Bad HR Software Pitches and Cynicism

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Two weeks ago, I was pitched an awful idea.

“How about a Human Resources solution with the capability to manage the full life-cycle of HR — from hiring to performance management to compensation planning — for companies with 0-5 employees?”

I said, “Wait, you want to sell HR software to companies with no employees. Just a founder?”

“Zero to five employees, Laurie.”

I said, “That software exists. It’s called Excel. And a bookkeeper named Morrie.”

But apparently I’m wrong. I was informed that this is a growing market with burgeoning demand. Only a fraction of companies in America have over 100 employees. And this market — of companies with 0-5 employees who need a Human Resources software solution — is ready to explode.

I said, “Yeah, it’s exploding into something called PEO.”

And this guy said, “You just don’t get it.”

Yup, he is right. I don’t get it. On top of being a Human Resources entrepreneur and consultant, I run a company with 0-5 employees. And we don’t need a Human Resources information system.

But I have to tell you something serious: These bad pitches are getting to me.

The other day, I was pitched a really good idea in a hallway by a passionate guy who wanted to see if I could offer my consulting services to his organization.

Before I could even consider the merits of his company, I saw roadblocks.

  • “This product already exists.”
  • “The market is supersaturated with solutions.”
  • “Why would anyone pay for this when it exists?”

I actually said those things. And they might be true, but OMG, the guy can dream. Who am I to act like I know anything about innovation in the HR technology space?

[Okay, okay, okay. I’ve seen (and partied) with some really smart dudes at conferences over the past six years. And I am sad for the guys who fail. The ones who pitch before thinking through the active path towards profitability. I do have some credibility.]

But I still felt bad about my reaction to the guy who needed my help. I sent an apology. If someone can be passionate about HR technology, I want to help.

Except the guy who wants to pitch me on a Human Resources software solution for a company with zero employees. If you ever feel like buying that kind of software, please call me. I will introduce you to this thing called “having a conversation with your 0-5 employees” and QuickBooks.

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