TL; DR: Founded in 2009 by a blues guitarist with a passion for helping small businesses, Proven is on a mission to ease hiring struggles for growing enterprises across the US. The company’s affordable and robust hiring software empowers users to post on multiple job boards, track applicants, and monitor performance, among other time-saving features. Through digital hiring tools, unique content, and knowledgeable customer support, Proven is providing SMBs with an ever-growing pool of resources intended to alleviate common pain points.
Pablo Fuentes knows America’s small business owners — genuinely.
Over the past year or so, he’s put more than 10,000 miles on his truck while traveling the country to interview them for his podcast: Small Business War Stories. The weekly show gets to the heart of business ownership through the true stories of entrepreneurs, from the owner of an MMA-themed barber shop in New Mexico to the founder of a holistic wellness center in Ohio.
“Small businesses are the soul of America,” Pablo said. “That’s why I hit the road with my dog and my guitar — to highlight and provide value for growing businesses.”
As Founder and CEO of Proven, a comprehensive online hiring tool designed specifically for SMBs, Pablo’s podcast is more than a hobby — it provides valuable insight into the exact problems his clients face.
“We serve thousands of SMBs nationwide,” he said. “While there are a lot of applicant tracking systems and job boards for larger companies, there aren’t many that are super dedicated to small businesses.”
Established in 2009 to help job seekers access employment opportunities via text, Proven now strives to understand the hardships of his customers and formulate software solutions accordingly. Whether that means continuously improving its robust hiring tool, offering personalized customer service, or providing valuable, free content, Proven is on a mission to help emerging businesses find success.
Post to Multiple Job Boards, Track Applicants, and Monitor Performance
Proven is committed to helping SMBs alleviate hiring challenges so they can get back to doing what they love. “We have simple but very useful tools that enable people to go through the hiring process without the tool getting in the way,” Pablo said. “A lot of times small business owners get sold systems they don’t need, frankly.”
The process is simple — write a job post, send it to multiple job boards with one click, and receive notices by email when candidates apply. Once you’re ready to meet them, Proven’s hiring tools make contacting prospective employees and setting up interviews a breeze. The software even provides a performance dashboard allowing business owners to monitor the popularity of their job posts.
“The whole process takes 90 seconds, as long as you have a job post written,” Pablo said. “You put it in the system, select the boards you’d like to reach, pay, and then you’re live and receiving applications for your job.”
There’s a one-time fee to use the Applicant Tracking System, and job posts are pay-as-you-go. “Our one-time fee of $5 provides an applicant tracking system that is equivalent to systems people purchase for $5,000 to $10,000 a year,” Pablo said.
Proven keeps fees low by reselling listings to other job boards. “As a reseller, we’re able to give customers these deals and still make money,” Pablo said.
He has observed the industry move away from free job boards in the past years. “In general, they’re not very effective anymore,” Pablo said. “The model has changed into almost a trading desk where you actually buy and sell clicks and help people specifically find candidates for specific job types.”
Committed to Providing Personalized, Hands-On Customer Service
The importance of nurturing customer relationships is not lost on Pablo. Every day, he makes personal phone calls to each new Proven customer, offering support and trying to understand their challenges. “It’s about listening to the customer and figuring out how to do better,” he said. “Refining your methods is a never-ending process.”
Making 10 to 30 phone calls a day on top of regular business objectives is no easy task, but for Pablo, it’s time well spent. “It’s a lot of calls, but when you take the time to reach out, it shows you care and helps people relate to your brand,” he said.
It also provides an opportunity to offer advice to SMBs looking to increase job applicants. “We try to use our 10 years of experience to help people,” Pablo said. “We want to educate people; we want to make them successful.”
The company’s goal is to guide customers through the life cycle of their projects and beyond. Pablo told us he recently called the head of human resources at a restaurant business just to check in. After some small talk, he asked her how the service was working and whether she needed any assistance.
“She had actually left the restaurant for a new small business and wanted to sign her new group up with us as well,” Pablo said. This type of interaction is what the company strives for — a long-term approach to customer service that ultimately leads to new business opportunities.
A Culture of Resilience and Accountability That Fosters Quality
Once based in San Francisco, Proven is now powered by a remote workforce, allowing staff to do the work they love in locations that make them happy. For Pablo, a blues guitarist, that place is Austin — a culture-rich city often referred to as the “Live Music Capital of the World.”
“If your staff are remote, you have to trust them, and if you can’t trust your employees, you shouldn’t have them on your team in the first place,” he said. “People incorrectly equate sitting in front of a computer with progressive work, and a lot of times that’s not true.”
The team gathers a few times per year for “Proven Live,” a teambuilding opportunity hosted in various cities that helps remote employees get to know one another while reinforcing the company’s overall vision. Once they’re back home, employees maintain communication through collaboration tools like Slack and Google Hangouts.
Proven’s holistic approach to customer engagement is also mindful of physical health. The company pays for gym memberships and encourages employees to dedicate time to self-care. “We know that’s the most important thing — there are times where you realize, ‘I need to go to the gym or jiu-jitsu, because those are the things that help me stay sane and be productive the rest of the time,’” Pablo said.
Healthy, productive employees are better suited to ensure Proven can meet — even exceed — customer expectations.
“One of the great fallacies about software companies is once you build the product, you’re done,” Pablo said. “The reality is there’s always something that needs to be tweaked, fixed, or improved, and the moment you stop being conscientious of that, your business is going to start declining.”
A Broad Mission to Share Best Practices in Small Business Ownership
Pablo has big plans for the company’s future. “Down the line, we’re going to be able to help small businesses in a way that goes beyond all that we’re doing today,” he said. “I’m not in the business of one-time transactions. I want to build relationships with our clients.”
In doing so, Pablo hopes to solidify Proven’s reputation as a trusted brand in the SMB community. In that regard, he’s especially proud of his company’s blog, which providers insider knowledge on everything from the top small business podcasts to finding the best applicant tracking system. It’s also where you’ll find the company’s Small Business War Stories podcast.
Looking for more? Pablo is publishing a book packed with the lessons he has learned while on the road. “Over time, creating original content that helps small businesses run their operations will attract more customers,” Pablo said.
From a product perspective, Proven will continue to polish its existing hiring software. “Our immediate priority is to make sure that people are happy with the product,” he said. “From the referrals and growth we’ve seen recently, it appears people are happy with the system — and we want to keep it that way.”