Seeking a new career direction? Just starting out? The video platform Whatchado has many ideas. And hosts lots of companies too — including SAP.
Entrepreneurs, CEOs, apprentices, lifeguards, and bakers — you can find them all on the Whatchado video platform. That’s precisely what Ali Mahlodji set out to do. He has been fascinated by people’s life stories ever since he was a child. But it wasn’t until three years ago that he turned his dream of collecting them into a business idea, and Whatchado was born.
Each month, anywhere from 100 to 120 new videos are published on the platform. His company now employees 35 people from over 10 nations.
Q: When did you have the idea for Whatchado?
A: It really got going three years ago. We got together with 300 potential users to come up with seven questions that we wanted to ask people. We realized that the questions had to be about work. And that we wanted to ask everyone the same questions. Then we made 17 videos and put them online. After that, companies started asking us to work with them. We hadn’t any idea what to charge for our service. And we didn’t have any time to think about it either. So, after two days we came up with a financing model for our collection of life stories.
Q: What’s different about Whatchado?
A: Our matching method. Visitors to our site answer questions to create a profile of themselves. We ask them whether they want to travel, how much they like to engage with people, whether they’d prefer a job that is fun or well-paid, or whether they want predictable working hours. No matter which profiles I look at, the 14 answers tell me right away whether that person is on the same wavelength as me, since everyone answers these questions. And I can also tell whether a company’s culture suits me. That’s one of the reasons why over 500,000 people a month watch the videos.
Though we produce videos that companies pay for, we also make them at our own expense for NGOs such as Médicins Sans Frontières, and for people who can’t afford it. That’s because we want to portray all of society, not just a cross-section. This is our one-for-one philosophy, for every paid-for story there’s one that’s free.
Q: What’s in it for companies?
A: Companies are having to compete in an increasingly candidate-driven market. The skills shortage is a major issue, especially for companies that are not so well known. BFFT came to us and we created profiles of some of their employees. They have since recruited three people through us.
Companies have caught on to the idea of employer branding. They want to promote their brand and show who they are. But don’t get me wrong, we ask all of them our seven questions, including the one on the limitations of the job. If a company doesn’t agree to that we don’t work with them.
Q: You recently received the HR Excellence Award from Human Resource Manager magazine. Why do you think they chose you?
A: People no longer stay in the same job all their working life. They want options. And that is what they find on Whatchado. They can compare them, not by job title but by human factors, which are becoming more important. They want to be with the right people in the right place.
Q: You have been through a lot of change in your life, starting when your family fled Iran and came to Austria. Is the platform a result of the instability in your life?
A: I’ve done a lot of different things. I never really settled down at school. I began training as a bricklayer and carpenter, then I gave that up to study software engineering. In the end I completed a course on distributed operating systems at university. It was the same after I started work. My first job was as a consultant at Siemens. Then I moved to Sun Microsystems, where I had a great job, a flashy car, and lots of money.
But I soon realized that that wasn’t what I wanted. So I quit my job and spent a few weeks traveling around Thailand and Vietnam. When I came back to Austria I had a mohawk hairstyle and tattoos. I then went to work for an Internet agency before becoming a teacher at a media design school. That’s when I had the idea for Whatchado. So I’ve come full circle.
Q: Whatchado operates in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. Do you plan to go global?
A: It would be amazing if people in Sri Lanka or Australia were on Whatchado and told us about their work. Our team speaks 10 languages. Why not?