A Q&A with JobPods founder and CEO Leigh Brandt. The New York City–based company launched to the public in late April, and is seeking to raise its first institutional funding round.
SUB: Please describe JobPods and your value proposition.
Brandt: At JobPods, we believe hiring and getting hired should be an easy process. We also believe in helping people. With the JobPods platform we’re evolving the hiring process to an easy and fun one.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Brandt: JobPods is connecting entry-level job seekers and entry-level recruiters together in a way that’s enjoyable to both users. The seekers can ask the pros questions about breaking into their chosen profession, while the recruiters can rank and see a ranked list of candidates for hire. We also have the most up to date ‘expert advice’ for both the seeker and the recruiter.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Brandt: We only have indirect competition, those companies being Monster, Career Builder, Indeed, and Vault. Those companies provide the user with a one-way stream of communication, a very robotic system that does not give the user the personalized help they need to land the job. That’s what sets us apart—the personalized part. A user can ask a question about anything job related and get feedback from the entire JobPods community—experts and peers alike.
SUB: What differentiates JobPods from the competition?
Brandt: Of course you want to know what we think about LinkedIn, the greatest networking tool for the professional world. Let me re-phrase that a bit: LinkedIn is the best networking tool in the professional world for professionals. Our target audience is first time job seekers; they are not ready for LinkedIn yet—the most impressive thing on their resume is being a lifeguard two summers ago. Sure they have a LinkedIn profile but the recruiters on LinkedIn are not hiring for entry-level.
SUB: When was the company actually founded and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?
Brandt: My partner, Jamie Driver, and I met summer, 2011, and started the brainstorming for the company; but actual web development didn’t begin till October 2012. We’re currently in soft launch.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for JobPods? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Brandt: I came up with the idea for JobPods a couple years ago when in school searching for a job. I quickly became frustrated with the tools out there and saw room for much needed improvement. I didn’t want the cookie-cutter experience, nor did I want to sift through the most ‘current’ articles that were published five years ago.
SUB: How big do you see the market opportunity for a startup that can change the job search paradigm, like you seek to do?
Brandt: Enormous. Our target is the entry level job seeker—$25,000-to-$55,000 salary per year, which accounts for just over 70 percent of the population.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story behind it?
Brandt: I have to give the credit to Jamie’s wife, she came up with a list of possible names and ‘JobPods’ is the one we got the best feedback from.
SUB: You recently launched to the public. Why was this a particularly good time to launch?
Brandt: That’s simple—unemployment is very high and all I keep hearing about is how first time job seekers are unprepared for landing the job. Every day the news talks about unemployment being so high, but they don’t tell you that 4.4 million jobs need to be filled. The jobs, people to fill them, and recruiters are all present, just the way all three parties comes together is not there—JobPods is changing that.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Brandt: I wake up every day looking at JobPods. I love it and see room for improvement at the same time. It’s the constant battle between being satisfied and wanting more—something I am sure every entrepreneur can relate to.
SUB: How does the company generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Brandt: The site will be ad supported through banners, job listings on a revenue share basis and CPL deals with continuing education providers such as University of Phoenix.
SUB: What kinds of investors are you looking to attract for your funding round?
Brandt: It’s too early to determine if the next raise will be Seed or VC. What’s most important for us is the type of investor we bring on board. We’ll be seeking ‘smart money.’ What I am referring to is the investor who will give not only money, but their resources as well. It’s really important to bring on the right investor as they will be a part of the team and we’ll be working together for at least several years.
SUB: What are your goals for JobPods over the next year or so?
Brandt: The true mission of JobPods, the backbone, is to solve a problem in society—a very big problem. As the community grows, we’ll be evolving the company into something that the user will appreciate more and more as each new development is made contributing to solving unemployment and educating first-time job seekers.
JobPods – www.jobpods.com