Mar 14, 2008

Interview with RiseSmart CEO Sanjay Sathe

When Sanjay sent me a mail I asked him if he would like to be interviewed for the readers of this blog he readily agreed. So I emailed him some questions and he readily mailed me back the answers on RiseSmart and its unique business model of providing personal support for CXOs who are job-hunting. The interesting part is that there is an India component in RiseSmart too. Read on to know the details.

1. Tell us about yourself, what have you done and how did you become CEO of RiseSmart?

I'm like many RiseSmart customers in that I've spent my career climbing the corporate ladder, in jobs in both the U.S. and abroad. In 2006, I was vice president for enterprise data management for Sabre Holdings in Dallas when I was "transitioned." During my subsequent job search, I became very frustrated with the options for searching for senior-level jobs online. This is what inspired me to start RiseSmart.

2. RiseSmart has a very 'different' business approach. How did you come up with the idea?

During my job search, I was spending probably 30 or 40 hours per month signing up on job boards, recruiter sites and corporate sites. When I used one of the aggregator sites, I would receive literally thousands of results for a search term like "vice president of marketing" -- and most of these results were really poor matches. This whole exercise was too time consuming and inefficient - “going across a multitude of website and a multitude of pages within a site looking for that needle in the haystack”.

The irony was, here I am, a senior executive used to having a staff working for me, and yet when it came to finding my next job, I had to do all this grunt work myself. Why wasn't there a service that could sort through these job results for me? Why wasn't there a service that treated executives like executives? That's why I created RiseSmart -- to provide $100K+ earners with the level of job-search support they've earned the right to expect.

3. Am quite interested to know about what are profiles of people who will be assisting the CXO levels with their job search. What kind of people are you hiring for those positions?

The RiseSmart Concierge center is based in New Delhi. All RiseSmart Concierges have two to three years of HR experience working for US based RPO companies, thus understanding the subtle nuances e.g. the difference between the managing director in India and in the US. Additionally, we put all concierges through an extensive training program, and we monitor their performance on an ongoing basis to ensure that our customers are receiving the right kinds of jobs.

4. What is the ratio of 'job concierges' vis a vis job seekers?

Each RiseSmart Concierge is assigned up to 25 customer accounts. RiseSmart's proprietary search technology first does the heavy lifting to present a filtered number of job results before the concierge enters the process. The technology narrows it down from a ocean to a bucket and the concierge from a bucket to a cup to make it really relevant to the customer. The first time around the Job Concierge spends a little more time in servicing the customer, and then the incremental results are less time consuming. Also we have split the concierges by Functional areas so they really can get specialized and get a good understanding of the nuances of that particular function.

5. Who do you think are your main competitors?

No one does what we do, which is why we're so excited about our future. TheLadders has carved out a niche as a job board for $100K+ earners, but it offers members only a limited pool of jobs which are posted on their site by recruiters. Their database of jobs is less than a tenth the size of ours. And the monthly subscription fee they charge is comparable to ours. So why would anyone choose them over us? I think our value proposition is pretty compelling. Just that we are new so people do not know about us.

6. How many employees does RiseSmart have?

Currently 30 across New Delhi and Dallas.

7. Are you focused on the US or do you have plans for other countries too?

We are focused on the U.S. market initially, with plans to expand internationally once our business model is firmly established. Much of my experience is in global marketing, and I see many opportunities for RiseSmart service in other labor markets, including India's. So stay tuned.