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No experience, no problem: Why one startup tech company is hiring on skill and personality

Hiring the best new talent
Rohan Kohli, former intern now a full-time employee at Solution Publishing.
Posted at 7:39 AM, Jul 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-02 18:25:12-04

TAMPA,l Fla. — There aren't many companies that will take a chance on prospective employees with little to no experience. But, Solution Publishing, a tech startup launched in March, says the benefits outweigh the risks.

Byron Crowell founded Solution Publishing years ago. But, he's relaunching the company to be competitive, and he picked Tampa to be his home base.

"We want to build a culture here," Crowell said. "We are a startup environment, so we are trying to build instead of buy folks that we bring in to provide ballast to the company."

Crowell is a Tampa native, but he spent the last 20-years working out West, spending time in Silicon Valley and other parts of California before deciding to come back home.

"The thing that's new is, in our case, we've got a fledgling company that we are sort of putting in the hands of really young people. That's a trust factor that, I think, is a hit unique. Nobody's done that as much," Crowell said. "We have an intern program, a paid intern program, we are looking for kids coming out of college maybe even haven't finished yet. We'll bring them in and teach them from scratch how to do what we do and invest in them, train them and give them continuing education."

Crowell only wants the best of the best. And, his process to find them isn't easy. He tells ABC Action News reporter Michael Paluska a solid resume is essential. But he wants to see their personality. That's why each intern position (that could lead to a full-time job) requires a two-minute video introduction.

"If you take somebody's video interview and you take somebody's resume, and you lay them side by side, there's clearly no comparison," Chief People Officer Audra Cona said. "You can have all the credentials at the end of your name all day long, and you can still be the most difficult person to have a conversation with."

Cona recruited Rohan Kohli as an intern. The 22-year-old USF student graduates in the coming months and can't believe he's now in a full-time position.

"The opportunity sounded so cool," Kohli said. "All the pressure and learning and everything just piled on; it's kind of what I was looking for."

Kohli went from intern a few weeks ago to Lead Generation Coordinator.

"They definitely took a chance, big-time chance on me," Kohli said. "A little bit intimidating, no doubt. Thankful for the opportunity. Every day is a new day. Every day is game day here, pretty much. It's crazy something new happens. It's fun, it's fun, and I love it for sure."

Crowell is looking to hire two more interns. He launched the new company in March and hit the ground running. They have a video series and podcast highlighting their office culture. And Crowell says Tampa is the place to be.

"There is tremendous talent here in Tampa Bay, a lot of great kids coming out of school. They are very smart, and they are just looking for a cool place to work," Crowell said. "For the company, I think it's you know nothing can be better in terms of cost people to recruit. I'm not sure we could do this program this intern program in California because just the nature of the environment out there is quite different."