In part one of my conversation with Crystal Huang, the co-founder and CEO of ProSky, she talked about her software service that helps HR managers gain deep insights into the state of their companies.
In this second part of our conversation, Crystal talks about her inspiration to stop building companies for others and start building one of her own, and how her own brother joined the effort—a mix of family and business few would desire, but she finds successful.
More information: https://www.prosky.co/
Crystal is the co-founder and CEO of ProSky, a high-growth HR SaaS company that gives organizations the ability to innovatively evaluate candidates and develop employees through succession pathways, so they can recruit, hire, and retain the best diverse talent & culture fit.
She is an award-winning entrepreneur who guest-speaks for organizations like the Gates Foundation, Institute for the Future, Close-It Summit, Cornell, and the ACT Foundation. She is passionate about providing equity and access for women and minorities through education and sharpened human resource strategy and tools.
DISCLAIMER: Below is an AI generated transcript. There could be a few typos but it should be at least 90% accurate. Watch video or listen to the podcast for the full experience!
Crystal Huang 0:00
And one client actually tell us and this is actually, at that time, a much larger client. And she said, I like having that firsthand connection to the founders because I know if I something wrong, you guys are gonna fix it.
Alexander Ferguson 0:22
Crystal, I’m excited to continue our conversation and now hear more about your journey. Tell me, how did you get to where you are today, leading this company, Prosky for six years,
Crystal Huang 0:33
I think it’s always been a dream of mine to start my own company. I think when I was little I, I would tell my parents actually wanted to start my own bookstore, which is a good thing I didn’t. But I think somewhere along the line, I’ve always wanted to do something of my own to create something of my own. Working in trying to work in South issues of HR within company definitely help, you know, kind of start that. But above and beyond that, I think one day I was, I was just working on a project. And a thought just came to me that you know, you know, you’re helping someone else build their company, you’re doing a pretty good job at it. But maybe it’s time for you to just put that on hold and start building your own company. So that’s how we got started. And I actually started a company with my brother. So he’s my co founder. And we have a great dynamic. So it works really well. I know, it doesn’t work a lot for many siblings. But we have the kind of relationships where we can totally argue it out. But not have that heart feelings linger, which is great. And so we’ve been doing this for pretty much the past six, almost seven years now together. And initially, when we first started, it wasn’t that smooth sailing, because I had started it by myself. And then my brother joined in later, he was he had a job, I had a job, we were bootstrapping this thing. And in fact, I was a mom of two toddlers at that time, as well. So it was a great start to the business. And honestly, one day we had we were talking we’re having a conversation he was he had an office, it had no windows in it. And he was saying, I am so tired of this view, we need to get something go in. And I was like, Yes, I need, you know, I can’t be focused in three different directions. I need to be focused in one direction. And we’re like, what are we gonna do about it? And right then, and then we got an acceptance letter through email from 500 startups. And we were like, that that was the answer. We’re quitting. We’re doing this full time. This is it. So that was how we got to start with press guy,
Alexander Ferguson 2:51
acquiring your first few clients you already had, you had a couple clients in that first year. So you’d already gotten over that hump, but to then truly scale and get a lot more, what are some tactics that you found works that you can share, that someone else could learn from as well. A lot
Crystal Huang 3:09
of grain went into it. And, you know, it’s not easy to find emails and contacts to, to be able to get to. And I think we were very thick skinned, especially at the beginning stage, like we were reaching out to everyone we knew mentors, investors, and like, you know, we see you have a connection to this companies, or we’re trying to get into these companies. Do you have a connection. And you know, there was a lot of rejection along the way, but it didn’t really spur us. And at the same time, we found a lot of great connections through the people we knew. And we started that route. So a lot of it was word of mouth, a lot of it was that warm referral to begin with, especially when you’re a startup. The other part that really worked for us was the people that the clients potential clients that we spoke to, we would tell them that, hey, look, we’re founders a company. We know we’re a young company, but we have a great product. And one client actually told us and this is actually at that time, a much larger client and she said, I like having that firsthand. Connection to the founders, because I know if I something wrong, you guys are gonna fix it immediately, which was so true. And she and you know, and I really appreciated that because there’s not a lot of companies that will give a startup that time of day or to try the product out. But it is true that if you give a startup that chance, they’re going to do everything in their power to make it work for you. And, you know, definitely recommendation advice. Stress is don’t be afraid to use that startup power that you have in you. And even though you might get rejections from companies who think that you’re not mature enough, you will also get some really great Clients who believe in you and who will be amazing supporters and advocates for you.
Alexander Ferguson 5:05
So where you are now today, your team has grown, how many team members do you have right now?
Crystal Huang 5:10
Yeah, we have close to 20. Team members, there are distributed. So we have employees in Argentina, Spain, Taiwan, us different parts of the US, which has definitely helped with this pandemic. And
Alexander Ferguson 5:30
you no matter where they are, you can all still keep working and stay connected. Yeah, exactly. Is there any other numbers that you can share of like how many people are using your platform and your dashboard and how that growth is has has grown? Sure,
Crystal Huang 5:45
we have about 200 clients right now. And we are right on the process, we have quite a bit of enterprise companies who are clients, but then we’re also working on building larger partnerships with these enterprise companies to push forward networks, that industry education piece that we’re talking about, to really, you know, build and make our platform stronger. So, so yeah, working with enterprise companies have been very insightful, it’s not easy to work with them. But finding ways to bring them in further into your product through different kinds of partnerships, is extremely helpful. And it kind of gives them that extra incentive and buy in to be loyal to your product. And so, so yeah, that’s what we’re working on right now.
Alexander Ferguson 6:37
Now, looking forward, what kind of challenges do you see you’re gonna need to overcome to continue to grow, especially maybe considering COVID and the situation, but overall, what What challenges do you see you’re in and you’re going to need to overcome,
Crystal Huang 6:50
share, as we enter into that fast growth pace, we’re going to need to hire more people. And even though we’re HR software company, there’s always challenges when you add members to your team, especially in a fast paced environment. So making sure that we’re doing that thoughtfully, and in accordance to what we believe in, it’s going to be important and challenging at once, because you’re trying to do things in a much faster pace than a normal company would typically do, which means you would have less time embedding in the valuation in training. And so being able to keep a balance process with that, I believe it’s going to be our challenge, but a challenge that we’re hoping, will eventually, you know, make our platform so much more stronger.
Alexander Ferguson 7:43
As you grown as a leader, are there any top books or audiobooks or podcasts that you’ve listened to or read that you really have enjoyed and recommend.
Crystal Huang 7:53
So recently, I actually read Michelle Obama’s book becoming not your typical business book, per se. But it’s a great book in talking about tenacity, in talking about going after what you want, in building relationships, and, you know, growing and becoming into that leader that you want to be. And to me, that was extremely insightful. You know, especially as a leader in a startup company, where things are constantly changing, things are constantly moving. And then you’re trying to keep up with what’s going on in the world, you know, the topics and issues that the world’s dealing with, because you are dealing with that your employees are dealing with that. So that was actually a insightful and yet calming read in, especially during this time. And yeah, I would definitely recommend a lot of specially female entrepreneurs to dig into that book.
Alexander Ferguson 8:55
Last question I have for you, what kind of tech innovations do you predict we will see in the near term, the next year or so. And in the long term, 510 years from now,
Crystal Huang 9:06
we’re gonna see a lot of automation. And I think during this pandemic is shown companies that we need a lot of processes to help us do our jobs more effectively and more efficiently. And so we’re gonna see a lot of technologies come out from across industries, and in different platforms that will help automate a lot of these processes in AI, and while you know, some people might think like, Well, that takes jobs away, I think it actually elevates jobs and redefines job positions. And so I think companies need to be very careful about that. They need to use technologies to enhance their workforce, and decimate their workforce. But that’s going to be an interesting challenge that we’re going to see in the next couple years.
Alexander Ferguson 9:57
That concludes the audio version of This episode. To see the original and more visit our UpTech Report YouTube channel. If you know a tech company we should interview you can nominate them at UpTech report.com. Or if you just prefer to listen, make sure you’re subscribed to this series on Apple podcasts, Spotify or your favorite podcasting app.