10 Questions for Reed Flesher, CEO of Haddonfield-based Thrive

Photo: J. Reed Flesher Photo Credit: Courtesy Thrive
J. Reed Flesher | Courtesy Thrive

Located in the heart of Haddonfield, Thrive combines elements of applicant-tracking and relationship-management software into a seamless system that promotes network development and collaboration for hiring managers.

 “There needs to be a better way to share candidates with your clients than just giving them a spread sheet,” said J. Reed Flesher, the president and head of product at Thrive.

The Drexel grad and corporate marketer began work on Thrive over a year ago. Since then, the team has spent most of its time researching and developing a product that solves the issue of applicant-tracking and relationship-management software. They used their existing network to leverage new relationships with their product; then they interviewed possible users, asking them specific questions that helped them to create a prototype.

After they created an initial prototype, the team circled back to those same users, and performed user tests to refine the prototype even further. Once they finished, the Thrive team went into full product development.

Thrive now has 11 employees, and it’s still growing. When asked about scaling the company, Flesher mentions that he doesn’t want to move too fast. That’s a lesson learned. One thing he had to adjust to at the beginning of Thrive was the fast decision-making processes typical of emerging startups. Flesher states, “If you get too many clients at once, you may not have the infrastructure to support these clients. If we could look back, using a product like Thrive may have helped our business avoid obvious startup failures.”

Basic Info:

Company name:  Thrive.

Product Name: Thrive TRM.

When did you launch the company? 2015.

Team: J. Reed Flesher, president and head of product.

New Jersey Location: Haddonfield.

Any employees yet? If so, how many in New Jersey?  Yes, 11.

Funding: Privately backed.

Markets you are serving: Search agencies, enterprise executive recruiting, VC and private equity firms.

Entrepreneurial Questions:                                                                                           

1.     What is your New Jersey connection? What brought you to New Jersey, and do you plan to stay here?

I went to high school in New Jersey, but went to college at Drexel University, where I majored in marketing and digital media.

2.     What problem are you solving?

There are different challenges that recruiters have. One of them is being able to capture all of the intelligence that is involved in a search; the other is capturing that information and placing it into a central database. A candidate in one search could also be a candidate in another. With Thrive, this process is more streamlined and easier to manage.

3.     Why can you address the problem better than anyone else?

We are taking a new approach to candidate tracking. There are a lot of ideas that have been coming from other industries. Some come from social media—for example, the thumbs-up and thumbs-down features on Facebook and the swiping-left-and-right features in dating apps—and all of them are great indicators for matching candidates.

The problem is that a lot of companies don’t do anything with that kind of data. They just let it sit there. What makes us different is that we create the tools for sharing that information with your team, so you can find the best possible candidate for your particular project or company.

4.     How did you come up with your startup name?

We polled our friends and family by posting a contest on Facebook. We used some names we liked and asked users to suggest names. From there, we looked at the entries, narrowed them down to three, and chose “Thrive.”

5.     What was the biggest mistake you’ve made so far in your entrepreneurial journey, and what did you learn from it?

Each client will have a different demand, and that will bog you down. Also, we brought in a VP of sales way too early in the beginning phase of the company. We learned that bringing in the right people at the right time is important, but we also learned that understanding where you are within your business helps you to make those kinds of decisions.

6.     When was the last time you thought about quitting your startup and going back to corporate life, or doing something else? What got you to stay?

Since founding Thrive, I have not thought about going back to the corporate world. It is exciting to be able to have so much influence on our work culture and the people I hire to develop amazing products.

7.     If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?

No regrets here. Of course we’ve made a few mistakes, but none that would require us to take the time to go back and do anything different.

8.     Where’s the best place to find founders to network with?

Most of my network has come from previous projects I have worked on, either from being at a different company or from advisors I’ve worked with closely here in Haddonfield.

9.     What does your family think about you being an entrepreneur?

My dad was an entrepreneur who started his own brokerage firm. He is happy that I inherited his entrepreneurial drive.

10.  What has helped you the most to achieve your current success?

Before I was on the product side, I was on the marketing side. I believe this helped me a lot, and I built a good foundation. I have the ability to interact with developers and marketers to create a product that can “go to market.” It’s important to become less focused on one skill set and instead become more oriented toward the product as a whole.

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