Tech CEO Don Charlton Explains How His Company Survived Early Challenges
Black Enterprise Magazine January-March 2019 Issue

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Picture this: Just as your own company was beginning to burgeon, other startups like Tumblr, Evernote and Instagram were signing on as your clients. Pretty fantastic, huh? That was the case for Don Charlton, CEO of Jazz (formerly The Resumator), a performance and recruiting software solution for small and now large enterprises. While it sounds like a dream come true, in the beginning it actually was a growing pain.

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“Jazz can be credited as the first company that gave startups the power to recruit. But whenever you are a pioneer in the market, you don’t have a company to model yourself after. There are no lessons to be learned; no one to show you how to attack a market. You are the canary in the mine shaft,” he recalls.

Although Tumblr, Evernote, Instagram, Dropbox, Major League Baseball and AL Jazeera were customers–some all the way up until they were bought–Jazz unfortunately didn’t prioritize their business and they fell victim to Jazz’s “identity crisis” period. “We were trying to bring on hundreds of small businesses not realizing that we had [high growth] tech startups as clients.”

But the challenge of being a pioneer didn’t stop him for long. When Charlton launched Jazz, he was a Web designer who didn’t have any experience in workforce development or human resources. His lack of experience was actually a benefit as his project-based way of addressing clients allowed him to be industry agnostic and discover digital solutions for recruiting talent that weren’t available for small and mid-sized businesses.

“There are a lot of features that are now mission-critical and industry standard in recruiting software that our company invented. Before we launched The Resumator, the types of companies using recruiting software were large enterprises. They were paying thousands of dollars per month. As a result, smaller companies weren’t attracting the best talent,” he explains. “That made it easy to sell our product, which made it affordable for anyone to post a job online. We had our first customer after 30 days.”

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.