27 May 2019

The Equalture Story (6): Why we stopped selling a product and started selling the story we fell in love with.

The Equalture Story. A series of stories to give you a look behind the scenes of our company. Milestones. Failures. Lessons we’ve learned. Just the honest story about a SaaS startup trying to conquer the world.

In this blog: Why we stopped selling a product and start selling the story we desperately fell in love with.

I started building Equalture from the ground together with my twin sister two years ago. A product company. Before we started this company we already founded a service company in 2016 (a recruitment agency focused on female financials). Quite a different game with quite different rules. Different goals. And a different midset.

A product company: So it’s all about features, right?

I think every founder of a product company will agree on this: When building a (tech) product, you desperately fall in love with it from the very first second you start sketching its fundament: Its look and feel, its goal ánd of course the features that enables customers to achieve this goal. And that last thing might also be your biggest pitfall. Or it last it was (and is) our biggest pitfall.

Stage 1: 26 sheets of paper.

I will never forget the evening that Fleur (my co-founder) and I sat on the floor with 26 sheets of paper around us. That was our fundament. On these 26 sheets of paper we worked out the ultimate pain point we had experienced in the recruitment industry. The way we evaluate candidates. We wrote down every single act that could negatively influence how a recruiter evaluates a candidate (and yes, literally évery single act). The result: our 26-sheets-of-paper-fundament. Or at least the start of it.

Stage 2: The solution to our 26-sheets-of-paper-problem.

Now we had figured out the problem we wanted to solve. Cool, because that’s step one. I don’t believe that a company can be successful if it isn’t based on a problem you’ve faced yourself. So I think we had at least one of the recipes for a successful company.

The next step was prioritizing and combining all of these 26 sheets of paper together to see whether we could discover a relation between them. To discover whether the different acts had an underlying theme. And thank god they had. Data.

Stage 3: From solution to product.

Data was our golden ticket, because we were able to link 21 out of 26 sheets of paper to this:

  • We gathered the wrong (or at least not enough) data when we let candidates apply to our jobs;
  • We didn’t standardize the data we’ve gathered from candidates;
  • We didn’t try to find a pattern to build a conclusion on the data we’ve gathered;
  • We wrongfully mixed our bias with the data we’ve gathered;
  • And we didn’t use previous data to predict future outcomes of these data.

So we just needed to build a product that would enable recruiters to (1) gather the right data, (2) standardize this data to (3) find a pattern and use this pattern to (4) objectively predict the future outcome of a candidate. And that was it, our golden ticket!

Here comes the pitfall.

So far so good, right? Well, this is the moment where it gets tricky (for us). Point 1, 2 and 3 mentioned above became the features of our product that enabled our ultimate feature, point 4. Because that’s what our product is all about: predicting a candidate’s future performance.

But why? Why is that what our product is all about? Why does it make you as a recruiter, HR manager or founder happy to predict a candidate’s future performance?

And that last ‘why’ is where your story should start. Where our story should start.

Don’t aim for a good first impression. Aim for love at first sight.

We were so badly focused on a good first impression that we lost track of what should be our actual goal: Letting people instantly fall in love with our story.

All we did was selling features. Selling all of the cool stuff that we had to offer companies. And yes, of course that’s nice to share, because you’re extremely proud of what you’ve managed to build so far. But it’s not the features that will make people fall in love with your company. It’s the story behind it.

And although I don’t know whether I can say this about my own company, but I think it’s a pretty cool story. It’s a story about a Dutch tech startup aiming to turn the recruitment industry upside down. Because we believe we all can and should do better than what we’re currently doing.

HR isn’t just a thing we do.

That night when we were surrounded by our 26 sheets of paper Fleur and I read a quote online. It stated the following:

HR isn’t just a thing we do. It’s the thing that runs our businesses.

And I truly believe every single word of that quote. We might have the best ideas in the world. We might have the coolest plans to brings these ideas to live. However, without a team that aims for the moon your business will never fly.

So that’s what Equalture does. We help you take off and make your business fly. And yes, our technology helps you to do so by predicting a candidate’s success, but that’s just the fuel you need to let your business take off.

For me that’s the power of storytelling.

Cheers, Charlotte