Damian Tanenbaum, Blankfactor
Intro: [00:00:08] Broadcasting live from the Georgia World Congress Center for Fintech South 2022, it’s time for Atlanta Business Radio. Brought to you by Atlanta Blockchain Center. Now, here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:27] Lee Kantor here broadcasting live from Fintech South 2022. I’m so excited to be talking to Damian Tanenbaum with Blankfactor and it’s not just because he brought gifts. Damian, welcome.
Damian Tanenbaum: [00:00:41] Well, thank you very much. Pleasure to be here.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:43] How did you guys come up with socks as the giveaway?
Damian Tanenbaum: [00:00:46] Oh, man. They’re sexy, man. You got to look good. Socks are incredible. They go with everything. Everybody has to wear them, so mind as well give them away.
Damian Tanenbaum: [00:00:53] Good choice. Good choice. Well, tell us a little bit about Blankfactor. How are you serving folks?
Damian Tanenbaum: [00:00:58] We are engineering the future. So, we offer software engineers in both near-shore and offshore, and of course local and the U.S.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:07] So, how did you get into this line of work?
Damian Tanenbaum: [00:01:09] Oh, man. Well, I’ve been in Fintech for almost 30 years, so I understand everything that both the banks and the Fintech companies need.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:15] Right.
Damian Tanenbaum: [00:01:16] And so, our job at Blankfactor is to offer engineers that can help connect the two, whether it’s integrations, front ends, back end developers, user interface, you know, whatever it is from a design side. We offer project managers, people that can get involved and understand the industry, which is key, right? So, it’s not just being great at being a software engineer.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:35] Right.
Damian Tanenbaum: [00:01:35] But it’s understanding the Fintech space.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:37] And then the talent shortage that’s everywhere in this field. How do you find the talent?
Damian Tanenbaum: [00:01:45] Well, we have different sites.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:45] Because they have jobs, right?
Damian Tanenbaum: [00:01:46] Oh, yes.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:46] They’re already working.
Damian Tanenbaum: [00:01:47] Oh, yes. So, it’s a challenge, obviously. But because we have multiple sites, we’re able to kind of balance. So, we have folks in Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Colombia, Argentina, Peru.
Damian Tanenbaum: [00:02:00] So, if we’re having a challenge in one site, we’ll go ahead and, you know, try to shift the work to one of the other sites. And then we’ll focus on our social benefits and, of course, our financial benefits within each site. Figure out what it is to engage the employees to get, you know, do employee referrals. Figuring out what it is, what benefits we have to offer so that we can kind of catch up on the hiring.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:19] Now, if I’m talent, what do I do to stand out so that Damian calls me.
Damian Tanenbaum: [00:02:25] Well, first of all, have a great LinkedIn.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:28] OK.
Damian Tanenbaum: [00:02:29] Be active in your community of software developers, you know, kind of keep an eye out for positions. And then when we call you, answer the phone, be available, respond to LinkedIn messages, respond to our messages and then ask for more information. Right? We want people to be engaged with us. So, it can be as, you know, ask us the right questions. Do I have to come to work each day? What benefits do you offer? Will you pay for my gym membership, right? Because we want to employ for the part of this.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:56] So, there’s no dumb questions when it comes to this because you want to get as best fit as you possibly can. And you want to make sure the match is good, right?
Damian Tanenbaum: [00:03:04] Oh, for sure. For sure. I mean, my job as chief operating and people officer is to make sure we hire the right people first. Second, I got to make sure we keep them engaged, happy, working for us on a long-term, everlasting relationship. And then third, if we do those two things, our customers are going to be happy.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:21] So, now the people who are hiring, what are you doing to coach them to be attractive, to get the right folks?
Damian Tanenbaum: [00:03:28] So, a few things. They have regular meetings with our tech leads. They understand Fintech because we’ve given them training in the Fintech space. And then they’re trained on the use of tools, right? LinkedIn, the job sites, how to find the right talent. And then they get feedback after they bring new and potential employees to us. And we do the tech interview, and we do the tech assessments. Those recruiters get direct feedback as to whether those employees — potential employees, were the right fit.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:55] Because it’s important to work — so you’re working both sides of the marketplace, right? You have to have, you know, the employer and the employee. So, there must be ways to help them from a culture standpoint, because people don’t quit jobs. They quit bosses. So, how do you — is there things you do to kind of help them keep the people that you — you know, that you spend all this time and energy to get the right person in there. You want them to stick?
Damian Tanenbaum: [00:04:21] Yes. So, one thing that’s good. Luckily, I don’t have a product to sell. I’ve got no brick-and-mortar. No hard product to sell.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:27] Right.
Damian Tanenbaum: [00:04:27] So, what I have is people.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:28] Right.
Damian Tanenbaum: [00:04:28] So, I can focus all my energy on one, getting them. Two, keeping them. And as part of keeping them, what we have to do is we have to make sure within each of the sites. So, first, you have local culture, making sure that there’s a match, right?
Lee Kantor: [00:04:41] Right.
Damian Tanenbaum: [00:04:41] Whatever the social benefits are, the financial benefits are that they care about locally. Second, they need attraction. They need to feel like they’re part of Blankfactor, the corporation. Because they want to know that there’s bigger things that they can be part of.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:52] Right.
Damian Tanenbaum: [00:04:52] Third, the customers we go after have to be sexy. They have to be something for the future, right? Futuristic, future-proof, whatever it is. So that the employees that we hire, they want to work for a company that they know is going places.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:05] Right. And they want to make a mark, right? They want to, you know, have their kind of picture on the wall. They want to feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves.
Damian Tanenbaum: [00:05:14] Exactly. So, in that — and again, so you can’t — I can’t say it enough. It’s that local culture, the company culture, and then the customer culture, that all has to come together for the right employee.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:23] So, now it’s — it sounds like super rewarding work. Like, you’re really making a difference in these people’s lives, right?
Damian Tanenbaum: [00:05:30] Yes.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:30] You’re helping them get opportunities they couldn’t get on their own, really, without you.
Damian Tanenbaum: [00:05:34] Yes. And you got to understand, too, we’re dealing with some smart people.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:38] Sure.
Damian Tanenbaum: [00:05:39] Right. And these are some, you know, these are guys who understand how to build technology. Guys — and understand how to use facial recognition to make payments. I mean, these are some smart people. So, keeping them engaged takes a lot of creativity.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:53] Right. It sounds like it’s a job that on paper it seemed like, oh, this supply and demand, this should be easy. But it’s not. I mean, there’s a lot of nuance to this and there’s a lot of kind of soft skills needed in order to really get the most out of this.
Damian Tanenbaum: [00:06:05] Yes, so we engineer the future with technology, but it’s all based on the people.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:10] People, right. It’s a people business at the end of the day.
Damian Tanenbaum: [00:06:12] At the end of the day, that’s exactly what it is. And it’s people that you don’t even know, right. And the recruiting process, they have to trust you. You have to build that relationship during the recruiting process, the onboarding, right. It has to be organized.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:24] Yes, you can’t sleep on the onboarding, right? Because you’ll lose people there.
Damian Tanenbaum: [00:06:27] Yes.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:27] If it’s not, you can blow up the whole deal right on that — in that part.
Damian Tanenbaum: [00:06:30] That’s exactly right. And then once they’re on board, they have to like the customer that they’re partnering with. They still have to love Blankfactor, and they have to love coming to work every day in the office culturally.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:40] Right. So, are the expectations changing, like, through the pandemic? Now you have people that are a little more picky. A little more — have a little more needs that maybe they didn’t have prior to the pandemic?
Damian Tanenbaum: [00:06:54] Yes, depending on location, you have different needs in a sense of, you know, whether they do or don’t want to come to the office. How often they want to come to the office. The time of day they want to work, and what benefits they expect when they come to the office.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:05] So, now when you’re working with folks that are maybe now doing a — they’re trying to do hybrid, right?
Damian Tanenbaum: [00:07:10] Yes.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:10] That’s super popular now. But hybrid, to me, means you’re no longer — kind of, can live anywhere. I still now, I have to live in the city for this — because I can’t come in if I’m, you know, six-hour flight away from where I’m working.
Damian Tanenbaum: [00:07:25] I think there’s flexible hybrid situation. So, the answer is, yes. Where hybrid is kind of the ideal situation. Come to the office three or four days a week and we’ll let you pick what days you come to the office. Maybe even pick what hours. We do want to have that center culture and teamwork where you are working with your project manager —
Lee Kantor: [00:07:41] Where there’s — right. And it’s in person and you’re seeing each other and shaking their hands and seeing eye to eye.
Damian Tanenbaum: [00:07:48] Exactly. At the same time, we have to be flexible to the people we’ve hired during the pandemic that work thee to five hours away from the office.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:55] Right.
Damian Tanenbaum: [00:07:55] And maybe in that situation, we’ll pay for your ride to the office. Maybe it’s only every other week until you come in.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:01] Right.
Damian Tanenbaum: [00:08:01] And we have different types of team meetings.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:03] So, if somebody wants to learn more about Blankfactor on both sides of this marketplace, whether they’re talent or whether they need talent, how do they find you?
Damian Tanenbaum: [00:08:11] So, first, everybody needs talent
Lee Kantor: [00:08:13] Right, they should be. That’s the first bit of advice, right?
Damian Tanenbaum: [00:08:16] Especially in this world. I mean, look at what’s happening. I mean, when you look at the technology on your phone, the technology on the computers, the — how fast payments are moving. Everybody needs talent. And most people can’t find them for — within their shop or they don’t have the budget to hire so they need to outsource to a company like us. And they need to use us as kind of a partner to build what they need because they may not even have the in-house expertise for what they want so they can go to blinkfactor.com and get information.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:41] It’s that simple?
Damian Tanenbaum: [00:08:42] Yes.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:43] Good stuff, Damian. Thank you so much for sharing your story. You’re doing important work and we appreciate you.
Damian Tanenbaum: [00:08:48] Thank you for your time.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:48] All right. This is Lee Kantor. We’ll be back in a few at Fintech South 2022.
Outro: [00:09:01] This episode has been brought to you by Atlanta Blockchain Center, the catalyst for Atlanta’s emergence as the Premier Blockchain Innovation Hub globally, through cultivating entrepreneurship, inclusivity, and education. To learn more, go to atlblockchaincenter.com.
Fintech South 2022 is a world-class summit with its nexus in Atlanta live and in-person, a global financial technology hub that is home to more than 200 fintech companies. The top 15 public fintech companies in Georgia alone generate more than $100 billion in revenues.