Hiring is a two-way street

Applying for a job takes a lot of work.

For one, the candidate has to explain what he or she has already accomplished in his or her career. For two, he or she has to highlight his or her qualities that match what the company is looking for.

But it is rare to see the opposite: a company highlighting its specificities. Despite the fact that attracting the best talents is a startups’ biggest challenge. Sounds like a paradox, right?

Why would a candidate make the effort to apply to your company if you have not even taken the time to do the exercise yourself?

With this in mind, I decided to explain what sets Forest Admin apart while trying to remain as objective and humble as possible. Below is my go at it!

Creating a new product category

For Forest Admin it all started from the observation that every web-based company builds internal tools to handle the operational processes that support their customer-facing application.

And these tools are so specific that there is no universal SaaS solution available to avoid the chore of building your own.

After investing a lot of energy, we’ve finally managed to fix this! We’ve created the first Back Office available as a SaaS solution. To do so, we redesigned how a typical SaaS works technically.

In doing so we have created a new product category from scratch. Obviously, this brings many challenges and requires a lot of creativity to innovate enough to tackle them.

Even more so as our ambitions extend beyond simply replacing traditional back office tools. We also want to leverage the full value that SaaS can bring to the back office.

In a nutshell, our goal is to completely redefine your back office application experience!

Opening a new market reaching world-wide web-based companies

Incidentally, when creating a new product category, you had better reach a huge market to be sure the energy you spend is worth it!

Our market includes all web-based companies in the world. It’s colossal. And internationalization is not the real challenge for a SaaS solution.

The main difficulty is that with such a wide addressable market it’s easy to spread yourself thin, get lost or drown. We need to be extremely methodical and target each market’s segment in a very-specific way with our very-generic product.

This explains why focus on operational excellence is at the heart of our Lumberjacks’ Code of Honor.

Learn from the flies to hunt the elephants

And it’s even easier to get lost on a market of this size when you target a wide range of customers in terms of sector and size.

Christoph Janz (Point 9): Five ways to build a $100 million business

To live up to our ambitions, we need to understand how early stage startups use their back office in order to be able to provide value to mature companies that have enterprise-level requirements.

High barriers to entry

Now that we have successfully developed a SaaS for the back office, we want to make sure we keep first place on the podium!

For that, we can count on our technology. Even if most of our code remains open-source, the challenge we overcame was to be able to integrate with any application seamlessly, regardless of its complexity, legacy and stack.

Being realistic, if we have succeeded in doing so, others will too.

This is why we also invest so much energy into our execution. From the beginning, we force ourselves to map and document any processes in the company.

And yes, our plan is to be as effective as machines.

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

Your back office is the tool that has the most impact on your execution. How successful you are at managing your operational processes is one of the main differences between your company and your competitors.

This means Forest Admin’s customers are placing all their trust in our solution to execute on their business better.

This drives us to push our limits again and again, to grow quickly and to constantly seek to anticipate our customers’ future operational requirements.

A Lumberjacks’ company culture

Talking about company culture often sounds bullshit. It’s a bit like asking during a hiring interview: “What are your top 5 strengths and weaknesses?” It can quickly become clumsy 😬.

But joining a company without a culture and strongly established values means joining a new adventure without soul.

And honestly, creating a culture is very easy. You just need to ask yourself: What do I value the most in people?

The real challenge is to preserve the culture you’ve built as your company grows. Especially during the hyper-growth phase (e.g. 5 hiring /month). Of course at Forest Admin, we have not experienced this yet. We’re still a very small company!

But it’s one of the challenges that awaits us. To be prepared, we decided to publicly communicate on our company values through our Lumberjacks’ Code of Honor. This way, we will have no excuse if we can’t sustain it in the long run.

Surrounding ourselves with the right backers

To satisfy our growth ambitions and execute our mission in the most effective way, we simply didn’t have the choice but to seek financing from venture capital funds.

This is why we were initially bootstrapped inside the eFounders startup studio that supported us financially all the way through to the $3M Seed Round raised in January 2018.

But we didn’t want to surround ourselves with investors only for their money. That would have been a huge mistake… today, there is so much more value to capture from VCs than just their money!

Of course, it’s easy to say when you’re supported by top players from day 1… but I really think it is key for startups to think about financing only in the long term.

So for our Seed Round, we were fortunate to raise with Connect Ventures, NJJ Capital (Xavier Niel) and a few business angels such as Taavet Hinrikus, TransferWise’s co-founder.

Honestly today, even if we hadn’t needed to raise money from VCs, I wonder if we wouldn’t have done it anyway just to be surrounded by insightful people like Thibaud Elziere and Quentin Nickmans from eFounders, Jean de la Rochebrochard from Kima and Pietro Bezza from Connect.

Long story short…

A hiring discussion always has two distinct steps: convince and be convinced.

As a candidate, if your personal requirements and ambitions are crystal-clear and you understand quickly why the company you are applying for is unique, you should be already convinced. And so, it means you can focus your time on convincing the company.

This should lead in turn to a deeper discussion as your interviewer can then really focus the discussion on how you can help grow the company.

So ask yourself this next time you go in for an interview: do I really know why I should join this company?