Why would you want to apply for a job via mobile? Because it could be filled by the time you get to your computer…if you even have one. That premise has scored Proven $1 million in new funding led by Andreessen Horowitz for its mobile job search and application app. While LinkedIn networks educated professionals, Proven wants to get everyone else a service, hospitality or office admin paycheck.
“In five years, it’s hard to imagine most job applications won’t happen through a smartphone or tablet” CEO Pablo Fuentes tells me. Proven has been trying to get out in front of that trend. It’s now raised a total of $3.8 million since it started as an SMS job application service in 2009 while Fuentes was at Stanford. To deliver that future, you need two things and Proven has them both: jobs to apply for and the resume you apply with.
Proven’s free iOS and Android apps are on track to have 150,000 active users this month. Fuentes say “our biggest verticals are service jobs, hospitality, healthcare, and administrative / office jobs — people who have a computer at home but don’t use it that often, where their mobile device is their main device.” With shorter employment lengths, having resume and cover letter easily available and being able to apply to jobs from anywhere is important
The apps pull in job listings from Craigslist, SimplyHired, and Beyond.com. Users can browse featured openings; search; and filter by job type, location, and other factors. Once they’ve found one they like, Craigslist jobs can be applied for right from the app. The rest require applications from the desktop so Fuentes says users typically save or share the job to apply from home later, though that kind of defeats the purpose of a mobile app.
Proven shines when you apply to Craigslist jobs. You can import a resume and cover letter into the app from your email, Dropbox, or computer (by uploading it on a desktop to Proven). If you don’t haven’t created them already, you can build a reputable looking resume and cover letter within the Proven app. It gives you all the experience and education fields to fill in, plus you import contact info from your address book.
Annoyingly, Proven demands you share the app with five friends before you’re allowed to download or apply with your resume, though just one share to my own phone number unlocked my document. Then you can apply straight from mobile.
After you’ve got your assets squared away, it’s easy to blast your résumé to tons of jobs for spots as waiters, cashiers, office clerks, and more. These includes brand new job listings that could disappear soon. Fuentes tells me many Craigslist job classifieds get the bulk of their applications within the first day, so the ability to see recently listed jobs and apply on the spot is critical.
Fuentes says Proven has had consistent 30% month over month growth. That helped it attract the new million in funding, which comes from investors who support not only its business potential, but its mission to help the other half find employment. The investors include Andreessen Horowitz, Kapor Capital, Founder Collective, Greylock Partners, and other angels. All those firms plus 500 Startups and Morado Venture Partners were previous investors from Proven’s seed round. Fuentes tells me the new money will go towards “hiring a couple folks, expanding our platform to make it better, and improving our user interface.”
Right now the startup makes money from sending referral traffic to SimplyHired, but Fuentes say Proven has some new monetization products coming later this year. The startup’s large pool of applicants and data on who is looking for what kind of jobs where could very valuable. Fuentes wouldn’t give me any details, but when I suggested Proven might sell an advanced recruiting tool for hirers, or analytics about what job seekers our looking for, he gave a knowing smile and agreed those were big opportunities for his company.
Currently the startup competes with JobAware, which is more for upper class jobs, and ShiftGig, which focuses on its web interface. Of course, the elephant in the job interview waiting room is LinkedIn. Shouldn’t it be able to crush Proven? Well Fuentes says he’s talked to LinkedIn founder and former CEO Reid Hoffman and seen current CEO Jeff Weiner speak, and believes that the tech giant has its hands full with the professional market” and therefore isn’t worrying about the more working class, blue collar, less educated but still deserving market Proven serves.
[Correction: Originally this article said Fuentes had spoken to Weiner directly. That's incorrect. He told me he had spoken to Hoffman and seen Weiner speak, but I misheard him. The text above now reads accurately.]
Fuentes explains “what we’re doing may be in the cards for LinkedIn in the 5-10 years time range”, but not now. “Their goal is to connect the world’s professionals to the people around them — for whom getting a job isn’t an immediate problem. We’re for the forgotten crowd. The people who make America tick.”