Sunny Saurabh, CEO of interviewer.ai, unveils the compelling journey of how his company is modernizing the recruitment landscape. By automating the initial round of interviews and offering stack ranking of candidates, Interviewer.ai offers businesses and universities a revolutionary way to streamline the hiring process.
Here’s what listeners will explore:
- 🤖 The Digital Recruiter: Sunny discusses the genesis of Interviewer.ai, the inspiration behind the platform, and its evolution as a “smart video recruiter.”
- 💼 Shaping Tomorrow’s Workforce: How top universities in Singapore are leveraging Interviewer.ai to train their students for job interviews, especially those not fluent in English.
- 📈 Rapid Growth: The impressive uptake from 700+ customers within a few months on the AppSumo marketplace and the expansion into serving global giants.
- 🎯 The Right Fit: Understanding the primary use case for Interviewer.ai in high volume recruitment and why it might not be the perfect fit for high-level executive recruitment.
- 📡 Inbound Success: Sunny dives into the successful channels that drive their customer acquisition, emphasizing the power of content marketing and organic search.
- 💰 Monetizing AI: Learn about the company’s revenue models, average deal size, and how they adapted to the seasonality of recruitment.
- 🚀 The Road Ahead: Sunny talks about the vision for Interviewer.ai, including the planned expansion to Europe, the U.S., and the imminent funding rounds.
- 🔧 Integration Magic: A sneak peek into the future collaborations, including a game-changing integration with Microsoft Teams.
- 🌍 Scaling Globally: Discover the challenges and aspirations of serving a global clientele, especially with a significant customer base in the U.S.
Join us as Sunny delves deep into the transformation of recruitment, highlighting the incredible benefits of asynchronous AI interviews in today’s remote-working era.
[00:00:00] Sunny Saurabh: we have about, uh, 22 enterprise customers. And most of them are using us for high volume, uh, roles
[00:00:06] Upendra Varma: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the B2B SaaS podcast. I'm your host Upendra Verma and today we have Sunny Saurav with us. Sunny here is the CEO of a company called interviewer. ai. Hey, Sunny, welcome to the show.
[00:00:17] Sunny Saurabh: Thanks, Avindra. Thanks for having me.
[00:00:19] Upendra Varma: Yes. And so can you explain, right? So what your company does and why customers pay you money?
[00:00:26] Sunny Saurabh: Sure. So we are interviewer. ai as you introduced. Um, we are called a smart video recruiter. Um, and basically what that means is we kind of automate the first round of interview for businesses and for universities. Um, and we do it in three stages. Basically, we do something called a resume scoring. Uh, we do something called a work map, uh, skill assessment.
[00:00:51] Sunny Saurabh: And then, um, we record video responses and analyze that for soft skills. Uh, so in total, we are able to stack rank hundreds of candidates. [00:01:00] To allow, uh, the recruiter or the hiring manager to shortlist the top two, three to four, uh, candidates, um, for in person interview. So there's actually something called a human interview and an AI interview now, and that's the world we are living in.
[00:01:17] Upendra Varma: And so is this, is this first round, is it completely automated? So do I sit in front of my computer and do I record a video? Like do somebody ask questions from the other end? How does that work? I mean, Looks very
[00:01:28] Sunny Saurabh: automated. It's very asynchronous. And, um, to be very honest, initially, when we launched in 2018, November of 2018, HR people were not liking it. They're like, no, we prefer in person. And then COVID happened. And then suddenly there was a huge shift where people wanted to, you know, do it from their homes.
[00:01:48] Sunny Saurabh: Um, and then, uh, you found a lot of these remote jobs which are not in your region, not in your time zone. So you're actually working with companies that are 12 hours ahead of you. Um, and suddenly [00:02:00] everybody wants to do it in their own sweet time, right? Um, so, uh, asynchronous just was the tool that you would use, um, to increase productivity within organizations.
[00:02:10] Sunny Saurabh: And that's where we started taking off.
[00:02:12] Upendra Varma: Got it. And yeah, let's, let's try to understand. I mean, this looks like a horizontal platform that I could imagine everybody in the, you know, everybody in the sun using it. Right. So I just want to understand your customer base today so that we could understand, you know, where you're focusing on. Right. So talk about your customer base, right?
[00:02:25] Upendra Varma: How many paid customers do you have on your platform as of today?
[00:02:29] Sunny Saurabh: So we have, uh, I mean, it would be, uh, you know, uh, we have to kind of qualify that, um, but I'll just give you the journey. So initially we started working with the top universities in Singapore, which is Nanyang Technological University and National University of Singapore, Singapore Institute of Technology and, uh, Temasek Polytechnic, so many of them, right?
[00:02:49] Sunny Saurabh: And what we, what we were doing there was helping students prepare for, uh, interviews. And we basically give them a scorecard. We'll tell them what they are doing well, what they [00:03:00] are not doing well. And this was targeted at career services. So imagine a career services team, which is 5 to 6 people, and you're handing a batch of 600 students.
[00:03:10] Sunny Saurabh: A lot of them come from China or Indonesia, Malaysia. They are not very fluent in English, right? How do you? Train them for job interviews in Singapore. So that was the first use case. And that's where we got bulk of the universities in Singapore. And then we went to AppSumo marketplace in the U S um, I just, if that's the platform and suddenly in three to four months, we got like 700 plus customers and people were paying a one time fee.
[00:03:36] Sunny Saurabh: Um, So that's where it just took off, right? That was two years ago. And we started building features that they were asking for. Um, and then gradually now we have, you know, for example, um, if you know Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. So our group has, uh, built it, the chief architect, right?
[00:04:06] Upendra Varma: So I could see pretty, some pretty big logos out there, right? So that's why I want to sort of understand, right? So, I mean, how do you go from an absolute deal, right? To, you know, closing, for example, in an MR group, right? So that's what, so let, let's try to quantify this, right? So, so can you just help us understand, right?
[00:04:20] Upendra Varma: So ignore all of those one time customers that you might have used to grow, right? So today, right, like how many paid customers and like help give a profile of these customers, right? How big are they in terms of, you know, maybe number of C's that they're utilizing or whatever that metric that you track.
[00:04:36] Sunny Saurabh: absolutely. So, um, I mean, if you leave the 700 plus customers that we got from apps, when a bunch of them, I think 200 of them are still using us on a month, uh, month on month basis, uh, we have about, uh, 22 enterprise customers. And most of them are using us for high volume, uh, roles. Um, so for example, if, uh, if you look at the MR use case, uh, they have an event [00:05:00] and they're expecting about 200 to 300 candidates come at the event and they want to capture that information, right?
[00:05:06] Sunny Saurabh: So catching an information, uh, traditionally means I give you my CV, but somebody needs to review the CVs and then interview them and do the full screening, et cetera. So we automated that entire thing we did. But their phone QR code, they could just interview because stack rank and they could hire, but just one person, um, to give you a perspective that that effort, it wasn't 200 or 300 candidates that they estimated it was more than 2000 candidates that came.
[00:05:32] Sunny Saurabh: And that would have taken a team of 42 recruiters to kind of screen
[00:05:37] Upendra Varma: Yeah. I could, I could see the value that you're talking about, right? I mean, it's mind blowing if you can automate that process. So it's that, that's, that's pretty much clear here, right? So, so in terms of, you know, these customers, right? So like, do they, so for example, you talked about that particular event that my group was using, so are they your recurring customer?
[00:05:53] Upendra Varma: Would you call them a recurring customer that they come to you regularly? Do they pay a platform fee? How does that pricing work?
[00:05:59] Sunny Saurabh: [00:06:00] Absolutely. So the, the initially came for just one one time event right. Then they use us for a corporate role in March and then they came back in June. So they are using us for high volume recruitment drives. Um, we are mostly in the 0 to 5 year experience range where you are trying to either get a number of, um, you know, um, candidates.
[00:06:23] Sunny Saurabh: The number of candidates are more than 100. Applicants per job. That's where we are a good fit. We are not a very good fit. And if you're hiring, say, a CEO or a VP in an organization where, you know, that an executive search firm would do a much, much better job, right? But having said that, Trade Desk has used us to hire their regional sales directors All of them have 10 plus years of experience. And just look at it from their perspective, they could share profiles with their decision makers in the U. S. And, um, you know. In Singapore and make very, very quick decisions in [00:07:00] hiring. So those have been the use cases are surprisingly are, um, you know, are, uh, you know, way of sales has not been to map the CHRO and sell it to that person.
[00:07:10] Sunny Saurabh: It's been more of the business has that have been using us. Even the absolute customers where CEOs of companies and MDs who cannot hire a recruiter and they will. Actually, they would just work on over the weekend, you know, on a Saturday, they would just sit and screen candidates and say, all right, we're gonna hire this person.
[00:07:26] Sunny Saurabh: So that's, that's the primary use case.
[00:07:28] Upendra Varma: Got it. Right. So, yeah. So just, so like, and how big of a deals are we talking about? Did it cause this 20 odd enterprise customers you've got? So how do you track revenue? Do you, do you, you know, use your regular metrics like MRR, ARR, you know, is this a recurring business? Would you call yourself that?
[00:07:43] Sunny Saurabh: We've just gotten so hiring is seasonal, right? Uh, from there are two major drives in a year. Um, so we started with a monthly, you know, kind of, uh, plans. Uh, but we changed that we made it more of an ARR basis. And to your earlier question, it's based on the number of credits and [00:08:00] the number of licenses. Uh, we started with say about 3, 000 per annum initially.
[00:08:06] Sunny Saurabh: Now we are upwards of 10 X of that. Um, so that's the average deal size that gives you an idea of the average deal size.
[00:08:13] Upendra Varma: Got it. Yeah. That, that makes a lot of sense. Right. So now, uh, yeah, I want to move on. Right. So now I want to, I want to understand, right. So how are you closing this enterprise logos? Right. So what's. Like where are you discovering them? Just talk us through that entire journey, right? So where are they discovering you in the first place?
[00:08:27] Upendra Varma: How, and then how are you closing those deals? Just walk us through that journey.
[00:08:32] Sunny Saurabh: It's uh, so it's mostly timing, you know, so we don't have a system. Um, surprisingly, we get it this inbound. Most of them are bound. Um, so AI interview is a great keyword. Um, and people find us through that. They found us in London. They found us in the US. We have been recommended by the likes of Deloitte to You know, large insurance companies like A.
[00:08:56] Sunny Saurabh: I. A. Insurance, uh, that's using us to screen for [00:09:00] their, um, you know, these insurance agents, right? These, these are high churn jobs, right? They are based on a conscious model. And traditionally, if you look at it, it's, it's a very archaic way of hiring. Um, you know, agents in different areas would recommend somebody.
[00:09:13] Sunny Saurabh: Um, but now we are bringing that objectivity. We are bringing that scale, um, to recruitment, right? So, um, they are finding us.
[00:09:21] Upendra Varma: okay. So I want to quantify this, right? And because it looks like a wonderful journey here, right? So you're talking about people querying on Google AI interviews. Looks like you've got some, you're ranking up top. That's, that's one of your channels and maybe, you know, consultants recommending others, right?
[00:09:34] Upendra Varma: These are the two channels that I could think of, right? Is, is most of your inbound traffic coming from these two channels?
[00:09:40] Sunny Saurabh: these two. So, I mean, we tried LinkedIn, we tried Google, we tried Facebook, uh, none of them have worked as well as content marketing. So we,
[00:09:49] Upendra Varma: meant
[00:09:49] Sunny Saurabh: a lot of,
[00:09:50] Upendra Varma: you meant paid ads, you tried
[00:09:51] Sunny Saurabh: yeah, yeah, yeah. paid ads haven't, haven't really worked for us. Um, uh, especially like, I would say I'm, I'm it's [00:10:00] Google, but I think Google is a very B2C platform.
[00:10:03] Sunny Saurabh: So we'd get a lot of candidate data, but not really decision makers. Um, and most of the keywords in our space are priced out of the market. So if you are very well funded,
[00:10:13] Upendra Varma: But then how do you go and rank for something like that? I mean, that looks even tougher. Right. So,
[00:10:19] Sunny Saurabh: it's luck or it's, it's just basically the space we are in. We were lucky enough to identify the space early on. So I used to work at LinkedIn. Right. And for a role that I would hire, say in Australia or in Hong Kong, there would be about 700 candidates. How do you go through that? That's screening them.
[00:10:37] Sunny Saurabh: Right. And your recruiter is handing, handing you like five to six resumes that doesn't make sense. Right. So how do you go about screening and figuring out who to invite for an interview? Um, And, and, and to be honest, you, you know, we talk a lot about referral and hiring. Like, can you refer something? I think it's a hack.
[00:10:55] Sunny Saurabh: It, it's, it's, it, it's because your primary screening platform, primary [00:11:00] recruitment software does not work. And that's why you use referral. Like, Hey, do you know somebody? So you kind of cover the, you know, the culture fit the soft skills part of things because somebody knows somebody who might be a good fit.
[00:11:11] Sunny Saurabh: Uh, but it's a hack. Uh, and I think the basic hiring systems are broken. And, um, that's where we realized that you need to interview. So hiring has always been like, um, there is resume submission and then
[00:11:25] Upendra Varma: So Sonny, I think it's, it's very, very clear the value that you're, you know, adding to people like that. I think that's very, very clear. Right. So my question is more in the lines of, you know, it's like, I'm just excited about your growth journey. Right. So, I mean, and, and just like, it's, it's really hard to understand.
[00:11:39] Upendra Varma: Okay. You've, you've closed this 20 enterprise logos because they've discovered you somewhere else. And just, uh, is that what you're saying?
[00:11:47] Sunny Saurabh: Um, they, they discovered us out of a need, you know, and, and that need came in. Later. So, um, and we have got customers in Mauritius and other places, right? Rogers is a logistic group. Um, they [00:12:00] are a three year. Uh, I mean, they have renewed it for three years now. Um, so, and, and why are they renewing it? Because they understand they are in Mauritius.
[00:12:08] Sunny Saurabh: They need talent, right? So
[00:12:10] Upendra Varma: but the channel is still, you know, your inbound content marketing that's been working for you, right?
[00:12:14] Sunny Saurabh: exactly. And, and, and we, we raised a very small amount, like 650 K about four years ago, and we have not raised since, right? So something is working. Right. Um, can it be put on, you know, steroids and scale to a hundred million dollar company? That's something we need to do in the near future, but we know something is working.
[00:12:33] Sunny Saurabh: We know, despite the layoffs, our product traction has improved and, and growing, uh, but it's how, how do you optimize the system? How do you build something that people want? That's basically what we're focusing on right
[00:12:45] Upendra Varma: so let me talk about the sales cycle here, right? So when somebody, once one of these big logos discover you for a use case, right? So how do you end up closing them? You could just like, how did you close this 20 odd deals? Like, was there any, you know, sales team out there trying to, you know, make those deals happen?
[00:13:02] Sunny Saurabh: It's honestly just one of my co founders is in charge of, he's a HR expert, he's the one who talks to these customers. So anytime there's an inbound deal coming, uh, we use HubSpot and, and, and essentially we qualify that and then he starts the engagement. Um, typically it takes about.
[00:13:21] Sunny Saurabh: anything from a week to a month to do the pilot. Everybody wants to do a pilot. Nobody's like, oh, AI interview, let's just plug in and start working, right? There's, there's so many steps to it. There is a compliance aspect. There is a, um, is this responsible AI there? There are so many things that we are not talking about here, but.
[00:13:40] Sunny Saurabh: People needs to be Sure, sure about, so there are a lot of checks. So some of these take up to six months, but a lot of them where it is just one time drive it, it closes in about two weeks to a month,
[00:13:52] Upendra Varma: Got it. That makes a lot of sense. Right. And then like, what's the plan here? Right. So are you going to go from, you know, whatever number that you are at today to, let's say, you know, 10 million, 15 [00:14:00] million dollars. Right. What do you, what are you going to invest in? Right. So what channel are you, you know, thinking of at this point of time?
[00:14:06] Sunny Saurabh: uh, channel in terms of where the growth is gonna come from, right? honestly, right. We, uh, the times that you would build a huge enterprise team is gone. Um, I think enterprise sales has now become inside sales. If you know what inside sales. Right. Um, so we would build a inside sales team here. Um, in India, uh, we'd build it in Europe.
[00:14:28] Sunny Saurabh: So we are in talks with, um, certain experts in Amsterdam and London trying to build a team there. And, uh, even in the U S right when, when the U S says remote, it doesn't mean a global remote. It means a U S remote. So, um, you would build a team probably in an Austin or Nashville or, you know, somewhere where.
[00:14:47] Sunny Saurabh: You can kind of, uh, cover the entire East Coast West Coast without, you know, hiring a very, very expensive sales team. Um, that's one small area and the other two are, uh, you know, integration. [00:15:00] So we are integrating with, say, Microsoft Teams. So imagine you're. On teams and you're collaborating with your coworkers, you're a small, medium sized business, right?
[00:15:09] Sunny Saurabh: Go out of the platform. You get a short list of candidates out of hundreds and hundreds of candidates. Then you decide, Hey, out of these five, these guys are right experiences, something out of these five less than by two. So suddenly you've brought down your interview cycle from five to six rounds to two.
[00:15:23] Sunny Saurabh: You know, two rounds. Um, so you collaborate, you do that you when you're doing this round, right? There's something now that has become very common. Uh, it's called interview fraud. So basically, I'm not confident to to answer technical questions. So I'll ask my colleague to sit in an interview. So how do you check for interview fraud?
[00:15:40] Sunny Saurabh: So those are some of the solutions that we built where you can actually see the person was applied on the side and you can actually give feedback. You can see what your colleagues have said. And you can, you can just optimize the hiring manager's time, but sometimes the feedback doesn't come into the platform, uh, for weeks, you know, and you've forgotten what, who you interviewed and what, what, what the feedback was, [00:16:00] right?
[00:16:00] Sunny Saurabh: So you can do it on, uh, live on, on teams, uh, when the screen is open. So. That's the marriage between asynchronous and synchronous time, right? Like anything that you do synchronously across time zones, across busy schedules, especially when you're working in hybrid and remote roles, right? Um, it requires a lot of effort and it's, it's, it's, it's very precious time.
[00:16:22] Sunny Saurabh: So you want to split 80 percent of your time doing asynchronous tasks. And then probably 20 percent of your time doing synchronous. And that's where we are bringing value and hiring.
[00:16:31] Upendra Varma: Got it. And Sunny, how big is the team today? Right. So,
[00:16:35] Sunny Saurabh: I'd be surprised. So we are, uh, we are about six people with about another six helping us in in different areas like finance and design, etc. But a lot of them are from LinkedIn, Google, JP Morgan, a soft bank back back company in Vietnam. You know, so, so we have an amazing team.
[00:17:00] Sunny Saurabh: One.
[00:17:01] Upendra Varma: It's just one. Okay. It's still found a lead selling that's happening at this point of time.
[00:17:05] Sunny Saurabh: Yeah, yeah. Um, and, and we are, we are trying to build our sales team, um, but it would require investment because we are trying to go after enterprise, um, scale deals. And that requires about six to nine months of sales cycle.
[00:17:19] Upendra Varma: Got it. Right. And then what's the vision here? Right. So when are you raising your next funding, like funding and what you look like, but what's your milestone, right? So how are you thinking about it?
[00:17:27] Sunny Saurabh: So we're going to be raising a small bridge run for the European, uh, you know, kind of a growth team. Would be within the next three to four months. We are actually in the process, but then in series a we'd be raising by next year, early, early next year, I would say first half next year, and that would be the real scale because we think that that.
[00:17:51] Sunny Saurabh: We have to be in the U. S. Because 50 almost like 45 percent would be of our customers are in the U. S. We're not being able to cover that from Singapore. Somebody wants to [00:18:00] talk at 4 a. m. We are we are not available and we lose those conversations, right? So we know we are missing out. And I think we need to move to that direction because the scale is there and all the even if If you're in Nepal, right, one of the challenges that we have seen is that the decisions, uh, taken on these software and tools are done in the headquarters, uh, and the headquarters are, are in the Valley or New York or London.
[00:18:24] Sunny Saurabh: And that's where we need to be.
[00:18:26] Upendra Varma: Makes sense. All right, Sonny, thanks for taking the time to talk to me. Hope you scale interview to much, much greater heights.
[00:18:31] Sunny Saurabh: Yeah. Thank you so much for having me. Thanks.