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In a founder to founder interview, Drafted CEO, Vinayak Ranade sat down with Brendan Schwartz, Founder & CTO at Wistia to pick his brain about hiring, team building, and company culture.  

Watch the full interview here.

Wistia’s Unique Path

Wistia creates video software for growing businesses, turning camera-shy beginners into business-video pros. They were founded by Chris Savage and Brendan Schwartz in 2008, who set out to help companies market and build their audience through video. This year they’re even nominated for a Webby award.

Two years ago, Wistia announced the raise of a debt-round in order to buy out their shareholders and convert their business to a profit-share model. Not the type of headline we’re used to seeing.

Vinayak: Can you share some of the growth numbers you’ve had for the business over the last year?

Brendan: Last year we did over $32 million dollars in revenue and grew the team, and again I’m bad with numbers, from 80 people to about 100 people now.   

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Vinayak: Is this one of the things you talk about when you’re hiring people at Wistia?

Brendan: Having this shift hasn’t affected who we hire. We’ve always looked for people who are really long-term thinkers and who value sustainable growth because that’s how we’ve built this business.

We’re used to hearing stories about companies announcing rounds of fundraising and high-growth targets. A new unicorn is always making a splash.

By taking a different business approach and sharing it publicly, Wistia began appealing to job seekers who were looking for a change from the venture-backed start-up world.

Wistia Culture & Hiring

As a company that is focused on long-term thinking and creativity, they’re not looking for someone that wants to take shortcuts.

Growing slowly over a decade, that’s done through a lot of hard work and not taking the quickest path often.

The culture of Wistia is clear in the product they deliver. They’re spending time producing content to help people become better creators.

Content marketing is a long game. It requires consistency to build an engaged following and Wistia built their business on the basis of the sustained compounding growth of content marketing.

Turning a Hard No into a Yes

What are the most difficult hires? The ones that say no before they say yes. Take a page out of Wistia’s playbook here. 

When a candidate challenges them with a hard no to a full-time position they opt for a contracting agreement. After the candidates’ contracting begins, it isn’t too long before they want to join full time.

It may sound risky, but it’s a long play that’s paid off for Wistia.

We’ve done that with a number of people over the years and it’s been successful when someones been like I don’t get this business, I don’t know why I want to be a part of it. But it is the culture and everyone else here who makes it a special place.  

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Video in Hiring

To help create a unique candidate experience, Wistia makes videos for different points during the hiring process.

If you’re scheduled for an interview at the Wistia office, before your interview you’ll receive a funny video about the Wistia office and the people that work there.

The idea there is that we want to create a great candidate experience, it’s nerve-wracking to come in, and interviews are generally not great, so how can we make that better?  

Wistia also creates video job descriptions to highlight the team of people you would be working with directly for the job opportunity you’re interviewing for.

Vinayak: Do you think there’s an opportunity for recruiting teams to use video more?

Brendan: I think showing is always better than telling. A lot of people get a lot of recruiting emails and they can tend to sound the same. It’s hard to stand out. I think video is a good way to do it.

Wistia makes a product called Soapbox which is an easy way to record a quick, professional looking video in a short amount of time.

Creativity & Long-term Thinking

During our interview with Brendan, we noticed two things came up a lot: creativity and long-term thinking.

It’s no coincidence that these are two of the four core values of Wistia. When people talk about company culture coming from the top down, you hear that in Brendan’s interview. But what you also hear is their culture coming from the inside out too.

The only way they get there is by creating modest, long-term goals.

We now set modest, normal, achievable goals and find that we get way better performance and much more creativity. And actual long-term thinking.

Which comes full circle as Wistia continues to build long-term thinking and creativity in their company culture, hiring process, and product.

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