In this episode of JobBoardGeek, I talk to Olivier Breton of NiceBoard (Steven is out on a family medical emergency). Started during the pandemic and the output of his own job board, NiceBoard is a low-cost but full-featured job board platform for start-ups, non-profits, and communities. Jeff discovers that Olivier has built out the platform for ease-of-use and affordability. Despite Steven’s absence, Jeff finds that talking about his own blog post is reason enough to include it in the podcast!
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0:00:36.3 Jeff Dickey-Chasins: Hello everyone and welcome to JobBoardGeek, it’s the podcast about connecting candidates and employers. My name is Jeff Dickey-Chasins, I’m the Job Board Doctor, I’m your host. And normally, at this time, I would be introducing Steven Rothberg of College Recruiter because he is actually the co-host. But unfortunately, Steven is dealing with a family medical emergency, so he won’t be able to be here today, we will be wishing him the best and crossing our fingers and hopefully, things will work out and see him at the next episode.
0:01:06.2 JD: So today I have Olivier Breton of NiceBoard on the show. He’s gonna talk about his job board software platform, which I think you’ll find very interesting, but first I wanted to talk a little bit about a blog post that I published recently. It’s the June 21st post, and I’m talking about the number of acquisitions that have been happening in the job board industry. Now, historically, acquisitions are pretty stable, they happen on an irregular basis, but from year to year, it seems like they wonder between 20 and 30 acquisitions across the global market, but in 2020, because of the pandemic, we saw quite a downturn in activity, and then in 2021 we saw a huge uptick, which I attribute to the pent-up demand and I thought it would be calming down by now, but it’s not.
0:01:55.0 JD: Just to give you an idea, just from the last week of May to roughly June 21st, Adzuna acquired Getwork, which is a spin-off of LinkUp, and Headhunter.ru acquired Job.kg in Russia, Bravado acquired CompGauge, BetterPlace acquired EzeDox, and EdenLife in Nigeria actually acquired Lynk, which is a Kenyan-based blue collar job site. So, that’s a lot of acquisitions in a short amount of time, and I guess, I tend to attribute that to the fact that the labor shortage is continuing, doesn’t seem to be any let up. Every time you read about some layoffs, the next time you hear news on the labor reports, it’s that the unemployment rate has gone down once again. So, strong demand, strong desire from those that are doing recruiting to reach candidates, which means a strong market for job boards.
0:02:53.1 JD: I expect, even with some of the head winds that we see out there in terms of the war and inflation and some economic winds that are blowing, I expect to see the acquisitions in the job board world continue to be pretty strong. And for those of you that are looking at selling a job board or looking at acquiring a job board, I guess that’s pretty good news. So anyway, today we have Olivier Breton of NiceBoard, a white label job board software platform. I want to welcome you to JobBoardGeek.
0:03:24.8 Olivier Breton: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
0:03:26.4 JD: Yeah, it’s great, it’s great to have you here. And as I was saying earlier, before we started recording, it’s nice to see you face-to-face. I remember when you launched and I’ve watched you build the job board platform and add features to it and continue to expand it, so it’s kinda neat to see you face-to-face. I was wondering if you could start off by talking to us about how you got into the job board space? I’d noticed that from your about page on the site that the job board software platform was actually an offshoot of a job board that you had built and I’m just wondering, how did that start and then how did you make the jump into deciding, “Hey, this is a business that I can expand into?”
0:04:05.6 OB: Yeah, absolutely. So I was running a job board that I had built myself, and it was called designerjobs.co, it still exists, but now it’s our demo board, and at the time that was just sort of a side hustle for me. I had… I was noticing that a lot of job boards were popping up. I read a website called Hacker News, and I was seeing some trends in the tech space, and so I thought, well, I haven’t seen a good job board for design, let me start something and see what happens. And so, it really just started as a side project like that, and then I ran it for about a year or something like that, and I got… I had some interest and it was working well.
0:04:45.0 OB: I had some employers post jobs, but I kept getting these emails from people asking me, “Hey… ” Or telling me, “Hey, I like the software, I like the way it looks. Can I white label it? Can I license it? Can I buy it?” And after hearing that a number of times, I said, “What… Maybe there’s something here and I should pursue that.” And so, I looked at the market for existing solutions, and I found that most of them seemed a little bit dated, a little expensive. And so I thought, Well, I think I can… There’s a slice of the market, I can offer solution that’s modern, easy to use, beautiful, super simple to set up and at a more affordable price point. And so, that’s when I started developing the business. Just sort of dove right in.
0:05:35.4 OB: And the funny thing is, at that point, I was doing freelance still as a web designer, and my client… One of my regular clients asked me to build them a job board, [chuckle] so I said, “Well, that’s perfect, I’m starting this business, you’ll be my first customer.”
0:05:53.0 JD: That is kinda perfect and it’s also… I think you were smart, and I’ve had other people that got into the job board industry in terms of starting their own job board, it’s usually coming from clients that are saying, “You know, I really wish there is a place I could go to hire people.” And in your case, they’re like, “Boy, I really like your job board, can I use your software?”
0:06:12.5 OB: Right. Yup.
0:06:14.6 JD: So that makes a lot of sense. So, in term… There’s a lot of different kinds of job boards out there at all different stages, from really small one-person operations to multinational corporations like StepStone, what type of job board do you think best fits NiceBoard in terms of the way you’ve got it built and what you’re trying to do with the platform?
0:06:37.1 OB: Well, honestly, we have a variety of customers and people using it in different ways, but I think our job board strength is really that it… Or one of the main focus is, even though everybody says this, I feel is more true in our case, is the ease of use and the… The job board is intuitive, it’s beautiful, it’s extremely easy to use, you can set up a job board in under 10 minutes and the interface the backend… I’ve had customers tell me, “I love the backend. Usually, it’s a pain to use, but this one I actually enjoy using.” So, I would say our focus is on simplicity and ease of use. So it might not fit if you’re looking to run the huge job board, it might be a good place to start. Might not work all the way, but certainly I would say it covers 90% of the use cases for most people just trying to get something up and running that looks good, that they can use to monetize their audience and sell products right away. I think we offer a great solution for that.
0:07:44.6 JD: You know, you’re still relatively new in terms of providing the platform for people to use. I think we were talking about this, you’ve been out here a little bit over two years.
0:07:54.4 OB: That’s right.
0:07:55.1 JD: So, what sorts of challenges have you run into so far in terms of that… Those first two years, were there things that you looked at and you’re like, “Oh, I didn’t anticipate this or boy, I really need to add that or… ”
0:08:09.1 OB: Yeah, I would say [chuckle] in the very beginning of the company, there were more like technical challenges, so I had architected the website a certain way or the platform a certain way, and then I just came to limitations technically and I go, “Oh, wait, this needs to scale a little bit further, this is not maybe the best solution to this problem.” So in the beginning it was… In the very beginning, it was mostly just technical problems which I fixed along the way, and really just bugs people submitting. That was the very early stages. After that, I guess, some challenges and I would say maybe more like, customer experience challenges, so just learning to deal with customers and sometimes they have unreasonable demands, [laughter] but you have to adapt and sort of, strive to provide the best service possible, even though it might not be the most reasonable person sitting across the table. But beyond that, I think it’s… Those were the main challenges.
0:09:11.6 JD: You know, I’ve talked to a lot of the job board software vendors, and I actually I used to work for a software company as well…
0:09:19.6 OB: Right.
0:09:20.2 JD: And across the board that’s what everyone says, it’s like, unreasonable or [chuckle] unanticipated customer demands.
0:09:29.3 OB: I try to be polite and very nice about it. [laughter] Yeah, unreasonable is a nice word.
0:09:35.1 JD: Yeah. But doesn’t… I’m sure it doesn’t seem unreasonable to them, but…
0:09:42.2 OB: Right. And then… But most of my customers are lovely and extremely nice people, and I’ve made great connections along the way, so, not… Definitely not representative of the overall experience.
0:09:52.6 JD: Yeah, and I will say as a consultant it’s very similar, I’d say, the vast, overwhelming majority of my clients are great, and then every now and then I have a client that pushes me a little bit into [laughter] attention zone, let’s put it that way.
0:10:09.8 OB: But I mean, hey, it’s a service business…
0:10:11.9 JD: That’s right.
0:10:12.7 OB: So, I have to deal with that and learn to deal with it the best possible way.
0:10:17.4 JD: So, in terms of the revenue model that you have looking at the site, I assume that basically you’re on a subscription basis that’s…
0:10:24.5 OB: That’s right, so we have three different tiers which vary in the features that they give access to, and then we have monthly subscriptions and then annual subscriptions.
0:10:33.0 JD: Do you ever do something completely custom for clients where I realize that your… That your core business is the three tiers, but have you ever just built a super custom version of the platform for a client?
0:10:49.5 OB: We’ve had conversations with a few people about that, but ultimately we find that most people we can customize a few things on our core product and it works for them. If they need really custom solutions that don’t fit within the scope of what we offer, that’s usually not something that we’re interested in pursuing at this point, at least.
0:11:10.3 JD: Yeah, it’s interesting, because I think that the job board software platforms out there that have been successful in the long haul have come to the same conclusion that it’s better for them and for the majority of their customers to stick to sort of a core product as opposed to just going completely custom from client to client.
0:11:29.8 OB: Right. That’s definitely my philosophy. I… Our customers come up with a lot of ideas, a lot of great ideas, a lot of ideas that ended up in the product, but then a lot of ideas as well that… You can’t say yes to everything, so I try to keep our product focused and do one thing extremely well and not try to do 15 different things.
0:11:51.3 JD: No, and I think that’s smart. So, I’m kinda curious, if you’re willing to share, do you have sort of a road map in terms of some new features that you’re looking to add to the platform over the next year or so?
0:12:05.8 OB: Sure. So, one of the more recent features we added was the talent pool, so essentially allowing job board owners to give access to their pool of candidates to employers, and so one of the next major features that I want to build into the product is letting our customers sort of monetize that, as well as the possible… Just give them more pricing options to get them… To help them get more profitable and offer more pricing options to their customers, because at the end of the day, if my customers are profitable, then they’re happy and I’m happy and they’re more likely to stick with me, so I try to help them maximize their profits. So that’s definitely one of the top features that I’m interested in adding same, and then more pricing options for in general.
0:12:57.7 OB: Just to try to make it as easy as possible, but at the same time, offer… Be as flexible as possible. Before that we… For example, before that, we introduced the subscription. So instead of charging just a one-time fee for employers, you can create monthly or annual subscriptions and then automatically charge them every month or every year and create predictable revenue. And beyond that, I would say, I wanna develop more ATS-style features perhaps in the job board for employers to be able to sort and filter through the applicants that come through directly.
0:13:28.4 JD: I didn’t look at this, and maybe it was on your website, but do you offer an API?
0:13:33.1 OB: We do have an API. Yup.
0:13:34.8 JD: Okay, okay, so that’s good. That seems to be a request that I am hearing more and more over the last several years when I put out my buyer’s guide and people are saying, “Is an API available?” ’cause I think more people are comfortable doing integrations.
0:13:50.4 OB: Absolutely. I hear that a lot, and that’s a feature that we had pretty early on, and we also recently added like a Zapier integration as well, because I just… I think people in general wanna be able to do as much as they can with their data, and not be confined to the job board.
0:14:05.3 JD: Yeah, no, that makes sense. And there was definitely a period, probably eight or nine years ago when it was more popular for job board platform… Software platforms to offer some sort of a built-in ATS for the employers, you know, sort of a lightweight ATS. But you can tell that the use of ATS has grown so much that now people would much prefer to use their own ATS and just integrate with the job board. Yeah. Yeah.
0:14:29.5 OB: Absolutely.
0:14:31.8 JD: So, kinda curious how the pandemic affected you, or did it have any discernible effect on the business?
0:14:39.7 OB: So, I actually started the business at the very start of the pandemic. So the pandemic has been my normal state. [laughter] So I don’t know if I can answer that question correctly. For me, I didn’t notice much of a difference in demand, honestly. I think if anything, the pandemic made people wanna create job boards to help other people find jobs. I’ve had a lot of customers do that. People try to create job boards to help the economy bounce back. It’s hard to tell. For me, it’s been business as usual, and business has been pretty good, so I will see in the next few months and years how it changes, but I don’t anticipate much of a change. I think the jobs… There’ll always be people who need to find jobs and people looking for employees, so.
0:15:31.6 JD: Yeah, I think it’s interesting. I’m old enough, sadly, that I went through a recession in 1981, I went through the 2000 tech crash, I went through the 2008 recession. The interesting thing I’ve noticed over the years is that businesses that get started in those low points tend to be really resilient, because like you said, that’s normal for you, it’s really bad, so when things start getting good, then it’s all up.
0:16:00.3 OB: Sure, it’ll be a nice surprise.
0:16:01.0 JD: Now, one thing I was kind of wondering about, I saw more of this on your website, and I tend to think about job boards in terms of stand-alone businesses that are generating revenue, because those tend to be the types of job boards that I work with most…
0:16:18.0 OB: Sure.
0:16:19.5 JD: But one of the things that you point out on your website is that, your platform also works really well for people that have existing association, membership-based groups, hubs, whatever you wanna call them, that they wanna add a job board too. Is that an important part of your business?
0:16:35.6 OB: Definitely, and I would say, that we have a lot of communities using the platform. We have organizations like non-profits, we have recruiters, so there’s definitely… It’s a great fit for people who already have a community and that they’re not really leveraging. You can extract a lot of value out of your community through a job board. You can offer jobs in your niche to your audience in a beautiful centralized platform, that’s one. And then if you wanna jump the gun on the monetization, you can also… You don’t have to, but you can create a new revenue stream for your organization and support it through charging employers to post jobs. So, I think it works. It really is the best use case for our product is, if you have an existing audience that you wanna leverage. And I have customers coming to us with sort of make-shift job boards, they’ll have employers reach out and they’ll post jobs through their newsletter or Slack channel, in the chat, and then at one point they realized, Hey, we might need something more solid to host these jobs.
0:17:45.2 JD: Right.
0:17:47.1 OB: And so, yeah, it definitely works well for communities.
0:17:49.8 JD: I’m betting that you probably also have users that are… That initially made a foray into their… Into the job boards using some sort of a WordPress theme, but then at some point they sorta hit the walls because that’s really not what WordPress is good at, you know?
0:18:06.4 OB: Absolutely. Yeah, yeah, for sure. You start to find the limitations after a certain point.
0:18:10.1 JD: So actually having said that, I’m just kinda curious how… Does NiceBoard integrate well, like if I have a blog that’s doing really well and I wanna add a job board to it, do you play nicely with WordPress?
0:18:23.6 OB: Sure. So the most common integration for customers who already have a platform or blog that they have their main traffic going to is just a sub-domain. So, let’s say you have example.com, you just host your job board at jobs.example.com and then link back between both, so have links on the blog and then on your job board, you can have links going back to the blog. That’s the easiest integration. We also have an embedding functionality where you can embed a feed of the jobs, you can set some filters and you can embed some jobs wherever you like on any website. So that could be a WordPress, that could be anything.
0:19:02.8 JD: Oh, that’s nice, that’s nice. Yeah, that… And I’ve seen there’s some platforms that basically do that through widgets that you can basically put literally anywhere, and I’ve seen some job boards expand their reach by working with their own clients to have widgetized versions of their job board on just general purpose sites, that’s the job content, so.
0:19:27.9 OB: Right. Yeah. I think for the most part, customers use it on their own websites, but perhaps they expand it to other websites as well.
0:19:36.5 JD: Well, listen, Olivier, it’s been great talking with you and it’s good to learn a little bit more about NiceBoard, and if any of our listeners wanna get in touch with you, how do they do that?
0:19:47.8 OB: So, you can reach me directly at olivier@NiceBoard.co and otherwise, we have a free trial for seven days on our website, you can head over to NiceBoard.co and get started for free and start your job board and be up and running in 10 minutes.
0:20:03.9 JD: 10 minutes. Wow.
0:20:07.2 OB: Probably less than 10 minutes.
0:20:08.9 JD: Yeah. When I started in the industry in ’97, that would have just made our developers laugh, [chuckle] if you said, “Oh yeah, you can start a job board in 10 minutes.”
0:20:18.3 OB: Well, people… I think people, when I tell people that, they look at me like, “Okay.” But they find that it’s true. [chuckle] And you can connect your Stripe account directly, so you can even process payments directly.
0:20:31.6 JD: Very cool. Well, listen, thanks for coming out on JobBoardGeek. I appreciate it.
0:20:35.0 OB: Absolutely. Thank you for having me. This was great.
0:20:37.5 JD: And folks that’s it for today’s episode of JobBoardGeek. Be sure to subscribe if you like it to our podcast via Apple or Spotify or any of a number of different… Whatever floats your boat on that. My name is Jeff Dickey-Chasins, the Job Board doctor and you’ve been listening to the only podcast about the business of connecting candidates with employers. That’s all for now. We’ll see you again next time.