I’m very pleased to announce that Standout Jobs has launched a new version of its product, a new website and our business model. There’s a whole ton of new stuff in fact, and this is just the beginning of many changes to come.
After launching Standout Jobs in late January 2008 we’ve spent the last 9 months or so working with 220+ beta customers, collecting feedback, testing, getting testimonials and case studies and learning. Shortly after launching we began work on the next version. In this day and age a software product’s lifecycle is pretty short, especially after first launching; we knew the first version wouldn’t last. So once it stabilized and we started bringing on customers and getting feedback, we put our heads down and got to work.
Along with the new product comes a bunch of other changes as well:
- Product name change. We launched the product as Reception, but have decided to put that name aside for now. The core reason was because it’s hard for a startup to build two brands – one for its company and one for its product. We felt that Standout Jobs was the stronger of the two brands, and we wanted that to resonate more with customers, partners, etc. But we still needed to describe the product, and as such we’ve named it our Recruitment Communication Platform. Aside from trying to build two brands, there were other reasons to give the product a more descriptive name in terms of explaining it, providing us with flexibility on how we define the product, and more.
- New website. For awhile we’ve known there were issues with our website. For starters, there was too much emphasis on the job seeker side – listing companies and available jobs. That still exists, but we’re really a software company focused on providing products and services to employers. So we wanted that messaging to be clear. At the same time we wanted to refresh the brand a bit and focus more on our core values. The challenge with the website was to maintain its edginess but also display a level of professionalism, sophistication and seriousness. We’re not hiding the fact that we’re a plucky startup trying to shake up the HR industry, but at the same time we want customers to feel comfortable with our brand, message and the solidity of our company. We also wanted to provide more valuable content about topics of interest such as employer branding.
- Business model implemented. Back in January we decided to offer the product for free. We wanted to bring on as many beta customers as possible, make some noise in the HR community, get a foothold in the marketplace and go from there. We accomplished all of that. But free doesn’t last forever, and we always knew we were going to implement a subscription-based business model, it was only a question of time. Truth be told, we debated the business model for quite some time after launching, but eventually decided on a subscription model and appropriate pricing. Our product is now free for a 45-day trial, after which you’ll have to subscribe on a monthly or yearly basis.
- Channel partner strategy. For the last few months we’ve been working on a channel partner strategy. We’ve learned a lot about the HR industry and how we can fit in effectively and grow. Bringing on top-notch partners is one way we’re going to build a successful business, and I’m very excited that we have 6 partners to-date that are ready to go. You can debate the pros and cons of a channel partner strategy forever, and in some industries, with some products it might not make sense at all, but for us it’s critical to gaining early traction, building up revenue and solidifying our place as a key member of the HR industry.
- Shifting focus. We still have a ton of development work to do. We have a product roadmap that’s going to keep us busy for many, many months … but nevertheless the focus of the company starts to shift with the release of the new version. With a business model, strategic partners and a new product it’s time to start shifting from a development-centric effort to a sales & marketing-centric effort. The company is evolving, and I think this is a natural and obvious progression for us to take. It also means ratcheting up our customer service efforts. If you want to convert free trial customers into paying customers, you need to have this mental and focused shift towards sales, marketing and customer service.
Up until today, we’ve been playing in the minor leagues. Today, we move up to the pros. There’s less leeway for making mistakes. There’s a clear push towards building revenue, growing our customer base and rocketing forward. The pace will speed up, not slow down. Today, Standout Jobs is truly re-launching – but with a plan that we’ve been preparing and executing on for the past 9+ months. That plan has been evolving radically for some time, and will continue to do so, but we’re laser-focused on a number of critical things we have to accomplish over the next few months, and there’s no time like the present.
I would invite you to visit Standout Jobs and let us know what you think! Each of my points above warrants its own blog post; hopefully I can find the time to expound on them further, because a lot of thinking, planning, trial & error, guesswork, etc. went into making those decisions. Hopefully our efforts can help others that are just starting up, or preparing for a major shift in their businesses.