Distill Raises $1.3M To Make Technical Recruiting, Hiring Dead Simple


With recruiters viciously competing for the best talent in the Valley, startups end up with plenty of paperwork and files to contend with.

A San Francisco-based startup called Distill is looking to make recruiting dead simple and just picked up $1.3 million in funding in a round with Felicis Ventures, China’s Innovation Works and DN Capital.

“Hiring and recruiting is painful wherever you go. It doesn’t matter what stage you’re at,” Chen said. “We want to bring a level of analytical rigor and data analysis to the hiring process.”

The company has built a video interviewing and scheduling service that makes it easy to vet candidates and their problem solving abilities side-by-side. The startup’s two founders Deng-Kai Chen and Ken MacInnis built up technical teams at companies like Tapjoy and StumbleUpon after working at Google and Yahoo. They became familiar with the frustrations of hiring and scheduling interviews.

Distill’s product takes the basic features of a video chat service like Skype, and puts them alongside a text editor and file upload space so that an interviewer can walk a candidate through a collaborative coding session. There is also a co-browsing experience in case an interviewer, for example, wants a design candidate to walk them through an interface or their portfolio. While they’re naturally starting out on the familiar turf of technical recruiting, Distill aims to serve a market that’s much broader than the world of startups and large tech companies.

“People do ask about why they should use this over Skype and Google Hangouts,” Chen said. “But there’s a lot of friction. You have to get the candidate’s Skype name, then pass all of that information onto interviewers. We’d rather have video become secondary and focus on the collaborative part of an interview.”

Distill also compiles all the relevant data and interview output in one place, so recruiters and managers don’t have to go scavenging for it in multiple places. The way they handle IDs and connecting candidates with companies also prevents the awkwardness of staying linked to a candidate on Skype even if they didn’t get the job or took a competing offer.


Distill’s whole experience is browser-based, so clients don’t have to download any software or plug-ins. Interviewers send candidates a simple link to start an interview.

An extra scheduling tool also makes it easy to sync up people for meetings. But this tool is not just about finding holes in people’s schedules — Distill tries to match interviewer and candidate skill sets. Each interviewer can be tagged with skill sets they have, like programming languages they are adept in.

“There are recruiting coordinators at bigger tech companies and their job is literally to schedule all day long — on-site interviews and recruiter meet-and-greets,” Chen said. “It could be more simplified.”


The company has been in private beta for the last few months with companies like ClearSlide, Disney, Box, ModCloth and FiveStars. Other startups interested in the private beta can sign up at www.distill.cc.