ST. PETERSBURG — Stores and restaurants are idling workers because of the coronavirus, but one fast-growing St. Petersburg company says it needs more employees — and soon.
The InsideOut innovation sales lab said Wednesday it will hire 150 employees over the next six months to meet demands created by a wave of newly won contracts.
At least 100 of those hires will help a new national business-to-business sales center for T-Mobile in downtown St. Petersburg. Others are needed to work on contracts for Google, IBM and ADP, the payroll and human resources company.
“I’m watching outside my window right now service industries faltering — no bars, no restaurants, no retail, no hotels, no travel — and I’m watching actual people struggle,” InsideOut co-founder and chief revenue officer Chad Nuss said.
“InsideOut wants those people.”
Nuss credited St. Petersburg City Hall and its business development community with making the city attractive to young startups like InsideOut that broaden the city’s business base.
“Because St. Petersburg has had an economic diversity strategy with bringing in new tech businesses like InsideOut into the city, it’s counteracting these recession/service industry issues that that we could have with tourism and hotels and people not be able to go places with social distancing,” he said.
Nuss and InsideOut chief executive officer Christina Cherry came to Florida from San Francisco and founded InsideOut 4½ years ago with six employees in an office in Sarasota. The business moved to St. Petersburg three years ago and now has about 180 employees in the First Central Tower, also known as the BB&T building, at 360 Central Avenue in downtown St. Petersburg. The company has received no local or state incentives sometimes offered to companies that expand and add employees.
As it grows, InsideOut will take two more floors of the building, Nuss said.
InsideOut designs, tests, and installs customized sales plays to equip its clients with approaches that increase sales and enhance buyer engagement. It has revenues of more than $25 million a year and has delivered more than 12,000 sales plays to be used by 50,000 sales people.
“That is exactly the type of business that we want here,” Greater St. Petersburg Area Economic Development Corp. president J.P. DuBuque said. “We want businesses that are innovators, that are creators, that are disruptors and that are trying to do things in a different manner.”RELATED: St. Petersburg officials head to San Francisco on first business development mission
Nearly all of InsideOut’s workforce is working remotely now because of the coronavirus, and Nuss said the company has set up virtual open houses for applicants, plans to do online interviews and has put its applicant assessment tools online. (To apply, go to insideoutlab.com/t-mobile/)
“Because we’re a tech company, we have the ability to get people to work from remote locations so anybody that wants to join can feel secure that they don’t have to join a company and go to an office every day and now be susceptible to coronavirus,” Nuss said. (That said, he noted that the company has not had any diagnosed or suspected cases of the disease.)
About 80 percent of the jobs InsideOut is hiring for are sales-related, but Nuss said 75 percent of the company’s workforce now never worked in sales before coming to work at InsideOut.
“We’re really good at taking people who have good customer skills in the service industry — skills to up-sell dessert, as an example — (that) can translate really well to sales,” he said.
The other 20 percent of the openings fall into more than a dozen different categories, including project management, business intelligence, human resources, finance, operations, data and analytics and senior management. Salaries range from $30,000 to $100,000 a year, depending on the role.
InsideOut plans to bring on 10 of the new hires this month and 20 to 40 per month after that. Nuss would like to have everyone in place by June.
“It’s an intense effort,” he said, “but we think we can do it.”