A Love Letter to Startups

Early in my career, I was great at taking briefings with startups, writing about startups, and advising startups. At one time, covering startups was my favorite part of being an analyst. I loved the innovation and the excitement that came with emerging providers.

Ten years ago, talent acquisition was very much a startup market. Jobs2Web created a new way of engaging with talent. HireVue and Montage (now Modern Hire) were introducing video to the hiring process. Jobfox was the premier partner for the ATS market. And, Veechi offered capabilities to take a picture of a resume and parse it into an ATS.

But at some point, I became cynical about startups. I was bothered by the “change the world” mentality, the failure rate, and the inability to carry out the product roadmap. I started cautioning companies about investing in startups, which I affectionately named “two guys in skinny jeans.”

I wasn’t wrong.

Sometimes startups don’t have the experience or expertise to be able to develop great technology. Sometimes they don’t care about what talent acquisition practitioners want from technology. Sometimes they take too much investment.. or the wrong investment… or too little investment. Sometimes investing in startups is risky.

But sometimes, startups get it right. They understand what buyers want, and they are committed to delivering great products. Sometimes, startups bring change and hope to a market. Recently, I realized that I don’t spend enough time with startups, and I need to change that for next year.

Below are some of the startups worth watching in 2020 (this not a complete list).

Zapinfo: Founded by Doug Berg, Zapinfo provides recruiting intelligence by automating how companies find contacts and candidate profiles from multiple sites, add contacts to an ATS or CRM, and communicate with candidates more consistently.

CandidateID: CandidateID provides marketing automation to recruitment and helps companies manage their talent pipelines to engage better, nurture, and hire talent. As companies move from requisitions to pipelines, CandidateID offers a solution that can automate this process and better engage with talent.

Survale: Improving the candidate experience is a priority for companies in every industry and every geography. Yet, most companies fail when collecting feedback. Survale helps companies collect feedback on the candidate experience, employee experience, quality of hire, and references.

Small Improvements: Small Improvements also enables continuous feedback and recognition by fueling a company’s ongoing feedback culture, and integrates with collaboration tools such as Slack and Gmail.

Pilot: Pilot is a software-based employee coaching platform that helps companies empower employees and improve performance through feedback that is consistent, frequent, and meaningful.

Talvista: TalVista offers optimized job descriptions, objective data points from redacted resume reviews, and structured interview evaluations to help companies to support a company’s diversity and inclusion efforts.

Moovila: Moovila is helping companies bring autonomy to work and project management through the use of critical path modeling and diagnostics, Real-life Capacity Management, AI, machine learning, and IoT integration.

In addition to taking more briefings with startups, one of my goals for the next year is to focus on conversational AI solutions. I am also planning a major research study in 2020, including providers such as Mya, AllyO, JobPal, Paradox, TalkPush, Karen, and XOR.

If you are a startup and interested in a briefing, please let me know!