New IT recruitment site CrowdHired used the YOW! 2011 Software Developer Conference to raise its profile, and hasn’t looked back since.


The Melbourne-based site is the brainchild of Brett Krieger and Jason Nah, who were inspired to start-up based on their experiences recruiting for the IT industry.


Describing itself as “the social hiring platform”, CrowdHired not only allows employers to find the right candidates, but the professional community benefits directly from any finder’s fees.


Krieger talks to StartupSmart about standing out in a saturated market, and the benefit of using industry events to get your name out there.


What inspired the CrowdHired concept; what niche did you identify?


The idea came from our experiences recruiting for the IT industry.


We often find that placing an ad on a jobs board is an invitation for many agencies to contact us within the following 48 hours (and/or add us to their mailing lists) and some agencies would often send us the same candidates that applied through the jobs boards.


In contrast, referrals from employees and colleagues were often of a higher quality and came without the baggage of agencies and unsuitable candidates.


Our market research confirmed that most employers and jobseekers prefer referral over other forms of finding candidates.


The only problem is that most referral programs only have access to a limited pool of suitable referrers.


Our idea was to extend employee referral programs beyond employees on the basis that most employees, and the wider professional community, were at least as good at understanding job requirements or filtering candidates as any agency recruiter was likely to be.


Also, most suitable candidates would be connected to the company via no more than two to three degrees of separation.


How long did you work on the business before you launched it?


We came up with the idea in December 2010 and conducted market research from January to March 2011.


We built some prototypes in April and May and launched an alpha with “registration of interest” in August.


We “launched” open user registration at the YOW! 2011 Developer Conference in December and we currently have around 300 registered users and 20 or so registered employers.


How did you fund the business?


Start-up funding was provided by [my other company] Common Vision. First year start-up costs have been around $300,000 in total.


How do you promote the business?


At first, we promoted CrowdHired using the CrowdHired blog, via Twitter and Facebook.


Recently, we sponsored the YOW! Software Developer Conference and mobile app (for the iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows Phone).


Overall, this provided good exposure with the 1,000 or so YOW! conference attendees mostly representing our target audience.


How many staff do you have?


The core team during the year has been Jason Nah and myself, with Alan Skorkin involved for six months of build and iterations, and Sean Boyle as a director.


What are your revenue projections for 2011/12?


Our target revenue projection for 2012 is $250,000.


What are your points of difference?


Our main points of difference are:

  • Bounty referrals are private. By selecting trusted contacts to refer the bounty to in the first instance, the employer is protected from unsolicited contacts. 
  • “Professional communities” provide greater reach to identify suitable candidates and they can also provide a superior candidate filter than an agency recruiter. 
  • We’re not limited to a single social network such as LinkedIn. Bounties can be referred via email or contact can be initiated by a phone call or Skype. 
  • CrowdHired suggests suitable “advocates” (active participants in the professional community you’re hiring from and in your location) to assist employers to find suitable candidates. 

What has been your greatest challenge and how did you overcome it?


Our greatest challenge has been providing sufficient support to our advocates.


While they might know a lot of suitable candidates in their community, they don’t necessarily know those who are looking for a new position.


Our focus to date has been on ranking advocates based on their ability to identify the “right” candidate, exclusive of other considerations.


To improve our reach and bounty conversion rate, we are now considering a change in the model to prioritise those advocates with greater networking ability.


What’s the biggest risk you face?


The major risk is if we’re unable to improve our referral rate (the rate at which advocates refer bounties to their contacts) before an established player institutes a similar or improved model.


Is there anything you would have done differently?


We ran a post-implementation review last week after the CrowdHired event and, if we had our time over, we would have made the following changes:

  • We could/should have tested some key assumptions (eg. tested the referral rate for people receiving bounties) without building complete software.
  • We invested in features to address “potential” issues (eg. candidate quality) before there was any evidence the feature was required.
  • We would have identified issues earlier, progressed more rapidly and at less cost if we had applied the principles from Erie Ries’ book The Lean Startup more consistently and widely.


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