and helps E Commerce business. I thought he effectively [inaudible 00:04:59] down in the beginning and targeted a small segment just to start off his brand with.

Greg: You know I noticed that too that he was just very kind of cheerful optimist looking guy. And one of the funny things is like usually the entrepreneurs that succeed are the ones that are overly optimistic, just think that everything's always gonna be fine. Because you always hit all these road bumps in entrepreneurship. And that's usually when a lot of people maybe like worry a lot or aren't very optimistic kind of like shut down and don't wanna move forward. So I think that's a good trait that he has going for him. Can you tell [crosstalk 00:05:31] who didn't hear about brand creator a little bit more about what that business does?

Steve: Yeah so just to kind of summarize it really quickly, basically whenever you're launching some sort of product, very few people are able to think about their brand effectively. So certain things like logo design, what their unique value proposition is, what message they want to say. And basically how to design a website and the logo and that sort of thing. And so what they do is they have this site that allows you to ... It's like a questionnaire. I don't wanna say questionnaire because there's more tech behind it but it asks you questions that allows you to figure these things out. And based on your input, the tool Brand Creator outputs this document that basically summarizes the key points of your brand and allows you to easily convey that information to a developer or a designer to create your logo, your website, as well as any packaging that you might have for your product.

Greg: Again excellent job communicating the value of that business. So let's jump back now and talk about EQ Hire a little bit more. What are just like your overall thoughts about this business as a whole and the potential that this business has in the future?

Steve: Yeah I think so I used to do a lot of recruiting for my last company, and mainly for tech workers which is kind of why I asked them a lot about the tech stuff. I think that there's a lot of value in this tool for a certain class of hire. And we had talked about this on the podcast for customer support. Where someone's demeanor and someone's words really matters. Whereas as an engineer you know personality I guess doesn't matter as much. But let's keep that between the two of us. But yeah so his product, I think if he can pull it off, can have really broad reaching, it'll really help businesses a lot pair down their human resources and automate a lot of that front end work in sifting through a whole bunch of resumes.

Greg: I like the idea of like a bot doing first round interviews. I think for like a certain group or a certain like career or type of jobs that would work really well. You know jobs that especially for this one who are very customer facing and jobs that maybe you just get tons and tons of applicants. Like you know certain roles. Maybe I'm thinking like I don't know if this is true but the front desk person at like a hotel chain or a lot of these like customer service type roles. Maybe like in stores or whatever else. These are the type of people who are getting tons and tons of resumes.

I like the idea in the future of like a bot doing the first round interviewing doing the prescreening. I can see where that would be like very valuable.

Steve: Yeah and just in the context of E Commerce even, like let's say someone complains about their product and says it's a really crappy product and how would you respond to this? You can glean a lot from their response. Like if they just say "Here's a refund." Well that's not really a good answer right? You wanna say "Oh I'm so sorry for you inconvenience. We'll absolutely refund you and we'll even send you a new product." That sort of thing. I think a bot can actually parcel a lot of those answers upfront so you can easily weed out a lot of people.

Greg: What do you think are some of Kelechi's largest struggles or roadblocks ahead?

Steve: Yeah so what he's trying to develop is actually quite complicated. And right now from what I could tell he's a one man show. And he was looking to hire an intern. And as someone who's just worked in tech for almost twenty years, what he's trying to do is very involved. He needs a really good Tech team, he needs a QA team, someone to run support and that sort of thing. And so I think a lot more resources than the gift for this contest is what he's gonna need to succeed.

Greg: Yeah I have to agree with you there. Both of those are pretty familiar with software and building software right? And this is a pretty big challenge, especially if you're talking about maybe like his future vision of also having like this huge database of everyone who's using it. And also using that for you know like the references, you know that we're talking about really critical mass to be able to achieve that. But even if we just back up to just more of like the natural language processing part of it, that's pretty like cutting edge stuff?

Steve: Yeah.

Greg: Yeah that stuff that only like a certain subset of engineers would know how to do. That's probably gonna take like quite a bit of refining. So you're right, like the $10,000 prize from this competition. You know that'd be great to help get him started but realistically for this thing to reach a certain level where its very valuable for companies, there's gonna be quite a bit of money involved with that right? We're probably talking hundreds of thousands of dollars. Hundreds of thousands of dollars I would guess you know to get this kind of like MVP or this [inaudible 00:10:19] version he's talking about where he can really acquire customers and they be happy with the product.

Steve: And I think hiring is so important for a company that for a company to bet their livelihood, their people on a tool, it's gotta be super robust.

Greg: You know not that pricing strategy is really that important for him right now, because you know it's you kind of have to build this thing a little bit first. You had a good point there that taking a percentage of like the first year of these people, I would guess is probably not realistic. You kind of talked about this like okay we pay a headhunter a percentage, but they also bring the candidate? You know and like they pre screen them. So it's like they're doing quite a bit more work there. Like if I'm just sending my candidates here to do the first round, I personally I might be cheap but wouldn't be willing to pay a percentage of their salary like to this tool. Maybe I would be willing to pay you know for like every hundred candidates, you know a certain dollar like flat fee to prescreen these candidates.

Because there is value in that right? Otherwise I have to pay someone in HR to spend thirty minutes or an hour of their time. That's of course worth something. So it is worth something to me. But you know I'm not gonna give you even 1% of their salary for the first year.

Steve: Yeah I would probably price it like email marketing. Like for every number of applicants you supply like I just charge a flat fee for however many they are per month.

Greg: Once you have this thing built, you know it's not very costly for you to run applicants through it. So I mean I don't see why a pricing structure like that couldn't work out and be profitable. But yeah I think something like that is a little bit more realistic. If you were Kelechi, what are some of the like next steps that you would take to either turn this idea into life or maybe you would even recommend for him to take some other steps besides working on this right now?

Steve: Well so first off, I don't think that I would charge at all in the beginning and I would just focus my efforts on doing this for free for some company that is higher profile. And I would just do case studies. I would run the algorithm through like a large companies applicant pool and then I would actually go and interview and talk to that person in person and correlate the results of the tool. And put together a really tight case study that I could then present to other companies and say "Hey you know Apple used my tool and this is the results that they got. Right now we're just doing this for free. If you wanna give it a try there's no sweat to you at all." And then just gradually build it out that way.

And once you have one or two companies supporting you, it makes it that much easier to actually sell it to the rest of the people.

Greg: And I totally agree with that but what about to actually get this thing built?

Steve: Yeah to get this thing built I think you're gonna need engineers. And I would almost say that for something like this, and for what he's trying to do, you almost need funding if you don't have any. Unless by yourself you can put together a good viable product in the beginning. Like I'm not sure what the state of this is because we haven't used it at all yet. But he's definitely gonna need a support team for sure. Someone customer facing in the least. And then later on a really good QA team.

Greg: Yeah if I was Kelechi I guess at this point there's a few options. Like one is he could just really put in the sweat to try to learn all these different, you know all the different coding skills and engineering skills necessary to build this. That's a pretty long road ahead of you thought right? You're probably talking a few years to be able to learn everything and then build it. That's pretty tough. I guess another route is the co founder route. If he could find one, two, three other people who have certain skill sets that compliment his for him to get this thing built. That's one route. The other route, like you said, would be VC funding. Trying to get a seed round of a half million bucks or whatever else it would take to get the MVP built.

It's probably the VC routes would probably be fairly difficult for him right now since this isn't really proven. I don't know this for sure but I don't think he has a track record of successful builds like this in the past. And without having either of those things, I think it's gonna be probably pretty tough to convince VC's that you're the guy for them to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in.

Steve: Yeah and of course I haven't seen the code or anything. But one advantage of getting a coder that has a lot of experience in this area is that that coder probably has experience in building something that's really scalable. Like you don't wanna have to scrap what you've already built once you get a whole bunch of customers in and find that you don't have enough compute power or it's not easily scaled to the number of customers that you have.

Greg: But like you said overall I like this idea right? I mean I like having a bot do first round interviews. This is just, this is just a big idea and it's gonna be pretty tough. So with that being said, let's go ahead and jump in real quick to Brand Creator and dive into it a little bit more. What do you like about this business and what major hurdles do you feel like they have in front of them?

Steve: Yeah what I like about this business if you know a lot of Amazon sellers in particular they put up a product and they don't really think about building their own brand. Meaning that they're kind of entirely dependent on Amazon for all their revenues. And if anything were to happen and they were to get banned, then they don't have any brand equity for their product. So what I like about their product is it forces people to think about more of like a long term branding aspect of their product. And potentially diversifying their revenue streams later on down the line.

Greg: What are some of the you think like the challenges they're gonna have of growing this business and becoming profitable?

Steve: Yeah I think the main challenge is what you alluded to earlier. Like I teach a class on this stuff and a lot of people don't even think about this stuff. Like there's a lot of education involved. And one of the feedback that we gave them was that you really need some sort of case study that shows like a before and after. Because to educate someone there's nothing more convincing then applying like a dollar amount or some sort of case study that leads to more revenue. And so I think that's gonna be their greatest challenge because a lot of people don't think about this stuff.

Greg: Yeah I totally agree with you there. I think their biggest hurdle is just trying to convince people that this is what they need. Most of these people, and this is like their target market is like aspiring entrepreneurs right? Like people just getting started. They usually don't have much cash to spend and they're trying to convince these guys to spend like you know a hundred dollars of that to think about the brand, which the deliverable isn't even something that they're gonna go on to give to their customers right?

Steve: That's correct yeah.

Greg: This still isn't like the logo, this still isn't their packaging, this still isn't whatever else. So it's I imagine probably something that a lot of people think "Well I can do that down the road or I can do that you know whatever else." Um it is kind of funny that both of the contestants that pitched to us today both are trying to do the AI NLP route right?

Steve: Yeah I mean it's a hot topic right now so.

Greg: They just need to throw in like some BlockChain there.

Steve: Yeah right.

Greg: All the cool stuff going on right?

Steve: Well they accept bitcoin I'm sure.

Greg: If they don't I'm not shopping there so ... You know I was impressed that they have gotten 100 people to pay them for this. They said they have 200 signups, 100 people have paid them. So that's like 10k in revenue. It sounds like they're kind of pounding the pavement to get these signups right now. But that's totally fine. That's what it takes in the early days right? Like they're attending shows, doing whatever it takes to get these customers to sign up. Which hey I think in the early days it totally fine. A little ambitious I think with their future projections. I didn't check the exact numbers but I think I was just looking at these like "Wow guys."

Even I think they were hoping that 1500 customers just from attending a few conferences this year was realistic. And that seems pretty tough or far fetched to me from kind of like my experience of just attending these things.

Steve: I think it's ambitious. Their price point of $100 like if they do a really good job of convincing someone. And this is the thing, they convinced what 100 people to pay when you can just save the webpage to your desktop right? That's the part I didn't quite understand.

Greg: Yeah maybe it's like a little bit blurred out or there's certain areas they can't see or something else. I don't know. I would imagine that would have to be the case right? Like if you're just already given all of it and you could just screenshot it?

Steve: Yeah.

Greg: That's pretty tough to get people to pay their money.

Steve: Exactly so that's why I was kind of impressed. Like if you get someone to pay for this document. And clearly they do a really good job in person demonstrating it. So if they can do a good job conveying that, and really spreading the word really well in some sort of advertisement and they have like a nice funnel flow they might be able to, they might be able to do it.

Greg: You know I know Gino's background is on Amazon. He was a full-time amazon seller. And I do like how they've niched down into one particular audience to target them. But I actually don't know if Amazon sellers is the best market for them. Especially the guys doing the private label thing, I don't think most of them are like thinking about like building a brand or really care about that that much. Like what might be a better market for them is just more of just like the generalist aspiring business owner type market. You know the same people that are going to Legal Zoom to set up their LLC and whatever else and trying to sell them on like "Hey before you get that logo made, like you need to craft your brand story and brand strategy."

Steve: Yeah I was thinking more of like personal branding as well as people who want to start their own ECommerce store where a lot of those elements factor in when you're designing your website. You wanna figure out what message you wanna have like right from the start. Yeah I agree with you like most Amazon sellers don't think about this stuff as long as the money is flowing in. I know that's been my experience at least.

Greg: Right. Yeah I mean to be honest I don't really think about it or care about it with my products right? Like I just throw em up on Amazon and I don't really you know like all like the packaging and everything else is pretty simple. But there's not like crafted brand story or strategy or really even thinking I do behind any of these. But not to say some people you know don't.

Steve: Yeah I mean that's where the education part comes in. Like they have to have a compelling story that actually shows that all of these things actually affect the bottom line.

Greg: So Steve with all that being said only one of the two contestants can move into the final round to be eligible for the $10,000 prize and it's the guest judges job to pick which one of these two move forward.

Steve: Ah man so much pressure.

Greg: With that being said, would you like to move Kelechi from EQ Hire into the final round or would you like to move Brand Creator Gino and Ben into the final round?

Steve: I am gonna go with Brand Creator, mainly because it's not because I don't like Kelechi's product I just think that he's a little in over his head in terms of the resources that it's gonna take to actually succeed. But I thought both companies were really well presented. Kelechi's, his company like if he can pull it off has the potential to be like this huge eight/nine figure company. And so it's the resources required to create it I think are just too great. And he's gonna need some help and additional money.

Greg: I'm sure Kelechi would really appreciate the $10,000 but you're totally right. That's not even really probably gonna put a dent in the resources required to actually build this thing. Whereas with brand creator they've already kind of proven it, they've already gotten some paying customers. And the $10,000 probably would help them out quite a bit. Like for that type of business that there's not a lot of ... You know they said they're gonna use some of it for like building out the platform but it's just like a much easier platform to build out right? Almost like any developer that has some basic web development history or skills or whatever can probably make like pretty good progress like on that site in the platform that they're building. And to be honest, a lot of that especially in the early days of Brand Creator could probably really just be done like behind the scenes like without having all of that automated right?

And I'm a big fan of that like when you're still just trying to prove like your product, they might be past this point now, but I mean you could just like use kind of like Google Forms and they fill it all out. And you do some stuff in the back end just manually with humans and you email it to them or whatever else. So I guess that's just a little side note for anyone else listening to this.

Steve: Yeah I mean I think they've already proven their concept so I think they're beyond that stage but you're totally right.

Greg: Totally.

Steve: You could have like a live chat where you pretend to be a bot.

Greg: I like that, that would be pretty epic.

Steve: (Laughs)

Greg: So congratulations to Gino who is moving into the final round to be eligible for the $10,000 prize. Steve thank you very much for spending a few hours of your day to listen to these pitches and help me choose the winner.

Congrats to Brand Cre8tor!  Our Week 5 winner!

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