Start-Up Hot Seat: Come Recommended vs Blue Reserve : Under30CEO Start-Up Hot Seat: Come Recommended vs Blue Reserve : Under30CEO
Join the Under30CEO Community We deliver tips, tools and inspiration for your business. Daily to your inbox.

Startup Hot Seat: Come Recommended vs Blue Reserve

| September 18, 2010 | 6 Comments

This week we have two pretty cool startups to mention. Come Recommended helps connect employers and candidates by encouraging interaction rather than just posting to a job board. Heather Huhman founded it during her own days working at a company sifting through potential candidates for open positions.  Our other company is Blue Reserve which is changing the way companies buy bottled water. They are helping companies get rid of the big 5 gallon jugs by purifying the water in the building.

Check out both and help them out by answering some of the questions that they each have for the Under30CEO audience!

What is the story behind your company?

It all started when I set out to fill my very first job as a hiring manager—an entry-level position for a small public relations firm. We received nearly 100 applications after posting the position to both Craigslist and I scoured the stack looking for ways to “weed out” candidates and identify ones with potential.

Finally, I narrowed the list down to five and started making calls. My “phone screens” have always been fairly in-depth because of the position I held with this company. If I brought someone in, he or she would meet with the principal of the firm, and I certainly didn’t want to waste any of her valuable time. I vividly remember loving one candidate for this position in particular on paper and during the phone interview—at least until I asked if she had any questions. Her question? “So, what do you alls do over there?” No, that isn’t a typo.

I remember feeling so frustrated that I had just spent 45 minutes of time on this candidate—not to mention the time sifting through all the applications—that I could have been billing to clients. There had to be a better way.

I think I knew then I would found Come Recommended, although I didn’t have the name picked out or all the details firmly outlined. That moment came much later—after interviewing countless candidates and hundreds of young professionals and hiring managers in my role as the entry-level careers columnist for Even though I recognize there will never be a “perfect” solution or a “one-stop shop” for candidates and employers, Come Recommended is certainly a step in the right direction.

What makes your company unique in its industry?

What really sets Come Recommended apart from competitors are the two member levels – regular and “recommended.” Both employers and candidates are encouraged to request recommendations and ultimately “come recommended” once they receive at least three. This eliminates the frustration of loving a candidate’s resume and during the interview only to be let down by their reference check.

Come Recommended also recently went freemium and launched a set of premium features. For as low as $10.75 per month, candidates and employers have access to e-learning courses focused on the job search and hiring processes, respectively. Once a course is completed, a badge is displayed on the member’s profile. After all of the courses are completed, including a final step of receiving three recommendations, the member officially comes recommended.

Premium members also have access to Huhman via e-mail, Skype and phone, allowing for the opportunity to ask one-on-one advice; private Q&A forums; and invitation-only webinars and teleseminars. More premium features and benefits will be added in the near future.

By not including a job board, encouraging interaction, and emphasizing education, Come Recommended helps employers and candidates connect with one another directly.

Future plans for the company?

We aim to continue improving our e-learning courses for candidates and employers based on the feedback we receive, as well as changes in the job market. Additionally, we plan to add additional features/benefits for premium members.


Founders and Ages:

Heather R. Huhman, 27

Help answer their questions!

Question 1: Overcoming age bias
Question 2: Monetizing products/services while still making them affordable to our audiences
Question 3: Keeping up with competitors who are heavily funded

What is the story behind your company?

Our company began as an idea while still attending Colby College, during the summer of 2009. Nick and I knew that we wanted to start a business instead of pursuing a corporate job after graduating school. Moreover, we wanted to address an environmental problem through an enterprise. We decided to work on bottled water and the inefficiencies and environmental harm associated with this product. After extensive research, we realized there was a new technology called bottleless water coolers, which use advanced water filtration to replace bottled water coolers. Think those large 5 gallon jugs – we purify a buildings tap water and then store it hot and cold in a water cooler.

With this idea in mind, we spent the fall of our senior year developing our business plan and website, and applying for and eventually receiving a start-up grant from the Libra Future Fund. The spring of our senior year was the time when we began to market our service aggressively, and secured our first clients. After graduation in May, we have been working on Blue Reserve full time, and have been able to expand quickly.

What makes your company unique in its industry?

When you look at the drinking water industry, we have the ability to save businesses between 40-60% of their monthly water expenses on average over bottled water. At the same time, we allow them to go green and avoid the inconvenience of 42 pound water jugs having to be stored and moved in the office. Our service is unique because we can offer a superior product for a lower price, making it very attractive for all companies right now that are critically examining how they spend their money. We are the only company that focuses on bottleless technology in Maine (where we are based out of).

Future plans for the company?

We are dedicated to becoming a nationwide provider of quality, bottleless drinking water in the United States. The next few years have this industry poised for very strong growth, and we are going to be part of this expansion. In the United States only one in ten water coolers is a bottleless system – in the UK that number is one in two. This empathizes how much room there is in this market.


Founders and Ages:

Brandon Pollock, 22
Nick Friedman, 22

Help answer their questions!

Question 1: Number one for us has been establishing credibility as young business owners.
Question 2: Learning how to effectively sell via cold call style marketing
Question 3: Managing our first interns.


Opt In Image
Awesome People + Awesome Places
Travel around the world while making new friends

Under30Experiences curates awesome experiences around the world for young travelers.

Tags: , , , , ,

Category: Entrepreneur Interviews

  • Heather R. Huhman

    Brandon & Nick:

    Per your question 3, you’ve oddly enough been paired with a company (mine, Come Recommended) that specializes in helping people manage interns and entry-level professionals! We’d be happy to give you the “we were written about in the same Under30CEO post” discount (aka, free) and take you through the process step-by-step. Sound good?

    Hope to hear from you soon,

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Start-Up Hot Seat: Come Recommended vs Blue Reserve | Under30CEO --

  • Morgan Barnhart

    “Keeping up with competitors who are heavily funded”: Social media is your best friend! You don’t need a lot of money in order to promote yourself and connect with people through social media. In fact, social media might be a better tool than spending a bunch of money on marketing or advertising. Social media helps you interact and find targeted people – for free! I’m happy to help if needed!

  • Pingback: Blue Reserve Blog » Blog Archive » Blue Reserve Featured in the Press

  • Usama

    Morgan is right. Social media is the ultimate marketing and advertising tool. Its the age of social media and thats where your company should be headed for help.

  • Pingback: Blue Reserve Blog » Blog Archive » Blue Reserve In The News