Today we are talking with Simon Edwardson.
He is the Cofounder and CTO of V Seven.
And Simon, could you just tell us a little bit more
about what you do there and what V Seven does?
Yes, sure. Thank you for having me. Seven.
We are trying to help companies leverage
deep learning and neural networks to solve
tasks that you’re trying to solve.
We’re focusing on visual tasks, letting people upload
data onto our platform and have a very
quick and easy way to label the data
and then leverage that to solve various problems.
Okay, very good.
Definitely an area of a lot of interest
to a lot of different companies, and we’ll
dive into that a little bit more.
But today the thing I’m talking to
a lot of different people about is
just the struggle to find technical talent.
Things are changing so quickly, so fast, and where
do we get the talent from is people are
looking for ideas, and you have done something very
interesting and something I know other people looked at,
and you have gone out to some places like
GitHub Upwork Slack, just to name a few, to
try and recruit some people and find some people.
Can you dive into one of these
and maybe let’s start with up work.
How you’ve utilized up work just to find some talent?
When we started out this company, we
were kind of small and structured cash.
So what we started out doing was using up work to
post jobs that we wanted to do, and then people would
apply, they would show up, see what they’ve done.
It’s like a normal recruitment process, but you
can have a much shorter engagement where you
basically trialing out a person and they’re also
trying out working with you.
And when things work out, you can take
it off the platform and go into more
like contractor or full time employee position.
So it’s a nice way of finding people
and get to work with them right away
without going through a very lengthy process.
And on the other hand, as well, you don’t
really have the notice period that you normally have
when you talk to someone who’s already working somewhere
where you have to wait a month for three
months before they can join the team.
If they’re already at work, they will probably be
available within a week for you to work with.
So the quality varies.
So you have to look at what they’ve
done before and you have to really validate
the work to do in the beginning.
But we found some of our best performers at work.
We don’t use it that much anymore, but
we use it a lot in the beginning.
It’s a good way to get started.
Now follow up question on that.
I know that there are a lot of companies when
they think of work, they’re thinking, I’m going to pay
five or $10 an hour for somebody in the Philippines
to do some type of work for me.
Is that how you approached it or do you go a
different angle because there’s a lot of people on Upwork?
Yeah, it depends what kind of company you are.
So we are a tech company and the
thing we are building is based on technology.
It’s important for us that all the tech is in house.
Otherwise we could just have found a software
house to build all our technology for us.
When you work with someone who is remote in a very
different time zone, there’s a lot of communication problems and not
just in language, but just you have to wait for people
to respond and they can talk to you right away when
you’re not awake or available for business.
And all this overhead is deadly.
In a startup, yes, it might be okay to have in
a larger Corporation, but in a startup you can’t have it.
You want to find someone who’s relatively close to
you in time SunWise and you probably want to
find someone who is getting decently paid, but they’re
decently motivated to work with you.
And the really good talent is probably they know what
they were and they’re going to get what they worth
and you don’t want to fight for the it’s not
a raise to the bottom who can pay the least.
It’s like more.
What can you get for each Euro dollar
pound that you put into these people? Okay.
So are you looking for people more inside
of Europe or would you even extend outward
a little bit because you’re based in Europe? Correct?
Yeah, we’re based in London and we have people currently
working for us all the way from Portugal to Ukraine.
So most of Europe, but we have
decided to stick in European time zone.
We are semi remote companies, so more than half the
company is remote, but sometimes come to the office while
some part of the company is always in the office.
However, we have retreats twice a year, one in the
summer, one in the winter, and it’s a bit easier.
At least we’re on the same continent to
meet up, especially now when we’re still in
like 45, 50 people kind of face.
And Slack and GitHub tell us how
you utilize these to find some people.
So one of the program languages we’re using is Elixir,
which is not a very famous language, I would say
it’s up and growing and there’s a lot of bust
around it and it’s been around for a while now,
but still, it’s a very tight community.
And there’s a couple of different Slack channels, slack
groups where they talk about elixir and they have
a recruitment channel where you can post.
And if you post there, you’re bound to get people
reaching out to you almost right away because the people
who are working in Lake City, they are very eager
to find a company that’s actually using it, or we’re
very eager to find someone who has expertise in it.
It’s a bit of a trade off.
I think if you pick a very broad language or
react, you have millions of people to choose from.
But the range of quality among
those people is very big.
The variance goes from beginning beginner to
expert, and it’s really hard to know
where someone is in that scale.
If you take a language that is a
bit more niche, you’re still going to have
beginners and experts, but the variance is smaller.
And because if someone made it their mission to find
a job that has this language, they’re probably at least
in the upper percentile of candidates you can find.
So I feel like it’s a good
filter in itself to find good talent.
So, yeah, finding right slack groups, finding right forums,
obviously, make sure that you don’t post spam in
the wrong channels and you follow the guidelines for
the community trying to participate in.
But it’s a good way to get feedback and
find the people who are actually looking for jobs.
Gigabyte hand is you can look for repositories that
you’re using yourself or that is similar to what
you’re looking for, and then you actually know that
this person would fit right in.
In terms of skill set, you can look for
people who have done product in the languages or
frameworks you’re looking for and then see it’s a
bit tricky sometimes to figure out where the base
which time zone from the GitHub profile.
Are they looking for jobs or not?
It’s fairly easy to find the email address and then contact
them, but it’s going to be a hit or miss.
But if you can combine GitHub with any other
data like they applied or you found on LinkedIn
or something similar, GitHub is something you definitely should
go to to figure out what they’re doing.
That being said, some people don’t have
time to do open source work.
They spend a lot of time on
work that they can’t show it’s proprietary,
and you shouldn’t punish them for that.
It’s totally fair.
But if they have open source work, it becomes a
bit easier to find them and work with them. Yeah.
For a lot of companies, there’s a lot of specialized things that a lot of tech companies are
looking to do and saying who else is contributing
or who else is active on these channels.
Yeah, absolutely. A great way.
I think a lot of companies are going to hear
that and say, yeah, we can do that too.
That’s a good thing.
So all the other companies
using elixir stay away, though. Okay.
And something else you had mentioned to me before is you
do some newsletters to try and reach out to people.
Can you elaborate on that?
So we have a newsletter like a company, a
newsletter that we send out once a month.
It includes all the new features we are releasing, what’s
on the horizon, new blog post that people should be
interested in, add other changes and it’s a fairly good
way to keep in contact all your customers.
But it’s also a good way
for anyone who’s interested in company.
Sometimes people find your company and they like, this
is an interesting place to work at, but right
now it’s not the right time, but this is
a way for them to keep in touch.
On the other hand, we’re also sending out
we created this YouTube video 90 seconds long
that just highlights all the kind of features
and what we have in the company.
Because a lot of times when you try to reach out
to a customer or not potential recruit, you want to kind
of explain to them what you’re trying to do.
This is what my company is.
This is why you should waste or invest the
time you have into what we are doing.
Because most developers get one to
five recruitment emails per day.
This is like their swamp.
So you want to have something that
is very on point and just highlights.
This is what we do.
This is why it’s cool.
Get the kind of elevator pitch in so they come
to you and stop talking and they are interested.
And I’m not talking about this.
When you have a video of yourself and headshots and
talk like, Hi, Simon, it’s nice to meet you.
It’s more like here’s the product
and this is what we do.
And this AI here, this deep learning, there’s big
data, there’s scaling, you’re going to love it.
And for engineers that really work well. Okay.
And we’ll definitely put a link to that.
But that’s a great idea.
Just to pitch the company and pitch what you’re
going to be doing a day in the life.
Where did you get the idea for doing that?
I don’t know where it came from.
I think my Cofounder came up with it.
He’s very good at creating visual material and videos and
I just been including it in all my messages since.
That’s a great idea, just pitching the company.
I mean, so many times we see companies talking
about what they want and they’re talking about proprietary
systems or proprietary stuff in the job description.
It doesn’t mean a whole lot to a lot of other people.
You have to describe things to them that
are relevant to someone on the outside, why
they would want to come to you.
So it sounds like you’ve done that great. Good job.
And how’s all this been working?
How has the company been growing?
Are you getting a constant flow of people coming
to say, I’d like to work for you?
Is it working for you?
Yeah, we both have inbound and
we have also been using recruiters.
Of course, obviously there’s a price to using
recruiters that can be pretty steep for startup.
But we were twelve people in January last
year and now we are reaching 50.
So we have been growing pretty rapidly.
And I would say most of
those people are still outbound.
So we leverage Angelist leverage court here
in UK, we leverage Slack forums.
As I said earlier, newsletters.
They’re paid newsletters for different areas.
Like Alexa has a few paid newsletters.
There’s a few ones for deep learning and then you
can buy a small link, basically, like, we’re looking for
new hires and it cost you 100, $500.
But then you reach a pretty wide audience.
And it’s not just about finding people.
It’s also creating this, like, Mindshare that we exist.
We are part of the ecosystem that people start,
even if not looking today, when they look in
six months from now, twelve months from now, they
heard of us and it’s going to be much
easier for them to like, hit that V seven.
We heard about them before.
I want to check them out and
I want to see what they’re doing. Yes.
The message I’m trying to tell to a lot of companies
is like you said, you went from twelve to 50, correct.
You’re adding that many people in a year.
Do you hire four people or do you want to
hire five people or four people and pay recruiter fees?
It’s kind of a choice.
A lot of companies are made and it can
get expensive and you have to use them at
some point in time if you want to grow.
But you can eliminate a lot of those if you’re
doing some things that you are talking about here, let’s
go to Upwork Slack GitHub and just reach out to
people and think about doing marketing for candidates.
So good job. Yeah.
I just want to appreciate that some of the
recruiters we work with have been great and they
have found some really good talent as well.
The way I see it is that if you scale and if
you rate your candidates one to ten, use the recruiter to find
the nine to ten, the best of the best, then you can
use the rest of the pipeline for seven, eight, nine.
There’s no elimination of recruiters in this market.
There’s too much ban.
But companies need to do a whole lot more
to just keep people to start coming to them.
And also when recruiters find people for you,
that’s the last step to get them over
is everything that you’ve done already.
So everybody wants to be part of the culture like that.
So, yeah, good job.
So who should reach out to V seven a
little bit more about what you do, who you’re
trying to communicate with, either from company point of
view or candidate point of view. Yeah.
So if you’re interested, Jobs at
V Seven Labs.com is our email.
We’re looking for people that are proficient in
full stack, front end, back end, or deep
learning or a combination of them.
And the deep learning side is more of like
applied deep learning where you implement new things.
The R and D ports then later
turn into something in the company.
It’s a fairly interesting team.
We’ve grown pretty fast.
Most of us have five or more years experiences.
That’s fairly senior team and the amount of data
we’re getting in on a daily basis and the
way we’re scaling is creates a lot of interesting
scaling challenges, big data challenges and then trying to
keep up with the latest in deep learning at
the same time to try to help our customers
quickly solve their vision problems and data linking sounds
like a very exciting thing to be working on.
You guys are going to be very busy
for a good long time, I think. All right.
Well, thank you very much for your time today.
I appreciate it.
And we’ll be in touch you again soon. Okay. Thank you so much. Take care. Bye.