Interview With Daniel Jakaitis
Describe your product or service:
“Chatkick products help recruiters and talent acquisition teams optimize each step of the hiring process through rich insights and intelligent automation.”
Describe your company values and mission:
“Our goal is to bring order to the chaos of hiring to not only improve recruiters' performance but to enhance the overall candidate experience.”
How are you funded? I.e. type of funding, number of funding rounds, total funding amount.
“One funding round — $1.75 million —pre-seed (SAFEs).”
How big is your team? Tell us a little about them!
“Two FTE (including me, the founder) — our other FTE, Reid, is a lead engineer who comes from a long line of startups (StitchFix, Hover, Framebridge).”
How did you come up with and validate your startup idea? Tell us the story!
“As a former VP of Engineering, hiring was my favorite part of my job. Working with recruiters was challenging, lacked the organizational quality of other parts of our business, and [was] insanely time-consuming. The worst part, candidates generally suffered as a result of these poor workflows. My hope is two-fold: First, that Chatkick changes the perception of recruiting in the eyes of management to be a long-term profit center. And second, that our tools bring out the best in recruiters and as a result, enhance the overall hiring experience.”
How did you come up with your startup's name? Did you have other names you considered?
“I wish we had some great story for this, but the honest truth is I owned the domain for several years and really just liked it.”
Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
“Yes. I don't know what the original trigger was to become an entrepreneur. But the ability to work on really hard problems, with smart people, and control the direction you go has always been appealing to me.”
What was the biggest obstacle you encountered while launching your company? How did you overcome it?
“Quitting my job. I had a great role as the VPE of a recently acquired startup. Leaving a nice paycheck with a one-year-old son to consider was tough. After a lot of conversations with my wife and family, it seemed obvious this was the right thing to do.”
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Who is your target market? How did you establish the right market for your startup?
“Recruiting firms and corporate talent acquisition/recruiters.”
What's your primary marketing strategy?
“Content and referral have been our biggest channels. Our goal over the next year is to lean into partnerships and referrals as much as possible.”
How did you acquire your first 100 customers?
“Not quite at 100 paying customers (around 70 today). Most have come through word of mouth or referral.”
What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?
“Usage (MAUs, Emails sent from the platform, interviews run), MRR, Churn (% and total account).”
What's your favorite startup book and podcast?
“Book: ‘The Mom Test,’ Podcast: ‘My First Million.’”
What is a song or artist that you listen to for motivation?
“A lot of techno…anything released by the Drumcode label.”
Is there a tool, app, or resource that you swear by to help run your startup?
“Figma, Notion, Chatkick Talent CRM (we use it to automate emails for a bunch of functions).”
What is something that surprised you about entrepreneurship?
“The most interesting thing I noticed was how much more chaotic it feels than being an employee. When you work at a company (big or small), you have a generally well-defined role. Today – at least in the early stages – I am responsible for everything essentially to some degree: engineering, product, sales, marketing, customer success.”
How do you achieve work/life balance as a founder?
“Working from home periodically helps. Having a supportive family and spouse is a big factor as well.”
When did you know it was time to quit your day job to focus on your startup?
“The day my son was born. Ironically, I didn't quit until about 1.5 years later since I wanted to see an acquisition through my former employer. But that's when I knew it was gonna happen.”
What was your first job and what did it teach you?
“I worked as a waiter in a retirement community. Taught me both patience and how to interact with people in a professional but personal manner.”
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