DE Talk: QuaranDEAM Edition featuring Jason Ward of RocketBuild

Last month, in place of DirectEmployers 2020 Annual Meeting & Conference (DEAMcon20), we offered a virtual networking event, promoted a number of webinars and brought back our DE Talk podcast for a few exciting “QuaranDEAM Edition” episodes. Our first episode was more serious in content, centered on Preparing for a Reduction in Force, but our second episode was light-hearted and fun as Recruit Rooster COO Heather Hoffman, interviewed Jason Ward, CIO of their newly acquired RocketBuild team. Take a look at the highlights of their conversation below as we introduce you to what RocketBuild does, how they integrate with Recruit Rooster’s existing services and what exciting new things you can expect to see from the DirectEmployers family of brands in the future–and then be sure to listen to the full episode for a detailed look into past and present development projects!

Heather Hoffman:

We’re so glad to have you as part of the team. It’s been an awesome fit. So as you know many of our clients are focused on HR, and not necessarily development. So if you could share with us a little bit about the team, what you guys specialize in, and how that can translate into the HR world.

Jason Ward:

Yeah, for sure. So RocketBuild has worked with a few HR companies in the past. I can talk a little more about that later. HR is a very broad topic, obviously. I know Recruit Rooster has a very strong position and a couple of HR niches. DirectEmployers, obviously, is more than niche. They’re doing a whole lot of stuff for everyone around the country. We’ve only barely dipped our toe in the water, but our services have augmented HR processes in the past.

Specifically, we are doing work that is focused on helping innovators inside organizations, or who are starting companies, build technology solution. That takes the form, generally, of web applications or mobile applications. And occasionally the custom enterprise websites, something really large that has a robust content management system.

But our model has been to hire and train the most capable on-shore and in-house developers and technologists. So we don’t do any work with outsource partners that are overseas or anything like that. We have a couple of contractors we work with that are used to this remote work life and doing a bang up job working with us on occasion. But 99% of our work is done in-house by our on-shore developers. And we go out of our way to make sure that the folks that we’re hiring have experience and passion for building applications. That’s really our niche is finding the best talent and putting them on any kind of project and any kind of space. And now we’re trying to learn about HR and that’s great.

Heather Hoffman:

Yeah, absolutely. And you have quite the team. So phenomenal job at recruiting all of them. If you could give us a little backstory on RocketBuild. How long the business has been around?

Jason Ward:

Sure. Yeah, so RocketBuild was founded in 2014 by a couple of guys that had worked in the creative agency space and looked out at their competitors, and even their own organization, and said, “Look, we’re really doing a disservice to a lot of our clients by having overworked and or under-skilled developers on their own, on an island, trying to build these very complex solutions for these organizations that deserve better.” Creative agencies aren’t particularly adept at managing technologists. That’s just not their bread and butter. And that’s not a fault. That is just the truth of having different types of personalities and different types of experiences trying to manage the development team. So, a designer isn’t necessarily the best person to manage a developer and vice versa, to be honest.

So what we wanted to do, what our founders wanted to do, was find these technologists and these developers, put them in a separate agency, RocketBuild, in our case, and offer our services to these agencies that didn’t, or couldn’t, or were not able to provide that level of service to their clients. It was a great plan. Topher and Matt who founded the company found that the demand was high. They were working with a lot of big name agencies here early on, and those agencies were finding that they were getting a lot of cost savings because they didn’t need to support and maintain the salaries of developers year round when they maybe only needed them for two thirds, three quarters of the year on average.

So it was a win-win across the board. Yeah. So for our first three years, we followed that model. And when I came on and started to shift the business a little bit as president, we moved toward direct client work with clients, such as Recruit Rooster. And the work that we’ve been doing is less about augmenting creative services and more about building those enterprise level and product level applications that you see us doing now.

Heather Hoffman:

Absolutely. So for our listeners, they’ve seen DirectEmployers just continue to grow. And this really all started in 2012. And it seems like we’re just constantly adding new product lines, brands, initiatives just left and right. Every time you turned around. In 2019, DirectEmployers introduced the DE Academy, which is an online learning portal for HR professionals. And then in the fall, we announced Tapestry at the affirmative action and EEO arm of the business. And now with the introduction of RocketBuild, my question to you, Jason is where does RocketBuild’s company fit into the DE family of brands?

Jason Ward:

Yeah. So it’s only been since April 1st. It feels like a lot longer, but I’m still new here, right?

Heather Hoffman:

It feels like we’ve been together for many months, right?

Jason Ward:

Absolutely. Yeah. And I think everyone feels over the last couple of months, time has slowed down a little bit. And everything just feels like it’s taking a little bit longer and everything is a little more difficult. So when I, when I think about it, I’m just shocked how quickly it came together and how natural the fit has been in light of all of the difficulties around the world.

So, yeah, I’m still new here. And from where I sit, it’s just a ton of opportunity. For RocketBuild and for Recruit Rooster and DirectEmployers. We’re going to add some depth in what you guys are already doing, but I think we also get to add some breadth in terms of new services being provided. It’s not only about making what you do better through technology. It’s also about providing new services to members and to clients that Recruit Rooster and making sure that we can be an affordable, effective, and just natural fit for some of the services that those clients and members might need.

 

Thank you to Jason and Heather for such an interesting conversation! RocketBuild is such a great company and we are so excited to welcome them to the DE family. Be sure to listen to the full conversation and learn more about how Recruit Rooster and RocketBuild are working together to bring even more exciting technology and creative options to your employer brand.

Kacie Clark
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