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Meet James Biggs of RizeHQ

Today we’d like to introduce you to James Biggs.

James, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My co-founder, Yoshimi Iyadomi, and I founded Rize Global Inc. (DBA RizeHQ) around the beginning of 2019, intending to build a professional networking platform that connects “people-as-people.”

And we believe we are the people that can deliver on that promise. Yoshimi is a 20+ year veteran professional matchmaker and a successful entrepreneur in the recruiting space. I have 15+ years of product growth experience spanning ad tech, marketing, and mobile communications apps. We both find a great deal of fulfillment from building products and services that help bring people together.

From the outset, we were reacting to the fact that social media, while indispensable to most of our lives, is optimized around helping you connect mostly with the people you already know. It is challenging, especially in a professional context, to meet new people and form meaningful professional connections online.

It turns out events validated our thesis during 2020. The coronavirus pandemic and the rise of virtual work make it harder than ever for each of us to build our elite personal asset: our professional networks. Yet, today’s networking technology has not kept pace with today’s social patterns and challenges. Specifically, traditional professional networks like LinkedIn are sales and recruiting tools designed to help prospectors reach the maximum number of people, undermining professionals’ ability to cultivate relevant 1:1 connections. And, given that 85% of jobs in the United States are filled through professional networking, we all need a way to form relevant new relationships.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Has it been a smooth road? Absolutely not! There have been many challenges along the way, and we’ve even made a few mistakes. Building our company has come with its fair share of struggles, though I think there’s no such thing as a completely smooth operation in these kinds of ventures. Real boats rock.

One challenge was that we needed to find a product that fits the market problem we want to address, and that’s a discovery process—we have had several pivots in product strategy since the outset. Pivots tend to be very common with early-stage startups, but knowing that doesn’t make it any more comfortable when you’re going through it.

However, what I believe sets us up for long-term success is that we learned something valuable about our assumptions and our customers each time. We enjoyed victories, and we learned from our mistakes. And ultimately, we decided that our product solutions at those times didn’t quite match the vector of the opportunity that we perceived.

We are now on our third product iteration, and we believe we successfully dialed in on the market opportunity we perceive. That doesn’t mean the product won’t take its lumps as we test it in the market, but we’re confident there’s a strong need for the solution we are offering our customers.

That segues into the second immense challenge that our company faced, finding the right talent in a competitive labor market. We succeeded in finding excellent matches for our company by changing the way we operated. LA commutes were limiting our realistic, addressable candidate pool to the folks who could comfortably commute to the Westside every day. A critical factor in our success was eliminating our teammates’ need to be in the physical office every day. It allowed us to cast a wider net and find the people whose skillsets and values aligned with our company’s needs.

Interestingly enough, though, the new norm is forcing many hiring companies to think about the workforce more globally and holistically anyway. Proximity and geo-location mean less than ever. Things won’t change overnight, but we believe that the future of work is shifting towards an increasingly remote, independent, and self-sufficient workforce. We feel fortunate that we can deliver a product that will help professionals navigate these new and uncertain waters. And, we believe in the end, we may all be a lot better for it. Indeed, for smaller companies and early-stage startups like ours, the ability to compete for talent outside of a tight labor market like Los Angeles is game-changing.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about RizeHQ – what should we know?
RizeHQ is a professional networking platform that brings purpose, trust, and algorithmic precision to professional networking.

We specialize in building a recommendation algorithm that eliminates our community members’ need to engage in costly and inefficient searches for other professionals. Instead, Rize brings your network to you.

Using AI technology and psychographic analysis, RizeHQ turns our members’ goals, interests, personalities, plans, and values into valuable matches and actionable insights into how they can make the most of their new connections.

I believe our particular focus on psychographics sets us apart from our competitors because it’s not enough to bring people together anymore. In this new world we all find ourselves in, where we are meeting people in virtual spaces and physical, understanding the psychology of the people we meet is truly essential in helping us empathize with the other person and form better connections with them. We’ll start with what we’re calling scientific icebreakers—psychological insights into the people we match on our platform and recommendations on ways to build rapport. I’d go so far as to say that our ambition is to use technology to create a universal language for culture and role fit.

And, most importantly, we’re practicing what we preach, and the thing I’m most proud of is that helping people is truly a core value of everyone on our team. My co-founder, Yoshimi, and I are very passionate about helping professionals succeed in maximizing their outcomes, and with that comes changing how professionals come together in an increasingly virtual world. And, we hired specifically for teammates who share our values.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I attribute my success and the success of my company to the people with whom I surround myself. Today’s business challenges are so daunting, and the technology stack that companies use to solve those problems is so complex that it takes a diverse and talented team to succeed.

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