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Q & A featuring Konrad Listwan-Ciesielski, Co-Founder of Kira Talent


Courtesy of TechVibes.com

Courtesy of TechVibes.com

What it is like to be a young entrepreneur

Courtesy of The Next 36 (Guest Contributor)

When it comes to youth entrepreneurship, The Next 36 is on a mission to build Canada’s next generation of high-impact entrepreneurs. Through a rigorous annual program, 36 of the brightest young Canadians are introduced to some of the most incredible opportunities and networks imaginable. But it’s no easy ride. In 8 fast-tracked months, these young entrepreneurs are tasked with building scalable tech-focused ventures alongside equally driven and talented peers – all while undertaking intense academic courses from world-class faculty, receiving top-level CEO mentorship, and learning to effectively deploy the hefty capital and resources provided by The Next 36.

Now in its third year, The Next 36 has driven an interesting group of ventures and groomed a number of impressive entrepreneurs to date.

We decided to catch up with Kira Talent, a venture that graduated out of The Next 36’s 2012 cohort; a rapidly scaling venture focused on disrupting the HR/recruitment industry through a cloud-based video screening platform. Since being named “Outstanding Venture” of the program last August, they’ve realized a number of amazing accomplishments. Currently Kira has users in over 50 countries, including an impressive list of North American clients such as Ivey (Western University), Rotman (University of Toronto) Steam Whistle, Ernst &Young, 1-800-GOT-JUNK? and Wind Mobile. They’ve been covered in The Globe & Mail, Toronto Star, Techvibes, and Forbes; and have been recognized as one of Canada’s “top 25 up and coming ICT companies”, referred to as “more disruptive than Netflix”, and named one of Canada’s hottest Startups by Mark Evans.

And did we mention they just celebrated their one-year company anniversary in March?

Kira Talent’s Chief Technology Officer, Konrad Listwan-Ciesielski, gives us some insight into the venture, their experience with The Next 36, and his own take on the future of Canadian entrepreneurship.

Kira Talent has come a long way in just one year. How did you generate the idea for your venture?

As part of the application process for The Next 36 [N36], they asked us to record 1-minute YouTube video, explaining why we should be chosen for the program. After being selected, I remember hearing from [N36] staff members that video helped them to screen better quality applicants overall.

In addition, one of the mentors we were paired up with had been the former CEO of several companies, and he complained to us about how much time he’s wasted in interviews, where 2 minutes in, it’s obvious that the person is unfit for the job, and the remaining 30 or 45 minutes is spent being courteous. We saw a big opportunity to port this frustration into a business opportunity.

How did your experience with The Next 36 help prepare you to launch Kira Talent, and make it the success it is today?

We met our first few clients directly through contacts we made during The Next 36 program. As well, many of the early angel investors and advisors we have right now have been directly connected to us through The Next 36 network. Those 3 areas (clients, advisors, investors) are all very difficult to achieve as a first-time entrepreneur, and The Next 36 streamlined the process and supported us all the way through.

To date, what is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as young entrepreneurs?

Being taken seriously is one of the biggest challenges. When you’re 20-something, you haven’t done anything yet; from generating over $1M in revenue, to growing a team from 2 employees to 20 employees, to 200 employees. It’s your first time at most things, and if you’re bringing on any kind of stakeholder (investors, advisors, customers, employees, etc.), they need to absolutely trust you for that relationship to work well.

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