Ty Abernethy is passionate about helping people find meaningful work. He started his career in recruiting, where he learned about the challenges that arise during the hiring process for both companies and candidates. In 2011, he co-founded ConveyIQ, a recruiting SaaS business, which he helped scale to over $4M ARR. In 2018, Ty co-founded Grayscale with the goal of helping enterprise organizations create a personalized, high-touch candidate experience that attracts more quality candidates.Follow
Welcome to the Use Case Podcast, episode 200. Today we have Ty from Grayscale about the use case or business case for why his customers use Grayscale.
Ty loves solving hiring challenges and helping equip people with the skills needed to find a meaningful career.
Grayscale is a texting and automation platform designed for hiring teams. Brands like Anheuser-Busch, Upwork and Warby Parker leverage Grayscale to automate candidate engagement and give their team “another set of hands” throughout the hiring process.
Show length: 21 minutes
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Music: Welcome to RecruitingDaily Use Case Podcast, a show dedicated to the storytelling that happens or should happen when practitioners purchase technology. Each episode is designed to inspire new ways and ideas to make your business better, as we speak with the brightest minds in recruitment and HR tech. That’s what we do. Here’s your host, William Tincup.
William Tincup: Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup, and you are listening to The Use Case Podcast. Today, we have Ty from Grayscale. And we learning about the Use Case to the business case that his prospects use to internally, to purchase, and become customers of Grayscale. And also his customers to maintain and stay customers of Grayscale. So without any further ado, Ty, how are you doing?
Ty Abernethy: I’m good, Tincup. Good to be spending a few minutes with you today.
William Tincup: Absolutely. So, introduce yourself and also introduce Grayscale.
Ty Abernethy: Yeah, my name’s Ty Abernethy. I’m the co-founder and CEO here at Grayscale. My background’s in recruiting. I actually grew up in staffing. My dad has a staffing agency, and was exposed to volume recruiting for construction and manufacturing, and other types of roles, like summer job that I kind of did growing up. And then have Grayscale. That was sort of the impetus of what became Grayscale. We’re a high volume hiring platform, really designed to help recruiting teams that are dealing in volume recruiting, to be able to really be much more efficient, and to help speed up the hiring process. Everything’s SMS first, and is all designed with the hourly worker, and really designed to plug seamlessly into volume scenarios to really eliminate friction throughout the overall hiring life cycle. Knowing that those typically matter of days versus weeks and months, which is more typical in white-collar hiring.
William Tincup: So take us into it because you said volume, and you said hourly. And a lot of us use those as synonyms, right? Which they can be, of course. And you also said SMS, which is obviously mobile. So take us into what’s going on with volume hiring right now. Because you got a wonderful purview, and background in volume, and hourly hiring. So just what do you say from your customers?
Ty Abernethy: It’s a really interesting time being in the world of volume hiring. The type of companies we work with are like the Amazons, the Wayfairs of the world, brands that are like DoorDash, growing like crazy. That are trying to meet head count numbers, while simultaneously really struggling to engage candidates, and keep them in their funnel long enough to get an offer to them, right? So that you have this dynamic where it’s just our customers are experiencing typically this leaky bucket dynamic that it’s been…
And in volume recruiting, there’s always some leakiness to the bucket. But like an all time high, as far as the number of holes in the bucket, just hemorrhaging candidates is oftentimes the scenario. And that’s usually where we step in, and really help to plug some of those holes to really help speed up the process. So you can keep candidates in your funnel from start to finish more effectively. But yeah, it’s an interesting time particularly for a lot of our customers being in growth mode, but having such a hard hitting those hiring targets, based on the current dynamic with the talent pool.
William Tincup: Any industries that you see that are a little bit, that are nuanced? I mean, retail versus healthcare. Hourly versus manufacturing. Is there anything that we should know about?
Ty Abernethy: Yeah. I think there is certainly some nuances across industry. The particulars for healthcare can look very different from that of retail, let’s say. But, you know the underlying with a healthcare, for example, finding specialized talent, whether it be RNs, or other specialty roles, therein lies one problem. But once you find them and engage them, then the second problem is moving fast enough to hire them if they have those credentials. Getting them to hire before another hospital or healthcare group does. And typically we’re in an environment where the first offer wins, whether it be in healthcare or it be for that retail opening for Warby Parker, for example, or for Dexsport goods. Or these type of brands that are, again, competing for eyeballs with other retailers, but also with other restaurants and hospitality groups, and a whole host of other different industries. So, I think it’s just speed is sort of the universal thing across industries and then you have kind of some nuances that crop up from there.
William Tincup: So what’s interesting is, especially with kind of early stage career volume, hourly. These folks aren’t on LinkedIn. This said, they might not or might have a resume. You’ve got their phone number, because they’ve applied to a gig. And what’s the process from there, from a Grayscale perspective, in terms of getting a campaign out the door that will resonate with them Something that will actually resonate and get them to move to the next stage?
Ty Abernethy: Yeah, that’s a great question. So I’ll answer it first by just kind of give sort of a philosophical perspective on sort of what we believe to be the best experience for candidates, where you see the best outcomes. And that is like for us… A lot of what we do is around automation. But we don’t approach it from a kind of typical lens of leveraging a chatbot to engage your candidates throughout the process, right? So, some great tools out there that do that. Our focus is really to kind of wrap around the recruiter, and the recruiting team that they’re doing volume hiring, and really kind of… Think of it, like give them like an Iron Man suit, right? Where they have kind of are able to really be far more efficient, effective at their job. And doing so eliminating friction by automating all the things that would normally be manual, just doing so with the recruiter in the focal point, in the center.
And so we find the more that you create these kind of human-to-human encounters. Even at volume. Even at scale. The better the outcomes, the better the conversion rates, and the more likely candidates will stay in your process, right? Because it’s… We live in this relationship age, right? And even for volume transactional hiring, the more that you… Little things that foster relationship can go a long way. And so we see that being really an area where is kind of critical importance, and why we feel it’s so important to kind of put the recruiter at the center of things when you’re talking about automation. And again, it’s all back to the relationship which we see is so important.
William Tincup: So the question’s going to be, what’s Grayscale connected to? But, the broader question is, most people know kind of the corporate TA stack from the sourcing to onboarding. They kind of know all the different pieces, right? It is changing, but they kind of have an idea of the different leg bones connected to the hip bone, et cetera. With hourly high volume, what’s an average tech stack look like from your perspective, and where does Grayscale… Where does it fit in into the tech stack?
Ty Abernethy: That’s a great question. I think volume recruiting, surprisingly enough, despite it being such a big pain point for so many companies, especially today, it’s a really underserved area. As far as volume recruiters are typically working out of their ATS, primarily. For a large company, you may have a CRM that the sourcers and they’re being used for white-collar hiring in one area of the business, that sits on top of, let’s say Taleo, right? But then you have your volume recruiters that are kind of stuck working at Taleo. And that CRMs not really designed for them. And there’s only a certain number of licenses over here. And so really where Grayscale kind of comes in, is we sit on top of an ATS, like a Taleo or Workday or SuccessFactors, and kind of help recruiting teams to be able to manage the workflow seamlessly, design for volume recruiting, right?
We update the ATS in the background, just like a CRM would. But again, everything we’re doing is through the lens of SMS first, through the lens of mobile first. And so we’re kind of… And through the lens of let’s automate whenever we can, right? For that volume recruiter. And so, that’s kind of where we sit on the tech stack. Usually a company may or may not have a CRM, but usually we’re sitting on the ATS, and are being leveraged day-to-day by the volume recruiters, to manage their workflow.
William Tincup: Are they just for the audience? Are they leveraging both the folks that are applying? Are they leveraging the folks that are basically a talent pool? The people maybe they’ve had shown interest in the past or whatever, or sourced candidates? Because what I’m trying to figure out or even their own ATS. Like where are they getting the data? So, if we’re going to send them a text message about a job. And so one of this, I guess I’ll bifurcate the question. If we’re going to send them a text message about a job, how does that play? And secondly, if we’re responding to them that they’ve applied, is that a part of Grayscales business as well? That they’ve responded to a job, and now we’re using texting, we’re using SMS as the form of communication to kind of move them through the process.
Ty Abernethy: Yeah, great question. So I think starting with the of funnel in mind, right? A candidate’s, let’s say, you apply for a warehouse position at Amazon. We’ll use that for example, right? And so you could text in to apply, you could QR code scan to apply, or you can just apply through traditional means. But however you get in, and then once you’re in, then Grayscale not only facilitates the text apply or the QR code apply. We then engage the candidates via SMS right away, from on behalf of the recruiter, right? And so that kicks off the conversation, the process, and that then moves to whether the… It’s the assessment or the scheduling of a Zoom call, or a video interview, or a phone screen.
And then on and on throughout the process. And we’re kind of designed, and to sort of really sort of streamline and automate that candidate journey, on behalf of the recruiter. And then one other thing back to top of the funnel, we do make it really easy to kind of re-engage TA candidates in your ATS like Workday. So I can go in, and just apply a few filters based on tags or go back and filter by requisitions that have closed. That candidates have maybe made it past a certain stage in the process, and re-engage all of them at once. So there’s a re-engagement component that can help feed the funnel as well. And you can create pretty robust drip campaigns for re-engaging stale candidates, or list of candidates to kind of feed top of the funnel as well.
William Tincup: I know the audience is going to be interested in… And you went through it really quickly on the different things that it automates, because that’s giving the recruiter potentially even the hiring manager, their time back. So you mentioned you’re scheduling interviews as driving towards the background check or assessment, or whatever, whatever the bid is. That’s being done in an automated way. So there’s not people punching buttons. It’s being done through SMSs, pushing them through the process, and which gives recruiters their time back. So explain… Go a little deeper there for some examples of what that is. But also, you mentioned the candidate journey, i.e, the candidate experience, what feedback have you gotten from candidates as to how they like Grayscale? I mean, they might not know Grayscale about its name, but how they like the experience?
Ty Abernethy: Yeah. Yeah. So everything that’s sent to a candidate’s going to be on behalf of a recruiter, right? And so that might be… That may start with a stage trigger that you know. Recruiters changes a stage in the process, which sends out an invitation to schedule an interview. Candidates… Let’s say a candidate doesn’t take action. Grayscale will automatically on behalf of the recruiter, kind of nudge that candidate over maybe a series of days until the candidate books time with the recruiter. And then, leading up to the interview, we’re going to follow up as you know, on behalf of the recruiter just confirming the interview is set, and give them a way to reschedule if they need to. If the candidate doesn’t sit for the interview, if they get ghosted, having a simple way for that, where Grayscale just automates that follow up.
If the candidate ghosts you to where you can on the recruiter’s behalf, we’re reaching back out to re-coordinate that interview to get it back on the calendar, right? So it’s stuff like that. And that’s just the scheduling use case. But it’s all these things that like, we’re going to a lot of volume recruiting is like a bit of like herding cats, if you will. Kind of the follow up and, “Hey, just making sure you did this,” and, “Oh, hey, are you still interested?” And, so we automate all of that around the process. So the recruiter no longer has to.
William Tincup: I love that. Okay. So let’s pivot to some buying the buy side of this for folks. Maybe they’ve never used this type of platform. Maybe they’ve never used this type of technology. So let’s go with a newb. They’ve never done this, and this is a foreign concept. So, let’s just take them through, what are the questions that they should be asking of Grayscale?
Ty Abernethy: I think there are a few things to kind of keep in mind. One, is, what’s the MVP here, right? What’s the minimum thing that I can roll out for my team that will maximize the value out of the gate, right? And so, we’ve designed Grayscale just to be really simple. Let’s say you’re in healthcare, and you’re on Workday, right? Like, right just plug Grayscale into Workday. It’s a super quick integration and off you go. You can start manually just texting candidates, and advancing them through the process in a manual fashion. Then you can layer in automations as you get more sophisticated, and become much more advanced over time. But you can kind of take a crawl, walk, run. And I think that’s question number one is, how do I combine enough bandwidth to be able to implement something?
And what’s the minimum thing that I can roll out? And so thinking in terms of taking bite size chunks off. Because we all… Many of us in volume want to… Yes, the Northstar, let’s automate as much as we can. But then there’s the, “Well, I want to have a great candidate experience and I don’t really know what I want the experience to feel like all throughout.” And it’s like, don’t try to figure that all at once.
You just start doing some things manually. Start layering in SMS as a channel. Start automating various touch points. And then a lot of our customers will start that way. And then like Amazon’s pharmacy division went from… They can now… A single recruiter can handle a thousand candidates at a time, because they’ve automated end-to-end their process. But you don’t have to start there. And I think just thinking about how do we take bite size chunks of the problem, and kind of layer things in over time? That’s one big one we see a lot of employers get hung up on is, “Oh, the lift and automation is too overwhelming. Where do we start?”
William Tincup: Right. Right. It’s like, okay, let’s just do candidate interviews. Let’s just make that… I mean you and I have grown up in a world where there were people that their sole job at staffing firms was to just schedule interviews.
Ty Abernethy: Right.
William Tincup: Like that was like a thing. It probably still is a thing, in some places, that’s fine. But there’s a better way. We don’t have to try and fix it all. Like let’s just fix one little thing, and get that done, and then feel everyone feels comfortable. And then we can move on to something else that was-
Ty Abernethy: Yeah. Just fix your ghosting problem, right?
William Tincup: Yeah.
Ty Abernethy: Maybe that’s all you need to do right now. Just start there. And thinking in terms of, what’s the biggest problem you need to move the needle on? And cool. Let’s start there. And then over time you can layer in more and before you know it, you’ve really automated a good portion of your process.
William Tincup: I love it. So, you’ve been in HR tech for a while. We at this stage in our career. We don’t talk, you talking years. Would you say you’ve been in here for a while. You’ve done a lot of demos. You’ve shown people a lot of different technologies, et cetera. When you show Grayscale to folks, what do they fall in love with?
Ty Abernethy: The simplicity. I would say this time and time again, it’s like the ease of the way it bakes into a system like SuccessFactors or Workday or Greenhouse. And just allows you to start really simple. And then double down as you’re seeing value. That to us, I think, is our secret sauce. You don’t have to think about automation is all or nothing. And even just like candidate engagement, right? Like again, just start leveraging a channel like SMS. Start automating a few little touch points in the process, and then layer on as you’re seeing value. And so, that’s what I think our secret sauce is. Just making it really simple to start down that path with bite side chunks of, start with SMS, start with a few automated touch points in your process, and then going to move on from there.
And so we find that adoption and sort of change management is really, it’s, William, it’s been easier than any other product that I’ve been a part of, to like get customers to adopt this product. Because it’s, if you know how to text, and you know how to set up basic rules, off you go, and you’re off to the races. And so, it’s… And the fact that it bakes right into the ATS makes it all the easier when you’re not having to pull the… We’re not pulling you out, and forcing you to do work out of a separate system if you don’t want to. So, anyway [crosstalk 00:18:44]
William Tincup: I love that. So without naming names or brands or customers, et cetera, what’s your favorite kind of customer story?
Ty Abernethy: It’s the type of customer story that’s… Yeah, it shows up and says, “I’ve got a real problem with our time to fill is ballooning, or candidates are ghosting us for interviews. Or our hiring managers in the field. Our store managers are spending way too much time on recruiting activities.” And being able to help impact the metric they’re tracking. Let’s just say like no-show rate, in a really meaningful way. That to me is I think the most fun part of this, is the product can address various different needs throughout the kind of high volume life cycle. But yeah, I think the favorite’s probably one around, “My team is drowning, and/or we’re not moving fast enough, and we need any way we can find some efficiency in our process.” I’d say that’s sort of the what we get most jazzed up about when we hear those that type of language.
William Tincup: I love it. Listen, Ty, thank you so much for your time. I know you’re busy. I love what you’ve built and building. And again, it is a part of the market that just doesn’t get a lot of love. The corporate side gets a lot of love, or probably too much love. But the volume and hourly market, it’s just not a lot of it. Is there’s just not an equal amount of innovation. And I love that you focused on that, and you’re helping those folks. So thank you.
Ty Abernethy: Thanks for having me, William.
William Tincup: Absolutely. And thanks for everyone listening to The Use Case podcast, until next time.
The Use Case Podcast
William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.
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