“Always be the smartest person in the room when it comes to knowledge of your space” With CEO Eric Riz Of Empty Cubicle
Having a live product and funding the business from those proceeds is a straight-forward and simple way to start your company.
I had the pleasure of interviewing CEO Eric Riz. An entrepreneur focused on driving change and improving corporate efficiency, Eric Riz is the Founder & CEO of Empty Cubicle; the world’s first verified job platform. Eric, a 2016 B2BNN HR Influencer, is the force behind the corporate vision of the company, changing the way organizations hire world-wide, and filling a recognized gap in the hiring process. With the launch of Empty Cubicle’s proprietary technology, Eric has filled a burden in the HR space, drastically reducing the amount of time companies spend vetting new hires.
Yitzi: Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
In 2007, I donated bone marrow to a stranger and saved his life. People continue to applaud my efforts and are curious about what the surgery was like, the discomfort endured, how I recovered and so on. My answer is always the same; I am grateful to have had it easy. It is the recipient, their family and friends that had it hard. My fortunate position to change a life fuels my ongoing drive, passion and curiosity as an entrepreneur.
Yitzi: Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company
Similar to several entrepreneurs, I love to talk and learn from others. While traveling to New York in February 2016, I was seated beside a gentleman who was eager to chat. We discussed the basics; what we do, where we live, family, interests, etc. I described what I do as being “with a software company”, since starting off with “I am the Founder of a data verification company that uses machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to assess resumes” can easily put people to sleep.
In this particular conversation, the gentleman was fascinated by Empty Cubicle’s concept. For the rest of the flight, we discussed use cases, sales tactics, and opportunities where Empty Cubicle and his company (a multi-national retailer) could work together. Yup — it was a lucky day!
As we were landing, we exchanged and scanned one another’s business cards. My new friend was shocked to read my title as “Founder & CEO”. His reaction, while I did enjoy it, was more akin to meeting someone who had invented water than a mere software guy such as myself. But, nonetheless, he was amazed and I appreciated his excitement. While I did love his reaction, it was interesting to see how his questions changed to suit my role. He quickly told me about a business idea he had, began grilling me on investment opportunities I may be aware of, and with whom I could connect him to assist.
What’s the takeaway? It’s cliché but be humble and open when meeting new people. You never know who will cross your path and the insight/opportunities that a friendly “hello” could open the door to. Alter your talk-track based on your audience and actively listen!
Yitzi: So what does your company do?
Empty Cubicle is the world’s first data platform providing employers, staffing companies and career sites the ability to verify their resume data within a single source. It is an essential add-on service to how companies source their candidates today — whether it’s online, through a career site, or by employee referrals.
Empty Cubicle’s goal is to assist companies in making their hiring both efficient and smart. With the proliferation of unverified employment data, and a saturation of applicants across a multitude of careers sites, it is creating the new field of Talent Intelligence. Using Talent Intelligence, Empty Cubicle reduces the flow of unverified applications to jobs and saves overwhelmed hiring staff significant time, money, and mitigate the risk of making the wrong hire.
Yitzi: How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
My professional success is enabling me to eat, sleep and breath an organization that provides trust and efficiency in a world where it is largely agape — hiring! A poor hire costs companies tremendous amounts of money and time. We have to do better. We have to be smarter about the quality of individuals who join and support our businesses. By leveraging machine learning and AI to improve hiring practices, we inevitably improve the strength and prosperity of our organizations.
In addition to the above, it is my mandate to mentor rising entrepreneurs by creatively assisting them on their journeys to success. I hear too often from young professionals that they don’t receive replies from those they have reached out to for advice or potential mentors just don’t follow through. Please act and deliver on opportunities to pay-it-forward!
Yitzi: What are your “5 things I wish someone told me Before I Launched My Start-Up” and why.
· Know your Customer:
Empty Cubicle’s customer has evolved many times over since inception. Currently, our customer is both the job-seeking candidate and the hiring employer. Developing our interface to accommodate both end-users remains an ongoing challenge as we want to ensure no details or needs go amiss. Unfortunately, our focus on two customers has caused confusion for some resulting in loss of investment opportunities.
Having a live product and funding the business from those proceeds is a straight-forward and simple way to start your company. However, this is not always possible when starting from scratch. It is easy to feel like you are always playing catch up in order to keep the lights on, pay salaries and continue growth. Regardless of your starting-point, identifying accurate projections and burn-rates will assist in ensuring that you bootstrap for as long as possible, so be smart with your expectations and cash flow.
· Go Live:
I am a huge proponent of going live. Once you have something to put in market, GO! Having a live product in place, though it may not be the perfect product you once envisioned, changes your dynamic by forcing your startup to think differently. The ongoing feedback we receive from our customers today (such as their experiences and expectations), provides valuable insight in the development of our evolving behind-scenes product. No round-table or focus group can give you that level of authentic feedback. We are fortunate to be able to discuss our vision with these trusted customers.
· Advisors and Supporters:
In business, as in life, always have a small group of trusted advisors and supporters you can go to with your critical issues. Ideally, this should be an odd-numbered group so that you never have an even response. At Empty Cubicle, we are fortunate to have attracted advisors from a number of backgrounds and companies. Considering these bright minds are emotionally invested in your success and that of your organization — use their time wisely!
Always be the smartest person in the room when it comes to knowledge of your space. Not knowing even the most minute of details can derail a conversation quickly, especially when discussing financing. As the company founder, you are expected to know everything possible about the business and market you are entering — so do your due diligence.