What started as Playful Software – a consultancy agency doing HR process optimization through gamification, has turned later into Jobful, one of the startups that took part in the 1st edition of the KPMG Startup Grow Pad program. “Basically, we wanted people to play more. And considering the fact that you need people to play with, HR department was always our first choice.” shares Mihai Cepoi – Jobful’s Chief Everything Officer.
After doing some projects involving onboarding, performance and change management, they had an AHA moment while discussing with a potential customer about recruiting. At that moment they realized that recruiting is the only HR processes happening with an external audience, as it doesn’t involve employees but candidates. This was the turning point for the team that decided to create a product instead of being a service company.
“After quitting my previous job and investing time and energy for an entrepreneurial direction, I started looking for people to join the project. Ioana is my sister and has a lot of experience with gamification so it was a no brainer and first person to go to. We were both part of Alternative University in Bucharest so we decided to create a learning group there, on gamification. The most involved person and an amazing professional part of that group was Bianca, that later joined our team. We recruited Ioan and Nicu for sales and account management positions, also from the Alternative University, as they were both shining stars in our vision and we had a good match a personal level.” The latest addition to the team as marketing lead is Ilinca, who was previously working at Ernst & Young as a Senior Employer Branding Manager.
We have asked them a few questions to learn more about what they are doing.
What does your product do?
It’s important to know that the recruiting process has two big stakeholders, both of them equally relevant and important. So there are at least two “problems”, or challenges – as we prefer to call them, to tackle. For the candidates, the interviewing process is just non-appealing. They have to build up their CVs, define their strengths, apply to different websites, go to career events, and mostly hope for the best. And this is just the tip of the iceberg as behind those actions there’s a lot of struggle for identity and for choosing, or staying on a professional path. For companies, it’s both a challenge of efficiency (work volume) and relevance (profiles accuracy).
I believe both optimism and problem solving are defining traits for our team so, naturally, we wanted to solve them all. We built (and are constantly improving) a gamification framework to make the entire experience more attractive, we added a series of academies to prepare and evaluate properly (skills assessment), we created an elastic search so companies can find in a matter of seconds the right candidates for their jobs and a matching system so both parties have to confirm their interest before getting in contact.
Truth be told, we started with two or three, and we constantly learn from our users and partners what and where we can do better. We never thought we knew the absolute truth and how things should be done, so we built upon our stakeholders advice.
What drives you to develop Jobful?
Each of the team members has been through different recruiting experiences, either as candidates or as recruiters, and everyone of us had personal frustration regarding the process. This is the main reason we started promoting Jobful with a strong message: Show us how good you are, and let companies find you.
After more than a year that we have officially launched, we’ve received so many gratitude notes and testimonials from different candidates that we realize more and more how important this kind of solution really is, especially for the new generations entering the workforce world.
Who are your main clients?
We started addressing the big companies like Microsoft, Honeywell or Orange. We’re happy to see they’ve been receptive and are now our partners, over 10 corporations and more to come. After a while we realized that SMB companies also recruit and our candidates are interested to join these too. That was the moment we decided to add a freemium business model for SMB companies, offering the first three candidates free of charge, with the option to upgrade at any time. Forward to a few months later, we now have over 50 small companies joining our platform and recruiting candidates.
What was your biggest challenge until now?
Since we have two stakeholders, for this type of product: the companies and the candidates, the biggest challenge for us was to calibrate the volumes for each of them. It can generate a lot of headaches having a lot of job openings and only a few candidates, as well as having a lot of candidates and very few jobs. Growing the business was always a matter of investing in marketing for candidates, investing in sales for partners and investing in the product for both. Keeping everyone happy and managing the investments was and is still our biggest challenge.
What was your reason for joining KPMG Startup Grow Pad?
We joined KPMG Startup Grow Pad few months after launching. We had two MVPs tested before that and we already knew the product could work. At the same time, we had in mind a quote: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” So we were looking for a big partner to “go together” with. Now, I believe this was one of the smartest decisions we made so far.
How did being a part of the program helped you grow Jobful?
Being a part of this acceleration program, we realized that we have access to a lot more than we could have reached before. In terms of visibility, contacts, events and much more. The first feeling we had was that KPMG was ready to offer us support for everything we needed, but it’s our responsibility to ask for it. So we did, we went with KPMG at events, we’ve had meetings over meetings discussing our plans and next steps, we interviewed the new recruiters from KPMG team to improve the product and we worked together with their HR team to improve the recruiters experience as well.
Working directly with Rene and Madalina (two of the mentors from KPMG Romania) also meant having the perspective of two amazing people with huge business experience. We validated together different directions before investing time, energy and money, which lead us each time to the right direction. I would say this is not something we can actually quantify but has impacted our business hugely.
In December 2018, Jobful was awarded the 3rd place in the Romanian Startarium competition, and in May this year, they were one of the three Romanian startups selected to pitch at the South East Europe Tech Tour 2019. After the KPMG Startup Grow Pad Demo Night, in the spring, the team was accepted to the SAP.iO accelerator Berlin, where they spent their summer, further developing the product and learning from experts, all while integrating SAP Success Factors, under the guidance and support of their mentors.
At this moment, the team is working to include emerging technologies such as machine learning and blockchain, into the product, and they are planning to integrate the Google Jobs API and MIT Blockcerts. Other big plans are in store for this autumn, as they are now preparing the launch of the mobile app and also taking first steps in to expand the platform to another European country. Earlier this year, the team has announced their first angel investment round, and are ready to close their first seed investment, later this autumn. This will help the team take Jobful to the next level and plan for international expansion next year.
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