Vail is a startup enthusiast and a software developer who has always been keen to create solutions in order to streamline work processes. He has a bachelor’s degree in business management. He started his career as a corps member at Teach for America. After working for some years as a software engineer, he took cognizance of the need for a tech-driven product that would streamline talent acquisition. This is where Tailspin came into existence.
Tailspin is a technology job marketplace where job seekers post the jobs they want and employers invite them to interviews. Their main aim is to empower talented individuals and connect them with fulfilling work. Tailspin empowers job seekers largely than is possible for its competitors by allowing them to specify the jobs they want, forcing employers to invite them to interviews on their own terms. This process brings technology recruiting closer to the reality of the marketplace.
Please provide a brief overview of your product/ service.
Tailspin provides unique value to both job seekers and employers: Job seekers get the ability to advertise themselves for the jobs they want. Employers get a place to go to source candidates who are interested in the jobs they need to fill.
In addition to its talent-driven, job marketplace, Tailspin is building a library of career-related resources and updates. These resources include, for example, How-To guides for writing resumes and cover letters for startups. Tailspin also provides a weekly newsletter with five, handpicked startups who are hiring and various updates to its blog and resources.
What inspired you to build the above product/ service?
As an experienced software developer, when I have looked for jobs in the past, it is frustrating. I have to spend so much time searching for jobs that seem like the right role at an appealing company. In addition, in so many cases, I know that I am qualified, but I never get a response. It is like the company isn’t hiring anymore, but they left the job description up. I would hear about all tech companies that cannot find enough talent, but I am lucky to get a 10% response rate!
As an employee at several startups, I have witnessed first-hand the difficulty of finding qualified candidates. You post a job in a couple places, you sign up for a few services that feed you leads, you reach out to your network, and then at some point you just have to sit and wait. Even startups are willing to spend money to get good candidates in for interviews, but you just can’t find them anywhere!
That’s when it occurred to me that the whole tech job market is operating backwards, and Tailspin was born.
What is your life mantra?
“Do what you want.”
I firmly believe that the world would be a better place if everyone acted according to their own desires, rather than blindly following those of others. When I say desires, I do not mean raw, whimsical desires from “the heart.” I mean thoughtful, conscious desires that account for one’s current situation in reality.
What was the most challenging part of your journey till now?
The biggest challenge I’ve had to overcome is an internal one. For years, I’ve read about startups, founders, wild successes and utter failures. So many people have written articles and blog posts about how starting a business takes over your life, it’s an emotional roller coaster times ten, there’s a trough of despair involved, and the whole thing got so built up in my head that I wasn’t sure I could do it. It’s like when you’re going to jump twenty or thirty feet into the water, and it looks like no big deal from below, but when you’re standing on the edge your heart starts racing and you freeze. That’s how I felt after I built the website. Writing the code got me to the edge of the cliff.
How did you overcome those challenges?
While I feel as though I’ve gotten past the brunt of that paralysis, lingering effects still hit me each time I come to a new area of uncertainty. First, it was incorporating, then it was opening a business bank account, then it was marketing, and now it’s press outreach. I’m getting better at dealing with it, but it’s still tough.
This may just work for me, but my strategy for dealing with it is to emotionally detach from the situation. I almost always know when it’s happening, and I have a good idea about what I’m supposed to do, it’s just that something’s holding me back from doing it. It turns out it’s something emotional, because I actually just picture myself as the character in a video game that I’m controlling, and then it’s crazy how I can just go and do it.
On the business side of things, Tailspin is just coming up against a challenge way bigger than anything yet: getting real market traction. I’ve just launched and started marketing and PR efforts, so the rubber is just starting to hit the road, and it’s going to take everything I’ve got.
Share some details about the investments that you have been able to fetch for the business till now.
No investments so far.
How do you protect yourself from the problem of Brain Drain?
So far it’s just me, so this has not been a problem.
According to you, what are the three qualities an individual must have to achieve success?
- Dedication – This will keep you going when it gets really challenging
- Patience – This will make it less challenging when things aren’t going well, and prevent rash behavior when waiting for the effect of different efforts
- Positivity – This will make it more fun and draw more attention from others
Which online tools/ services/ apps do you use the most and would like to recommend as well?
I use Github and Heroku, both of which I would strongly recommend. They allow for very cost-efficient hosting of code and application.
Share any one habit which you think makes you more productive.
Always know “why”
It’s too easy to get caught up in doing something that’s fun or interesting but doesn’t actually move the company forward. Always knowing why you’re working on a given task will keep you accountable for making real progress and help avoid wasted effort.
Here’s an example: When I’m dedicating time to Tailspin, I have to make sure that the reason I’m doing a certain task is because it will drive growth; growth is the most important thing for Tailspin right now. But growth is still too general:
- Will it get more job seekers?
- Will it get more employers?
- Will it get employers to send more interview invitations to job seekers?
If I don’t know exactly why I’m doing something, it’s probably a waste of time.
Share any one habit which you wish to change in yourself.
I think there’s always room to increase someone’s perseverance, and I am no exception. If I could, I would increase my ability to just keep pushing for a certain effort despite the lack of progress or setbacks.
Answer in less than 50 words
Fake it till you make it.
- One mistake you believe every individual must avoid:
What follows why.
- One most important lesson that you have learnt till now:
Nothing is easy.
What are your plans for next 3 years?
At this point, Tailspin is very young and we have one plan: grow. Get more job seekers to post jobs they want, get more employers to invite them to interviews, and get more job seekers taking those interviews.
After focusing on technology jobs, we’ll look to expand into other job markets.
If you get a chance to start your career again what would you do differently this time?
So far I don’t have any regrets strong enough to make we want to do anything differently.
What are your top three getaway destinations?
- Upstate New York
Share a quote that inspires you the most.
“If it were easy, it wouldn’t be worth doing.”