Startup Forum Gives Boost To New Businesses

Oct 23, 2008
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

Next week, four company founders will take the platform at ERE’s second Startup Forum to tell the world about their better mousetrap. They’ll follow in the footsteps of four other startups that introduced themselves at the Spring Expo in San Diego, and who, today, are just emerging from beta or, in one case, not yet there, or about to launch a new version, but in every case still still here and hopeful.

At ERE’s Fall Expo in Hollywood Beach, Florida, recruiters will meet the newest businesses to launch. Two of the founders will talk about how their respective companies are harnessing the power of video to help recruiters make better hiring choices and save the environment while also saving the hiring company a few dollars.

Greg Rokos, founder of and its affiliate,, and Darryn Severyn, founder and CEO of Interactive Applicant, will try to convince recruiters that video resumes and video interviews are effective ways to screen candidates without the cost or carbon expenditure of bringing them onsite. is where candidates post a video and standard resume, the latter searchable by the usual means. Then, instead of bringing in a candidate for a first meeting, they can be interviewed online.

Interactive Applicant takes a little different tack, pre-screening applicants via an automated series of questions that candidates can be required to answer via video, audio, text, or any combination. Then the recruiter can review the candidate’s presentation skills before bringing them in.

SnapTalent’s CEO and founder Sumon Sadhu will describe how his company’s online advertising service helps recruiters and hiring managers source better candidates. It’s similar to a keyword marketing campaign but places targeted ads on content sites, rather than on search results pages.

Jeff Stewart, Urgent Career‘s serial entrepreneur founder, will show how linguistic technology can be used to match sales candidates to jobs. That’s different than voice analysis, though there are some similarities. Just how it works and how effective it really is are questions that Stewart will be answering next week.

If the Spring show is any guide, these founders will get questions as tough — maybe tougher, since the audience knows recruiting — as any venture capitalist will ask. Hardly a shy bunch, the Spring ERE audience point-blank asked that crop of company founders and executives how they intended to make money and why an employer should do business with them.

Ben Yoskovitz, founder of Standout Jobs and one of the presenters at the first Startup Forum, told us that since the show he’s learned more about the HR industry than he thought possible. “The panel was a good place for us to start getting feedback, ” he told us recently.

His company provides easy-to-use software for smaller companies to build their own career sites.

Since the spring, Standout Jobs has grown to over 200 customers. While still a free service, that will soon change. An upgrade to the service is also planned. And, Yoskovitz says, now that the intensive testing and learning period is mostly behind the company, promotion of Standout Jobs is the next major effort.

Path 101, a content-intensive community networking site, is still in alpha, which, though growing in depth, is about where it was last Spring. But then, it’s an ambitious effort, which founder Charlie O’Donnell, at the forum, described as a site for job-seekers to research their career options before they apply for jobs. The site itself says it is a place where “Job candidates can figure out what “people like me” are doing with their careers and the site aims to be the first stop for career research.”

At Jobscore, CEO and founder Dan Arkind told us that the last six months have been a learning and testing period. “Not much to report,” he said at first. After a little prodding he said the resume-sharing site has been making inroads into the smaller employers the company is targeting. Especially those in the San Francisco Bay Area, where Jobscore is headquartered.

The company was developed to help smaller businesses source better candidates by sharing resumes and easily post jobs to one or multiple sites. Companies can choose to pay to gain access to the resumes or earn free access by sharing resumes. So far, Arkind said, 96 percent of the customers share.

He has intentionally kept Jobscore low-key. Soon, he said, it will be making a bigger splash. When? “When it’s ready,” Arkind said.

Finally, there’s VisualCV, a site where jobseekers build an online presentation of their experience, background, skills, and more using text, multimedia, and even work samples. It’s an adjunct to the standard resume, not a replacement, at least not yet. Though COO Doug Meadows told us, “What we want to do everyday is wake up and replace the resume.”

We didn’t get to talk to our presenter co-founder Clint Heiden, but Meadows said the company has been “going gangbusters.” VisualCV has been the most visible of all our startups. Cheezhead, alone, has featured the company no less than four times since the Startup Forum in early April. It has a new CEO.  It’s also added new features, most recently a VisualCV Marketplace.

There are now 800 companies signed up with VisualCV, meaning they accepting the VisualCV and have their own posted on the site. Participation in the program is still free; the company is generating revenue from private labelling VisualCV to business groups, associations, alumni organizations and others. The China Business Network uses it to help its thousands of members better connect. Search firm Heidrick and Struggles uses it for its elite group of candidates. A few firms are also using the site to search for candidates, Meadows said, paying a findersfee when a VisualCV member is hired.

What will the next six months bring for these startups and for the four new companies presenting next week? That’s an even tougher question today than it was last Spring because of the economic conditions in the U.S. and around the world. We don’t know how they will adjust, but you can be sure that’s a question our latest crop of presenters will be asked.

This article is part of a series called News & Trends.
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