Supply Chain Now Radio Episode 195

Featuring AJ Richichi, CEO, Sentio
Supply Chain Now Radio, Episode 194
Live Interview from SC Logistics Tech Talk  

Prefer to watch the podcast in action rather than just listen?  Watch Scott and Greg as they interview AJ Richichi for SCNR Episode 195 at the SC Logistics Tech Talk in Charleston, SC.

AJ Richichi is the founder and CEO of Charleston-based SENTIO. Before joining the corporate world, Richichi
graduated early from Phillips Exeter Academy to work on Capitol Hill for Senator Ayotte (R-NH) in national security.  Richichi’s work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Yahoo! Finance, International Business Times, and Vogue. After winning the New York State Business Plan Competition in 2015, Richichi was named as 40 under 40 recipient and “Technology Executive of the Year” in Central New York. Richichi is currently co-chair of Charleston Open Source and founded the global human resources conference DisruptHR in Greenville. He also volunteers as a mentor at the College of Charleston “ImpactX Program” and the Citadel “Bulldog Business Bowl”. Learn more about Sentio here:

Greg White serves as Principle & Host at Supply Chain Now Radio. Greg is a founder, CEO, board director and advisor in B2B technology with multiple successful exits. He recently joined Trefoil Advisory as a Partner to further their vision of stronger companies by delivering practical solutions to the highest-stakes challenges. Prior to Trefoil, Greg served as CEO at Curo, a field service management solution most notably used by Amazon to direct their fulfillment center deployment workforce. Greg is most known for founding Blue Ridge Solutions and served as President & CEO for the Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader of cloud-native supply chain applications that balance inventory with customer demand. Greg has also held leadership roles with Servigistics, and E3 Corporation, where he pioneered their cloud supply chain offering in 1998. In addition to his work at Supply Chain Now Radio and Trefoil, rapidly-growing companies leverage Greg as an independent board director and advisor for his experience building disruptive B2B technology and supply chain companies widely recognized as industry leaders. He’s an insightful visionary who helps companies rapidly align vision, team, market, messaging, product, and intellectual property to accelerate value creation. Greg guides founders, investors and leadership teams to create breakthroughs that gain market exposure and momentum, and increase company esteem and valuation. Learn more about Trefoil Advisory:

Scott W. Luton is the founder of Supply Chain Now Radio. He has worked extensively in the end-to-end Supply Chain industry for more than 15 years, appearing in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Dice and Quality Progress Magazine. Scott was recently named a 2019 Pro to Know in Supply Chain by Supply & Demand Executive. He founded the 2019 Atlanta Supply Chain Awards and also served on the 2018 Georgia Logistics Summit Executive Committee. He is a certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt and holds the APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) credential. A Veteran of the United States Air Force, Scott volunteers on the Business Pillar for VETLANTA and serves on the advisory board for the Georgia Manufacturing Alliance. He also serves as an advisor with TalentStream, a leading recruiting & staffing firm based in the Southeast. Connect with Scott Luton on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter at @ScottWLuton.

In this episode, Scott Luton and Greg White welcome AJ Richichi to Supply Chain Now Radio the SC Logistics Tech Talk.

[00:00:05] It’s time for Supply Chain Now Radio. Broadcasting live from the Supply chain capital of the country, Atlanta, Georgia. Supply Chain Now Radio spotlights the best in all things supply chain the people, the technology, the best practices and the critical issues of the day. And now here are your hosts.


[00:00:29] Hey, good afternoon. Scott Luton here with you. Libeled Supply Chain Now Radio. Welcome back to the show.


[00:00:34] So we’re broadcasting LEOD today, not from Atlanta, but from the South Carolina Fort Logistics Tech talk in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina at the Guilliani Center. Our partnership, our broadcast continues, our partnership with the South Carolina Council on Competitiveness. And really, Greg, is as we’ve seen throughout the interviews we’ve done already. This event really has been highlighting some of the innovative companies and they’re really the leaders that are driving the Logistics industry forward in this booming state of South Carolina, right?


[00:01:07] Yeah, it has. It’s a really interesting mix of of big established companies and startups in early stages. And it’s particularly exciting for me to be a tech talk because at tech talk, guess what we get to do? We get to talk tech.


[00:01:21] So we’ll look at me, the quarterback fumbling the ball and it’s OK that I think that was a good handoff. So as you heard already to our audience co-host, joining me here today is Greg White Serial Supply chain, tech entrepreneur, trusted advisor and board member. And one of the quick note to our audience, like all of our series on Supply Chain Now Radio. You can find our replays on a variety of channels, Apple podcast, SoundCloud, YouTube, wherever else you get your podcast from. As always, we’d love to have you subscribe so you don’t see thing. So, Greg, we have got Kyle. The mayor is joining us here today. So something that we’ve had from the convention here. We’ve had to put it. We had to put up a sign around this place. To our audience, we have red barrier tape around the mobile studios here. So no further ado, A.J. We’re Kiki, founder and CEO, Syntheo. A.J., how you doing, kid? Man? How are you? Good. Doing great. Glad to have you here. And now you are on a red eye from the West Coast here this morning.


[00:02:16] And you often resented maybe a Lu present in a in a little bit. Okay. Yamina Yeah. Come on, UPS. I’m excited. And thanks so much for having me.


[00:02:23] We got a sneak peek. Fantastic. I look forward to it. We’ll critique him before he goes on stage. Make sure you’re ready. I appreciate that. Of course. So far already it’s a free service. Yes, right. If our audience can’t tell, we’ve had a good time on the conversation. And right as we were going along, we got a little kind of the Batman scene story from AJ about kind of how the company was founded.


[00:02:45] And one of the really neat applications, which we’ll talk about in a second. But for starters, A.J., you know, we always like our guests to kind of paint a picture of who they are and their professional journey with our audience or tell us more about yourself.


[00:02:58] Yeah. So my name’s A.J. I grew up in New York. I went to high school in a small boarding school and New Hampshire called Phillips Exeter, where I graduate early to work in the United States Senate and spent a few years on Capitol Hill doing national security stuff. And when you’re in Capitol Hill, you have an opportunity to meet really cool, interesting people working on some really big problems connected with one of those people and from their desire to start Cenveo and start providing value to, you know, hundreds and thousands of companies across the country.


[00:03:29] So what was your favorite aspect of working in D.C., the city?


[00:03:36] I mean, everything about that city is amazing. There’s so many things to do. The energy there is is it is something special. And I always felt like a DC because you’re working so much policy and of course, politics. You really have an opportunity to change the world in what you’re doing day to day.


[00:03:53] And that’s something that’s really infectious in the history. I really I really love the history. Now it’s just surrounds you at all times and that kind of grounds you as you do, try to change the world. Right. Give you some perspective on things. Absolutely.


[00:04:06] So, A.J., you mentioned Syntheo. Tell us about the company and what it does and also looking back how you got here.


[00:04:13] Yeah. So I’ll just start with kind of our origin story, which is we started to help professional and college sports teams decide who to draft and who to sign. So it’s always amazing to me that I’ll use Tom Brady as an example because I was at school in New Hampshire that turned to the greatest quarterback of all time. So that’s that’s hard to say. But he went one hundred ninety ninth overall. Right. And a lot of that is because scouts, despite having seemingly every resource in the world, money, time experience, couldn’t predict that he was going to be great and instead draft people who bussed in a year or two. Yeah. So I start to look at the problems Sandeep natural tack and problem solver is what could I see? What could technology solve that wasn’t being addressed today? And what we figured out was it wasn’t how they calculated a lot of the things they’re doing, the NFL draft. Like 40 time jumping and you know how accurate you threw the ball. It was more than that. It was the person’s mental makeup, how they treated themselves, how they treat their coaches. Did they show up to work on time? Were they obsessed with football? They almost like what were they doing when nobody else was watching. And so we built Tech Syntheo, which is technology to measure the mental makeup of an individual to predict how they will perform in certain environments. And as we started to grow in sports and actually our sports clients doubled their win percentage over the first two years of working with us. We looked at the mark and said, hey, there’s hundred and fifty professional sports teams, but there’s 27 million small businesses that can use that same tech and feel very similar pain of picking the wrong people. And we’re able to deploy that in a really, really easy way on our Web site and on our platform.


[00:06:01] So in our warm up, we were talking about the wide variety of of guests and the perspectives we have here. And some are decidedly Celsi and some are very decidedly focused and passionate about what they do. You seem to be the latter. Yes. Tell us about what you do within the business.


[00:06:17] Yeah. So I am a head of product. So Syntheo is my baby. I love it. It took me, you know, two, three. You also have a baby. Yeah. New love to love her. Love her. You know, my my situation was I did have a lot money to get started. And so I worked out of a cookie factory for two years. We’re seriously in order to get to my desk. You had to open the refrigerator and put on like a white coat just for me to get to my computer. And so I remember the days where I was doing all these calculations. And A.I. came into place, of course, of combining technology and psychology and spreadsheets, begging people, please let me analyze your workforce. Please let me do your candidates, because you have all this fundamental issues with your hiring process, but you’re not doing anything to really address it. And so I still do that today. I still manage the product. I am obsessed with where we are and where we’re going. And, you know, I think that we’re solving a really pervasive problem that a lot of companies, Lopera companies have. And honestly, it’s a it’s a really unique thing that doesn’t happen very often in tongue.


[00:07:24] Mm hmm. Wow. Cookies just about every single time. I don’t eat cookies much anymore now I do.


[00:07:32] And if we needed some extra money, we used to just hop on the assembly line and start making cookies.


[00:07:37] I love that, you know. I think so many startups and entrepreneurs and folks that are trying to act on on this idea or this solution or this product that drives them can relate to exactly what you Sheer there. So. So congratz going from that environment to what you’re doing now. And on that note, of course, you’re one of the featured presenters here at Tech Talk, which is I think a huge honor. And I think when the cool things about this were talked about this in the earlier segment is, you know, this mix of having entrepreneurs and start ups and early stage companies with some of the continued tars and some of the other speakers they had here today. That’s a that’s a that’s a healthy cross-pollination that that is needed. All right. So give us a sneak peek of some of your key messaging points that you’re going to share in our new presentation.


[00:08:27] Yeah. So kind of the problem that Sandeep is addressing first and foremost is employee turnover. So a lot people talk about the labor market and how there’s not a lot of fail talent out there. But in doing so, they ignore the fact that there’s 73 percent turnover and the hourly workforce. So if you have 50 people working at your at your manufacturing plant or chuckers, you’re going to have to hire 35 more. And so it’s our perspective that you need to hire people first, the right time to invest in technology to make sure that those who you are hiring, it’s not just a warm body, it’s somebody that fits your core values, somebody that will have the mental makeup to stay long term. And kind of on your earlier point, I really liked what you said just because I think in any innovation, there’s really two facets. There’s one, the creation of innovation and innovative products. And more importantly, no reason why I’m excited to be here today and that everybody is in the same room is the adaptation, the adoption of said innovation products, because as a technologist and as a tech CEO, I can go and I can build it. What I think is cool and what I think can solve a really big problem. But if it doesn’t get adopted and people don’t start using it and start paying for it, then companies and technologies like Sendhil go away. Right. So it’s almost like that’s it. Of course, natural selection will select what the best products are and what companies will survive. But there is a responsibility, in my opinion, both sides, to make sure that you’re doing your part to continue pushing the industry forward.


[00:09:57] It seems like predict. Analytics are being much more scepters from a behavioral standpoint.


[00:10:04] And really, I I would argue across generations. You know, obviously the newer generations that are in the workforce last 10 years, they are they are being digital natives or they’re probably more wired and geared towards predictive analytics and data analysis in general. But I think across the generations there’s more adoption and more a greater openness to using predictive analytics. Is that what you’re seeing?


[00:10:30] Yeah, I think so. I think that whenever it comes to human capital, it’s still a little bit slow, a lot slower than, let’s say, operations. And a lot of that is because the people in H.R., it’s not that they’re not open to new ideas. It’s they’re doing so much. And they’re not just dealing with hiring. They’re doing onboarding culture, training, safety and just about everything in between that whenever you can solve one of their issues, it kind of puts all of their other processes in question. And that decision making process just takes a really long time.


[00:11:00] In addition to that being wildly underfunded, despite, in my opinion, producing and working on the most important aspect of the business, I think too, and particularly with hiring, companies have just enough success to make them feel right about it. And it’s a very emote. This is a very emotional change to let go of that, to confess that you are not the best judge of the best people for your company. That’s a really difficult thing to do.


[00:11:27] Yeah, and it’s really expensive. So to replace an hourly worker, you know, we work a lot with Logistics McDonald’s. That’s the sample, is it? McDonald’s uses us to hire every single person in one of their locations. So whether you’re a delivery driver, you’re at drive thru or you’re in a fry cook. They understand that it costs nearly 5000 dollars to replace and train a new hourly employee. So when you look at figures like, hey, I have 50 people on the manufacturing line, there’s 73 percent turnover. So I have to hire 35, 35 times five is what, one hundred fifty thousand dollars? You have to spend your annual turnover costs. And those are the things that we try to bring into H.R.. We’re talking about it when we’re talking with them just because companies don’t necessarily see it as a revenue generating department and therefore it goes underfunded. Bodi, start saying, hey, we’re gonna save you thousand dollars twenty thousand ten thousand one, hire five thousand dollars. That’s when you start getting the people, you know, going back to the H.R. leadership.


[00:12:28] While some companies, especially large ones with more resources in the last few years have created talent acquisition teams and armies of T-A professionals to be able to address this this this war for talent air we’re in, although we had some from Southwire MHR leader really challenged me on the use of that phrase and basically implied that the company is just getting creative enough and they’re not looking to diversify where they get their talent from. Yet that aside, the companies that don’t have those resources that don’t, you know, aren’t able to hire these armies of talent acquisition focus folks. To your point, these are H.R. leaders have have full overflowing plates. Right. They don’t have time to do all the different things that that we’re talking about. So this is where your technology can come in and really help make better calculated bets on the hires.


[00:13:23] Yeah. Yeah. Correct. So the way our tech works is it’s an assessment that candidates take. And based on the assessment, we give them a score of 1 through 10 based on their probability succeed and your company and your culture and your environment that you’ve spent so much money creating. And so companies right now typically wait until the interview process or they wait until the final hire to administer assessments. They say, hey, the final five, let’s get them all assessments. But Sentier, what we’ve done is we’ve used a-I to really make that assessment really cost effective and really easy to use so that people actually put it at the front stage of their hiring process. So people are putting it in their job description saying we will not even consider you unless you take this assessment. So instead of looking at a huge candidate pool and kind of going through all those resumes and then doing interviews, they’re for their first knowing they’ll know before they even start who has what it takes and who does it. And therefore, less screening, less interviews, better hires, reduce turnover like it.


[00:14:26] So like you’re sort of providing a proof pre filtering before they filter hamos rhetoric. Do they have the ambition, the guts, whatever you want to say to take the assessment?


[00:14:36] Plus, you’re able to focus OLM instead of focusing on everyone. It gives you one additional filter to focus on the folks that that that we need to be focusing on. Nick Moha ability stamp.


[00:14:47] Yeah, right. And I think I think too that especially in Supply chain, so much of it is skilled workers. And a lot of times now kind of what you’re seeing on the war on talent is they can’t possibly find talent. For talent, yes, for talent is people now are hiring kind of these these Greene people and then training them up. And what our technology does, we don’t do hard screening. What we do is we figure out that person has the attitude or they can show up on time. Are they going work out with your with your managers really? Well, are they going to smile, you know, kind of all of these things as soft things that, in my opinion, are far more important than knowing than having CDL license? Yeah, because you could train those things, but you can’t necessarily change who you are. And that is what employers, in my opinion, should be focusing on.


[00:15:35] Mm hmm. And teach speed. Right. Right. Right. Yeah. Right. But you can’t teach somebody to flip a burger, right. Drive a truck. Any of those things. But you have to have that core value. Match is so critical. You know, we I was taught many years ago that you you hire, evaluate, fire based on your core values. So that being the case, I wonder, is that part of how the assessment is created? Do companies share with you? There are things like that.


[00:16:10] They don’t share with us today what they do instead, what we feel to be really, really effective is that they take their top three performers in a particular role and sent to using A.I. And the 80 years of scientific research called Psycholinguistics learns what those three people have in common mentally, where they’re short caught shared core values, where their shared needs with their shared personality traits and uses that as a tailored benchmark for that particular position. So when incoming candidates come in, they are compared to your top performing people because the math should work, where if you hire more people like your best people, they probably exhibit the core values that you’ve set out because you’ve already tested your current employees with that and you ultimately reduce your turnover unhappier with your new hires.


[00:16:58] So that’s great. Yeah, it is. And you’re already answering the question that I’m going to ask you, but I want to ask you, because there might be some other perspective here. No wonder there’s more technology coming into the talent space. You’re right. There’s that. There’s going to boom, whether it’s name is screening selection tools, whether it is the workforce development tools that, you know, for talent training and some other things. Why is this? Was this the naive question? But why? Why is it and what else do you see?


[00:17:33] That’s a very difficult question to ask in a kind of a five minute time frame. But I think there’s good one. There’s there’s a very there’s a changing of guard in human resources where there’s younger people coming into those roles that care more about data and analytics than the incoming class. And it’s interesting because there’s so much inefficiencies in human resource and stop because we’re not also matter that people aren’t trying. It’s because there’s so many large data sets, the factors that go into, let’s say, a hiring decision and that we don’t articulate and that we don’t put a number on a piece of paper because it so one part of the business that it feels soft, like you still use your gut reaction and somebody smile can impact your hiring. Right. People I mean, it’s people people are so is so unpredictable. But but like the very definition of A.I. is bringing structure to otherwise unstructured data. Right. And so when we are able to to articulate a lot of these new data sets, like psychology, like what is this person’s score of agreeableness, one through one hundred A provides a lot of opportunity for technology like Syntheo, where we’re able to take all of that really soft and and unstructured data and provide a lot of really exciting insights based off of that.


[00:18:56] So, you know, it’s also possible that during the hiring process that some of that doesn’t get exposed. You don’t ask the right questions. You don’t ask it the right way. It’s not interpreted by the know by the candidate properly. So many things may not get exposed in the hiring process. Absent this very disciplined methodology. Right. Yeah.


[00:19:16] And and to like a lot of times we’ll have the question of like we’ll meet with the CEO. And the interesting thing about it is the CEO has a very distinct type of person that they want to hire. And from the from the top all the way to the bottom. And so you’re using his gut reaction to make that hiring class, him or her, of course. And they are employing somebody in human resources using their gut to then make another gut decision. And so there’s a lot of uncertainties that I think with technology and of course, with artificial intelligence is you is able to provide a lot of efficiency for.


[00:19:56] You tend to hire people who are like you subconsciously. Yes. And so you have a bunch of people who are who wind up like or having the same strengths or weaknesses as the CEO. And then they don’t complement one another. Right.


[00:20:09] They like how they’re all kinds of down. Yeah. Yeah. And you know, if you look at the statistics, especially when it comes to workforce discrimination and hiring is you know, there’s factors that you have to think about is what what’s a person wearing when they come and visit you? What’s is their handshake hard or is it sort. Yeah. And what’s their hair like and what color? Their eyes. There’s a lot of study. What your name is like. People with not white sounding names receive 50 percent more callbacks than otherwise. And so, you know, I think that it’s really, really name is literally white. I probably never get held back. So I think it’s really, really important from a human perspective is to take a lot of our inherent biases out of the hiring process and allow really empirical data into really non-bias technology to make really hard but important hiring decisions like that.


[00:21:01] And it’s it’s unquestionably thorough every time. So that’s a really that’s a really valuable technology. I appreciate it. Thank you.


[00:21:09] And I think of the baseball scouting, not talk about changing the guard. You know, for years, for decades, for generations. Scouting was what you’re describing. Right. And still goes on, of course, across all major sports. But there’s there’s obviously a huge reason why we’re seeing these teams leverage technology and other things when millions of dollars are at stake for four very well-founded reasons. So I got to ask you, because all this reminds me of one of my favorite movies to watch, Moneyball really being. Yeah. Oh, what? I hadn’t read the book. I’m guilty as charged. But there’s a book.


[00:21:47] It’s about Rosenau. Yeah. A better book, though, is if you just start to research sabermetrics, it’s kind of the the how the algorithms get Bill and how they were able to take all of that, take it and make a championship winning team. I love it.


[00:22:03] I love it. It’s so fascinating and it’s so intuitive. Yeah. With how you’re applying it to talent. And I loved the roots and the quarterbacks. We’re talking as we’re coming on about the bears and the Texans, how they chose Trubisky little higher than my favorite one, my favorite college players of all time, Deshaun Watson. And I knew using my gut, of course in my favorite my my my partiality. Yeah. That that should’ve been flipped. But you know who calls me on draft day. No one. Right. Yeah. But. I love the application and the roots. So beyond today’s keynote, IT folks will reach out to you and get in touch. Learn more about Syntheo, how they do that.


[00:22:39] Yeah. So we have multiple Web sites depending on what marketing marketing we’re doing. So we work with a lot of different product guy, right? Yeah. So we have a lot different landing pages. So if you go to my Syntheo dot com slash s as in Sam and C as in Cam’ron SC for Supply chain, that’s going to be have a lot of information about our current customers who are in supply chain space and are providing are getting a lot of value from deploying Cynthia.


[00:23:09] Ok, cool. It is really, really neat technology. I’m looking forward to your keynote today. And you got more travel coming up. Any more red-eye flights the next few weeks? I’m sure it’s usually a day or two notice. Opportunistic, right? Yeah, opportunistic. Fantastic. Well, we’ve been speaking with AJ Waikiki founder and CEO Syntheo. Really a fascinating business that ya, ya, ya, ya and hyperspeed lately.


[00:23:32] Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, you know, I knock on wood, but one of the fastest growing companies in the southeast, we’re doing our best work and really hard and any support that we can get from the community. We’d really appreciate.


[00:23:44] Outstanding. Yeah. Okay. Provide an invaluable service. And in the end, that’s what makes a great company. Yes. I appreciate that. Thank you. Good stuff.


[00:23:53] Well, thanks for joining us today. Appreciate it. Oh, here on Supply Chain Now Radio to our listener, stay tuned as we continue our coverage of the 2019 South Carolina fall Logistics tech talk. And be sure to check out an Apple podcast, SoundCloud, YouTube, wherever else you get your podcasts from. You can find all of our past episodes are upcoming events and a lot more at Supply Chain Now Radio dot com. So for Greg White Scott Luton and the entire Supply Chain Now Radio gang. Have a great day and we will see you next time on Supply Chain Now Radio.

Upcoming Events & Resources Mentioned in this Episode

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eft Logistics CIO Forum in Austin, TX:
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