Today’s Pro Interview features Kayla Kozan, Director of Marketing at Ideal. She’s part of the Toronto’s startup scene specializing in artificial intelligence for recruiting companies.
Pagezii – Kayla, please tell us about yourself.
Kayla – I was born and raised in Regina before I did my HBA (Honors Business Administration) at Western. I lived in New Zealand on exchange, did some backpacking, worked on a project in Ghana, and then landed in Toronto. I love Toronto, but I’m still a prairie girl at heart.
I work at an AI for recruiting company called Ideal. I love it. We started out a couple years ago in an attic – literally. Once we found we could no longer power all of our computers, monitors, and the microwave, we moved into a more traditional startup office on Queen West.
Pagezii – What drove you into marketing?
Kayla – I was always fascinated by marketing. It’s a bit of an obscure field vs. something like accounting or finance. I think I was attracted to the psychology of marketing. At the most basic level, marketers change the way that consumers view the world. Marketers are the difference between a coffee shop and a Starbucks, tissue paper and Kleenex, jeans and Levi’s. I wanted to be like the person behind those brands.
Marketers change the way consumers view the world.
Pagezii – Has your international experience helped you become a better marketer?
Kayla – I think international experience makes you better at everything. Socializing, learning, navigating, critical thinking, cooking… it helps you think in a different way. It’s not until you’re lost in downtown Bangkok that you understand the value of maps with photos. In New Zealand, I was lucky enough to live in a complex with 30+ other exchange students. The diversity within those walls spanned every continent. I learned so much in a short period of time about politics, personalities, international business and culture. I would recommend travel to anyone pursuing any profession.
Pagezii – And what is Ideal?
Kayla – The short answer is that Ideal is an AI (Artificial Intelligence) for recruiting company. Our customers are large employers that are overwhelmed by the sheer number of applications they receive. Our intelligent screening product uses artificial intelligence to rank each candidate instantly so that they never need to manually screen a resume again. The system learns what a top performer in their organization looks like, brings the best talent to the top, and becomes more accurate with every hire, fire, and interview.
Pagezii – What makes Ideal unique in the market?
Kayla – The three main things that set us apart are – our technology, our accessibility, and our team.
In terms of our technology, we are operating in an emerging field. Every move we make is helping push the entire AI industry forward and it’s amazing to be a part of it. From the day we landed our first client, and saw Intelligent Shortlisting truly work for them, we knew we had created something amazing. Once employers use our resume screening software, they can no longer imagine going back to manually evaluating resumes. It’s very rewarding.
No one wants another tool to manage.
As for our accessibility, we believe everyone should have access to the tools they need to build their best team. Our product is a solution for a problem that spans all industries, worldwide. No one, especially in HR, wants another tool to manage. For that reason, we’ve designed Ideal to integrate directly with the employer’s existing HR software. We have designed Ideal to become talent acquisition’s best friend.
And finally, as for our team – we’re a mixed bag of professionals, brought together by a desire to make something incredible. I think even if someone was able to mimic our technology or accessibility, they could never replicate the skill set of our team. I learn something from my colleagues every single day – actually, it’s more like 10 things in a day.
Pagezii – What marketing KPIs are important to monitor in your business?
Kayla – We’re a unique, emerging technology in a B2B market. This makes for an interesting marketing strategy that includes a lot of experimentation. At the moment, the top three things I’m looking for are the number of organic leads, our cost-per-lead, and lead source.
We’re a unique, emerging technology.
Organic leads are an indicator of the success of our content marketing and organic marketing campaigns. Cost-per-lead is the other metric we keep a close eye on. We’re always trying out different paid and unpaid marketing tactics to decrease CPL. Finally, lead source, we never miss an opportunity to ask our prospects how they found us – this has helped us immensely. In doing so, we have found ourselves featured in obscure industry newsletters and learned about where our WOM traffic actually originated.
Pagezii – And lastly, as a successful startup from Toronto, what advice do you’ve for others?
Kayla – The tech scene in Toronto is incredible – we really support each other. Top talent is not difficult to find if you’re looking in the right places. If you’re looking to work for a startup or grow your own startup, I wouldn’t spend much time on job boards but instead attend industry meetups like TechTO, TAP, or events at OneEleven. It seems crazy, but when it comes down to it, the tech community in Toronto is actually quite small. As you attend more events you will learn about some of the bigger names, maybe find a mentor and eventually do your own talk or panel. If you don’t know where to start, set up a coffee date or call with someone in the industry you want to get into, people love to talk about themselves and you can learn a lot very quickly.
Pagezii – Thank you, Kayla, for a most inspiring and informative interview.