Why we acquired RiseHigh - the talent matching platform for startups

Let’s face it, looking for a job sucks. Hours trawling LinkedIn for possible roles is a necessary evil for most jobseekers, but it also means getting bombarded with inmails and having to endure a newsfeed that feels more David Brent than Gordon Gekko. Applying through job boards is another unpopular "necessity", but when all of those companies who asked you to write a covering letter never get back to you, it’s soul destroying.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be like this. Looking for a new job should be like booking your next holiday: mulling over possibilities that are all within reach and appeal to your interests (10 days in Sri Lanka vs weekend break in Ibizan farmhouse?).

Acquiring RiseHigh made sense for us for a few different reasons. First and foremost, I really got on with Jason Wong, the founder of www.risehigh.co. We sat down, were honest about where we both were in our businesses, and six weeks later we had a deal. Jason explained he wanted to move onto a new fintech venture, and I wanted to double down on where we were heading with Kandidate. We both started our businesses one month apart in the summer of 2015 and had come to many of the same conclusions about the issues candidates face when searching for a new role:

●    Candidates want choice and to be in control of their hiring experience

●    They want timely, laser-focused opportunities where their valuable time is spent on researching a few real and tangible opportunities

●    They want details on the role and package upfront

●    At times they want advice from domain experts who have worked in startups (John Faal on the Kandidate team, for instance, worked at Qubit and hired 40 people in a year)

We approached finding a solution in different ways. Our MVP was a high-touch, manual method, building personal relationships with specific candidates and using research and sourcing to build a proprietary database of talent. We got great advice early on not to start building any tech until we had exhausted every possible concierge-style manual solution. We knew the limitations: our model would not scale – but in the last 15 months it’s allowed us to do very focused work, speaking to hundreds of candidates and learning what they are looking for.

We made minor pivots throughout the year. Some were comical: we looked at video interviewing technology (terrible experience for both candidate and client!), a sourcing-only service for talent teams (what founders and talent teams want is execution rather than a batch of candidates), and a service to rewrite job specs (I even bought the domain name www.jobadbranding.com – yours for £7.10). But everything we’ve done at Kandidate had the same mission at heart: improving the experience for candidates who want to join top startups.

That’s why I believe that what Jason Wong and his team (Kate and Aga) at www.risehigh.co have built is so impressive. Over 8,000 candidates have signed up at RiseHigh and they have sent over 1,000 offers out to candidates for non-engineering roles at UK startups. Their model is low-touch and puts the control into the candidate’s hands by only sending job offers that directly match what the candidates is looking for. Candidates can pause the offers (for three or six months) when they are not looking.

So what’s the plan?

We will keep the integrity and transparency that has underpinned the trust that candidates place in RiseHigh. Jason is joining our board and will be involved as an advisor. We will not be making any quick changes and will be consulting you throughout.  We’ll be launching regular physical events around specific topics to help Kandidate and RiseHigh learn, socialise and connect with founders. The focus here will be the same: to keep refining job discovery and keep learning what types of companies interest you.

We won’t be offering engineering roles as we want to remain specific on sales, marketing and ops roles where we have experience as a team. (The other big guys like www.talent.io www.landing.jobs, www.hired.com are doing decent enough jobs for engineering roles.)

Over the next 10 years new technologies will create new commercial jobs that don’t exist now. The role “Customer Success” didn’t exist a few years ago and is a good example. Finding a job is never going to be like a luxury cruise… but I hope we can make it more of a challenging, rewarding expedition and less of a package holiday.

Email me with any thoughts alexvk@kandidate.com or follow me on Twitter @alexvank

Alex van Klaveren

Kandidate, 73 Grafton Rd, Flat 3, London, NW5 4BB, United Kingdom