World Staffing Podcast #6 with Dave Dworschak, CEO of Kamana


Intro: This is a brand new episode of the World Staffing Podcast. The interview podcast brought to you by, where we meet with entrepreneurs, successful business owners and the greatest minds of the staffing industry. We are interested in what drives them, what inspires them. We want to know what their everyday work looks like and what keeps them up at night.

Intro: We should all learn from them and at the same time, have a good time. And this is your host, Jan Jedlinski.

Jan Jedlinski: Welcome to a brand new episode of the World Staffing Podcast. Today, we have a special guest that started in the staffing industry pretty much at the same time as I did. So we share a lot of common thoughts on where the industry's going. I'm super excited for this conversation. Welcome to the world staffing podcast, Dave.

Dave Dworschak: Thanks so much, Jan.

Jan Jedlinski: If I have a ton of questions, but before we dive in, why don't you tell us a little bit about your story into the industry? I know you started 3 to 4 years ago. How did you end up in staffing and how did you end up building technology for that industry?

Dave Dworschak: Yeah. Great question. So really it was around the summer of 2018, a really good friend of mine.

Who's now my co-founder John. He was a travel nurse for. A very long time. And as a travel nurse, you're moving around to different staffing companies every few months, or at the least different healthcare facilities every few months and oftentimes different staffing companies. And there's a lot of headache that comes with the paperwork aspects of credentialing and onboarding and compliance for a healthcare professional in the healthcare staffing world.

And particularly, you know, John, my co-founder as a nurse, was having to keep up. 1520, sometimes 30 different documents that are expiring all the time. And they've got a lot, all these people know about all their information for each job that they transitioned to. And then from the staff and company side of the equation, all these prudential's have to be validated and verified and moved around from place to place.

Honestly, when we started looking at this space, we weren't really trying to start a company. It was, it was me just kind of helping friends that like, Hey, how can I help you get better organized as a travel nurse? Because this stuff is a big pain point and just realize, you know, looking at the technology and, or really lack of technology and the credentialing and onboarding space for healthcare.

But there was a big pain point that needed to be solved. Not just for John, my co-founder as a nurse, but you've got these staffing companies and healthcare facilities that are dealing with the headache of the credentialing and onboarding paperwork for hundreds or even thousands of healthcare professionals at a time.

So that kinda quickly launched us into, you know, let's, let's jump into this space and see if we can solve some problems.

Jan Jedlinski: That's awesome. So you basically saw a problem firsthand and then started working on it. That's always the best way to start a new company. And how did you approach the start of the business?

Did you start talking to staffing agencies or travel nurses first? Like where did you start actually building the product and who did you approach first?

Dave Dworschak: Yeah. Great question. So we originally started from the nurse's perspective and started talking to all John's friends and then friends of friends and, and then started asking, Hey, can you get us connected with your recruiter?

And then, you know, as we're talking to the recruiters, we say, Hey, can you get in touch with us? The hospitals and the clients that you're working with. And we just had a lot of people really early on who were willing to talk to us about the problems. And at this point we weren't building anything. We were just in full on discovery mode.

And once we really got confident that they're not just one, but really dozens of problems that we could potentially come solve for nurses and healthcare staffing companies and hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Neither John, nor I are our engineers. So we decided out of the gate, like if we're going to do this thing, we want to do it.

Right. And, we went and started networking really for months in order to find a technical co-founder, which is where our third co-founder came into the mix and his name is Kier. And we synced up with them really into 2018 and heading into the beginning of 2019, all made the jump full-time into the business. Instead of.

Let's let's start tackling this thing together and really did that by talking to users and are following, we'll say the full-on startup mentality of like, let's build the smallest thing we can and let's launch it and let's see what people do with it and get their feedback and then, and then build from there.

So. If you look at it like the first, we'll say, you know, year up the business. I mean, we were launching new products sometimes multiple times a day, and just constantly talking to users and really focused on that feedback. And it's quickly expanded to where we are today.

Jan Jedlinski: That's amazing and, you know, iterating every day and innovating in staffing, I think is extremely important.

If you look at the landscape of traditional staffing and recruiting companies and you know, how they operate and their look and feel both the client and candidate sites are pretty old school. So I see that basically the candidate experience and the branding really stands out with Kamana. So, you know, when you look at the candidates, sourcing and war for talent, is there anything that you could know, give us advice to other staffing businesses, what they can do better to attract talent and source talent. What are the things that you think could be overall done better in the Industry?

Dave Dworschak: Yeah, for sure. So, I mean, that's really where the product itself started sort of dovetail into a little bit about what Kamana does.

The, the first thing that we launched was really just a tool for healthcare professionals to store track, managing, share all their credentials and compliance data, and very simply put like the ability for them to do that from their phone and to do it securely where like candidate experience has always been a really tough thing in the healthcare staffing market, because.

Healthcare professionals have, like I mentioned, dozens of items, they have to transfer over to various people throughout the application and onboarding and credentialing process. And that historically has always been very scattered through text and email and phone calls. And it's not only. Chaotic, but it's also not super secure to be sending around like medical documents via text or via email.

And it doesn't really fit well, especially with the candidate who is the healthcare professional, and they're so trained on like patient data and keeping patient data secure. But on the other side of the fence, You know, historically being told like, Hey, I know this is, you know, a sensitive medical document, or I know this is your social security card, but just text it over to me because we really need to get this thing done.

So like advice from, you know, that we took ourselves into the product is like, if we're going to make a deck and this industry and start proving this industry, we really need to put the candidate first. And that is something that. You know, historically when the tables were kind of turned the other direction, where there were more candidates available than, than jobs.

People didn't focus on that. But especially now independently, but even, you know, before being dependent, it started just, there was a huge shift of life, we need healthcare professionals and we need to. Get these folks into hospitals quickly. And in order to do that, we've got to build our entire business model around, focusing on providing an easy to use mobile friendly candidate process.

And that's really where Kamana started. And I think absent of Kamana and healthcare, I think we would strongly recommend like, as you're going out and in this war for talent, really focusing on what it is like for the candidate and even down to like, People in the staffing business, like go apply for the jobs on your website.

See what the experience is like and try to do it from your phone because that's where, you know, 70, 80, sometimes 85% of candidates are coming from and really just be willing to face the experience you're offering and make some improvements to it along the way.

Jan Jedlinski: That's great advice. And I have an interesting point to touch upon the candidate experience over the last two years or so. I've seen more and more what they call deployment apps for staffing coming out in the market, right? Where the staffing company can essentially purchase an entire SaaS suite of workflows and products. Where they can basically build apps and an experience for their candidates.

And only the last podcast that I listened to you on the, on a staffing hub. You mentioned that traditional or a traditional health care nurse would be registered. We're 3- 4 staffing agencies on average. Do you think with more deployment apps and more. This type of technology is popping up in the market that the traditional nurse, or even a candidate would have 5 or 6 different types of apps from different agencies on their phone.

Or do you see this more being a one player takes it all market in the future where there is maybe one centralized experience. I'll be curious to hear your thoughts on that.

Dave Dworschak: Yeah, that's a really good question. So like right out of the gate, when we started Kamana you know, we were seeing other companies.

We'll call them like tech-driven staffing companies out and building platforms to make staffing better, which we admire. We appreciate, we think there's a huge need for it, but in the healthcare staffing industry in particular, like if I find a nurse and I'm a travel nurse and I want to go get a job in the travel nursing industry, I mean, there are, we'll call it 500 major staffing firms and then thousands of little mom and pop staffing firms.

So I have a ton of options. So we've always really looked at this. If every one of these companies goes and builds their own technology platform to make staffing better, the nurses aren't really going to be in a better place because they're just going to be managing, you know, 5, 10, 15 different mobile apps on the phone.

And then even from a SaaS perspective, like the common staffing platform out there that does actually bring some improvement to the candidate experience, the candidate has to basically go through like the application onboarding process. So it's like independently with every firm that's using the software, even if you know, three firms they're working with, they're all using the same technology.

So we've taken quite a different approach to this, where from the candidates perspective, like there's a single profile and I can use that profile to apply onboard credentials, communicate with all the staffing firms that I'm working with without having to duplicate any of the information throughout the process.

So it takes an approach in which like for companies that are, you know, using a platform like Kamana, like candidate can work with, you know, 3 or 5 or 10 different staffing firms to really get their options and do that all without having to duplicate that work and manage, like you said, like five different mobile apps on their phone, but I will say like, you know, we obviously.

Aren't naive and thinking that will take the entire market. There are people out there building really great technology from a proprietary tech standpoint, and we're working with those vendors to integrate Kamana into their solution as well, where, you know, we believe. Going back to that candidate first mentality, even for staffing firms that are building our own technology, you're using competitive technology positioning Kamana as that universal profile, where I can use it to submit my information to both the Kamana Agency or a Kamana healthcare facility.

Or to somebody else using different technologies is really where we're headed, because we don't believe that, you know, introducing, you know, 5 or 10 or 15 different mobile apps for a healthcare professional or any candidate to manage is really the direction that the industry should go

Jan Jedlinski: I agree. I agree. I think that's exactly right.

And I don't think that's the ultimate goal for the industry to have many apps for every staffing company, having one app, but essentially creating a better candidate experience to make the entire process faster specifically for the new candidates that are coming into the market.

The younger generation that is used to it is completely different. User experience on their day-to-day using their phone and phones and computers than maybe even 10 years ago. Something that's super crucial. Maybe one follow up question on that. You know, in the last, let's say 18 months, there's been obviously explosive growth for the interest of people saying there will be recruited less staffing and there will be direct connection between the worker and the client.

What is your take on that? Do you think? Is the recruiter going away anytime soon?

Dave Dworschak: Yeah, that's a great question. I know this is something that's been super fascinating to watch in the healthcare staffing space. Cause we've, we've, I'll just say, I guess, flat out we've always believed that the recruiter or at least the role of the recruiter is something that we're a long shot from eliminating completely from the healthcare staffing industry, because there's, you know, a ton of value that they provide, particularly in really knowing the intricacies of, you know, what are the requirements for this very specific, you know, allied health profession to work in this hospital that is just frankly, really hard to replicate with technology. And we'll see each other for a very short period of time. So we really see the evolution of technology and the evolution of recruiters over the next few years, like completely changing the role of a bigger or completely changing the role of a compliance manager, where we're really leveraging the technology to do the repetitive work.

We'll say menial tasks that do require a lot of human power. And then focusing more on that relationship aspect and in the healthcare staffing market in particular like travel nursing is really confusing and travel. Healthcare is really confusing. And if I'm a nurse or a physical therapist, and I decide I want to leave my permanent job and then go get into the travel space, I'm just going to have a ton of questions.

So that like person to talk to, you can almost think of it more as like a guide that really guides you through the staffing process. We think it is going to remain key particularly with hospital and facility relationships, we're still at a point in the industry where things are very, very relationship driven.

So I guess to sum all that up and, and talk more concisely on it, like we see the role of the recruiter changing very drastically, but we don't see that human element going away.

Jan Jedlinski: I like that, like the guide, or I would sometimes say that's the talent curator in between the candidate and the client, which I think is where the role of the recruiter is going.

Not only, I think in healthcare, but across other industries and staffing. So definitely I would agree that, you know, talking about the curator and sort of middlemen, I know the staffing market is very fragmented with tons of players and then, you know, MSPs and VMS are also playing a role in the market. What is your take on VMS, MSP in healthcare.

Is that competition for you? Are those partners, do you see them being around in the future? What is your view and, and what do you see currently in the Market?

Dave Dworschak: Yeah, that's, that's a great question as well. So I mean the VMS technology in the healthcare staffing space, you know, we definitely see, and we'll say VMS technology and MSP organizations play super critical roles in this space.

So we really see them as partnership opportunities. And we're working with a number of, you know, MSP and VMS platforms today to really get the job data and candidate data more efficiently from point A to point B. I do think there's a world in which the role of the VMS and the MSP, you know, much like the recruiter starts to transition.

Where, this MSP model has a really robust, we'll say human powered component to make sure that we're validating credentials properly and network collecting all the things that the compliance team at the hospital requires for the healthcare professionals to step foot in the facility. And there's just a lot of human power behind that.

So I think we have a ton of opportunities for Kamana to really like to help the MSPs and work with the VMS platforms out there. To really take this, we'll call it a segmented approach where historically, you know, the technology that's used in the industry has gone from, you know, the hospital or facility giving the jobs to the VMS or the MSP through the VMS.

And, and then. Information has to get from the VMS over to the staffing agency and the staffing agency stores that and their applicant tracking system. And then the candidate uses a portal. That's not tied to the VMS and there's all this disconnect of jobs and candidate data and compliance information between the facility and the MSP and the staffing company and the ATS and the VMS.

And really with Kamana establishing itself. We'll stay the central hub for healthcare, professional candidate, data and candidate experience in the industry. We also see a ton of partnership and are driving towards partnership opportunities currently that really serves as the connector between all those platforms.

So again, it's a space where I think. The role of the MSP and the VMS could be significantly augmented by the introduction of, we'll say collaborative technology instead of disconnected systems. And I think, you know, we've got a lot of opportunities over the next, you know, 6, 12, 18 months to make a really big impact there.

Jan Jedlinski: Cool. I'm excited for you guys succeeding on, on that front as well. In terms of technology and staffing. You've been building technology now over the last couple of years, you've seen the trends that are in the market. What technologies do you think are important for the next couple of years that staffing and recruiting companies should take a look at?

And what are your other favorite companies besides Kamana in this space? When you look at the technology side of things.

Dave Dworschak: Yeah, great question. I mean, there's a ton of cool companies. And I think as even we were getting into the space, I mean, looking at companies like Gustav, you know, who are taking a very candidate centered collaborative approach to like HR and onboarding or companies like checker that are taking a very like candidate protective and automated approach to like the background check and compliance process.

Companies like rippling who are taking, you know, a very cool approach to onboarding and offboarding from a technology and an HR perspective. You know, I mentioned all three of those companies, maybe in particular, the common theme is that they are all we'll say candidate and employee centric. And then they're automating kind of the, we'll say menial or repetitive tasks that typically have been very, you know, human powered.

And I think from the staffing company perspective, looking into background check automation through platforms like checker or work history verification through a new cool, not that new anymore, but a really cool company called True Work. That's doing automated work history, validations. Looking into the technology companies out there that give these staffing companies the opportunity to say, Hey, is this something that I'm paying, you know, multiple people a week or, you know, sometimes dozens or hundreds of people a week to handle this task.

And could I introduce some level of candidate centered automation here and companies like, you know, True Work, Checker, Gustav, they all provide that type of experience.

Jan Jedlinski: That's actually a very interesting thought. I'm like, that's like, how can we, how can staffing and recruiting companies move towards being more than the guide and the curator and move away from mundane and manual tasks and bring in technologies that will solve that for them to actually do the real important role of talking to candidates and curating candidates and guiding candidates through the process versus having to do some of the manual paperwork tasks.

And that's, you know, obviously across the industry, still a lot of the case. So, cool. Thanks so much for those recommendations. I have actually one other topic that I wanted to touch base on with you. And, you know, it's a very broad question, but I usually ask it and you are a founder and CEO of a company and you started the company just a few years ago.

And what are, you know, what keeps you up at night these days as a CEO of the company? Are there particular things that you think of at night that, you know, you could improve for your team or for the industry itself? Is there anything that is specifically interesting to you at the moment?

Dave Dworschak: Yeah, that's a, that's a great question.

I'll answer it in two parts, I guess. So, what came to mind first was in our early days when it was really just my co-founders and I, you know, working with the company, what kept me up mostly was just like, you know, am I talking to users enough? What are users thinking? I would say. I love positive feedback and compliments.

Right. But it would always be a little frustrating if we go an entire week without any kind of negative feedback on the platform. So I would say what, what kept me up a lot then was, was just making sure, like, are we communicating and getting feedback from our users enough because too many technology companies go out there and.

Build technology in a vacuum. And, and, you know, by the time they go to launch the thing, the industry has changed or they just totally missed the mark on what the actual pain point they were solving was. So, as we, you know, we're in our early days, that was definitely where all my focus lines were.

Things have changed significantly as we started to scale the company over the past 12 months where we've gone from just my co-founders and I to, you know, now 25 and soon to be over 30 employees. And as we've made that transition, honestly, what keeps me up mostly nowadays is just the employee experience.

And are our employees happy? Are they engaged? Are they challenged? Do they like working here? And I know that. Maybe a different focus and focusing on the product or the users or the customers, but I fully operate under the belief that. I have happy users and happy customers and happy products and a good product.

If we don't have, you know, happy and challenging engaged employees. So just spend a ton of time thinking about the employee experience internally. And we talked so much about the candidate experience from the technology that we're providing to healthcare staffing companies and how they're dealing with their candidates.

But I equally will say stress or think about it . Just the employee experience internally here at Kamana. And I know we've put a lot of effort into things like our job postings and our human centered, like interview process and a really high touch onboarding experience for our employees. And I think as we kind of take this next phase form you know, 30 to 50 or a hundred, you know, employees that come on as we continued to grow the business, just putting a lot of focus on making sure our employee experience is always top of mind because you can't can't have happy users without that happy employees.

Jan Jedlinski: That's actually great. It's a good sign and exciting times for you as you're moving from the founder and product lead role to more building the company role right now.

And it's usually exciting to see, and I'm glad that you are at this point right now, because I think there was a lot of exciting times in the next couple of years. So congratulations on that. Any specific advice that you would give to somebody that's starting an HR tech company today?

Dave Dworschak: Yeah, I think maybe going back to what I said before, but I mean, Talk to your users.

Don't start, don't stop talking to your users. I think, you know, so many folks like to focus on the solution and not the problem. So. This is advice I got really early on as we started Kamana that I just wasn't, you know, I didn't always think this way, but like everybody wants to go build a business and everybody wants to like, make a big, shiny product.

And at the end of the day, it doesn't matter how good your product looks or how fast it operates if it's not solving an actual challenge and an actual pain point. So I would say, you know, think about the pain points, talk to your users about the pain points and. Iterate on solutions to solve those pain points.

And I think. Really early on. Like if we would have, you know, come up with our plan first, let's say a few months after talking to our users and instead like, okay, now let's go build this and we'll come back in six months and launch this thing. We would've gotten it all wrong because like our understanding from month, one month, two month three, it just evolved literally every single day.

And we'll say openness to. Being willing to be wrong and being willing to be challenged in the way that we're thinking about things. It's something we still focus on a lot and honestly struggle with sometimes today like, man, we've been building it this way for three months, and now we learned this new thing and, you know, are we sure this person is right?

And you know, then we hear that same thing two times or three times or four times. And, and just really starting to pay attention to what your users are saying and being willing to. Changing your mind on what you're doing and being willing to be wrong, I think has served us really well. And something that we, as we grow the, you know, the business need to make sure we continue to focus on.

And I would highly recommend for, for folks that are looking into starting an HR technology company. It's like, why are you doing this? What are the pain points? And are you passionate about the problems? And if you can stay focused on those three things, I think there can be a lot of opportunities for success.

Jan Jedlinski: I agree when I speak to successful founders.

That's the, the number one feedback is also talk to users as I've mentioned. So thank you for that advice. What is your go-to source for industry news? Are there specific outlets that you read every day? Where do you get inspiration or information about what's happening in the industry or even outside of the industry?

Dave Dworschak: A good question. For Healthcare staffing in general. You know, SIA actually provides really good news subscribed to all the content they put out. I would say that's very niche or specific to what's going on in the staffing industry itself from a technology industry. Standpoint, there are different resources that I like to leverage Zapier, like totally different companies, but like they've put out just a ton of, we'll say best practices around.

Like, there are aspects of other technology companies that we really like to leverage, like the lessons from people who've been there before. And the Zapier blog is actually a really good example of that. And then I guess for just news in general, about what's happening with HR technology, what's happening in staffing.

Something that I. Not a ton of people use it, but we've gotten really accustomed to creating and setting Google alerts for specific topics or companies or things that we want to research. And it's actually really beneficial to say, like, I want news about this and, you know, have, you know, something like Google, go out and just send you a summary of everything that happens every week is actually something that is a great source for us.

Jan Jedlinski: Cool. Awesome. Thank you so much, Dave. It was a real pleasure to have you here today and it was a great conversation. I really enjoyed it before I let you go. Where can listeners find you online to learn more about Kamana and yourself?

Dave Dworschak: Yeah, for sure. So we'd love to hear from anybody who has any questions about Kamana or starting a company in the healthcare space or in the HR tech space, I'd be happy to be a resource for anybody and would of course welcome any, you know, healthcare professionals, staffing firms, facilities, to reach out, to learn more about what we're doing.

So you can find and I can be reached at If anyone wants to reach out to me personally and would love to hear from you.

Jan Jedlinski: Awesome. Thank you so much, David. It was a pleasure having you on the show and I'm excited to check in with you in the next six to 12 months to see if anything has changed and learn about your progress.

Pleasure to have you. Thank you so much and have a great rest of your day.

Dave Dworschak: Yeah, likewise, Jan, I really appreciate it. And look forward to the podcast and following along with all the great things you're doing with the World Staffing Summit as well.

Jan Jedlinski: Thank you so much. See you soon.

Dave Dworschak: You've been listening to the World Staffing Podcast, brought to you by, the digital storefront for your staffing business.

End: If you like this episode, make sure to subscribe and leave a review so you don't miss out on any future episodes. Got a topic you want us to touch base on. Shoot us a message.

Welcome to the World Staffing Podcast where we speak with success-full staffing owners and operators to learn about the things that keep them up at night, their success stories, learnings and failures while building a successful staffing company and their thoughts on the future of the staffing market.

Kamana founder, Dave discusses how he got started in the industry and what keeps him up at night. He also talks about some new technologies that will have an impact on staffing for years to come as well as  news sources worth paying attention to!

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