Welcome to the Use Case Podcast, episode 230. Today we’ll be talking to Steve from Shindig about use case or business case for why his customers choose Shindig.

Shindig is a turnkey solution for online video chat events.

Give the show a listen and please let me know what you think. Thanks, William

Show length: 25 minutes


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Steve Gottlieb
Founder & CEO Shindig Follow Follow

Music: 00:02 Welcome to RecruitingDaily’s 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 in HR tech, that’s what we do. Here’s your host, William Tincup

William Tincup: 00:25 Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup and you are listening to the Use Case podcast. Today we have Steve on from Shindig and we’ll be learning about the business case, the use case for why prospects and customers pick Shindig. So let’s do some introductions. Steve, would you please introduce both yourself and Shindig?

Steve: 00:47 Okay. Well, thanks so much for having me today, William. My name’s Steve Gottlieb and I’m the founder of Shindig and among the things we want to talk about is shindigs latest new offering, Watercoolr. I have an interesting background to be in tech and to have come up with this technology, which I think is really quite important to HR executives. I had a… Prior to this, I had a 25 year career in the music business. As a matter of fact..

William Tincup: 01:25 Very nice. Can you tell us any of the companies or any of the labels or their acts?

Steve: 01:34 I signed Nine Inch Nails and Pit Bull and Little John and Ja Rule and a bunch of others.

William Tincup: 01:41 Oh my goodness, how cool is that? I almost went to work for Rhino records, back in the late nineties.

Steve: 01:50 Well, then you will also appreciate that my first record that started the company off, was a record called Television’s greatest hits, accompanied by all TV themes.

William Tincup: 02:01 Oh no, that’s greatness. Oh my God! You and I, we’re going to have to go offline and talk about that, because I loved… Literally I was this close to accepting the position, but I believe it would’ve led to a divorce, so I didn’t take the position, and so here we are now. Shindig itself, give us the kind of the overlay of what Shindig does then we’ll get into Watercoolr.

Steve: 02:28 So the connection and the reason why I mentioned the music business experience is that, my success with the music business was all about creating fan bases and evangelical fan bases for artists who weren’t necessarily immediately in the mainstream, and they weren’t quite obvious. And doing that was all about creating premium experiences that really made fans that cultivated super fandom. And when I left music, I looked around at the experience in video conferencing and got a sense that it was a real void, that they were really flat and un-interactive. And I came to understand that the reason for that was, individuals really had no agency. That you were kind of locked in to this Brady Bunch grid with everyone staring at one another, whether they were talking or not. And there was no ability to sidebar, confer, to whisper…

There was no ability to kind of talk to your friends or for people to… Everything had to be dealt with in front of everyone else. And long before the word… The result was zoom fatigue. And we kind of perceived that inadequacy of the zoom architecture, long before the world put a name on it. And we think that notion of zoom fatigue is really that sense of oppression that comes from being in a large scale event or virtual event and having no optionality. Zoom fatigue really doesn’t happen when it’s meetings of two or three or four people anymore than you get telephone fatigue. But that anxiety really begins to happen when you’re in these large Zoom calls of 40 or 50 or more, no different than a conference call with just audio. No one ever was on a conference call with a hundred people and saying, “Gee, that was a great experience.” That architecture of one audio channel may work for you and I talking, but when it’s a large scale experience, people want degrees of autonomy.

William Tincup: 05:02 So I love this already. Do you see applications of Watercoolr throughout different parts of the HR process? Or where do you see it sit and or who do you think owns it?

Steve: 05:17 So forgive me, because I kind of went in an odd sequitur route.

William Tincup: 05:21 Oh no! I’m a non sequitur guy. You’re good, you’re at home, we’re good.

Steve: 05:26 Okay. So, one of the key differentiators of our Shindig technology is, it allows for… You can have 500 people in a virtual event and they can break up into innumerable private conversations.

William Tincup: 05:41 Mm.

Steve: 05:42 So we devised Watercoolr, because we heard from our clients who were using Shindig for large scale conferences and meetings and presentations and all the rest, that they had a very specific need that arose during the pandemic. And one that I think is even more in front of HR directors now, which is retention. And they said, “Hey, we have technology that’s great for our team meeting of five or six people. And even for our larger meetings, it’s okay. But what’s really broken is all that social fabric of our company culture that was established through all the spontaneous and ad hoc conversations that occur throughout people’s day.”

And the text messaging, be it on slack or what have you, was all well and good, but it still didn’t substitute for those spontaneous encounters by the coffee station, in the elevator lobby, wherever it was in the physical office, that kind of helped people mix things up, created all those unplanned, but critical transfers of information and knowledge. So Watercoolr is a very specific use case of the Shindig technology to really address hybrid organizations. “How do we keep people connected, keep them feeling their commitment level, their sense of shared mission to the organization, keep it reinvigorated and keep it at a high level, especially in this period where people feel so alienated and disconnected from their organizations.”

William Tincup: 07:41 I love this. It mirrors, I talked to the Chief People Officer, Diversity Officer and People Officer of ADP yesterday, west point guy, and his take on leadership was so remarkable, because he is like, “As a leader, it’s your responsibility to talk to your people. It isn’t their responsibility to talk to you.” It was a fantastic… You’ve got technology that enables that. If you believe that leaders… If you’re waiting for your people to come to you, they’re just going to leave. For whatever reason, they won’t feel like you’re invested in their life or their success et cetera.

He just had a really unique take, and I love that Watercoolr is a mechanism to… You can also see it on the attraction side. So you can see it being used or I could see it being used as a way for recruiters to talk about, “Hey, once you’re hired, I know you won’t to be in remote forever or hybrid or whatever the model is, this is one of our engagement tools, this is one of the ways that we keep conversations flowing. And so it’s important to us from a values’ culture perspective, and we use Watercoolr for this reason.” So, I can almost see recruiters using it as a sales tool to bring in candidates, but a retention tool, possibly even performance management…. Kind of the 360 degree feedback conversations that need to happen. I love that-

Steve: 09:16 We enable… I’m sorry.

William Tincup: 09:18 No, no, you’re good.

Steve: 09:18 So I was just riffing on what you’re saying. We enable great recruitment events and it is a great way for an organization to lean into showing how they have adapted to hybrid.

William Tincup: 09:32 Oh nice.

Steve: 09:32 Because it allows you to do a recruitment event where there are multiple staff people interacting with multiple candidates around a presentation where it’s informal, “Let me introduce you to this person. If you accept, you may be working with this person, he runs this.” It allows you to have that same kind of cocktail party experience-

William Tincup: 09:53 Oh, I love that.

Steve: 09:53 …that you might want to do at a recoupment fair. But it also kind of demonstrates… Right now, among the socializing culture functions that have gone out with a bath water and are not reproducible on Zoom or Teams, are the new employee welcome.

William Tincup: 10:17 Yep.

Steve: 10:17 So, if you want to introduce your new cohort, both to their class of fellow new cohorts, where they can meet people across different departments where they wouldn’t normally meet in formal meetings and they can meet people across the organization across the whole global infrastructure. And they can be part of a class or meet the larger department who they may not work with anytime soon, but they’re going to want to know who they are, what they look like, maybe have two words with them, tell them a joke, introduce them, “I went to this school, I live here.” Whatever it is, but establish some common ground. So, we enable everything from the coffee breaks to the communal lunches, to so-and-so’s back from maternity leave to let’s do the new employee welcome, let’s celebrate hitting the sales milestone, let’s…

William Tincup: 11:13 You can see celebrating personal life too. So-and-so is on vacation, here’s what’s going on. It’s celebrating rest ethic away from work, so we avoid burnout. This could be… It’s a tool for good, which I love. So you use the reference to cocktail party, which I absolutely love, because we’re both of the age. So, we used to go the networking events, and I remember one of my friends being down on networking events, I’m like, “Dude, you just got to meet one person. You don’t have to meet all hundred, you just got to meet one to make it worth your while. So yeah, you might shake 99 other hands or whatever, but that’s still one person.” And you all have found a way to activate that.

That cocktail party experience, where it is kind of random. You bump into people going into the bathroom or whatever, and it’s like, You know what? You find out you have something in common, you connect. And I think ultimately, we’re all looking for that type of connection at work and not at work, we’re all looking for that connectivity. So let me ask you, and this is like picking your favorite child or niece or nephew or whatever, but when you do the demo or when, when you show people Watercoolr for the first time, what do you love to show them? What’s your favorite part?

Steve: 12:35 Well, it’s just that people are wowed by just the fact that they could be in… So when you’re in Watercoolr, you see the whole experience. So you can see a hundred people, but they’re all in their own private chats. And so, you can move around conversation to conversation just like at a cocktail party and then make that conversation full screen. That just really gives people a rush. Everything that… All these people are pumping the metaverse, the metaverse is already here. The metaverse, all the promises, “You’re going to be able to explore this virtual world and kind of engage with people just like you were in the same kind of physical space.” That’s what Shindig enables, and Watercoolr enables, just without the need for headgear and new applications. We’re all just in the browser or on your phone, but it already enables that kind of marvel of being able to move around conversation to conversation and be social online in video, not in not just in text based, but in video.

William Tincup: 13:54 Oh, I love that. So some of your favorite customer success stores without brand names or any of that type of stuff, but just applications where you’re like, “Wow, that’s cool. I really like it, I didn’t think of that.” And they’ve used it in a way that you marvel a little bit at.

Steve: 14:13 Well, Watercoolr is kind of tuned to every office culture to use, either for the regular, “Hey, we meet for coffee breaks or, or afternoons, just stretches or what have you… This time of day and meet here, or what have you… Shindig has been used for all kinds of very sophisticated events, from political conventions to… Cheryl Sandberg has used it for lean in, to meetups, to Rihanna using it for pride celebration for 4,000 fans. So Shindig’s been used for all kinds of amazing, high value sophisticated and complicated engagements.

As I said, I think the excitement right now in HR is not necessarily those ambitious conventions, which everyone is focused on, getting people back to the office and restoring that, it’s just that to make that work, they need to be responsive to the hybrid workforce and the people who don’t want to work… Restart commuting five days a week.

And the only way to really do that is to try and recognize that they need that virtual lounge… The remote workers need that social engagement and the entire hybrid team can’t rely on the happenstance of who’s in the office, offices at 60% density by their nature, a little bit less interactive than they even were before, at full occupancy. And even before the pandemic, most of the staff was dealing day in and day out with people who were remote because they were at other offices around the globe.

William Tincup: 16:36 Right.

Steve: 16:37 So, we have to remember, work has become… Companies are now all global.

William Tincup: 16:43 We’re trying.

Steve: 16:45 And so having the right tool set to in increase communication and improve fluid communication amongst geographically distributed teams, be they work from home or just geographically distributed, is critical to any organization’s optimal function.

William Tincup: 17:08 So the HR and recruiting leaders that are out there, when they’re evaluating Watercoolr or shindig and Watercoolr in particular, what are the questions that they should be asking you? There’s a litany of questions that probably you’d like to eliminate, which would be fun content for us to explore as well, but just, what do you love? You just know they get it. When they start going down this path, you’re like, “Okay, they get it.”

Steve: 17:34 Okay. Well the first thing everyone asks is, “Well, look, I got too many platforms. I don’t need another platform…” We got you, we designed this to compliment your Zoom, Teams, Slack, whatever your installation is for workplace. We’re not looking to touch that, that’s… We’re looking to solve your discrete problem, “I have… Teams is great for my meetings, I don’t want to touch that, we’re all trained up. But I can’t do a communal lunch, I can’t do a welcome party for my new staff, I like can’t introduce all my new employees to one another, I can’t do… So I need something for that.” And so, we sit on top of that or alongside. Single sign on, boom! It’s easy integration with whatever you’re using to provide your organization security and you just message through whatever platform you’re messaging.

We’re not adding a new messaging platform on top, it’s just, send out an email, send out a slack, whatever communication you favor, and you announce it to the team and it’s available 24/7. So once the team knows, it’s there, it catches on like wildfire. You do just a handful of events in it, and people are automatically then saying, “Hey, we just came from that great talk with the CEO about the new product, let’s all meet up and discuss it and have a brainstorming session, which is kind of more of a free for all kind of session than, than a structured Zoom call.” And so they just gravitate and they automatically go to the Zoom… Do to the lounge, the virtual lounge, the Watercoolr is space for that.

William Tincup: 19:25 Two questions left. One is, Are you starting to see certain industries or verticals or company sizes, where they just see Watercoolr and there’s like, “We’ve been looking for this, we’ve been looking for something like this forever. Thank God you built it.” Et cetera. Have you seen anything in the data where it’s like it’s tracking in some direction?

Steve: 19:51 Well, I think it’s the organizations who are leaning into hybrid, and have come up with new titles, like Workplace Experience Officer.

William Tincup: 20:09 Yeah. Chief Hybrid Officer.

Steve: 20:12 They understand this is a problem to be solved, it doesn’t have one solution, it’s not one and done, it’s not like… This is going to be a process, a balancing act of competing agendas, it’s going to involve a lot of iteration and… I think and a certain amount of internal creativity to translate what was your… All that culture. All those informal back channels of communication that were so critical to so many company functions. How to translate that all into hybrid work. So, I think there’s some organizations that are still hoping their going to… It’s just going to be 2019 sometime soon, but I think the organizations that do lean in, are going to see this great new efficiency, because as I said before, we were already pretty geographically dispersed. Already.

William Tincup: 21:22 Right.

Steve: 21:27 And welcoming people back to one office still leaves you with the problem of how to… We still had that problem of imperfect communications between offices. And yesteryear, we were spending a fortune on travel to try and overcome that, now we really realize we don’t need to do that.

William Tincup: 21:44 You know what I love about this, Steve, is that, it’s really emphasizing the human connection that we’ve probably thought we had in 2019 that we didn’t. And over the pandemic, it’s not over, but over the last two years or so, we’ve learned that actually that human connection is really important to us. All of us, remote or not, it’s important to all of us. And I absolutely love what you built that. Last question, just because we are talking about HR, their budget always goes up to operations or finance, for approval. And you get asked… I’m sure you get asked this question every day, how do they build that ROI or that business case for the spend, for Watercoolr?

Steve: 22:35 Well, I think anyone who looks at Watercoolr and sees the experience, will know that they’re going to save a bunch of people from leaving their company. That this is going to have a significant impact on people who felt alienated, feeling reconnected in a way that even coming into the physical office may not. That this ongoing effort to allow this virtual space to grow up, can really… I heard in one article HR trade or HR study put out, about the great reshuffle, talked about, for many camaraderie beats compensation, you can… When companies find themselves in those bidding wars or those head hunters calling and waving raises, matching the offer only goes so far, the real thing that really… Or approving the offer. But the real thing that influences the decision powerfully is, I don’t want to leave my friends, I got contacts here, I got people who care about me.

William Tincup: 24:00 Yep.

Steve: 24:00 And I believe in the mission, this is more than just a paycheck for me. So, tools that bring that to the fore, I think, are really critically important. And I think, the ROI on this stuff is very clear, because it doesn’t take more than one or two hires to cover the cost for the-

William Tincup: 24:29 Well, you’re looking at touching your least retention engagement experience. And if for no other reason… Then if on the retention side, the cost of recruiting and retraining and all that lost productivity, it’s a pretty simple business case in my mind. Steve, I love what you’ve built, I absolutely love what you built, it’s amazing. Thank you so much for carving out time coming on the use case podcast.

Steve: 24:57 William. Thank you so much for having me, I really appreciate it.

William Tincup: 25:00 Absolutely, and thanks for everyone listening to the use case podcast, until next time.

Music: 25:06 You’ve been listening to RecruitingDaily’s Use Case podcast, be to subscribe on platform and us up at recruitingdaily.com

The Use Case Podcast

William Tincup

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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