SmartRecruiters' Idealism Pays Off

Today, SmartRecruiters will announce a $5m Series A. Yesterday, TalentCulture  had a chance to sit down with Jerome Ternynck, founder and CEO of the Bay Area company, and talk about what this means for his team, the product and the industry moving forward.

First up, the details about the round. Started in October, the “pretty competitive” round came to a head in December with by Mayfield, a top-tier Silicon Valley VC.

“It’s a good environment for startups,” said Ternynck calmly. But, the entrepreneur explained, he thinks it’s a little more than that:

“Free as a monetization model. This is something we are seeing. Free could well be the next generation of software,” he said, echoing a trend that many analysts have been predicting since “freemium” came into play. However, Ternynck takes it a step further:

“From subscription to freemium, free is the logical next step if you can find the right business model. The way we play it is almost a platform play,” opined Ternynck. “Some clients have called us almost an iTunes for recruiting.”

It makes sense if you look at the ambitious product roadmap in place for SmartRecruiters. Essentially it’s free software to manage recruiting tools, no matter how far you look, or how deep you dig there really is no cost to the user to use SmartRecruiters. If you apply the iTunes analogy, it really doesn’t need an attached cost. SmartRecruiters is a platform through which you buy recruiting services and Ternynck is hell-bent on making sure that’s easy to do.

Of course, this isn’t the only funding or acquisition to make the news in recent weeks, but it further cements what Ternynck calls the consumerization of enterprise tech…and the fact that it’s finally hitting the HR Tech Marketplace.

“A lot of the enterprise technology is being brought in by users,” explained Ternynck. Think about the tools you use on your work PCs, iPads and smartphones. Those efficient and brilliant little apps and software platforms are being adopted by consumers, who bring them to the enterprise, which in turn rolls them out on a corporate level.

“This is really something we see happening across all markets. Big change in how you sell to enterprise,” said Ternynck. But selling isn’t really what he has in mind. SmartRecruiters has no plans to amass a huge sales force because the process is actually “frictionless”.

“In the beta phase, we removed all the friction. It’s completely automated, you don’t need to speak to anybody, you actually just need to post your job,” he said. In fact, there is no sign up process on SmartRecruiters. And that’s by design.

“Need to hire someone, come here, post your job.  If you enjoy it, chances are you are going to share it, facebook, social network, use our social referral service…recruiting is not about tracking or automation. It’s about sourcing, engaging and hiring great candidates,” insists Ternynck. “It’s a social encounter.”

No, SmartRecruiters is going to put “all of the money into product awesomeness”. Which makes sense when you have a free product. So what’s next for the product with this new round?

“We want to put jobseekers back at the center of recruiting software. It should be much more enjoyable and much more social. We’re building features around a one-click apply and allowing candidates to express interest more easily,” said Ternynck, ticking off features that the SmartRecruiters team is adding while also naming features that were soon to be gone, like the application form.

And while the Bay Area based team will not be building a huge sales army, Ternynck plans to add at least 40 jobs in the hopes of creating “tens, hundreds, even thousands more.”