A candidate referral network between startups

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Founder of SmartHires here. I wanted to share a little back story. When I was recruiting for my first startup, I basically had no engineering network in the US. In order to get applicants, I asked my friends to refer candidates who were great, but not the right fit for them. The people I met through this were fantastic, which is why we decided to "professionalize" candidate referral. Happy to answer any questions!
This sounds like a great idea; but the proposed pricing model sounds pretty messed up. Why should SmartHires get a 10% hiring fee for not doing anything RE the sourcing of the candidates? That would be a strong disincentive for portfolio companies to use it imho. scenario 1) a startup just shares a resume with a VC firm portfolio mailing list. Another company makes a hire. Money exchanged = $0, but some goodwill. scenario 2) same as above, but the resume is shared via SmartHires. Another company makes a hire. That startup now has to pay SmartHires ~$12k (for example). Is the value added here worth $12k per candidate? I'd say definitely not. By contrast; something like AngelList, the AngelList network and variety of companies is actually sourcing the talent pool; so there paying a recruiting fee is more justified imho. It seems like SmartHires just got into YC; so I'm sure some YC companies will start using it. I can just envisage a lot of push-back once the fee gets increased.
@_jacksmith Hey Jack, thanks for the feedback. Pricing is definitely tbd, and will take time to get right. (We've removed the "10%" from the site) We see the value add by SmartHires by creating this sharing behavior in the first place, which means some of these candidates wouldn't be hired portfolio-internal if it weren't for SmartHires.
@christiankletzl agreed that pricing is hard and I could be totally wrong; I mean when Developer Auction (now first announced their idea on a mailing list, fellow founders were going nuts, but they're doing good and generating a lot of cash, so you know. imho, a company friendly and VC friendly route would be something like eshares: just charge the VC fund/portfolio companies a reasonably low monthly fee and then start charging for extra features in the future. e.g. AngelList is offering hiring candidates for free. However they're now privately testing "A Team", where you can get access to the top 5% of candidates if you agree to pay a referral fee. Having a reasonable and fair cost to start with (or always, at a basic level) will allow you to get much much wider adoption imho.
@_jacksmith lots of interesting information, thanks! We looked a bit into charging the VC fund, but have heard that their willingness to pay for fund services is rather low. Need to talk to more funds and think about potential extra features.
@christiankletzl you could also try chatting to (which powers perks for 500 startups and maybe some others) and which was used by 500 startups; sv angel; seedcamp. I think you're right though, that charging the portfolio cos to participate is probably better
@christiankletzl - looking at the site, I'm interested, but (like most startups), we're bootstrapped. Not even interested in VC. What we have to offer are our intern alumni. What we want are more of what we already get: intern candidates who would consider an unpaid internship.
@osakasaul It's a good point. There are a lot of bootstrapped startups that aren't interested in VC. For these startups, we are also offering a "private network", where you can exchange candidates with other selected startups (for free). Similar to the way a lot of startups are already doing it informally - exchanging candidates with friends' startups or with startups in the same co-working space.
@christiankletzl you have 3 broken images on the homepage (companies) ;)
@christiankletzl @bramk thanks for pointing out. I'll fix it asap.
This is quite a pivot from ShelfFlip, @christiankletzl and @stephankletzl. How did you make the decision to do something different? On a related note, @daniellemorrill wrote a fantastic piece on Zombie Startups a while ago before starting Mattermark.
@stephankletzl @daniellemorrill @rrhoover indeed quite a big change - from B2C to B2B. As mentioned above, we realized the value of candidate referrals actually when recruiting for ShelfFlip. We liked the idea so much that we were running both startups simultaneously in basically a big A/B test (that's the benefit of having a twin brother :)) and ultimately got really good traction with SmartHires, so we decided to focus on it 100%. Good call on @daniellemorrill's post. I've also like another one ( as it motivates to move on! PS: We are very happy that Danielle and her team are already using SmartHires!