After deferring our 2021 tickets due to COVID concerns, we were thrilled to attend the 2022 HR Tech Conference this year. Many of our HR advisors had suggested attending ASAP, and we arrived in Las Vegas with the goal to:
- Understand how our product is positioned in the HR Tech marketplace in order to better answer customer and investor questions as we go to market
- Connect with HR industry analysts/influencers, investors, and strategic partnership teams to establish relationships ahead of projected growth
- Generate qualified sales leads to convert to customers
To make the most of the visit, we paid for a spot in the startup pavilion so that we could engage with potential buyers and establish a brand presence as a new venture. Here are some high level takeaways from the event.
The HR Tech Landscape and Our Position Within It
Since launch, our focus has been on helping recruiters to do their job more effectively by removing dull repetitive tasks while improving access to high-income careers for overlooked candidates. We had not closely watched the market evolution and we quickly learned that our product evolution has positioned us in the Talent Intelligence space.
“Talent Intelligence is the application of internal and external data to help organizations recruit, retain, and reskill their workforce to meet dynamic business needs.”
This finding will help us to finally answer how we are different from company X or Y. An emerging category with huge growth potential as organizations switch to skills-based hiring and up-/re-skilling, we have a lot of runway to innovate. As our product is primarily focused on external talent market analytics rather than internal, we’re uniquely situated to support startups and SMB’s that don’t have deep historic hiring data or large talent operations and analytics teams to integrate a comprehensive platform.
There are a lot of great companies in the space, and we were able to learn from:
Eightfold – marketed as an all-in-one solution to support people analytics teams and HR leaders with insights, Chad and Cheese gave Eightfold the ‘Ferrari’ award for the biggest / most expensive booth at the conference.
Reejig – focused on internal talent mobility, Reejig features an “Ethical Talent AI to unlock complete visibility of the skills and potential in your workforce”.
TaTiO – our neighbors in the Startup Pavilion and gracious hosts for a happy hour with Chad and Cheese, TaTiO has developed a job simulation to measure applicant competencies against job requirements to help recruiters “ease the hiring process and engage prospective hires from the top of the funnel”.
HR Tech Industry Connections
A huge advantage to having experts, influencers, and vendors in the same place was that we could serendipitously make a lot of connections and accelerate our own learning. We had the opportunity to sit down with Stacia Garr, founder of RedThread Research, to learn how the Talent Intelligence marketplace has evolved and opportunities to solve key overlooked challenges (spoiler: the onboarding process still sucks).
We were lucky enough to join Chad & Cheese for back-to-back events starting with a private recording of the podcast with ThisWay founder Angela Good. We then moved to the Skyfall lounge for a reception with TaTiO where we got to connect with TaTiO CEO Maya Huber, Pillar CEO, Mark Simpson, and several of the FactoryFix team fresh from a live update of the Chad & Cheese fantasy football league. Finally, we joined Reimbi founder David Heller and talent ops expert Daniel Morales for dinner to discuss the latest in the recruiting operations space.
We also spoke with several product / innovation leads from more established HR Tech companies and a few investors. These conversations haven’t progressed two weeks after the conference ended.
Generating Qualified Sales Leads
The only disappointment from the conference was the lack of engagement with potential buyers. Many repeat vendors expressed how few buyers were attending the conference this year, likely a result of hiring freezes and layoffs due to economic uncertainty. The startup pavilion got little foot traffic and, as we were not selected for the PitchFest competition or any of the tech talk proposals we submitted, we had little reach beyond our small booth.
Observing the other startups in the pavilion, we’d recommend that exhibitors plan to:
- Have a dedicated sales rep at the booth at all times to engage passive foot traffic
- Create a fun way to capture prospect contact details, we saw: Free professional headshots, swag / snacks / drinks, giveaways (e.g. $500 cash prize)
- Explainer videos on a loop to help potential customers understand what is being offered
Overall, the conference was a success and achieved 2 of our 3 objectives. While we didn’t generate many new sales opportunities, we did learn a lot about the industry and meet some key players. The cost for a booth in the startup pavilion plus a second attendee was not significantly greater than purchasing 2 expo tickets but the return on investment was marginal and we would need a clear reason to purchase a booth in the future.
Tips for Attendees
- Rooms at the Luxor are much less expensive and the walk from the hotel to the conference center is marginally longer.
- Snacks / drinks are expensive so stocking up on water / iced coffee / snacks at a local store on arrival is highly recommended.
- Rooms were not available early despite requests so flight timing may mean carrying luggage for long distances – suggest minimal packing into a backpack rather than carry-on suitcases. Booth material can be shipped ahead of time.
- Good idea to plan (and book) evening meals for the team as events often overlap with dinner time and the passed appetizers are usually small and not healthy.
- Lyft/Uber is a viable alternative to a cab, meaning less time waiting in long cab lines and better value as they are less likely to take the long-way around when going to/from the airport.
- Make time to exercise and get outdoors. The casino/hotel/conference center complex is huge and you could spend the entire week walking around indoors. The Mandalay Bay cardio center can get crowded before breakfast so arrive as it opens or plan to use a break during the day (you should be taking breaks away from the expo hall regardless)
- More: https://philstrazzulla.com/2015/10/26/how-to-do-well-at-your-first-industry-conference-as-an-entrepreneur/