An Interview with Joe Hanna, CEO of ENGAGE Talent
We are kicking off a new “series” at High Alpha: CEO Spotlight feature. With every new High Alpha investment, we will sit down with our newest company to dig into their business, team, and story. You’ll get an inside look at the companies in our portfolio and their incredible leaders and teams. This article is the first installment of those features.
Earlier this year, we had the privilege to invest in ENGAGE Talent alongside an incredible group of investors, including Rise of the Rest, Refinery Ventures, and Grand Ventures.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with ENGAGE Talent’s CEO Joe Hanna to talk more about ENGAGE, his entrepreneurial beginnings, and lessons learned along the way.
Drew: Give us a quick preview on what ENGAGE Talent does.
Joe: Our science identifies misalignment between people, roles, and companies in dynamic markets. We help recruiters target and engage with professionals who are more likely to change jobs in the next 60 to 90 days.
D: Tell us a little more about your background and how you got into tech.
J: I was fortunate to get into modern software engineering at its infancy in the early 1990s. Most of my career was spent building businesses and technologies around enterprise applications like HCM, ERP, and CRM. The same good fortune got me associated with companies in the big data, predictive analytics, and machine learning space at the time those technologies were starting to shape our future.
D: How did the idea for ENGAGE develop or originate?
J: ENGAGE was born at the intersection of these experiences and after identifying the potential value that advanced analytics can bring to HR-tech. The original concept focused on identifying and addressing the skills gap between professionals and roles that they are aspiring to hold.
As much attention as that concept got, we realized quickly that it wasn’t scalable in its first iteration. That’s when we envisioned ENGAGE in its current form and executed a methodical pivot. We had an amazing group of supporters and investors who trusted the team’s vision and ability to
execute. Without them, we would have been a one and done like many startups that don’t get the opportunity to successfully pivot.
D: What advice would you have for other founders or CEOs?
J: How much time do we have? If I have to pick one, I will borrow this one from Facebook: you better be figuring out what will kill your product before anyone else does!
We live in an age where technical advantage can buy you a few months headway at best. If you are not obsessed with what’s next for your product and your customers, you will be obsolete before you know it. Success is not a destination in our world … you are never “done” … embrace the fact that what is working for you today is most certainly going to change in few short
D: Outside ENGAGE, how do you recharge? What are some of your major passions?
J: Ah… I thought you would never ask! Sailing has become my passion. More specifically, multi-day offshore and open ocean races. I enjoy the navigation challenge, teamwork, and competitive nature of the sport. I highly recommend it to founders; you will be forced to live in the moment and truly
D: What are you most excited about in the upcoming product roadmap?
J: We are obsessed by the alignment of people and their roles. When we are successful, the results are increased productivity, job satisfaction, and healthier economies. Our roadmap is heavily focused on improving our data
aggregation and predictive models on one side and making the platform a natural part of a recruiter workflow on the other side. We ask a lot of questions and are not afraid to challenge long held models.
Just one example: we are about to launch a new study that significantly improves the approach to labor supply/demand analytics … then we will bring that to the platform in the form of actionable insights that organizations can use. That balance between true science/theory and actionable insights is what we do… day in and day out and it is exhilarating.
D: If people are interested in learning more about ENGAGE’s product or joining the ENGAGE team, where should they go for more information?
J: We would love to learn more about your challenges in identifying, targeting, and attracting talent. We learn from every one of these discussions and we can hopefully add value to them as well. We are at www.engagetalent.com and my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.