Coming soon… a brand new Startup Grind featured column, Startup Spotlight! Here we’ll be highlighting the stories of some the exceptional startups in our community. As a special preview, please enjoy this Q&A with SkyHive Founder and CEO, Sean Hinton. (And stay tuned for more)!
SkyHive is the world’s first B2B SaaS platform that uses artificial intelligence to drive unparalleled insights into the skillset of a workforce, supporting a company’s efforts to upskill and reskill through the acquisition, engagement and development of its workforce. SkyHive’s end-users are HR leaders from Fortune 2000 companies and governments.
Was there a problem you were trying to fix that led to SkyHive being founded?
According to the World Economic Forum, more than half of all employees will require significant reskilling and upskilling by 2022. Equipping the workforce with the right skills is a global top priority, yet there are no known tools that support this. SkyHive fills this critical need.
What do you think makes your company/product stand out?
SkyHive’s proprietary dynamic deep learning skills ontology and award-winning UI make it the most robust platform in the workforce development and reskilling space.
What is your business model or future plan to monetize?
Enterprise subscription model: Initial enterprise service agreement followed by ongoing monthly subscription for talent acquisition, onboarding, learning and development, data and analytics.
Talk about your current marketing strategy?
Our marketing strategy has been largely focused on high-profile events, accolades, as well as participating in ecosystems/accelerators mostly in the Bay Area. These have allowed us to connect with innovation and HR leaders from Fortune 2000 companies, effectively generating a significant amount of opportunities. We are fortunate to have only inbound leads so far.
If you had to pick, what are 3 key elements that lead to your growth?
- Proprietary deep learning technology
- A world-class ‘village’ of advisors, partners and accelerators
- Timing (future of work, workforce reskilling, industry 4.0)
How do you manage rapid growth vs sustainability?
Operationally, we are extremely diligent when bringing on new members, as we understand the impact of each and every person on the company culture. Technologically, we aim for 90/10 standardized/custom code to minimize technical debt.
Speaking of bringing on new members, how do you think about company culture as the company continues scaling?
We understand that as the company continues to scale, its culture will evolve on its own. That said, at SkyHive, our core values are like the Holy Grail that guides our every decision, action, and interaction, no matter if we are 5 people or 500.
How do you manage the rollercoaster that can be a startup to retain top talent?
For us, it is crucial to clearly convey expectations in order to minimize friction and optimize operational efficiency. What crunch time looks like and what it entails for work-life balance should be communicated before a team member is even brought on, so everyone is on the same page and rows in the same direction.
Do you use any specific practices to keep employees happy?
Monthly employee recognition ‘SkyHiver High-fiver’ award, monthly birthday gatherings, and team events such as baseball games, rock climbing, beach cleaning, volunteering, etc.
One of our core values is ‘we are stewards of social impact to all communities’. As a Certified B Corporation®, creating a positive social impact is a commitment that’s baked into SkyHive’s DNA and lived by each and every team member.
What’s the best advice you’ve received?
Sell a Vision, not a product.
What advice would you give for someone considering starting a company?
Remember who you are doing this for. Build a startup is hard, and one should prepare for the ‘bad days’, as there will most definitely be ‘bad days’. Having a vision is critical, as it will be the force to keep you going during times of struggle, frustration, or stress.
If you have questions for SkyHive or are interested in employment opportunities, find out more here.