Competing for tech professionals is tough enough for an established company, let alone a startup. Even those with a sexy idea, angel funding in place, and promises of stock option wealth have a hard time finding developers. Now imagine you’re a startup in the storage unit rental business and you need to add staff, including tech help. And, oh yes, you’re in Austin, one of the U.S. premier tech centers.
What do you do?
You make a video. And not just any video, but one of the funniest, off-the-wall recruiting videos to hit You Tube since, Mark Toth did his how not to interview video.
Which is exactly what SpareFoot did; make a video, that is.
So what’s SpareFoot? It’s a price comparison site for the storage unit industry. Potential renters use it to find storage space, compare the units, and get pricing. It’s a 65-person startup that’s adding staff fast enough now to warrant a full-time recruiter and spread the message that SpareFoot is one cool place to work.
“We’re a super, super fun place to work,” says Rachel Greenfield, SpareFoot’s marketing manager. “‘Culture is very important to us,” she added, explaining conveying the atmosphere of SpareFoot was one of the key considerations in making a recruiting video that is mockumentary in style and highly polished in execution.
At the same time, said Greenfield, “We work hard.” Even though the company is growing quickly, she said hiring is still “very very selective.” SpareFoot’s work hard play hard ethos, she explained, “We take it to the extreme.”
So creating a recruiting video mocking the typical corporate recruiting video was an extension of the SpareFoot culture, which is on display in more than a dozen other videos the company has produced.
But for this one, part of the thinking was to create a video that would attract attention in the competitive high-tech Austin community. We might not think of storage unit rentals as particularly high tech, but SpareFoot sure does. “We absolutely identify as part of the tech industry,” Greenfield says.
There was also a little bit of a sense of competition and contest. If SpareFoot was going to do a video, it had to be great, as good or better even, than the Twitter videos admired by SpareFoot CEO Chuck Gordon. So for this one, the company hired a professional videographer, arranged for costumes, and worked from a script.
The script was written over a month by two SpareFoot staffers who fit in the scriptwriting around their other work, and the whole show was shot over a weekend. The video was posted a little more than a week ago.
It’s too early to tell how effective the video will be in generating hires, though Greenfield says it’s starting to create a buzz in Austin. “We’ve got a lot of interest (from potential candidates) already,” she said, and, she adds, “We had a lot of fun making it.”
When can we expect the next SpareFoot video? “Oh goodness. Probably not for a while.”