Drew Wildner, President, Convergence Research Inc.
We invite you to sit back, relax, and join us for a great interview with: Drew Wildner, President, Convergence Research Inc.
With a background and training in software development, Drew indicated that in the late ’90s, while working for a small software development firm he was contracted to build a background check system for a CRA. The project was considered a success and, one year later when the owners of the small contracting firm scuttled the company, the CRA brought him on board full-time. He spent the next seven years building new products, planning and executing integrations and learning more and more about the pre-employment screening industry. During his tenure, he was named the CTO of the company.
In early 2007, the company he was working for encountered problems and along with a fellow employee, Steve Hartz, they decided to establish Convergence Research. With both of them being technical they reach out to another former colleague to join them in the new venture. Tom Irvin came on board in 2007 and brought with him decades of industry experience and business knowledge.
The early days involved the three of them packed into an office smaller than most walk-in closets for fourteen hours a day. We had no product to sell and software to fulfill it. Our first order of business was building our software. Steve and Drew built version 1.0 of the Convergence system in the next eight months. Tom established vendor relationships and attended tradeshows to stay informed on industry trends. By the end of the year Convergence started processing screenings. Fast forward seven years and we have grown from the little one room office to our own office building, a sizable operations staff, and a vast array of platform integrations and substantial network of researchers covering every jurisdiction in the United States.
When I asked about something he particularly likes about the background screening industry, Drew smiled and said he likes seeing the new products and services companies introduce that leverage new technology.
Focusing our conversation on the company, Drew stated that “Convergence Research strives to deliver accurate, cost-effective wholesale research to CRAs over multiple channels while ensuring that they never compete with their clients.” He emphasized that “We are 100% wholesale and don’t sell any products directly to end-users.” He added that “Convergence sees technology as a key differentiator in the pre-employment screening industry and endeavors to stay ahead of the technology curve. We are continually building new products, evaluating system performance and staying abreast of the latest tech trends to deliver the best possible experience for our clients and integrated partners. The best technology is nothing without a devoted customer support team. We recognize customer service is an essential part of the screening experience and always try to keep our clients informed about their research.”
With a clear focus on technology he mentioned with a sheepish smile that “They are working on something for the second half of 2014, but he needed to remain tight-lipped about it for a few more months.” Of course, I prodded him for the scoop once the new product or service becomes available.
Talking more about the business, Drew mentioned that in addition to being integrated with every major pre-employment screening software platform on the market, they also build custom integrations. If you are on a platform already, great! They can service your account. If you have a custom-built screening solution, ask them about custom integration. They know development time can be expensive so we’ll build to your specifications. Most integration projects can be completed in a few days.
He also noted that they’re always looking for new opportunities! If you have a new product that you will impact the screening industry and need a partner to help bring it to market, give him a call. They will work with you to feature your product to their interested clients over the myriad of fulfillment channels they offer (web, service API, partner channels, custom integrations).
Moving to my favorite question regarding ‘looking into the crystal ball,’ Drew indicated that he sees a few things happening in the next ten years. For one, he thinks we’re going to see social network screening taking a larger role in the pre-employment process. Today, the prevailing attitude is that personal privacy is sacrosanct. At the same time, people are putting more and more of their life on the internet, a publically searchable repository available to anyone, anywhere. This is an interesting duality because it’s naïve to think employers won’t use this information to make hiring decisions. As social media screening rises in prominence, he thinks we’ll start to see acceptance and case law establish a “best practices” framework for this type of screening.
He also thinks we’re going to see more online court records. There’s a substantial push-back from certain counties and states today about putting their repositories online. However, changing economic realities are an inevitable consequence everyone, including county and state governments, face and the best, most-cost effective measures will eventually win out. It would be nice if state governments participated more in this process by setting direction and establishing statewide guidelines for the county courts that fall under their state.
With a pensive look, he pondered and then said he believed that “the role of the wholesaler as it exists today is going to continue to shrink. It’s harder than ever before to be profitable selling only court research. Rising fuel costs and the demand for cheaper research are powerful disincentives for the local court researcher to grow his or her business and this affects every wholesaler. The companies that survive will evolve to offer other services while maximizing their efficiencies to ensure their researcher network is still profitable.”
Switching the conversation to him personally, he mentioned that he had recently read What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell. This book is the surprising history of everyday things and the people involved summarized into a collection of essays written for the New Yorker. It was interesting learning about things we, as people living with technology, take for granted.
Drew indicated that the person in history he would most like to meet is General George S. Patton.
We closed the interview with him indicating his favorite quote, “It can’t be fast, cheap and good…you get to pick two.”
Thanks to Drew for giving us insight into his company and to him personally. If you have any questions or would like information about Convergence Research, Inc. Drew can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.