One week ago, San Francisco, CA-based SmartRecruiters said it had raised $5m in a Series A funding round (read here). The company, which provides a free social recruiting platform, was founded by CEO and Board Member Jerome Ternynck, a recruiting expert and pioneer of the recruiting software industry. A Frenchman who never worked in France, Jerome ran international recruiting companies Accord Group ECE and Talent Technology, before founding e-recruitment pioneer MrTed, which was acquired by Stepstone Solutions in 2010. Jerome joined as and answered some questions about the company, the funding, future plans, etc.
FinSMEs: Hello Jerome, thank you for joining us. First, tell us a bit more about SmartRecruiters. How did you come up with the idea of creating it?
Jerome: I have been in recruiting for 20 years. Pioneered Recruiting Software as early as 1999. It really frustrates me to still see businesses struggling to recruit. The idea’s to level the playing field; the idea’s to bring a Social Recruiting SaaS that is cleaner, more intuitive, and more social (when compared with enterprise software) to every business in America for free.
FinSMEs: What is it? How does it work?
Jerome: SmartRecruiters is the free social recruiting platform. We partner with the best recruiting services from all over the web to put your job in front of the right audiences. All candidates come back to one place for easy candidate management. Ultimately: it is: Cast a wide net, Collaborate, Hire. We will not rest until hiring is made easy.
FinSMEs: Could you introduce us the other members of the SmartRecruiters team?
Jerome: As a former recruiter, you know I know hiring the best is my most important task. In the San Francisco Office, there is Dipti, our Queen of Intuitive UX, Nik, our Amicable Ruler of Service, and David, our Writer of Internet Enthusiasm. In Krakow Poland, my crack team of Software Developers is headed by Rafal, who I have worked with since my days at MrTed. Also in Krakow are Dominik, our no Bullshit Developer, Krzysiek, our guy for UI awesomeness, and Pawel, a developer who preaches, “physics and computers have found common ground”.
The company is currently hiring (http://www.smartrecruiters.com/static/about-us/careers/).
FinSMEs: Why did you start thinking about raising capital?
Jerome: It helps to have capital when working day and night to disrupt a $400 billion industry ASAP.
FinSMEs: Today, many tech companies try to raise venture capital and I know that this is not easy. What did you do to reach this target? Was it easy to close the deal?
Jerome: Actually, it is a good time to be an entrepreneur. Fundraising is not difficult if you have the right plan. Fundraising is not about convincing people, it’s about finding the other innovative believers. Upon moving to San Francisco, I networked and met about ten VCs. Eights weeks after introductions, I signed a term sheet.
FinSMEs: Who are the investors?
Jerome: Mayfield. They are great. Rajeev Batra, a Mayfield Partner, truly understands the evolution of SaaS. Immediately Mayfield understood how this industry needs a free platform, a marketplace of sorts, to bring transparency to the values that each recruiting service provides. Most of all, like us, they don’t do business to turn a profit, they do business to lead world industries.
FinSMEs: How are you using the capital?
Jerome: Product, product, product. As a Free product we don’t need to spend money hiring expensive sales people, we can focus energy (and funds) on making the product so awesome that it doesn’t need sales.
FinSMEs: Do you already plan to raise additional venture capital funding?
Jerome: Yes. The Series A is an interesting time. We have come out of seed with 10,000 signups, but there is still much learning and validating to be done with the business model before we raise Series B to scale the world.
FinSMEs: Given this experience, what would you say to other young or would-be entrepreneurs who are going through a similar process? Is venture capital the only solution?
Jerome: Venture Capital remains the best way to finance innovative start-ups. It’s not the only solution, but if VCs don’t see value in your proposition, you may want to rethink what your idea is. And besides the actual funds that are invested, venture capitalist truly bring to the table a wealth of expertise, and are instrumental in working with entrepreneurs to turn great ideas into global market leaders.
FinSMEs: Could you give them some quick advices on how to approach potential investors?
Jerome: The Art of creating a business is increasingly a Science. Focus on data and iterate your way to success. Venture Capitalists, more than anybody else, know that the proof is in the pudding. As they say: In God We Trust, All Others Bring Data.