This week, the Startup Spotlight shines Chris Bakke, Co-Founder of Interviewed.
Should your startup be profiled? Send me a message.
What is your background?
I’ve only ever worked at startups and technology companies. I got really lucky right out of college and joined an amazing team here in San Francisco that was building a product called RentJuice. It was a CRM for rental brokers, and it really revolutionized the way that brokers were doing deals in large markets like New York and Chicago. The company was acquired by Zillow in 2012. Zillow had one of the most successful IPOs of 2011 and was growing insanely fast. I stayed at Zillow for about a year and a half post-acquisition and I think during those 18 months that I was there, the company went from 350 to 1,000 employees.
After Zillow, I went to a startup called 42Floors. It had a similar growth story. I was there for a year and we grew the team by about 5x over 2014. I ended up meeting my cofounders – Darren Nix, Daniel O’Shea, and Jono O’Shea – at 42Floors. We had this shared experience of collectively reviewing and interviewing thousands of candidates for dozens of roles across sales, support, and marketing.
Darren, Daniel, and Jono are all software developers but have been founders or in senior technical positions for the last 10+ years. We got together in February of last year and said, “there’s got to be a better way to screen candidates effectively at scale.” We started brainstorming how to build job simulations for any type of role, and we started Interviewed about two weeks later.
Tell us about the team you have built so far.
Our team is comprised of engineers, account managers, salespeople, recruiters, and data scientists. Most of our team is in San Francisco. That said, we always try to hire the best people, regardless of geography. So, the team is in five different locations across eight or nine time zones, and we stay connected through Google Hangouts and Slack.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
We bootstrapped the company for the first couple of months. We shipped a v1 very quickly, and started showing it to investors. Jason Calacanis (investor in Uber, Thumbtack, etc.) and Cyan Banister (investor in Uber, PayPal, Zappos, etc.) were two of our first supporters and angel investors. Michael Seibel – a partner at Y Combinator – encouraged us to apply to YC around the same time. We applied, were accepted, launched publicly last summer, and raised our seed round in the fall.
What problem are you trying to solve?
When you’re looking at a stack of resumes in your ATS, it’s pretty hard to guess who’s going to work out. Reviewing resumes, doing manual phone screens, and unstructured interviews are not only costly – they’re not very predictive.
Then you have assessments and work samples, which studies have found to be the most predictive method of hiring, but unfortunately the world of assessments hasn’t caught up to modern technology. It’s 2016 and some of the leading assessment tools are asking candidates to spend 90 minutes answering multiple-choice questions to get an entry-level job. That’s totally insane.
Describe the business, core products and services?
Interviewed offers bite-sized, 10-20 minute work samples where the candidate actually does the job she’s applying for. If you’re applying to be an analyst, Interviewed will test your skills within Excel. If you’re applying to be a tech support rep, Interviewed will put you on the phone with a difficult customer, so the hiring manager can hear you in action. All of this is automated by our technology, so recruiters don’t invest their valuable time phone screening a thousand candidates, or manually grading a hundred Excel take-home tests.
Beyond assessments and work samples, we offer structured interviewing as a service. We’ll go into RPOs or large employers who receive two or three-hundred plus resumes per opening and help build a process from top-of-funnel-application to new-hire onboarding that saves money, is more predictive, and significantly reduces bias.
Who do you expect your customers and users to be at launch?
When we launched, most of our customers were small tech startups. Most of our customers today are companies with over 500 employees, but they range from RPOs staffing up sales teams, to education companies screening teachers, to financial service providers hiring analysts, to technology companies building out their support teams.
Where do you stand right now with regard to funding?
We raised a $2.3m seed round about three months ago from Y Combinator, SV Angel, Red Swan, Apollo Education, Indeed.com, Workday, and several other amazing funds and angel investors. One thing our team is really proud of is that four of our earliest customers are actually investors in our seed round. They really were all-in on the early vision of the company by paying us for the product and personally investing in the company itself.
What is the business AND revenue model? What is your strategy for profitability?
Typically we charge per-candidate, or set a fixed monthly or annual rate for up to x number of candidates. We have very low burn and make really good revenue, so profitability could happen tomorrow if we wanted it to, but like many VC-backed startups, we invest our revenue back into the growth of our business. It’s can be a tough balance between fueling really fast growth, but also being reasonable with spend and expansion.
Did anyone tell you this wasn’t going to be successful?
Definitely. But both recruiting and venture capital are such relationship-based industries that almost everyone we’ve come across has been very kind and helpful to us – even if they didn’t want to buy as a recruiter, or invest as a VC.
How will you measure success 12 months from now?
There are a lot of ways to measure success, but the two things we look at daily are revenue growth, and growth in candidates completing our simulations. Revenue growth means we’re adding more customers, and that those customers believe we’re valuable to their hiring process. Candidate growth means that we’re slowly becoming the gold standard for job assessments.