Adam Robinson is co-founder and CEO of Hireology, a venture-backed hiring and talent management platform named a Top 50 Best Workplace by Inc., a Top Company Culture by Entrepreneur, and #94 in 2016 and #332 in 2017 on the Inc. 500 list of America’s fastest-growing private companies. He’s the author of The Best Team Wins: Build your Business Through Predictive Hiring, the host of The Best Team Wins Podcast, and a weekly columnist for Inc. He was named a Top 25 Industry Game Changer by Workforce, and in 2017, was a finalist for E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year.
Tell me about your early career.
I started my career as a technology recruiter at a large national IT staffing company. After two years in that organization, I had the opportunity to work for a startup in Chicago that built some of the first Internet portal technology for dealer networks.
How did the concept for Hireology come about?
Hireology was the culmination of my years in the staffing business, combined with my observation of the way dealerships operated from my four years at Click Commerce. It was obvious that there were major turnover problems, and it was all related to a lack of hiring processes at the local level.
How was the first year in business?
We spent our entire first year working with a few beta customers who gave us full access to redefine their hiring process. We were billing for hours and using the proceeds to fund product development. We were able to run a break-even business in our first year.
What was your marketing strategy?
I have always believed that the best marketing strategy for a premium B2B product is to grab the thought leadership position in the market you serve. We spend a lot of time and resources developing original content that helps our customers run their business more effectively. We also do over 70 conference events a year.
How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
The first two years was a combination of billing for time and building products with the revenue we generated. It was like we were running two completely different companies. We ran at about a $200,000 revenue run rate each of the first two years, then in our third year, stopped selling services and sold only software subscriptions (SaaS). Our 2013 revenue was just over $100,000.
How do you define success?
Success is a subjective metric. For me, success means having the ability to focus first on my family, while having the freedom and flexibility to tackle really big business opportunities.
What is the key to success?
What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
Recognize what you’re good at, and then, as soon as possible, hire people who are better than you at everything else that needs to get done.
What are some quotes that you live by?
“Traveller, there is no road. The road is made by walking.”
Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
In the depth of the big recession, my bank swept the cash out of our checking account and used it to close out our outstanding line of credit without telling me. I found out from our payroll provider because we bounced the payroll run. That was a bad day.
When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
Refusal to quit. Refusal to lose.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Focus your time and energy on one pursuit at a time. Channel that energy into maximum impact; fire your one best arrow and hit the mark.
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This interview was conducted for research purposes by author Jason Navallo for his upcoming book, Underdog.
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