BrightHire Profile

BrightHire logo.

BrightHire brings the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to the interview experience by recording, transcribing, and highlighting important moments in the interview, streamlining the process and providing a better interview experience overall. 

Founders Icon Founder(s): Teddy Chestnut, Ben Sesser
Founded in Icon Founded In: 2019
Industry Icon Industry: Software (SaaS)
Location Icon Location: Remote

Interview With Teddy Chestnut

Describe your product or service:

“BrightHire is the leading interview intelligence platform. We transform the quality of hiring — by helping people run better interviews and helping teams hire faster with less bias.

We automatically record and transcribe interviews and create a set of highlights that can be revisited and shared — to streamline the process, improve the candidate experience, and give teams better information to make the best possible hiring decisions.

The BrightHire team is advised by talented thought leaders like Laszlo Bock, Google's former SVP of people operations, and Wharton organizational psychologist Adam Grant — who has called BrightHire ‘the most compelling technology I've ever seen for making better hiring decisions.’”

Describe your company values and mission:

“Our mission is to ‘Give everyone the hiring experience they deserve.’ Our values are built to support that mission. 

We have four values:

  1. Put Candidates First
  2. Act with Generosity
  3. Operate Like an Owner
  4. Invest in Our People”

How are you funded? I.e. type of funding, number of funding rounds, total funding amount.

“We have raised three rounds of funding from venture capital firms.

Our seed round was led by Flybridge capital, our series A was led by Index Ventures, and our series B was led by 01 Advisors. We have raised $36 million in funding.”

How big is your team? Tell us a little about them (I.e. co-founders, freelancers, etc.)

“BrightHire has 38 full-time employees. They all come from different backgrounds but are passionate about our mission, which is to ‘give everyone the hiring experience they deserve.’"

How did you come up with and validate your startup idea? Tell us the story!

“My co-founder and I go way back and have roots in the talent space. He initially came to me, not with a business idea but with a problem statement. Interviews are the most important conversations that we have in business and hiring is so important, but [we noticed] that the level of rigor around that process didn’t live up to the importance of what was being done. It certainly wasn’t commiserated to the level of rigor and visibility and continuous improvement that other parts of business had. 

I agreed with that wholeheartedly. So, we had half of the equation, which was an interesting and pressing problem to solve. The other half of the equation came from seeing how other functions in business were creating values by capturing conversations and making them shareable and analyzable. We realized that this approach to technology and conversations could and will solve the problems we had articulated. 

We decided to act on this idea by having a ton of conversations with TA leaders, recruiters, and heads of talent. We described the possibility to 30, 40, 50 people, and we saw eyes light up. We saw people lean in and brainstorm what could happen if they really knew what happened in interviews. All of these things were connected to real business and economic value. We knew it wasn’t just a cool idea then. 

That gave us the confidence that we were on the right track.”

How did you come up with your startup's name? Did you have other names you considered?

“BrightHire was actually the name that we came up with initially. We didn’t really have any other names.”

Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?

“The answer to the first question is no, I didn’t have a dream to start a business. That wasn’t the guiding principle for my career. I did know that I wanted to be involved in something early at some point, and that’s why I got into sales. I thought I had that skill set for that job. 

Ultimately, I was the right fit for this particular opportunity. I had this incredible pull to go build BrightHire that I couldn’t shake. It was just the right time, and I had the right partner with my co-founder Ben. 

It seemed completely inevitable that someone was going to build this business, and if I didn’t run at the opportunity, I would really regret it because it is a meaningful mission to run at, and I have the right background, skills, and network to make it happen. 

It was more this particular opportunity than becoming an entrepreneur in general.”

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Did you encounter any roadblocks when launching your startup? If so, what were they and what did you do to solve them?

“Like most companies started in 2019, our biggest business roadblock was COVID. We had raised our seed round before COVID hit, but we had no idea how the pandemic would affect our business. 

Hiring basically stopped for all of our potential clients from March 2020 to June 2020, and many recruiters, our biggest end-users, were laid off during those first months. 

We had raised an initial round of funding, so we decided to go heads down on our product instead of trying to get our first set of customers. We also started a community for recruiters and other HR professionals to help them get jobs during this significant downturn. 

Thankfully, a lot of companies started hiring again in the summer, and COVID actually ended up being a net positive for our business. Many companies moved to remote hiring and because we were focused on building our product, we pivoted the platform to work seamlessly with existing video platforms like Zoom and Google Meet. Many of our first clients were members of the community that we had set up when there was a downturn.”

Who is your target market? How did you establish the right market for your startup?

“BrightHire’s leading interview intelligence platform helps the world’s fastest-growing teams transform the quality of their hiring, capture interviews, and make fast, effective, equitable hiring decisions based on substance, not subjectivity. 

Long story short — our product was made for anyone in the hiring process, especially recruiters and hiring managers. Fast-growing technology companies have been the quickest to adopt our product.”

What's your marketing strategy?

“Right now, we are focused on building up our brand and our category, interview intelligence. We want everyone to know that there’s a new way to think about hiring and interviewing and that it’s so much better than anything they’ve done before.”

How did you acquire your first 100 customers?

“The first few were from talking to everyone we knew (and anyone who would listen), looking for signals of true early adopters. Once we got to a couple of dozen, we started to see a flywheel start to turn — the world of recruiting is small and very well networked, so buyers talk to each other all the time. When you deliver something new that creates a ton of value, word starts to spread quickly.”

What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?

“We care about what our TA partners care about: time to hire, efficiency through the interview process, candidate experience, and hiring manager satisfaction. When BrightHire demonstrably helps recruiting teams move faster, do more with less, and deliver an exceptional experience to everyone involved, we know we can expect strong growth and expansion of our footprint to follow.”

What's your favorite startup book and podcast?

“In terms of books, my standard answer is the ‘Innovator’s Dilemma’ by Clayton Christensen. It’s not an entrepreneurship book, but there are a number of frameworks in the book that are incredibly valuable when you are thinking about building something new and whether it will create value. Things like jobs to be done just ground you in the right ways to do things as you start a business. 

The better answer is Steve Martin’s memoir, ‘Born Standing Up.’ Being a comedian is kind of an act of entrepreneurship. There is so much in that book about the grittiness and discipline it takes to be clearly world-class. It’s an amazing set of lessons and is a great read. 

My favorite podcast is ‘Work/Life’ by Adam Grant. Adam is one of BrightHire’s advisors, and the episodes of his podcast just have so many life and business lessons.”

Is there a tool, app, or resource that you swear by to help run your startup?

“Slack, Notion, and Superhuman (for managing my inbox). Superhuman is also a client.”

What is something that surprised you about entrepreneurship?

“How invested your early clients get in your business. I had worked with hundreds of clients before, but there isn’t a single client relationship that feels like the one you develop early on in your business. They are so precious. I get emotional thinking about the clients we signed early on who have been along for the journey. I had never imagined a client relationship feeling like that and having that level of depth. There is something pretty special about the first clients you sign. You are just working with people and these individuals who make a bet on what you are building, and that is just so meaningful.”

How do you achieve work/life balance as a founder?

“The reality is that as a founder, you don’t have work/life balance. You make sacrifices on both sides. A great piece of feedback I got from an early investor who also started a company is that the reality is you are always going to feel like you are selling someone short. You are working extra hours, late nights, and weekends, and you feel like you owe it to your family to not be doing it, and you are hanging with your family and you feel like you owe it to your company to be working on it. You have to get comfortable in the middle of those two, and the only way to do it is through communication. For me, that is with my wife, Marie, she’s an absolute rock, and I wouldn’t be doing this without her. You also have to make sure you don’t get caught in the middle. If you are doing work, you are doing work. If you are doing life, you are doing life, but you really don’t want to try to do both at once. That is when the balance is disrupted.”

What is a strategy you use to stay productive and focused?

“I think having a great company mission and team helps you stay productive and focused. 

Entrepreneurship is hard, but you do it because there is something really important to achieve. 

Especially when I see indicators of our progress to achieving that mission. For us, seeing metrics move, like user sign-ups in our slack channels, getting a user story of our impact for a client, or hearing from a candidate about the experience going through a BrightHire interview. Those are the things tied to our mission about giving people the hiring experience they deserve that keep me going. 

The team also helps me stay productive and focused. That there are all of these people in it together, hustling, grinding, and growing. Seeing them build their own success through what we have built.”

Did you have to develop any habits that helped lead you to success? If so, what are they?

“Making decisions fast without perfect information and getting comfortable with that and knowing you can always revisit them if you need them. Practically speaking, that means time boxing how much time you have to make a decision, and then that becomes a habit.”

What was your first job and what did it teach you?

“In high school, I did a lot of tutoring, mostly math, some writing. It started out as volunteering at the middle school I'd gone to, and I ended up doing personal tutoring for a few of the students on a regular basis. The thing I learned through the experience was that there shouldn't be a difference between the work you do because it's the right thing to do and the work you get paid to do.”


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