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Erik Simins, started MAGNUS HRS, a medical staffing service, in 2011. His most recent company is WORKWOLF, a technology platform designed to address his customers’ most pressing hiring concerns. After earning 1st place at both the 2020 Enterprise Blockchain Awards and the 2021 VivaTechnology Start-Up Innovation for innovation in recruitment technology, his company is positioned to grow internationally with several Global Recruitment and Enterprise companies. Reading, problem solving, leadership strategy, high performance, and team building are some of his passions. Below are the highlights of the interview conducted between the World’s Leaders and Erik Simins:
Brief our audience about your journey as a business leader? Tell us about your background and what you did before you started Workwolf?
I had no idea when I started my career that it I'd be invited to present to audiences in Japan, Korea, Switzerland, France, or Dubai, or that I'd be meeting with country Premiers to discuss how they could use the technology I built for government applications. It has been an incredible journey so far and it's really just staring. One thing I did know very early on was that I loved to solve problems and I had this crazy need to keep learning. Ever since he was a young kid, I enjoyed pushing the limits of what was “acceptable” or possible, so I got in trouble a lot. People don't like it when you push them outside of their boxes. I remember a teacher in grade 2 said to me "do you think your special?" I said 'yeah'. I thought I was smarter than her and looking back at it, I probably was.
This founder's history in short.
Simins began his first entrepreneurial venture at the age of 19. He founded Fitness 101 and quickly gained credibility in the fitness market by training celebrities like Trish Stratus (WWE) and Shaun Davis (Mr. Universe). This provided him with plenty of income to put himself through school, graduating with a degree that specialized in physiology, anatomy, and metabolism. His early success allowed him to purchase his first property at 21 years old. After graduation, he began his career as a product development specialist for a Toronto based nutrition company and led the formulation of their supplement line. Today, that company, AllMax Nutrition, is a globally recognized brand in sports nutrition and a leader in nutraceutical sciences. Enjoying the perks of the job, which included all the free supplements you could safely consume and being the head judge for fitness competitions, wasn’t enough for him, so he transitioned into the pharmaceutical industry, working for Belgium based Solvay Pharmaceuticals.
Leveraging many of the contacts he had made in the industry, at 25, he founded his second company, Health Network Communications, a medical advertising firm that connected physician office wall space with pharmaceutical-sponsored content. His first large deal was with MCI medical clinics, spanning 26 locations and over 100 offices. Simins was learning what he needed to grow a team and successful business, but the advertising business wasn’t the right environment.
Simins stayed true to the medical industry, but switched gears and began recruiting in the medical industry in 2006 after a recruiter had showed him his $300,000+ T4 (Canada’s government statement of income). That’s all Simins needed to see to give the recruitment business a shot. It turned out that the business was the perfect fit for his personality type. After four years of individual success, he wanted to share his insights with a team he could lead, however, the firm he worked for had other plans. So, he started MAGNUS Personnel Corporation in 2011.
His first $1,000,000+ Start-Up Success: MAGNUS Healthcare Recruitment Solutions
MAGNUS was, and still is, a huge success. In its first year, the company grew revenue from $0 to over $1,000,000. In year 2, Erik doubled that. Today, after recruiting thousands of candidates and working with hundreds of life science and healthcare companies, MAGNUS has become one of the most trusted healthcare talent acquisition resources in North America.
The Idea behind Starting Workwolf?
Owning a staffing business provided Simins with the exposure and oversight to witness the inefficiencies in how his clients’ recruited and hired new employees. He discovered quickly that neither the existing technology nor the automation solutions addressed what he calls “the root problem of all hiring inefficiencies”. The resume used to filter and hire employees is inaccurate more than half the time so problem that needed to be answered was was, how do you improve the truthfulness and accuracy of millions of resumes that are sent to employers? It seemed like an unsolvable problem, but if it could be done, it would change hiring practices forever.
The Tech that Changed it All
Simins believes that you make your own luck and that you are only as strong as the circle of people you surround yourself with. So, shortly after founding MAGNUS, he joined an entrepreneur forum that, to this day, he is still a loyal member of. Here, he could share ideas and challenges in a safe, confidential environment and he could connect with peers to discuss the difficult road of entrepreneurship. In 2016, one of his forum mates, Dmitry Buterin (father of cryptocurrency giant Vitalik Buterin, founder of Ethereum), suggested to the forum “you guys should really have a deeper look at blockchain, it’s going to change how data is managed”. When Erik finished his research, it turned out that blockchain was the perfect use case for resume claim and credential verification and if done right, may change how authenticated data could be accessed, stored, and managed.
Erik, what needs to change in the current employment market?
"The resume has been unchanged for 70 years. Sure there are professional networks that help to source people, but they don't validate anything. Actually, authenticity has no influence on the success of a profile (how many followers or click throughs it gets). For things to change a new gold standard of resume needs to be developed; one that can be authenticated in real-time and is immutable or (tamper-proof) once verified. Also, access to source verified, authentic information between employers, candidates and verifiers needs to be streamlined for faster, more accurate data pulls.
In September of 2017, Workwolf was born and, after four years of development, customer feedback, several prototypes, and two rounds of investor financing, Simins commercialized the technology in 2021, bringing to market the Digital Work Passport (real-time verifiable profiling for professionals) and the Packfinder (a predictive analytic software that employers use to automate applicant filtration by using big data and algorithms to match applicants to jobs).
Combining these two technologies into one platform, Simins hopes to optimize the hiring process for his clients at MAGNUS. He also believes that it can help professionals “skip the applicant line” by having a profile that has been authenticated by the 100,000+ credential issuers that are now part of Workwolf’s growing network of validators.
What's next for MAGNUS and Workwolf
"MAGNUS has had to double the size of it's team in 2021 to support our customer requirements. Now that we use Workwolf for our own hiring practices, we have the strongest team we've ever had and the results show. Our customers are happier, our efficiencies are through the roof and we have more inbound business than we can manage without advertising. I'm now preparing Workwolf for a SEED financing round. We'll be raising a few million dollars to support team growth and international expansion."
Simins has moved from the iterative testing phase of technology Start-Up and now lets network data drive his decisions and future direction of the company. "In the world of technology start up, you have to start with some assumptions, but the sooner you realize those assumptions are wrong, the sooner you can iterate. Only customer feedback and user data can tell you want you need to know."
If you're thinking about starting a technology company, Simins would recommend that you 'ail fast'. "The idea that you started with will probably be entirely different by the time your product is ready for commercialization. Don’t fall in love with any path, because it WILL change. You have really believe in your idea to help endure the agony of people calling you crazy, or telling you that your idea will never happen. If you believe strongly enough and are smart about how you go about testing your technology, you may have the next unicorn sitting in your lap.
WorldLeader Press, 2021
Funds for the Front-Lines: MAGNUS Healthcare Recruitment Solutions Donates $100,000 to Expedite Front-Line Hires for Covid-19.
TORONTO, April 30, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — In light of the recently announced third wave of COVID-19, Workwolf in partnership with MAGNUS Healthcare Recruitment Solutions has donated $100,000 to provide 1,000 registered nurses and registered practical nurses with a portable digital credential wallet, which offers access to verifiable credentials in real-time from any smart device. The two Toronto-based companies are partnering to offer healthcare workers free background checks and other credential verification services to expedite their hiring process and to support understaffed healthcare facilities.
The Government of Ontario has recently reported that the province is facing another threat to its healthcare capacity as a result of the recent and rapid rise in hospitalizations, particularly in those being admitted to the ICU. As such, all qualified professionals are being sought out to relieve overworked and understaffed hospitals and other care facilities. With recent reports of over 34,000 active cases throughout the province of Ontario, Workwolf in partnership with MAGNUS will provide 1,000 healthcare professionals with the ability to share verifiable credentials via what is called a Digital Work Passport to encourage further adoption of the technology.
Initially used to house digital currencies, these Digital Work Passports courtesy of MAGNUS and Workwolf leverage blockchain technology to expedite hiring in the healthcare sector and allow workers to be deployed between facilities without the friction normally associated with criminal clearance and license verification screening; for facilities experiencing a high number of COVID-19 cases who need nurses immediately, MAGNUS’s donation will aid in acquiring more qualified and registered healthcare workers, inevitably saving lives.
MAGNUS Founder Erik Simins has led a successful medical staffing practice for over decade, placing thousands of healthcare professionals in community, long term care, and acute care centers across the country. He has witnessed on several occasions the damage that can be done when fraudulent credentials or licenses are missed during screening. In 2019, CBC News reported on the “systemic vulnerabilities” within the Ontario healthcare system after Elizabeth Wettlaufer, a registered nurse murdered eight senior citizens under her care over a nine-year period. During the inquiry MAGNUS reached out to Candace Chartier who was the CEO of the Ontario Long Term Care Association at the time and received input on the technology.
Candace assisted our team in identifying areas of risk that could be mitigated by the technology as well as the impact on valuable time savings when onboarding health human resources, as the province was well into a national Health Human Resource shortage. She stated “the LTCHs are struggling with staffing our homes and this technology will absolutely free up time to care and even attract more registered staff to our sector, knowing the credentials of their peers have been authenticated.”
“With the hysteria and shortage of front-line healthcare staff, it is of utmost importance that verifications of credentials, background checks, criminal history, and instances of malpractice are performed quickly and correctly,” says Simins. “This is when we need proven technology to help ensure patients are safe and that we are doing our best to maintain some level of certainty in such an uncertain time. We use Workwolf’s Digital Work Passports for our clients in healthcare and it's a game-changer when it comes to expediting the onboarding process. It saves clients at least two weeks in their time-to-hire.”
Initially donating $100,000 to Ontario nurses, MAGNUS is now rolling out another initiative to help support Ontario's healthcare infrastructure.
100% of any donation goes directly to providing front-line medical staff Digital Work Passports. These patient safety and care and help solve for the systemic inefficiencies that plague Ontario's healthcare system.