Funding

Pre-launch Brisbane startup iRecruit closes $550,000 seed round as it prepares to hit the market

Denham Sadler /

When Todd Pierce opened a new branch for his marketing company in Adelaide and posted a job ad, he was shocked by the response.

The ad quickly received nearly 500 applications, and the entrepreneur was left with the difficult task and sifting through resumes to find the right person.

Overwhelmed by the volume of applications, he says he made a rushed decision.

“I still remember that so clearly today,” Pierce tells StartupSmart.

“I got to 30 people and then I made a hire, and to be honest it wasn’t the best hire. What if there was a superstar I didn’t even see that was lost in this black hole of resumes?”

It was this moment that led Pierce to formulate the initial idea for what would become iRecruit, a cloud-based platform for job seekers and employers that uses behavioural science to match these groups together.

Behavioural technology

The Brisbane-based startup has just closed a $550,000 seed round as it prepares to launch its product around Australia.

After the initial idea sparked, Pierce met co-founder Aleksander Svetski and the pair began to brainstorm how a tech platform could improve the recruitment process for both sides of the equation.

Initially the co-founders developed a “gimmicky” app based on a Tinder-like swipe function, but quickly developed it into a much more substantial tech offering, Pierce says.

“We evolved the idea so it grew from swiping left and right into something that has substance and is essentially a platform that learns how users think and matches them to roles that fit who you are and what you can do,” he says.

“And if you’re a business it matches you to job seekers who are right for the position quickly and cheaply.”

The startup combines Pierce’s background in digital marketing and therapy. The platform allows job seekers to make a profile and answer a series question, with the technology then matching them with suitable employers.

The service will be free for all job seekers, while employers will have to pay a fee when looking to contact a potential new hiring.

“At its core is behavioural-based matching technology,” he says.

“It takes elite profiling and makes it available and accessible to every single business so they can make accurate hires.

Planting the seed

The two co-founders bootstrapped the initial platform with $100,000, and the new round of external funding comes from a group of local angel investors.

Pierce says he decided to stick to these investors after some bad experiences with venture capitalists.

“We came across VCs in the beginning but they didn’t prove to be the best bet for us,” he says.

“We felt like their expectations of what we should have in place were too high, and some of them came across as dodgy.

“It’s our baby so we’re more motivated than they were. We got in front of sophisticated investors who saw our vision and loved what we were doing.”

iRecruit is currently in a beta phase, and the capital injection will be used on marketing, tech development and hires as the startup approaches an official launch in the coming months.

This launch will initially be solely focused on Queensland before the startup looks to expand further across Australia.

“We’re not a big raging company with $50 million that can do a machine gun spray of the market,” Pierce says.

“We’re taking a concentrated and focused approach with specific verticals in specific geographies.

“Once we hit a level of saturation in those verticals and we have a certain level of momentum then we have the ability to copy and paste it elsewhere.”

The why

After building the company on the back of his personal experience with recruitment, Pierce says he is still motivated by a core goal to make this process better for both parties.

“My ‘why’ is that I believe anybody can do anything if they have the right tools, strategy and support,” he says.

“This is a manifestation of that. My goal is to give job seekers a tool in their pocket that goes out there to find work that’s good for you.

“It has been a journey but what we’ve learnt along the way has put us in a really good position.

“We’re ready to hit the market and deliver what we’ve built, which is something that is designed to make people’s lives easier and give you back your time and freedom.”

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Denham Sadler

Denham Sadler is a former editor of StartupSmart. He was previously a journalist at the publication and has worked as a freelancer for the Guardian, the Saturday Paper and the ABC. In his spare time he likes puns and jaffles.