Can a smartphone messaging app replace the age-old CV in the service industry sector? That’s the premise driving European startup JobToday, which is targeting the fast flow of service and blue collar workers with a mobile app that aims to speed up and simplify the hiring process.
It’s today announcing a $10 million Series A round, led by Accel, along with participation from Felix Capital and existing investor Mangrove Capital Partners.
As well as aiming to make it easier for small business owners to find candidates for jobs, the app aims to simplify the search and application process for service industry and blue collar workers, via a low friction, location-based mobile interface. It pledges candidates will receive a response to a job application made via its platform within 24 hours.
Here’s how it works: employers and workers create a basic profile on the app, listing a few key details — such as language skills/requirements, availability/start date and last previous work experience. Everything else is done via a mobile messaging interface, so job candidates and employers who like what they see from the core profiles/job ads can connect via chat to resolve any specific questions prior to a possible interview.
“From my experience in retail and what we have seen talking to other business owners, a regular business owner in retail industry, we don’t really need a full CV,” says Polina Montano, co-founder and COO, who prior to starting JobToday a year ago was managing a chain of petrol stations and dealing with what she describes as “the pain of hiring in the service area” on a day to day basis. “You need a few key elements which are relevant to certain positions — like you would like to know the last work experience, you would like to know if this person is available. These are the key elements for them.”
Montano argues the big, desktop web-era recruitment giants and job boards are ill-suited to the segment it is targeting — not least because a majority of hiring by small businesses still takes place offline, with paper CVs — hence her ambition of building “the LinkedIn for blue collar jobs”.
“As a SME you are constantly faced with the challenge of hiring people in short term,” says Montano, arguing that the convenience and speed of a mobile app and mobile messaging is a perfect fit for the time-strapped small business owners her startup is targeting.
“A lot of pre-screening before the interviews happens via chat. So let’s say if an employer gets an application he would normally come back to the job seeker asking him relevant questions about the position.”
Employers shortlist potential candidates within the app, with those not being shortlisted at least being notified that their application did not succeed within a day — a step up on waiting but never hearing back after handing in a paper CV. “For people who work in service industry having a job is not a luxury. It’s a must have… These people can’t wait. They need to hear today.”
“We are connecting people instantly via chat on our platform,” she adds. “People connect, ask questions, people are connecting to jobs ultimately. This is what we are here for. We created this company to help people at the moment they are challenged and lost in the current job market. It’s not so easy today to look for a job… It’s a daunting task, especially let’s say for the lower skilled segment of the population. We just felt that these people need a helping hand to help them find their very best employment.
Key industry sectors it’s targeting include retail, hospitality, delivery drivers/logistics, and the beauty industry, says Montano.
The app launched in Spain back in April last year and is now nationwide in every “big city” in the country, as well as now also just launched in London and Paris. Some of the new funding will go towards working on understanding and serving the specific market needs of the new cities. “What we need to do is we need to strengthen our positions in existing markets and certainly look for new markets and new opportunities within 2016,” she notes.
At this point JobToday has some 20,000 employers signed up — including the likes of Ann Summers, Deliveroo, Reiss and YouMeSushi — and estimates it’s managed to fill 10,000 jobs since launch eight months ago. (Although it is not explicitly tracking when a person has been hired via its platform so this is based on analyzing user behavior within the app, says Montano).
It’s not breaking out user numbers at this point — but will say it has processed two million job applications since launch.
Business model wise, it’s not currently charging employers to list jobs on the platform. The focus is on scaling its jobs marketplace and attracting candidates, as you’d expect. But Montano argues the SME segment it targets is used to paying for job-board style services so in the future sees a “straightforward” route to monetization (assuming it can get the scale).
She also asserts there are no direct rivals to JobToday — claiming it’s the first mobile recruitment platform targeting the service industry. “It’s a mass market and so far it doesn’t have an adequate mobile hiring solution for the sector,” she argues.
That said, there is already one rather similar looking app, CornerJob, out in the wild — albeit currently focused on the Italian market. So JobToday is likely going to need to scale fast to outrun a little copy-paste competition.
And — rather more pressingly — what’s to stop an existing mobile messaging platform like WhatsApp becoming the de facto conduit for blue collar businesses and job candidates to connect? Not a whole lot it would seem. Earlier this month the messaging giant, which is fast approaching a staggering one billion monthly active users, revealed it is dropping its annual $1 subscription fee and testing more commercial services — including a B2C business for companies to communicate with their customers…
So what is to stop WhatsApp eating JobToday’s lunch down the line?
“Just the convenience and the ease of working with resumes which are coming in. We really thought it through,” says Montano. “I was working in this industry for many, many years and I experienced this pain of hiring workers first hand for my own businesses. And I know what a small business owner is looking for. We understand the value, we understand what exact pain-points mobile interface replaces. And really optimize our interface for the comfort and ease of use.”