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Jobandtalent gets $42M Series B after pivoting to mobilize hiring for SMEs

TechCrunch TechCrunch 14/06/2016 Natasha Lomas

As the nature of work shifts, so too must recruitment startups. To wit: Jobandtalent, a startup in the space that, for the past several years, has been touting its matching technology to automatically surface potential job candidates for employers (and vice versa).

But in recent times the business, which last year closed out a $39M Series A, has undergone an “evolution”, as CEO and co-founder Juan Urdiales puts it, shuttering its desktop product and going purely mobile, adding mobile messaging and geolocation to its apps to accelerate utility to candidates and employers.

It’s also transferred its attention from enterprise recruitment needs to SMEs where staff turnover is faster and there are more jobs in play. Arguably acceleratingly so as technology contributes to creating shorter term work gigs. After all ‘on-demand’ can imply temporary or even momentary need.

The change of focus for Jobandtalent is all about “increasing liquidity” on the platform says Urdiales, by which he means the number of jobs up for grabs and, consequently, the amount of hiring taking place — which in turn will generate momentum to pull in more employers and workers. Or that’s the theory.

With its new focus, Jobandtalent is now competing directly with recruitment agencies like Adecco, says Urdiales. Indeed, he says the “big aim” is to replace this agency layer entirely — and that’s just for starters.

“We see Jobandtalent, in some years, as the major provider of employment. The biggest employment company in the world!” he says, getting full marks for startup ambition.

The free-to-use hiring platform has a new business model too: opt-in staff management services where it can take care of recruitment and HR related admin for SMEs — from generating employment contracts to managing payroll to paying related taxes — charging a take rate from the hire’s payroll for this service (it’s experimenting with the exact percentage cut at present).

“Our focus is on small businesses, mainly in some sectors like hospitality, sales, logistics, administration. We’re looking for these type of companies that are not as big as companies that we were working in the past,” Urdiales tells TechCrunch. “It’s a change on the focus of the clients that we wanted to serve but it was a natural evolution.

“We evolved the company to bring on board other type of companies because we thought and we saw the real opportunity and the real pain in the market was more in the small companies and small businesses rather than in big enterprises that had a lot of services already and a lot of platforms.”

Its pivot away from enterprises to SMEs means it’s now thinking along the lines of recruitment startup rivals like Catapult and Staff Finder, says Urdiales. Other newcomers recently raising funding for similar mobile-focused hiring platforms include Accel-backed JobToday and CornerJob, both also with founding links to Spain, like Jobandtalent. (It’s likely no coincidence that youth unemployment rates in Spain are very high.)

All are targeting the scale opportunity presented by high turnover service sectors, temporary and/or blue collar work powered by the pace and ubiquity of smartphones. In other words, mobilizing the recruitment process for an increasingly mobile global workforce with an appetite to find their next job fast.

It’s very much an urban phenomenon, though. Jobandtalent is now limiting its platform availability to a handful of cities — again with a view to concentrating its efforts to generate the most ‘platform liquidity’ — although of course it’s planning to expand the number of cities it serves as it pushes for more international growth.

Currently it’s available in five cities: Madrid, Barcelona, Mexico City, Bogota and London, with the latter its best market, as you’d expect given the UK capital’s ongoing economic clout.

Today it’s announcing it’s closed a $42 million Series B round, led by Skype founder Niklas Zennström’s VC firm Atomico — with the funding pegged to go towards launching into more cities, as well as growing the team and continuing to build out the product.

As part of the round, former SVP EMEA & APAC at Uber, and current executive-in-residence at Atomico, Niall Wass, joins the Jobandtalent board as non executive director to help with its strategy and international growth. Urdiales touts Wass’ marketplace experience as a big boon here, noting the latter helped launch Uber into more than 200 cities.

Additional investors and advisors in the round include FJ Labs (José Marín, founder of DeRemate.com, and Fabrice Grinda, founder of OLX.com); Adeyemi Ajao, founder of Identified and currently VP Technology Strategy at Workday; and Steve Goodman, founder of Bright.com, which was sold to LinkedIn in 2014 (and which Jobandtalent used to describe as a competitor, back when it was targeting enterprise employers).

Commenting on the funding in a statement, Zennström said: “Well over a billion workers now have cell phones which means the recruitment sector is ripe for mobile disruption” — arguing that Jobandtalent’s “execution capability, leading matching technology and transactional marketplace approach” offer a clear path for it to scale up fast.

“We were extremely impressed with the Jobandtalent founding team and are excited to join them on their mission to reduce unemployment and hiring inefficiencies around the world,” he added.

Jobandtalent last raised back in May 2015 when it topped up its Series A with an additional $25M — bringing the total raised for that round to $39 million. It also closed a $3.3 million seed to build out its core algorithmic matching tech back in July 2013.

Urdiales claims this core matching tech is even more important with its new SME focus, arguing its algorithms can replace the role of recruiters for businesses that likely don’t have many tools at their disposal owing to their more limited resources — thereby increasing efficiency where there is most need for it.

Performance wise, he pegs the algorithm as having achieved a matching accuracy the team is “very happy” with around 80 per cent of the time now.

“Of course there is always room to improve but the good thing about the algorithm is the more data that they’ve got the better because it’s based on a machine learning technology,” he adds. “We still have to fine-tune it in 20 per cent of the jobs that we have matched. We are working on that — increasing the algorithm team.”

In terms of overall usage of Jobandtalent, Urdiales says some 150,000 companies have used the platform in total (cumulatively over its lifetime), along with 10 million users — but it’s not breaking out active metrics for either side at this point.

Nor is it disclosing the typical number of jobs on offer via its platform per month (nor hires made) but will say the number of jobs being advertised has almost doubled in the last five months as more companies have been onboarded.

He also touts increased engagement between potential employees and companies, claiming interactions between the two are up 300x in a year. Although whether increased platform chatter is something that correlates with increased hires required some hard data to prove out.

Employers using Jobandtalent are sent a shortlist of potential candidates, which Urdiales says averages to around 60 — ranked by the algorithm with the best matches shown first.

The startup reckons its matching algorithms — plus the automated background checks and ratings/reviews from past employers also offered by the platform — could enable SMEs to skip job interviews entirely in some cases.

“It depends a lot on the type of job. For example for very short shift jobs, like weekend jobs or a restaurant that needs a waiter for two days — in those cases they don’t really need to interview the person. They just select the ones that they see is the best one and they get them on boards,” says Urdiales, although he concedes that’s the exception not the rule right now, adding: “The majority of the jobs that we have are jobs for more medium term contracts and for larger periods. In those cases in general the interview is necessary right now.”

But he’s gunning for that to change in future. “Our aim as a company is to really give enough information to the companies and businesses and enough trust so they can make the hiring without even interviewing. That’s our medium term view,” he says.

Given that the traditional interview process presents an obvious bottleneck to Jobandtalent securing post-recruitment revenue, when SMEs sign up for its paid staff management services, then the startup trying to replace the tried and tested HR staple of the in-person interview with proprietary tech is exactly what you’d expect. But of course it remains to be seen whether businesses will be convinced they don’t need to perform that final assessment on their own.

One thing is for sure: the nature of work is changing thanks to the ubiquity of the smartphone. Many jobs and work opportunities are becoming more fluid. And that implies a need to speed up how those workers are hired — which in turn presents a growth opportunity for startups in the recruitment space. Tap here to make your next hire.

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