60 Seconds with…Ed Hendrick, Founder & CEO of Sonru Video Interviewing

Interview with Ed Hendrick, Sonru Founder & CEO, for Enterprise Ireland, 2015: Ed tells Enterprise Ireland about his journey with Sonru, the value of the Irish diaspora for Sonru’s success in Australia and New Zealand and how to create a product that people won’t want to stop using.

Ed-Office

1. As the original founder of Sonru, you decided to build a new business– what were some of the key factors that influenced your decision to do this?

This is something I’d always wanted to do from a very young age, create a new company from scratch. What excited me initially was the huge growth in the online video market. Back in 2005/6 there was a lot of buzz around services such as YouTube and Skype; they really were major disruptors in how people communicated with each other. I saw a big opportunity to initially bring similar online video technology into the recruitment industry. This is what we did. I wanted to give myself the freedom, space and the opportunity to build something new and amazing. I would never have done this working for someone else.

2. What motivated you to become involved in the Talent Management Industry?

Sonru is a disruptive technology that has helped to change the recruitment process for candidates and recruiters alike. Like most disruptive technologies, Sonru was all about timing. I was only a couple of years out of college and at the time a lot of my peers were interviewing for roles throughout Ireland. I witnessed the time they spent, and sometimes wasted, traveling to first round interviews, and I remember thinking to myself that this process was flawed – there had to be a better, more efficient way. I felt that introducing online video into the industry was an important move. We’ve evolved quite a bit from the original concept but we can now see that video interviewing is the solution.

Using video interviewing for first round interviews benefits all the stakeholders in the recruitment process. It’s more flexible, convenient and transparent for candidates. And for recruiters and hiring managers, there’s proven ROI in terms of time, cost and quality of hire.

3. How did you grow Sonru and what countries did you target first as part your export journey?

After great success in Ireland, our focus shifted to the UK market. Working closely with EI UK, we utilised their networks and connections to generate initial awareness of Sonru and our value proposition. We began presenting at various trade shows in the UK and secured our first client outside of Ireland at one of these, CERN, who are based in Geneva. So as a result we got more traction in Switzerland than in the UK initially. We then added an experienced UK Sales Director in 2011. This was a big milestone for us and really signified our growing market position in the talent acquisition software industry.

Over the last few years, we’ve expanded rapidly and now have opened regional offices in the UK, Australia, Singapore and France as well as working with many reseller and referral partners in other regions. It’s been a very exciting journey.

4. Do you have any problems with sourcing, hiring and training staff since you have staff working all over the world for Sonru?

I’ll admit, we’re quite lucky in this respect. As market leader in a very exciting new space, we have attracted talent from many of the large players in the talent acquisition sector. The industry knowledge and experience they bring to Sonru is invaluable and makes for a really dynamic and exciting global team. Of course, Sonru comes in handy – I can review candidates in Sydney from Ireland and weigh-in on potential new hires early in the process!

Last year, we launched the Sonru Academy, which gives all our new hires uniform training, whether they’re based in HQ in Ireland, or one of our regional offices. This has really helped us to make sure that our clients receive the same level of service, globally.

5. What have been Sonru’s most significant wins in the A/NZ market over the past few years?

Since launching in the A/NZ market, Sonru has worked with a number of early adopter clients to grow the video interviewing sector as a disruptive technology that enables immediate and tangible time and cost efficiencies. We have won major clients across all sectors including Westpac, Macquarie Bank, AMP, PwC, St. Vincent’s Health, Mercy Health, MediBank, BUPA, iiNet, Perisher, GSK, Nestle, Fletcher Building and Monadelphous. Government organisations have also led the way by innovating in their early stage screening process including the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade, Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Customs & Border Protection.

6. How have you found the Irish Diaspora networks in terms of helping you grow Sonru overseas? Have they helped promote the business?

Ireland House (both The Irish Ambassador’s Office and Enterprise Ireland) has played a significant role in providing market entry and ongoing support to Sonru across all states in Australia and New Zealand. The level of support including attendance at Sonru Events, invitations to Ireland House networking events, St Patrick’s Day events and introductions to senior executives in prospect organisations. The Irish Diaspora is an important ‘Brand

Awareness’ marketing connection for Sonru and can be a key entry point to organisations in obtaining a qualified introduction to decision makers.

7. What’s the best advice you’ve been given and from whom?

Some of the best advice I received came whilst participating on the Enterprise Ireland Internet Growth Acceleration Programme in 2010. One of the presenters, Sean Ellis, advised us to only build a product that once people began using they wouldn’t want to stop and to be open to evolving your product until you get to that magic position. People by their very nature are adverse to change, so you need to give them a really good reason to change to something new.

8. If you could talk to one person who would it be and what question would you ask them?

I would say Elon Musk. He is a South African-born, Canadian-American business magnate, engineer, inventor and investor. He is the CEO and CTO of SpaceX, CEO and product architect of Tesla Motors, and chairman of SolarCity. In my opinion he’s the greatest entrepreneur we currently have. I would ask him “What continuously drives him to take on the seemingly impossible?”

9. And one for good luck… What do you like to do in your free time?

My parents own a busy dairy farm in Wexford, so in my spare time I like to unwind there and help out when I can. We’re also overlooked by the Blackstairs Mountains, a favourite of mine, is to hike up these. We’ve got some really beautiful countryside to enjoy in Wexford. I also enjoy meeting up with other Irish Start Ups to share experiences.

If you’d like to find out more about Ed, Sonru and our activities in Australia and New Zealand, just get in touch!

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Edward Hendrick
CEO
Ed holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agribusiness & Rural Development and a Higher Diploma in Enterprise Development and Entrepreneurship.

Since founding Sonru in 2007 with the vision of introducing Video Interviewing to mainstream recruitment, Ed has established the organisation as a global leader and one of the top recruitment SaaS companies worldwide.

With numerous accolades to his name such as the Sunday Business Posts ‘Top 40 Under 40’ and IIA Net Visionary award for innovation, Ed is recognised as one of the world’s leading experts in video recruitment technology and is a renowned industry speaker.

With a passion for new technology and how it can be used to make life easier for people in the real world, Ed has been instrumental in shaping the current landscape of the Video Interviewing industry.
Chris Horan
CTO at Sonru
Chris graduated from Trinity College Dublin with an Honours Bachelor of Science Degree in Physics and Computer Science and went on to complete a Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Science in Physics and Computer Science as well as a Higher Diploma in Enterprise Development.

With almost 20 years’ experience in the software engineering and computer science space, Chris has worked with leading technology companies such as Accuris, CAPE Technologies and BearingPoint.

Chris has been at the forefront of Sonru’s product development since the company’s inception in 2007.
Daniel Richard
Managing Director EMEA
Sonru’s Europe MD, Daniel Richard, graduated from Queen’s University, Canada with a Master of Science in Industrial and Organisational Science.

A trained Occupational Psychologist with more than 15 years of sales and consulting experience in multinational recruitment and HR services companies, Daniel leads Sonru’s sales efforts within EMEA, helping to grow its rapidly expanding customer base.

Prior to joining Sonru, Daniel spent 10 years at Oracle Taleo helping to build the company from a small regional start-up to a true industry leader. Daniel has held a variety of sales and consulting positions on various continents, including the US and Europe.
Fergal O'Byrne
Non-Executive Director
Fergal holds a Bachelor of Science in Electronic Engineering from Dublin Institute of Technology and is an experienced Internet industry entrepreneur.

Since founding Interactive Return in 1998, Fergal has been a member of the Board of Directors of IGOpeople.com, WINC, and CCD Limited and was a previous chair of the Project Advisory Group for Fáilte Ireland’s eBusiness Support Initiative.

A recognised influencer within the industry, Fergal has served as CEO of the Irish Internet Association and has published four books including ‘10 Online Marketing and Search Engine Essentials’ and ‘10 Technologies Every Executive Should Know’.

In 2015, Fergal was inducted into the IIA Internet Hall of Fame in recognition for services to the internet industry.
George Pennock
Chairman
George holds an MA in History from Oxford University and is a previous Partner and Head of Saphir UK at Saphir Capital Partners.

George spent several years with the Goldman Sachs Group as a mergers and acquisitions banker before moving into private equity where he has spent most of the past 15 years. He has served as a Senior Investment Manager and COO at Pi Capital, and worked with Botts & Company Ltd where he made private equity investments in the leisure, publishing, branded goods, retail, and technology sectors.

Having spent the past two decades working with a myriad of talented and unconventional entrepreneurs, investing in everything from online employee benefits platforms to river boats and book publishers, George is passionate about backing exceptional people and interesting businesses and believes that while a mediocre management team can ruin even a great plan, a great management team can make a success of almost any business opportunity.
John Penning
Director
Currently, I am a Director of Sonru, the leading Online Video Interviewing company. Previous career highlights include; CEO of the Irish Internet Association, Chairman of IGOpeople.com and Founder and CEO of Interactive Return. In 2015 I was very honoured to be inducted into the IIA Internet Hall of Fame in recognition for services to the internet industry.
Rodolphe Verhaegen
Non-Executive Director
Rodolphe is currently an Operational Advisor with Digital Ventures in Brussels having previously worked in Ebay, most recently as Director of Customer Innovation.

Rodolphe is an innovative and creative business leader, with a strong interest in technology and agile software development practices. He holds an Masters Degree in Business Information Management and a BA in Business Economics from the Vrije Universiteit, Brussels.
Georges Schmit
Non-Executive Director
A native of Luxembourg, Georges graduated with degrees in Economics from the University of Louvain, Belgium (BA) and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (MA). Besides his native Luxembourgish, Georges is fluent in French, English and German.

Georges served the Government of Luxembourg from 1981 to 2016 and throughout most of his career he focused on innovation and technology policy, economic development and trade and investment promotion.

During his time with the Government of Luxembourg, Georges served as Secretary General of the Luxembourg Ministry of the Economy and was a member of several European Union high-level advisory bodies including the European Commission's "Enterprise Policy Group”. He also served as both Vice-Chairman and Executive Chairman of the National Credit and Investment Corporation (SNCI) of Luxembourg.

Georges has served on the Board of Directors of both listed and private companies including the world's largest steelmaker ArcelorMittal, the Luxembourg-based global satellite operator SES, the Luxembourg Post and Telecommunications Company, and the Luxembourg State and Savings Bank, among others. Most recently, he contributed to the design and launch of several major Luxembourg Government innovation policy initiatives and sits on the Luxembourg Government’s Advisory Board on Space Resources.
Daria Polunina
Non-Executive Director
A director at Saphir Capital Partners, Daria holds a Bachelor of Science in Financial Management from the University of Essex as well as a MSc in Finance from Cass Business School. Daria also sits on the board of Molinare and Wine Source Group.

Patrick Sweeney
Non-Executive Director
Patrick holds a Bachelor of Business Studies Degree in Accounting, Management, Human Resources, Marketing and Economics from University of Limerick as well as Masters of Education in Management, Human Resources and Training and Development from University of Sheffield.

For 25 years, Patrick held the position of Human Resources and Public Affairs Director for Aughinish Alumina where he was involved in change management, restructuring and international mergers and acquisitions.

Patrick also undertook many other leadership roles including operations management, training and development and employee relations management. In addition to sitting on the Board of Directors at Sonru since 2011, Patrick has operated his own strategic management and human resources consultancy firm for the past 8 years.