Empowering small businesses globally to compete for talent - why I invested in Workable

We are delighted to announce our participation in Workable’s Series B funding round. The company raised $27M in this round (and a total of $34.5M), which will be used to fuel their impressive growth as they vie to become the de facto platform small companies use for their talent acquisition. Balderton Capital led the round joined by existing investors 83North (formely Greylock IL) and angel investors.

Beyond our passion for disruption of the HR technology space (evident from our investments in MoveGuides and Profinda), here’s a little insight behind our thinking for our investment in Workable:

It all starts with the founders and team

I remember my first Skype call with Nikos, CEO, mid-2012, when he was getting started with Workable and then meeting both him and Spyros, CTO and co-founder, over a long dinner conversation in Athens, being utterly impressed by their passion, maturity and vision on how they were going to compete in an already crowded ATS market. They are a well-balanced founding team, with strong execution focus, which has been key to their success to-date. Both are extremely well respected within the budding startup ecosystem in Greece and over the last three years managed to build a strong team around them and an amazing culture across all their offices in Boston, London and Athens. The team, comprised of young talent and an experienced bench with background in companies such as Monster, OgilvyOne, Thompson Reuters, Moo.com, Emap etc, is performing like a well-oiled machine across all functions.

Add a consumer-grade product user experience and a great long term vision

After experiencing the difficulties of hiring great talent in an effective way first hand in their previous startup, the founders set out to build a product that effectively replaces manual processes of the hiring process for small businesses. The product enables job posting, candidate sourcing and managing the recruiting process in a market where there are not really many products suitable for the long tail of businesses that generate 70+% of job opportunities. The team has developed a consumer-grade UX with enterprise-grade tech behind it, using the best and latest technology stack. It is a design centric product with virtually no learning curve, which lends itself to self-serve/zero touch acquisition and on boarding.

We are also massive fans of the team’s long-term vision to build a mobile-first acquisition and workforce management strategy, which caters well to companies of all sizes, as well as their focus on data analysis and its power to improve the hiring process.

In a massive, challenging to tackle and under served market

As you would expect, the market for small and medium business recruiting is massive, standing at $72B, where the recruitment software component of that is $3B. Small and medium companies are following a broad trend of adopting cloud based software
to keep up with the enterprise tech stack in every function e.g. marketing automation, CRM, ERP, POS, payroll & benefits. Workable’s ATS system is an additional component of the stack.

The larger enterprise market has a plethora of ATS systems, most of which are still on-prem. There was a strong consolidation in the large enterprise talent management space in 2012, with notable exits the acquisition of SuccessFactors by SAP for $3.4B, Kenexa by IBM for $1.3B and Taleo by Oracle for $1.9B. Workday is established as a leading SaaS, cloud-based product, which again caters to large enterprises. The mid-to-large enterprise space has also companies, like Greenhouse, doing a great job covering that domain. Catering to small business though is a whole different challenge, notoriously a tough sector to tackle. Many have tried and failed and transitioned their go-to-market to larger companies.

Workable as well as a few other competitors (like Jazz) have been leading the effort in enabling smaller businesses to be competitive in their market by identifying and recruiting top talent. However crowded the low-touch ATS market has been though, Workable has managed to rise above the crowd both because of its great, and more complete, product as well as their strong execution.

What about that execution

Workable has already north of 3,000 employers actively engaged on their platform with an impressive month-on-month growth of 15%. They have had a global customer base from day one, with an enviable customer base of the who’s who of fast growth tech startups across the world, small hotel chains, hairdressers, pet shops, and even several large enterprises. We love the way the team has developed a self-service model, using strong SEO and content marketing techniques. They also have several tricks up their sleeve, which they are about to unleash with the funds raised in this round.

Workable overall underpins our strong market focus and our belief in the four key themes that are transforming the IT industry: SaaS and Cloud-based delivery models powered by big data and a beautiful mobile UX. Bundle that with a massive market waiting to be disrupted, a great team and impressive execution; what’s not to like!

The company recently celebrated its 3-year anniversary with a lovely cake. Happy birthday team! Can’t wait to celebrate the future of Workable and supporting the team along their journey to building a big and valuable company.

workable bday cake

Posted by Chrys Chrysanthou, Principal at Notion Capital.

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