$4.1 million




Lee-Martin Seymour, 41, and Tim Griffiths, 48

Head office

Sydney, NSW

Year founded





Human resources and recruitment


Like many startups, reference checking platform Xref was created after its founders saw significant inefficiencies in the industries they were working in.

Xref“Following 17 years in recruitment, I witnessed a major issue of the hiring process. A colleague had become so frustrated waiting for a candidate reference that he just made one up,” Xref co-founder Lee-Martin Seymour says.

The time and effort taken up by the backwards-and-forwards between an employer, a job candidate and that candidate’s referees was eating into productivity, Seymour noticed.

It wasn’t long before he was sitting down with co-founder Tim Griffiths, a technologist who envisaged a platform to streamline all of these pieces into one process, while also giving employers tools to weed out white lies that emerge in the reference-checking process.

“What makes the solution different is the fact that we offer clients data-driven insights and enable them to make informed hiring decisions, as opposed to making offers on a ‘gut feeling’,” Seymour says.

Xref, which listed on the Australian Securities Exchange in 2016, allows employers to input candidate details into a platform that then contacts the candidate and their referees to compile all required reference information for an application.

Seymour says the program is the first of its kind, but the business has innovated big solutions to address client concerns in this new recruitment landscape.

“Since launch, there’s been one objection that’s frequently been raised by clients and prospects relating to tone of voice,” he says.

Employers and employees raised worries that the technology platform eliminated tone of voice and context that tends to come across when an employer phones a referee asking for feedback.

“As a result, in July 2017, we launched the Xref Sentiment Engine – an algorithm developed through machine learning to read text in context,” Seymour says.

This technology draws on all the feedback provided to tell employers exactly how positive a referee is likely being when they input information to the platform.

With offices now in Sydney, London and Toronto, Xref is now focused on expanding its offering globally. The startup booked more than $4 million in revenue in the most recent financial year and has made it into the Smart50 rankings with a three-year growth rate of 510%.

The challenge going forward may be maintaining the fun yet hardworking culture Seymour and Griffiths have sought to instil in the business.

However, Seymour says the company has ensured it has a strong idea of what makes each staff member tick, and this helps with engagement as the team grows.

“With this up our sleeves, we are able to make sure we offer the opportunities, incentives and rewards that resonate with each individual and we encourage our people to celebrate their wins,” he says.