Jump in and get to know Sprockets’ Founder and CEO, AJ Richichi, and how he got started in HR Tech.
What tabs are open on your computer right now?
Gmail, Twitter, Stack Overflow, ESPN, and GDrive.
What was your first job?
I grew up in a really small town in Upstate NY. When I was in 6th grade, I annoyed my much cooler older brother until he agreed to let me be his “music manager” (whatever that meant). We released a three-song CD called “Summer Crush” and donated all proceeds to cancer research. He later attended Berkeley and is now a professional musician. It’s amazing that he made it despite my influence!
Why HR tech? Why not another discipline?
Great question. It’s really simple: I love business, I love people, and I love tech. Sprockets has given me an opportunity to build technology that helps businesses find awesome people. I’ve spent the last three years learning about the challenges of HR executives learning about benefits, compliance, recruiting, onboarding, culture, safety, compliance, interviewing, and so much more. When do y’all sleep?! I have tremendous respect for people in HR. They are tasked with the company’s most important responsibilities with very little tech or tools. My hope is that Sprockets can take the weight off their shoulders and enable them to make awesome personnel decisions.
What’s your favorite event in Charleston?
That’s easy… Charleston Fashion Week. It’s so far out of my comfort zone, but the entrepreneur in me loves watching the designers, bloggers, and models fulfilling their dreams on their biggest stage. If you go, find the mastermind behind JoJo Rings. Her name is Jordan Richichi. I’ll be somewhere in the corner holding her stuff!
What is your advice to those who want to start a business?
Use your chips wisely. Social capital is very valuable for any technology start-up, but it is also very limited. When we first landed in Charleston, and then expanded to Greenville, we placed an emphasis on “observation” before “saturation”. For nearly a year we attended events without name tags, built strong relationships exclusively with customers that we hand-selected, and actively rejected any and all media (social, blog, PR). This gave us additional time to develop our technology, pick the right markets and customers, grow our team, gain mentors, and learn more about the competition. Far too often startups burn capital, both monetary and social, by prematurely sponsoring events, throwing parties, and jumping into markets they don’t fully understand. I’ve made this mistake on previous projects.
What’s your favorite event in Greenville?
I have a real emotional connection with DisruptHR Greenville. When I first came to South Carolina, I wanted desperately to have a positive impact on the community. It’s one thing to start a business– it’s an entirely different animal to host a global conference. With a lot of Redbull and amazing support from mentors, sponsors, speakers, and community leaders, we were able to pull off two successful events in twelve months. My experience with DisruptHR speaks to Greenville’s collaborative culture. Here I was, a 23-year-old Yankee, given an opportunity to try something new. Thank you so much to everyone who made it possible!
What are you doing when you’re not working?
I love watching sports, whether I’m checking out a five-star recruit at a Fort Dorchester football game, heading up to Greenville to watch my nephew in little league soccer, or chanting to Sandstorm at William’s Brice. My wife and I hope to see a new SEC stadium every year. This season we’re heading to the Swamp!
Do you want to give any shoutouts?
Yes! Everyone go to www.charlestonopensource.com and become a digital ambassador! They are a people-powered movement bringing together developers, designers, entrepreneurs, and tech leaders to share all the amazing things happening in Charleston.
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