Last week on the show, we heard some insight into what a tight-knit company culture looks like. This week we will be getting some insight on how a company can preserve this culture on a large scale. On today’s episode of Powderkeg Igniting Startups, we welcome three entrepreneurs and human resources specialists to share how they get companies ready to expand, and how they keep culture thriving as the company grows.

First we have Co-Founder of Jana Fuelberth. She originally started in payroll sales, but quickly found herself trying to solve problems that would rise in the market. The technical side of wasn’t yet ready, but Fuelberth had a strong understanding of the market and where her company was going to fit. Kronos, in a partnership with, is helping the company thrive.

Next we have Zach Linder, who’s currently the Vice President of Analytics and Machine Learning at Canvas, a software for text-based interviewing. Linder originally came on to work at a 50 person consulting firm. When the firm went from 50 to 250, he needed to find a way to hire the right people. Linder works on the technical side of things. He makes programs that streamline the hiring process, while acquiring the ideal candidates.

Lastly we have Heather Haas, president of ADVISA. Haas began her career as a teacher. After a little soul searching, a predictive index placed her in a position to help train people in leadership roles. After a few years she was able to find a leadership role for herself. At ADVISA she helps over 300 companies optimize talent in the most efficient way possible.

In this episode we will learn what the employment market looks like today. More importantly we will be getting three unique perspectives on what techniques and technologies are optimizing the employment process.

In this episode with Jana Fuelberth, Heather Haas, and Zach Linder, you’ll learn:  

  • How to convey your company culture
  • What biases you need to avoid when interviewing a candidate  
  • The difference between liking a client, and them fitting well with the work  
  • What issues can arise between generations at a workplace
  • When to trust and when to ditch the data
  • How the Midwest stands out

Please enjoy this conversation with Jana Fuelberth, Heather Haas, and Zach Linder!



If you like this episode, please subscribe and leave us a review on iTunes. You can also follow us on Soundcloud or Stitcher. We have an incredible lineup of interviews we’ll be releasing every Tuesday here on the Powderkeg Podcast.

Quotes from this episode of Powderkeg podcast

Links and Resources Mentioned in this Episode

Companies and Organizations:










Wall Street Journal


Jana Fuelberth (@janaefuelberth)

Heather Haas (@ADVISAusa)

Zach Linder (@azlinder)

Did you enjoy this conversation? Thank Jana Fuelberth, Heather Haas and Zach Linder on Twitter!

If you enjoyed this session and have few seconds to spare, let Jana, Heather and Zach know via Twitter by clicking on the link below:

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Episode Transcript

Hey there powderkeg fans. This is episode 82 of powderkeg igniting startups, the show for entrepreneurs, leaders and innovators building remarkable tech companies in areas outside of Silicon Valley. I’m your host, Matt Hunckler. And today, we’ll be talking about how to build your team and create a vibrant company culture with three HR companies that are shaking up the way HR recruiting, employee engagement is done. One of the things that we found when we did our tech census last year, over 1000 people in the tech community were surveyed. And we found that the number one reason tech professionals chose to work at their company. And the number one reason they actually chose to leave as well as the same thing. It’s company culture, and finding and keeping talent is the biggest challenge. Most tech companies between the coasts face, and really every company is becoming a tech company. So it’s another interesting trend to pay attention to. I have three guests here today. Our first one is the president and co founder of analytically, Jana fuel birth. Next up, we have vice president of analytics and machine learning at Canvas, Zach Linder. And finally, we have the president of advisor Heather Haas. Thank you all for being here today.

Absolutely. Thanks. Nice, man.

Absolutely. I’m super excited to dive into some some topics here. But I thought maybe first, we could get a little bit of background and understand how each of us kind of got into this industry. And Jen, I’d love to start with you, sir. And hear a little bit of your backstory of how did you find yourself working in this HR tech space?

Yeah, absolutely. So my HR story starts about seven or eight years ago, and started actually in payroll sales. So today, when you open up a Forbes or an inc, or, you know, a powderkeg article, what you typically see are these headlines about attracting and retaining top talent, and how that’s really your competitive advantage. So I really started on the absolute, you know, kind of other side of that, which is paying people in payroll compliance,

pretty important thing to make sure happens at a company when it comes to engagement.

I think that that’s really where it starts with, but then there’s a lot of things that you can build off of that. So started at a company where we were selling servicing and implementing 13, different platforms, ADP, paychecks, Ceridian Kronos, infinite source, you name it. So it was a really great go to market model where you could match a company with what was best used for them, you would think that I would be able to say yes, more often. And so here’s how a payroll sales rep kind of stumbles into what is now a body of work and knowledge that a lot of people are passionate about, which is workforce analytics. Because even with all the best payroll, and HR systems and technologies, kind of in our toolkit, what we started seeing and hearing from our couple 100 customers was, I really need to understand how my people and my people data and information is driving business results. So there would be times when customers would be asking for data from their finance point of sale systems integrated with payroll and HR data. So we started saying yes, and yes, and yes to our customers. And what we realized is that, really, there wasn’t this kind of product or solution that could make it easier for employers of any size. So think about employers that 50 to 3000 employees, not, you know, fortune 1000 organizations. And, you know, I strongly believe that the best innovation comes from customer empathy, and with a couple 100 Customers kind of telling us that this was a good space to be in about two and a half years ago, we made the jump, and decided to really focus our efforts into launching analytically, which is a workforce analytics company. What was

that a tough decision for you personally, going from something you knew, and was structured and very known? Was that something that naturally you gravitated towards the unknown and something new? Or was this a little bit of a leap of faith?

Well, I think to some degree, I’m an analytical person naturally, but I had Oh, you know, over 350 groups that were kind of telling us that this was a space that we need to focus in, and, and I’m actually a non technical co founder of a SASS company. So I’ve kind of in my mind, bucketed out, you know, types of founders and I would say, I’m the epitome of the product market fit co founder. And so I am obsessed with listening to a customer and listening to a market and trying to find the right solution for that. So So yes, there’s always risk involved, but it just felt so Natural in really paying kind of homage and respect to the customers and what they were saying. And then the great thing was that wasn’t just customers saying that the markets really there for too.

Yeah, absolutely. Want to give a little bit of perspective of where you are now on the scale of analog analytically.

Yeah, absolutely. So two and a half years ago, we started finding beta customers with a blank sheet of white paper with some some PDFs. And then small visuals and graphs.

Were all great startups. Right, right. And

fast forward to today. About the time where I was holding up my PDF, Kronos incorporated caught wind of what we were doing, and really embraced our notion and understanding of where the market was going. So while we integrate with a lot of different solutions, Kronos was kind of the first big partner to give us their stamp of approval. So, two and a half years later, out of beta out of early adopter, just shy of of 100 customers and 25 members of our team, not only here in Indianapolis, but a couple on the coasts as well.

That’s awesome. Yeah, congrats on all the growth. Thanks. Thanks. Well, and you mentioned being the non technical founder. We’ve got some technical you’re in the room. And that’s Zach, who leads up all things? Well, I don’t want to minimize what you do, because I know you touch a lot. Exactly mine, maybe sharing how you got into what you’re doing at Canvas? Yeah, absolutely.

So I think, kind of a similar story for us. And so the roots of Canvas come from, we didn’t really desire or have the plan to end up in HR. It’s just, we were all at apparatus previously. And we went from, let’s say, 50 to 250 people in the course of a couple of years. And so we had to deal with how do you scale people, right, we are a consulting firm. And we need a lots of not only good, but great people. And that’s really hard to find. And what we found is that not only is it hard to run and build a consulting firm, but it’s really hard to keep and maintain those awesome people. So we we focused on building great solutions for our customers. But we realized there wasn’t a great way to reach out to candidates. So we are still using paper resumes we are calling them. And no part of that felt good. There’s no record really, of any of this. And so after, after the acquisition of apparatus, we were thinking, what can we do? What’s next? And this just kind of fell in fell in our laps as far as what’s a good way to scale an organization? And what are the tools that we can use to build that and we knew how to build tools. We knew how to scale organization. So we put the two together. And that’s that’s the birth of Canvas.

What was the big aha, for you? Because I know you started out looking at all the pain points, right? Yeah, absolutely.

I think I don’t think I don’t know that there was an aha moment as much as when we finally launched in, in June 2017. And, and people were actually using the service we got picked up, right. The Wall Street Journal picked us up, CNBC picked us up and people started saying this is awesome. We love this. And we thought, well, that’s great. Let’s keep doing it. So we thought it could have been a short ride, but it ended up lasting a lot longer than then than we potentially could have expected. So super excited about that. And now here we are. A couple years down the road, we’ve got almost a couple 100 customers, we’ve got people who just love texting, they a lot of recruiters are telling us that they’re not really picking up the phone anymore. It’s just all texting.

Talk to me a little bit about what the experience is, like, from a product standpoint, if you’re using Canvas as a customer.

Yeah, absolutely. So. So as a recruiter, I, if I’m thinking about the traditional world where I’m gonna pick up the phone, I’m gonna spend 15 minutes on a phone screen, right? So it’s basic math, how many of these can you get done a day, you can send out emails, but you don’t get great response rates with email. So what’s another alternative and text messaging just so happens to be the way right, so that’s what we pride ourselves on, we’re texting a text based interviewing platform. But think about all the positives of text, it’s asynchronous, meaning you don’t have to be online at the same time, you can text back and forth at your own convenience. You can text multiple people at a time, right? So you can be maintaining 10 2050 interviews at once you can blast email, you can blast text in a very similar way, right? But your blast texts get a way better response rate than those blasts of email. So as a customer, I’m going to plan out my day, I want to I want to find these individuals, I want to identify who’s a great fit for this particular job. And then I’m going to blast them all with a text, I’m gonna send them all a one to one individual message, I can put them through an automated text screen. And then at the end of the day, what do I want, I want to reduce my time to fill and I want to reduce my time that I’m spending on unnecessary tasks. And texting allows us to build that automation capability build that workflow capability that allows me to plan more of my day, less of spending spending time on 15 minute phone calls that may or may not yield a fantastic candidate.

So that’s why I didn’t want to say that you’re in machine learning And you’re anything like that, because you clearly could sell a product to Yeah,

absolutely. Hey, I appreciate that. Yeah, we’re a small startup we have to do every role.

I love it. Well and recent news. Well, relatively recent news, cannabis was acquired by job bite.

Yeah, I think that’s the best product validation that you can have, we had this great product, partner in Job bite. And they have a fantastic product. And they didn’t have a really good messaging platform in the form of texting. And they knew that this is where the market was going. And so even before acquisition, we were close partners with them had a great relationship, picked up tons of clients from them. It’s a really easy sell to existing clients where they’re in the they’re in ATS and an applicant tracking system. And so a lot of our clients, it was just an easy sell, let’s just hey, do you want texting now, Canvas integrates. And that partnership quickly turned into, you know, an acquisition target. And that’s, that’s fantastic news for us. And now, we’ve grown since then about 60% of our team. We’re 60% Bigger. We’ve now got our second office. And we’re hoping to this forward Exactly, exactly right down the hall, but and looking to continue to grow in every area of the business.

That’s awesome, man. Congrats. Thank you. Yeah, I’m sure you’re seeing a lot too, because I know cannabis was one of four companies acquired at the same time by job. Right, exactly. And there’s a whole ecosystem there of technology that I’m sure you’re learning a lot from

it is, you know, this is the the fantastic problem that we’ve got, right? We’ve got four fantastic companies and four fantastic roadmaps. And now how do we combine them all together? And I think one thing that we’ve really excelled at in Canvas is, how do we build something quickly, and get it out and get in the market? We know cycle has lasted more than a couple of weeks for us. In fact, we’ve got this fantastic new drip feature that’s coming out this this next week that we’re super excited about. But how do we kind of take that very lean engineering cycle and get that into all the other products and make sure that the Canvas platform extends across all four of these fantastic companies?

Absolutely. That’s awesome, man. And I would love to dive in maybe some of the perspective you’ve gained from having all those different views into the industry. Yeah. But first, I’d love Heather, to get some of your perspective on this, I really look at you as like someone that’s looking at everything, because I know you use a lot of technology use a lot of tools and data. We’re super happy to be partnered with you at powderkeg. Likewise, I’ve taken my predictive index. Excellent. So as the rest of my team, and I think we’ve got a meeting next week to go through some of those results. But would you mind maybe sharing for those that haven’t heard of advisor? How you came to be an advisor and and really grow this? Agency? Yeah, absolutely.

So my background is a bit unusual in that I was a teacher and a principal prior to getting into the business world. So I was really focused on helping people reach their potential when I was in that environment. And passionate about how leadership had the power to transform a school environment. And it was actually through taking the predictive index and having somebody sit down with me and walk me through my personality and how I’m wired, where I started to think beyond education. And my path, actually out of education was right into advisor. I was Yeah, I was really so amazed by the data into my motivating needs, that I learned through the predictive index that I jumped over and started training. I was training leaders and managers across all industries, for a lot of years before the opportunity for me to step into a leadership role opened up. But it’s amazing. The work that we do now is we work with about 350 companies across all industries, who all have the same challenge, which is they have a business strategy that they put in place at the beginning of the year. And they have metrics that they’re looking to hit at the end of the year. And each leader is trying to figure out how do we optimize the talent in between to actually help us get where we’re trying to go more profitably and more successfully. So advisor is focused on helping leaders do exactly that optimize their talent.

Well, and we have so many companies in the powderkeg community that are partnered up with you. Yeah. And just rave about what you’re doing. So I’m super excited to be working with you. Yeah. Likewise, out of the two startup pit, you know, stories that you’ve heard here, how do how do those kind of fit into some of the trends that you’re seeing working with all these companies?

Yeah, I think one of the most significant things that we see, especially in the startup community and scale up community, is as you’re growing, and as you get momentum, you need people. And as you grow in the number of people that you have, people often overlook it, but you need managers, you need the next level, and even the mid level folks who know how to engage and optimize the talent of those folks. So figuring out how to develop frontline leaders mid level leaders is actually A huge challenge that we’re seeing across the board, not just with growing startups, but actually, every company, you’ve got demographics that have 10,000 boomers exiting the workforce every day. And what that means is there just aren’t enough leaders who are really ready, or have the skills to really step in and be able to take people on their teams, put together the right teams manage people in a way that gets optimum performance. So that leadership development challenge is really very, very universal. From our perspective.

Yeah, absolutely. Janet, how are our leaders currently using analytically? And when they’re looking at their their team analytics? What are some of the key insights that they’re taking away from the platform? Oh, absolutely.

So it really depends in the type of work that an organization is doing. So one of our customers is a not for profit that has multiple locations. And the way that they’ve used it to really understand team dynamics is you can tell a lot about how engaged in employee is at work based on if they’re showing up on time. If they’re productive while they’re at work, how long they stay in a role, do they move around location to location. So in one of our use cases, we were actually able to identify, not the kind of general, you know, hey, we need help in Manager Development. But more of these three managers need help in Manager Development. A lot of times to to piggyback off of what Heather was saying is generations in the workforce is an always will be a conversation for anybody in the talent space. And not only do we have a new generation of leaders and managers, but we have a new generation of leaders and managers, who are more likely to manage people in elder generations. So how do you take a millennial? And how do you have them manage boomers, or Gen X manage a boomer or a boomer, you know, in the reverse, manage a millennial, so a lot of times we do some generations in the workplace, myth busting, you know, because Millennials actually aren’t turning over as fast as baby boomers and they are just as committed, it just might not feel that way. Right. But some some key themes in ways that, you know, there’s there’s data, and then there’s the information and insight you can pull from it. Very

cool. The kinds of data that you’re pulling at advisor, Heather, what are some of those sort of tried and true tools? Like, for instance, I know, we just took that predictive index, yeah. How are you using that kind of information from even just when someone’s coming on to the team standpoint, understanding how they’re going to fit into the culture?

Absolutely. So the predictive index includes both behavioral and cognitive assessment. The behavioral assessment is powerful in that it provides insight into how someone is motivated. So if you think about that, from a job fit perspective, part of what you’re able to do is benchmark the cognitive and behavioral requirements in a job independent of people. So you use that insight to match the right people to the right roles. And then once you have that information, you can pull that through into onboarding, and ensuring that onboarding experiences are really meeting the needs of the individual employee, you can pull that through into Team integration. So adding a new member of the team changes the dynamics. So how do you put that information about how people are wired, often differently from each other? How do you put that information into the hands of the manager, and the team, the members of the team to really use that, and then couple that with training and skill building so that people actually know how to communicate effectively across the generations. And you know, it’s interesting as the rise of data, big data in the HR space in every space, as you said, you know, every company is a technology company these days. But what we noticed in that is, as managers, and people in general have to use data more effectively to make decisions and interact. Sometimes they overlay on the data. So the importance of the soft skills and the importance of being able to still give feedback and have a conversation and display empathy during challenging times. That’s really that leadership development piece that when you couple that with the good use of data and analytics. I think that’s where we’re seeing a lot of our clients start to have a competitive edge.

Yeah, absolutely. Well, and from the data standpoint, I know that’s kind of squarely where you’re focused. Zakka absolutely endless. And the fact that every all the communication is literally in text, which I’m sure is searchable and measurable apps, what are some of the pieces of data that you pulled that are really empowering the recruiters.

Yeah. So if you think about how a conversation goes, a lot of times, you would like to think that it’s pretty unique. But in reality, it’s pretty standard. And it might not be standard across the board. But it’s pretty standard to you, you’re going to use the same language, the same terms, the same phrases. And they’ll show up again and again. So what we’ve been doing is, because we’ve got all this great messaging, right, so we’ve got millions of pieces of content. And we can mind through that and understand what are the what is the content and context in each of these messages? What are the topics and categories that are coming up again, and again? So if you’re thinking about how do I take not only what has been said globally, but what’s been said locally to you, and using your voice and your language to be able to recreate yourself, right, almost. So when we’re providing recommendations, it’s not just those recommendations, that someone else has said at some point in time, it’s, it’s using your voice your tone, to make it feel like that’s that much softer of a bot. Right? So it’s still a bot like experience. It’s a workflow experience, but it’s one that still has the, the makeup and look and feel of your own voice in your own language. So lots of interesting things, right? We have we’ve had millions and millions of interviews across all the companies in the last couple of years, right? Just if you think about locally, and how much of that has been documented very, very little. And we’ve documented every single conversation that we’ve ever had. And so now we’re able to take that documentation and and understand what is the process? What’s the pattern? What does a standard flow look like? So when someone comes in from from a career fair, and then ends up going through an interviewing process, and then an onboarding process, and then first couple of weeks of employee engagement, what is that process? And what can we do to make that better? What can we do to to find? Who are the ones that are really successful, each step of the process? Who are the ones that are getting that really good response rate? Who are the ones that are really engaging with each of those customers and those candidates? And then how can we take that and turn that into a more effective overall solution beginning to end any

big insights or secrets you’ve uncovered? powderkeg love, ya

know what’s, so I think one thing is, it’s way easier to end a conversation via text than it is on a phone call, right? So if you think about time saving, it’s hard to get off of a phone, call the person on the other end of the phone, they want a job, right, and they want to talk to you and they’re gonna keep you on the line. If you’re texting with somebody, that’s that’s an easier thing to do. Right. And so if you’re thinking from time saving, that’s that’s definitely a way to do that. I think. Some other interesting stats are just the text response rates we’ve got, we’re not sure how we this particular customer of ours, over 600 messages and or 600 candidates, I’m sorry, and a 94% response rate. So I don’t have 600 friends, but if I had 600 friends and sent them all a text, I would not get a 94% response rate. So I think the the most exciting thing for us is just the the amount of people that are engaging via text back with our customers.

Yeah, I’d be very interested in knowing what that initial text was that got that response, right. I’m sure it wasn’t. So

yeah, it was a little a little more in depth than that. And, and, but yet very effective. Right. And so that’s the key, how do you how do you hone that message and measure it over time? And if you’re using that exact same message again and again, then you can really get some good stats on that? Yeah, absolutely.

And Heather, I’m sure a lot of what you work with with these companies is, is a little bit of like the messaging and how you communicate, not just with the team, but with potential new team members.

Absolutely. So with the job assessment and benchmarking behaviors, for certain jobs, that process really produces kind of a roadmap or a list of kind of hot buttons that you might want to push as your recruiting reaching out to attract the right kind of candidate. You know, one of the interesting statistics that we found in our engagement research is that 59% of the difference in engagement scores, across companies across individuals has to do with job fit. So part of job fit is in fact, finding the people who have the right background skills experience to do the job. But we all know after you bring somebody on board, you start to really see job fit more as how do they fit in with the team and how are they behaving? I mean, yeah, they’re hitting their number, but I wish they were a little more a little smoother in their communication. So those nuances, that’s what the predictive index data will bring to that job fit process and really being able to recruit and market a position using words and phrases that are most likely to attract exactly the kind of person who is motivated by the environment and the kind of work that they would be doing in that job. So we’re all wired up a little differently in that way, but that’s, that’s a nuanced I think that PII brings, that’s pretty powerful. When you’re using that in terms of how you market and reach out.

I imagine that particularly talking with Startups and high growth tech companies where there’s just more open roles. And there are candidates in the market right now that it might be kind of hard to get them to see that paradigm shift of, you’re not looking for just anyone that will fill this role. Where it might feel like a little bit of a scarcity mentality out there when you’re looking at talent, how do you talk to them? How you talk to companies to make sure they understand why it’s important to have the right more important to have the right person than to just have a person fill this role right away?

Yeah, usually the people’s ears really perked up after they’ve been burned on the backside of settling for anybody, only to have that not work out. So the cost of turnover, and especially in a startup environment where every single person counts, and everybody’s time is so important to the team hitting their goals. So unfortunately, sometimes our clients learn through the school of hard knocks. Yeah. But the other thing that’s really important, too, that we help our leaders think about is that in the same way that you’re marketing to fill a job, you also need to be marketing your culture. So candidates today are really looking to do meaningful work. And they’re looking to join organizations that are inspiring, and where their needs are met. And so we do a lot of coaching around how do you design an intentional culture that is going to help you more quickly achieve your business goals, and is going to connect with the right kind of people who are going to come in, it’s going to feel right for you for them. And the fit will be there from day one?

That’s so awesome. Yeah, I know, for a fact in the tech industry that replacement costs of a role is anywhere between 50 to 250%. To their salary. Yeah. Which is just crazy. And then you talk about a startup like that’s,

you might be dead. Yeah, exactly. There is a time for a lot of that. Yeah,

absolutely. Well, and Jana, I’m, I’m sure, I’m sure you don’t have like exact access into all of your customers data analytically, but I’m sure you talk to them a lot. And they’re looking at their data. Are there any kind of like big takeaways that you’ve seen that that sort of, are our sort of aha was and like maybe leading indicators of trends in talent and hiring?

Absolutely. I think you made a comment about scarcity mentality. And many of the organizations that we’re working with are highly transactional, hourly focused workers. So kind of compare analytically, typical software, startup crew, right, a lot of software engineers and sales folks and marketing and customer experience, folks, but working in these, you know, manufacturing, distribution, healthcare, hospitality, very hourly workers. I mean, I watched the jobs report every single month, to see how good or bad or how easy or hard or harder it’s going to be for our customers to find great talent. I mean, 3.8% unemployment last month, and 169,000 new jobs added. So basically, that’s what we’re saying there is there’s less people looking for work, and more people needed. So especially in to Heather’s point. I think that not only are, you know, knowledge workers, but then also operationally intensive work, work oriented organizations are learning very quickly the value of doing and a recruitment and onboarding process correctly. Because the more the turnover happens, the more that the production line shuts down, or the patients aren’t taken care of, or a good or service isn’t delivered. And I think we’re going to see this more and more as unemployment continues to stay low, and more operationally intensive jobs are created. I mean, I think that you can also see the headlines about, you know, how much of our how much of our day to day operational business is going to be replaced by robots, but at the same time in the cities and states that we’re traveling to see customers, I don’t see robots replacing tons of people anytime soon. But in the meantime, really thinking about how we attract and retain all types of talent is just so crucial.

Well, I know that that shift of automation isn’t just going to eliminate some jobs is also going to create new jobs. And I think that goes back to that. I mean, that’s a different perspective on the scarcity mentality when you’re looking at it from the talent standpoint. I love I love that you share those metrics because it really does kind of show you know if you’re a professional in it or even an operational worker, there there is more demand than there is

more on talent is real despite type of organization size of or connotation that you are

Yeah, totally. And so just knowing that you can slow down and say, obviously, there’s the reality of like, you need to get paid in order to pay your bills. But at the same time, if you’re going to choose how you’re going to spend your hours a 10, for your startup CEO 16 hours a day


I’m definitely not glorifying the the amount of work. But if you’re going to spend that much time, you may as well be doing something you love, and where you have a great culture fit. I’m curious from a text message standpoint, if if there, there’s some things that your recruiters are doing to determine that culture fit. Or even if there are tools that I know I’m and we had him on the show here, maybe a few dozen episodes ago, that CEO canvas, and one of the features he was talking about that I was super excited about was the ability to kind of strip out some of the things that might suggest what demographic you’re a part of, and yep, what your ethnographic background might be, in order to create a more unbiased, that’s the word of

Yeah, so yeah, it’s a it’s how, whether we want to or not, there’s a lot of bias introduced into the system, right. And so there are so many keywords to that we just see every day that, that you don’t even realize that you’re making inferences already on a particular candidate. So we have this super awesome feature that, that we take a resume, we scan it, and we run it against multiple databases, we got some learning involved in there, too. And we strip out all those words that might introduce some bias. So anything like if you were to say something like softball or football that are traditionally either female or male, sports, or if you’re to say that I was a member of a fraternity or sorority, or even a member of a church or some type of religious affiliation? How do we how do we find all those meaningful words that that mean a lot to that person, we don’t want to strip it from the resume, we want to maintain its presence there. But we also want to de identify that as much as possible. So when you get a stack of resumes put in front of you, you get to look at the what are those true qualifications and the core qualifications of the individual, not those, not those outliers that the person who’s reading them might not realize it, but but there’s bias being built in your head. And, and not that it’s done with malice or mal intent. It’s just that that’s something that if we can level the playing ground, we’d like to have the opportunity to do that.

Yeah, I love it. I love that your tool does that. And it makes me think of a question that I heard recently that made me kind of have the question of like, how do you kind of differentiate, it seems like, especially at the early stage of a startup, right, the the, the sort of urge to simplify culture as like, oh, like, I can get along with this guy. Like, at any minute, just insane that like, there’s inherent bias and saying, like, I can get along with this guy, like, I can see grabbing beers with this guy, I can see grab, like playing basketball with this guy, like he’d be a good culture fit because we get along. But that’s not actually what culture is, when you dig into the science of creating a great culture. How do you differentiate some of those, like, more sort of, and I would even say, like human urges to kind of say, well, well, I like this person. So therefore, they’re a good culture fit versus really taking a systematic approach. And I know this is a lot of what you have to do as an advisor, Heather, so that’s why I’m looking at you to to lead this Convo. But I’m sure both of you, Jana and Zack, feel free to chime in anytime.

Yeah, absolutely. I think one of the things we like to kind of teach in some of our leadership development programming is that your core values can serve as the pillars of your culture. A lot of times people don’t know where to begin to define an intentional culture. And so the fallback is, I just go with what I like. And you know, it’s what you were describing we the culture becomes the manifestation of hanging out with people we like or working with people that we like. Whereas if you step back as a leader and say, what really matters about how we interact with our customers, what hills are we going to die on here in terms of how our employees interact with one another. And you can actually help a leadership team distill some core values, and then even get it to the point where those core values can get into behavioral terms. Now you have some objectivity around what is the culture? How do we define it? How do we recognize examples of people displaying these behaviors that align with our culture? Now you can start to design interview questions that tag back to the pillars of the culture rather than interviewing someone just to see if we fit or we like each other. It’s really about fitting with what’s important to the culture of the business. And that culture has been defined the way that it has because it’s not only so sort of the, the way the leadership sees the company kind of evolving, but it’s also anchored in the strategic plan, your culture kind of has a lot to do with what you’re trying to accomplish as a business. So yeah, so you’ve got to sync those things up. But you’d be surprised actually how often we work with companies, they have a great strategic plan. But they haven’t really been intentional about defining and aligning the culture to that plan. And so they’ve actually got a disconnect between the culture that they’re trying to create is at odds with some of the business strategies or metrics that they’re trying to achieve. Yeah. So

it’s funny that you started with values. Yeah. Which is as as as you were asking the question, Matt, I was thinking, yep. And then we asked this question around this value. And as we’re on, give me an example, sure. So So one of our values is acting like an owner. So and having ownership because work life balance is so important in the care of the teammate is so important. That said, we always want people to be thorough and intentional and leave something better than where they found it. And then also be willing to do any task in any role within the organization. So we’re always asking questions, we have, you know, one that’s team. So that’s really focused on, you know, making sure that we’re caring for one another and having that work life balance, but ownership is more of, you know, how bought in Are you How committed are you to, to the group. And so I think values for sure have been really helpful in us kind of having a guiding light for our culture. I also have to tell kind of a funny story. So my business partner, and I, Cory, could not be and if any of our team actually listens to this, this is where they’ll laugh, we could not be more different. I mean, literally, we took an assessment when we started working together. And here’s Cory, and here’s Jana, in the hands of this fact, right? In the practitioner looked at us and said, Okay, so if you guys are really going to do this, it’s either that you’re gonna be wildly successful or absolutely fail. Because it because he said the path to the wild success is the fact that you clearly share the same values. But you’re just so different. Where as you hire that will, there will never be that bias of, oh, you’re a lot like me. And I’m Jana. So let’s have a whole team worth of Jana. So there’s always a quarry and a Jana element to that. So it’s really kind of forced us to have a really nice diverse group of people and thought processes, but it makes business partnership fun to.

Absolutely. I experienced a little bit of that myself with powderkeg. Yeah. Yeah, it’s very, it’s very cool to see though. And if you just take any sample set of successful startups, you usually do have that kind of like balancing yin and yang, for sure. But of course, at the end of the day, alignment on the values

exactly. Everyone needs to be kind of coming from the same place, the way that that shows up. Yeah, might look different. Yeah.

Do devalues plan at all? And how, how you kind of thought through the text message. First approach? Because I imagine even just using text in general, is potentially like filtering in some way.

Yeah, I think, if you were to, to think about you go to an interview, or you talk to someone at a potential employer, what are you looking for? And you might want to have to feel that culture, when you walk in the building, you might want to see a cool office space, or some free drinks and snacks and things like that. Right? What are the things you can just get with a glance? But it’s also how did the process go? Did it feel very jointed? Or was it very disjointed? What were the tools that they used? Did they have you fill out the form and fax it to somebody? Or did you? How did you do your information collection? Yeah, exactly. But that’s and that’s what we’re trying to to facilitate with texting, right. It’s not only showing that this is a better way to meet your customers and candidates where they are, but how do you kind of move your company into a different area and differentiate yourself and if the candidate is comfortable, and not everyone is, but a lot are, in fact, most are. But if they’re comfortable with texting, that that can be an indicator that this company is trying something new, they’re trying something different. I wonder what else they’re doing. And so, from that perspective, a texting really helps build that, that cultural element from a from a first perspective, viewpoint on how this company might be something different and something that I should really investigate. You know,

I think it’s really cool just to kind of think through that. And I imagine you’re just looking at all kinds of data. It is,

you know, one fun thing is culturally is one of our Uh, easiest yet most love features was Bitmojis and emojis. So our customers love it like when when we go out and, and do a demo or help them get implemented, and they see the emoji keyboard, they love it, and they’re sending emojis back and forth. And what a great way to not only express your interest in the candidate, but to let them know kind of what kind of environment this is, right? If you’ve got your own Bitmoji that you’re sharing, and the candidate seeing that and they’re responding back with their Bitmojis, or their different emojis or icons or whatever it is that they’re sharing back with us get these, you know, all kinds of things. I think that that starts from the beginning of very fun, work, workplace experience,

you know, one thing I could tag on there, that’s really interesting, because we’re in this space of understanding kind of personality differences. There are some people who are very bright, very qualified, but they may not interview as well, they don’t naturally bring the type of personality to sell themselves. What you’re doing at Canvas in, you know, reaching out initially through text and removing a lot of that bias actually allows more analytical heads down less socially oriented people to shine sooner in the process, because you’re able to really cut through the relational elements of an interview, which is really important. But earlier in the process, it’s most important to figure out a Am I reaching people who bring the kind of background and skills that we need, and then be are we effectively and efficiently figuring out if they have the right stuff, then as they progress through the process, I think that’s where some of those more behavioral relational, fit type pieces come into play, but huge differences in terms of how personality impacts someone’s ability to get the job, which is totally different than doing the job.

Yeah, and I have a great use case on this. So I always like to recruit on behalf of our customers, when when they will allow that to happen just so that way we’re using the tool and we understand how it works. But this particular all we are looking for an IT individual and we narrowed it down to 10 candidates, we use cannabis, we narrowed it down to four very quickly via text. And then I’m doing a more in depth text interview with each of the individuals. And I liked them. Also, we got them on the phone as the next step to go with the in depth interview with the with the customer. And one of the individuals who was actually my favorite was by far the worst, was the worst phone interview. But he had by far the best text answers. And he was slower in his responses. But his responses were super thorough, grammatically perfect which which could or could not be indicator that you’re looking for. But but he was very different in texts than what he came off in that phone interview. If the phone interview would have been the first step, he never would have made it to the next step. But because of that, he was able to make it through the process. And and we talk a lot about introverts versus extroverts and how this format gives somebody the ability to, to take their time to really think about that question and then respond to it in a way that not everyone’s quick on their feet and can’t answer that same way on the phone. Yeah,

some interesting themes that we see in in talent right now, kind of almost battle one another, you see the theme of individual individualization, which means come greet me where I want to how I want to come to me, I want to pick a culture that fits me. But then concurrent to that, we’re also looking about removing bias. So it’s, it’s it’s removing bias through the through the selection process. That’s mutual, but then also coming to the user, which is the applicant or the employee exactly where they want to be met. So I think it’s it’s, you made a comment about big data finally coming to HR and I would say yes, finally, coming to HR, because it feels like the business world has really woken up to I mean, people are really the competitive advantage.

Well, and we all happen to share something in common, which is that we have some headquarters here in Indianapolis, right in the middle of the country. And I’m curious, as we wrap up here, if there’s maybe one interesting opportunity or challenge that you see and maybe not even just Indianapolis, but communities like Indianapolis that aren’t in in the Bay Area, or aren’t in New York City or one of these bigger cities in the country. Any Have you seen any trends or data from your personal point of view?

So I was with I was with a customer yesterday, and I won’t name states. But I will say that that Midwesterners get this reputation because my my previous business we were very hyper focused in Indiana alone. And then now with our channels, we can get slingshotted to Alaska or Florida or you know, kind of all over the United States. And the one theme that I continue to hear and I heard it again yesterday is man you guys are the Midwest. Just care, and we can’t get you to quit working. So I think that that, that there’s been, you know, kind of this, this, this understanding of, you know, we really do need to put our best foot forward as a region and saying, there’s a lot of people that really care and are thorough and take ownership in their work, but then also work really, really, really hard.

Yeah, I think actually, it’s more myth busting that we need to do related to some of the stereotypes that you get about, you know, companies in the Midwest, I completely agree with how you just described the perception of a Midwestern kind of work ethic. The other thing I think that’s so incredible about Indianapolis is or cities like Indianapolis, not on the coasts, is that when young professionals come here, the access and influence that you have in a community like this, to actually get to talk to the CEO, or get involved in something in the community and actually have a voice. I mean, that that isn’t something you get in San Francisco or New York City, necessarily India is special in that not only do you have the the carrying the traditional Midwestern values, the lower, you know, cost of living. But you also get the benefit of that, you know, smaller feel, and having having great access and being able to be involved at a different level. I think then if you’re in a bigger market, yeah,

I totally agree. Anything to add Zack?

Yeah, I think this is a you know, the Midwest is a fantastic place. I think we’re executors and that’s what we like, and that’s what we want to do. And we want to work hard. But we’ve also got great parking, in comparison to other places that, but But yeah, I think if you look at talent, not everybody has to go to Harvard, right? Not everybody has to go to MIT, you still have lots of amazing individuals that go to a lot of different universities, just like you don’t have to be on the coasts to go do something awesome and successful.

Yeah, I totally agree with that. And obviously super passionate about this, and really grateful for all of you to join us. Here on the show today, we do have an awesome event coming up. That is in Indianapolis, Indiana, if you’re in the area, or if you just want to visit the number one best airport in the country and fly in for the event. It will be May 1, it is an HR tech event. And you can hear more about Canvas and analytically there. And I’m sure we’ll have lots of representation from advisor as well. Absolutely. So very much looking forward to that. Of course, if you’re interested, check it out at powder And for show notes and more information on the companies you heard here today. Check it out on powder and navigate over to the podcast and to be among the first to hear the stories about entrepreneurs, investors and other tech leaders outside of Silicon Valley. Subscribe to us on iTunes at and we’ll catch you next time on powderkeg igniting startups