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HR Software for companies where people matter

HR Software for companies where people matter | Andrei Visan - Sense HR

About Sense HR

Andrei: Sense HR is an HR management software built by people who have experience in both HR and software development, and this is actually their fifth product. Every time they built a better and better one, so that’s why they always dominated the market because they had the background in the niche. Pretty much in June, this is what will happen with Sense HR as well, they will most likely dominate the market.

What other products that they build?

Andrei: They built Simply Personnel and others, but People HR was the latest one. And it was acquired by a bigger group called the Access Group from the UK. The transaction is confidential, but we suspect it was quite big given that at that moment of acquisition, they got around 15 million pounds in annual recurring revenue, most of it coming from Google Ads and most of it coming from the UK.

How is Sense HR different?

Andrei: All these HR management software, in time, become obsolete and outdated, and each of these new products tries to overcome that. For example, HR tackles a thing that is not really tackled in many other HR products, even the biggest names in the industry, like remote work or part-time working. Most of it is focused to have employees full-time, and that’s it. But mainly, they try to replace pen and paper and Excel sheets. It’s mostly HR management, but it also includes a lot of legal approaches in it.

What are the best features of Sense HR?

Andrei: They always had, they always built an expenses module, which is so easy to use for the employee because most employees use HR software, they don’t really like using an app like that on their phone. But since the HRs app is so far from the data testing, it’s very well received by the employees, and they actually use it like if you have expenses, you can just scan your receipts and everything with the app on your phone.

They just go to your manager for approval to have all your expenses done. Like with a phone, you don’t need anything else. You don’t need to log in anywhere else on a website or something, or from your office computer, or so on. It’s really easy to use. Plus also, one feature that the employees’ love is holiday booking because everyone loves booking holidays, so they can book it easily within the app. Aside from that, they have like full transparency over their employee account, like how many holiday days they have left in that year, how many they took, how many were approved or not as anything HR related, or like asking for a file from the company to claim that they work in there. It’s all done very easily through since hr.

HR software is one of the most competitive markets

Andrei: It’s one of the most competitive ones in the world, from my perspective, Google Ads and mainly search platforms. I think it’s the second one after legal in the number of CPCs. Easily in the UK, you can pay for the keyword data software, like 50 British pounds per click, which is still profitable, to be honest, because there’s a huge, not huge, but quite big average order value of a few thousand every year.

If you do everything correctly, you get a lot of ROI out of those 50 pounds per click. It is not a niche where you have something like 3000 clicks per day on a keyword. If you get 100 in the entire account on like 30 keywords, that’s amazing every day, you know? But with the former company, they had people, hr, we got to spend like 30, 40, even 60,000 pounds every month in Google. They had search only, but we got over 120 book meetings every week.

When an agency came, and they said they offered five book meetings every month for like 5,000 pounds, I told them for half the price. I can give them five book meetings if they want. Only in the UK, I think there are like 200 software, big and small. That’s without considering ambiguous names like BambooHR or ADP. Just the smaller ones that are like 200, at least just in the UK, and they’re all over the world. I joined Sense HR last month on the 23rd of March, I believe I with People HR I was from like eight years, from 2013 until 2021, when they sold it to the Access group.

What is your story, Andrei?

Andrei: I started my career by accident, to be honest. like well, I was a tech my entire life. I was the first private person probably to have a computer in my hometown. And I liked it. I liked it. I was curious. Then I started to disassemble it and everything Then I started to try to reassemble it back, and you can imagine that was like 1995 or something like that, and there was no internet mostly in the world. I learned everything from some manuals of my first computer, which were in German, and I didn’t know German. It was another challenge. But then that got me and my best friend in high school to build internet cafes from scratch.

We bought components. We assembled entire internet cafes in one or two days. Everything was set up, and we loved it. At some point, I ended up in this US company that built a branch in Bucharest, Romania, they were called Sister Systems. They were building DVDs. They were very popular at that point in the USA. Then they moved to US Business deprecate and so on. The US branch of Sister Systems said – our guys are going to Google to learn something that they will launch, which is called Google Ads, and we will want to do that in Romania and wants to offer volunteers to learn it. And I was like, let’s learn something new!

Started learning Google Ads

Andrei: Once again, I don’t even remember the exact year of that, but I think there have been at least 20 years since then. And it wasn’t like a full-time job, you know, I was doing it for my sister for a while. Then I went to other companies. I went to a store called 24PC. I did a bit of everything in there as well. Support, sales, Google Ads, all of that, you know, and at some point, I got into what was called Avangate, and then was called 2Checkout, and now it’s called Verifone. A company built in Romania that grew really, really big. And in there was my first full-time job in Google ads. And it was very good for me because I started full-time with an international approach with teams all over the world, advertising, not just in my country.

Over the globe, with different campaigns based on different cultural differences between countries and continents and so on. It was quite exciting. But as you probably may know, the paycheck in Romania is not that big. I started looking for a site project, so I got to a freelancing platform. I just saw a project, I applied to it, and it was this guy from the UK who said, I’m building this HR software is not my first one, and I need someone first. I need it part-time. He offered me one or two hours every day. He offered me the same amount of money I was getting from a full-time job.

How Andrei got started in the HR niche

Andrei: He was very honest with me from the start with everything. Very transparent with everything, you know. My first paycheck from him was the second day after we talked. He always paid me in advance, you know? And then we started working. We started working At some point, he said, I see you don’t like your full-time job too much anymore. Don’t you want me to make an offer? And you can work with us remotely from Romania. And I said okay, make me the offer. I told my wife if they give me 10% of what I get here in the full-time job, I’m going. And he offered me something like double and a half or something like this with my salary.

I was like, yes, please. I would like to work remotely. And here, I have been working remotely since 2013, and he liked it because he told me years after that that because I’m a Romanian, he has this farm in Italy. He looked for a farm manager for many years. It’s the kind of farm that produces milk and dairy products and all that. And he found a Romanian guy like 15 years ago who is still the manager of his farm. He somehow built trust in his mind about Romanian people, and he said, yeah, you look cool. You’re Romanian. And I know Romanian people work really, really hard, and they do a good job all the time.

What he did after the acquisition of People HR

Andrei: Now, I was at this point with them remote working remotely for like eight years. Then they had, they were acquired by a bigger company. Obviously, I had to do something because I have two kids. I had to feed them on a daily basis. I started looking for jobs or something, and he told me he actually the founder of People HR, he actually mentored me in creating my own website and had my own customers and all that.

And he supported me like that for like six months. Pushing me to have my own customers and not put all my eggs in one basket anymore. And it was really good, but I needed something more stable. I found Lanteria. Actually, Lanteria found me. it was built in Ukraine, and it was sold by the founders to a person from us who moved to Barcelona. And some other investors. He told me I used people HR in the past, and I so loved the ads and everything, the entire path, how I found it and how, how the product was really, really good and actually the cheapest on the market.

It has all the pluses, and I want to do the same with Lanteria. And he told me, I was looking for you for like three months on LinkedIn. The bad thing with Lanteria was that it lasted for some months, and during this time, this guy, the CEO, and the investors, they tried to raise some funding, and they didn’t succeed it. That’s why the marketing adventure in Lanteria actually ended. They will have to focus more on sales now since they don’t have much budget for that. It’s no heart feeling or something. I totally understand it.

And then the founder of People HR told me this is destiny. Do you want to work with us full-time? Now we have two projects, and the funny thing since it’s their second product, it’s actually having development in Romania. He built an entire company there. For Sense Tech. Mostly software is built there. Hardware is built in Canada and in the UK.

Why did you choose B2B SaaS?

Andrei: Well, to be honest, I don’t really like e-commerce because there are probably too many doing that already. And working in the same company for so many years. doing just that? Well, I kind of do like it. It’s actually a big challenge to work, as I said, with lower volume is harder, even though you have maybe bigger budgets or something every month, but you have a lower traffic volume, you have a lower pool of possible customers out there, and at some point, you won’t be able to grow it past that point.

What has been your biggest challenge throughout the years?

Andrei: Working with founders because, because with the founders I work with, we had regular calls, and when I say regular, I say daily, daily calls of like one hour. Of course, not always just business, we talk politics and everything. But the biggest challenge is to make a founder who is not very aware of how these ad platforms work. And to understand that what you do now will have an impact and what kind of impact will have in the future, near or far away future. You have to educate them because they don’t know, they don’t know how I know or how you know all this. They don’t know that if I add a negative keyword when someone searches for something related to the negative keyword, he says will not.

Or that a competitor in Google Ads is not necessarily a business competitor. They just bid on the same keywords, but they may sell something totally different. Or why is it better sometimes to be in the second position in search ads, for example, because it’s on the first ad, and everyone clicks by instinct? It’s the first one click you read, oh, it’s not what I need. You click back, and from the second ad down below, you read everything. The first guy is getting the biggest bill from Google while the other guys are getting the leads, you know, on, on the same thing. I spent like one year convincing the founder to use Bing Ads, and he was like, nobody uses Bing ads.

And I did some reverse engineering to show him who uses Bing Ads technology companies that have laptops from Microsoft. They have security so tight. They have ISO certification and all that, and their security is so tight, they’re not even allowed to replace the dis, the default search browser, which is Bing. That’s, those companies are pure leads for HR software, Bing ads work. The volume is like 10% of what Google offers at most, 10%, but really cheap leads. If a lead was costing like three years ago, it was costing 50 pounds one or 100 pounds for Google, for software in BIng, it was like five pounds.

Really cheap compared to Google right now. They do a lot of changes, and it is not that cheap anymore, but it’s not Google expensive either, so it’s still good to use it, you know? Well, if it’s a B2 business and it, I don’t know if that niche fits your product type or a product niche, it’s a very good channel. Convincing someone today to invest in Bang is really one of the biggest challenges I have to do. How I never thought about that, but now it makes a lot of sense.  I had to do reverse engineering, it’s good to ask people from time to time.

What is the biggest mistake SaaS companies make when they start doing Google Ads?

Andrei: One of the biggest ones that I saw is that they rely too much on Google’s ai, for example, bidding strategies. We tested that in People HR every year. We had like one month when we started their automated, they changed the name to Bidding Strategies. The longest time was when Access Group bought People HR, and they insisted, tested for six months, and the result was we got half of the conversions in the number of conversions. We tripled the cost per conversion compared to manual bidding. They don’t do manual bidding. A smart bidding strategy is very good when you have a very big traffic volume, like hundreds, at least thousands of clicks every day.

It may work well. If you have e-commerce, you can track how much a customer paid. You cannot do that in a sales business, most of them have the pricing based on the number of employees per month. In any age of software is like you pay one pound per employee per month. It’s quite hard to make that dynamic and trackable inside Google. You cannot set a target return or an ad spend or something like this to know that this is how much the deal will bring you. This unique deal will bring you 2000 pounds. You don’t know that in that stage, they’re in the very early stage when they come from Google Ads. It’s quite hard to do that.

And most people rely on automated bidding, and that’s it. They just sit and forget it. That’s what it’s called. Sit and Forget. They just set the campaigns, let it run, and that’s it. and it’s not good. I tested it every year. Google made progress. It got better and better every year, to be honest. I used a Performance Max campaign for a customer from us. Also, B2B says something like an alternative of gleam that I owe, that used to create contests and all that. With a lot of assets added, like YouTube videos, images, everything. It worked fantastically well. But for search for Google as search, it’s nearly impossible to bid manually bidding with an automated bidding strategy because the volume is just that low usually. That’s the biggest one. I saw it all the time.

How should a B2B SaaS business start doing paid ads?

Andrei: Well, if they have a bit of experience, if they did it before for a bit, besides, they can do it themselves. The founders usually all the startups, they don’t have a big budget or something to pay someone. I’d rather get well I’m biased here cuz I do that for a living, but the advantage of getting someone that did it before is you don’t get to learn at your own expense. Because it’s a costly platform, it can ruin your budget in a few clicks. I saw people not adding the comma after $10 for the $10, and they bid $1,000 per click. and in free clicks, they spend $3,000, which was their budget for the entire month.

Things like this can happen, and that’s why you want to avoid mistakes. You don’t want to learn at your own expense and probably don’t have the budget for a full-time person at first, but they can get someone on an hourly basis or like have a contract, like set up, manage, report it every week or something like this. You don’t need someone full-time for Google. When you get to the size of Avangate, you have a $300,000 per month budget. Then you need someone full-time. Otherwise, if you want to spend a few thousand per month, you need someone on a part-time basis. You don’t need the full-time. Sure. If you get funding, you can get someone, but not, not all businesses are getting funded properly.

What are the future trends you see in advertising?

Andrei: They try to involve it more and more. It feels like in the past years, Google is on, on one hand, that Google is trying to make advertisers spend more money because they change even the matching system. An exact match is not really an exact match anymore. It’s like the freeze match used to be a few years ago. They remove metrics like average position. They removed all these things that were, which was very useful before they changed the ad types. They try to involve AI actually more and more. Even when you do manual bidding, you can use some audiences in there that can. Actually, it’s manual bidding.

Show it in a better spot to someone that’s belonging to a certain audience. You know, they, they do that now, and they didn’t do it a few years ago, and they, it feels like they push the AA into more, more into depth, into Google Ads. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, and I don’t think AI will steal anyone’s job. They will complete it. Somehow I saw a business, to be honest, while I was prospecting for customers called Copy.ai, and I think, I think it’s the first best use case of ChatGPT because the guy that founded that, it’s a copywriter, he hired 11 other copywriters. They use I don’t know which of these AI from OpenAI, but I believe they now use ChatGPT.

You basically can go there and order a piece of content, a blog post, or whatever, and those 11 people. Plus, the founder, they do all that for ChatGPT, and then they take that bold text and rewrite it so it’ll be unique content, and they make, that’s a basis of like 1 million of dollars per month. On average, they do a million per month with copy that AI uses, and they have done that since like last year, two years ago already. They’re not really new, but it’s working. Instead of having 120 copywriters, they are 12. That’s all you know. But most likely, that will happen with Google ads as well. We will train more on how to play the AI’s algorithm because that’s what’s happening right now. We need to be in better spots all the time. It’s the same with SEO. You need to play the algorithm. We’ll probably get better at that at playing the algorithm.

What are your favorite SaaS products?

Andrei: I’ve been a tester for a lot of products that are very good these days, like Unbounce, for creating landing pages. I was among the first 10, I believe, and I know it before, he was popular. I also have been using Hotjar, which I found incredible to watch someone’s doing on your website. I love this, and I still use it in most of the products. Well, the Google ones that I have to say that I like Google Analytics a lot. I used other analytics products, and they are more in-depth, but this one feels like even if you’re stupid, you can get the conclusion on what’s happening in your business for analytics. If it’s tracked correctly, that’s another problem. And one particularly cool thing that I like, it’s a plugin for CRMs called GConnector.

It was built by some guys in Ukraine that did in their company, and then they said, oh, we can sell that, and they build their own company on that. It’s actually adding some hidden fields on any form, and it’s tracking all your data. And while for e-commerce, it may be analytics that can do that, for a B2B SaaS, that’s a crucial product because at the end of the year or after a few months, you can track how much money the keyword HR software brought. It’s not just keywords in Google Ads, it’s actually searched terms that people actually search for.

You see that in the CRM, although the data, what they searched for the first time, for the last time, and everything. I think that’s one of the coolest products I saw that solves a real sales issue because I said it can take even one year to sign a customer, and you’re lost in there. You simply cannot match what they searched for one year ago unless you track it with something like this, you know? I found it just genius. A guy that had a problem and he solved it, and then he solved the, the fixed to others as well.