500 Startups is ramping up its next group of companies to go through its early-stage startup program. Announced on August 8, there are 36 startups in the current class. There have been eight employment-related companies go through the program in the past, including Blueboard, Resource, WorkGenius, Faception, Cooleaf, 1Huddle, Looksharp (acquired by WayUp), Wepow and Alongside.
Perhaps further proof that HR tech is a hot investment, four of the new companies in 500 Startups’ incoming class are workforce in nature. Let’s meet them.
- VCV — An AI-powered recruiting bot promising to help companies hire more intelligently and more efficiently by autonomously searching resumes, conducting automated phone screens with voice recognition, and recording video interviews. The company says it can reduce typical recruiting time from 21 hours to 45 minutes. VCV says most of its customers use the service to recruit interns, sales professionals, and retail staff.
- Next Play — Hopes to appeal to the growing number of millennials in the workforce by powering personalized employee mentorship. The company says 71 percent of millennials feel disengaged at their jobs, and 77 percent of Fortune 500 companies with mentoring programs improved employee retention and overall job performance. The answer? Nextplay lets young workers connect with mentors within a company through a mobile application. This helps scale the process of mentoring young workers more efficient and is supported by analytics.
- Labor Voices — Loosely employment related, this startup helps protect big apparel brands by empowering labor in developing countries to police work conditions. With a cell phone, workers can report violations such as poor working conditions and unacceptable salaries. Think of it as Glassdoor for the supply chain.
- Core Labs — Core works by helping workers use their existing connections and turning them into a “highly active micro-network of trusted confidants, collaborators, and supporters.” The problem with LinkedIn is that it’s too big, says the company. Micro-networks are the way to go instead. The service aims to make launching a new venture, learning a new skill, working toward a promotion, or closing a sales deal more efficient and effective.
Just about every workplace trend is represented here: AI, automation, millennials, mobile, and networking. Of these, VCV has the potential to make the biggest dent in the recruiting universe. It’s not alone, of course. with competitors like Brilent, HiringSolved, Mya, and others, VCV has a tough road ahead. (Changing their name wouldn’t hurt either, as it conjures images of an antiquated VCR for me, but that’s beside the point.) However, getting the backing of 500 Startups is a good omen.
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In contrast to VCV, the others take a more human approach to business, which I think is refreshing. As more and more data comes to light revealing the negatives of technology, remembering that workplace success has a lot to do with human beings simply connecting with each other seems like a sound business model.