HiPeople picks up $3M seed to automate reference checks


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HiPeople, a HR tech startup based in Berlin that wants to automate the reference checking process, has raised $3 million in seed funding.

Leading the round is Mattias Ljungman’s Moonfire, with participation from Capnamic Ventures, and Cherry Ventures. It follows a $1.1 million pre-seed in late 2019. Notably, the seed round was closed fully remote, without any in-person meetings. “Just like the hiring processes of HiPeople’s clients,” founders Jakob Gillmann and Sebastian Schüller told me in an email.

HiPeople says the investment will be used to support growth so that more recruiters can hire remotely using automated reference checks. Longer term, the company is developing a candidate analytics platform to provide rich data and insights on each candidate and enable what it frames as “data-driven” hiring.

“Abstractly-speaking HiPeople is in the talent insights business,” say Gillmann and Schüller. “It’s mission is to enable better hiring by automatically collecting and analyzing talent data, and providing rich insights. HiPeople currently solves this by automating candidate reference checks from request, to collection, and analysis. This allows companies to extend the information they have on a candidate without additional manual work”.

The idea behind the software-as-a-service is that HiPeople’s approach creates a seamless user experience for the recruiter, and “verified, in-depth reference checks they can trust”. As a result, the startup claims that its users on average collect 2x the amount of references on a candidate, in 50% of the time. “Traditionally, reference checks are underutilized due to the highly manual process, and often only exclusively used for executive hiring. HiPeople dusts off reference checks, and enables rich talent insights by rethinking how they are done,” says HiPeople’s founders.

HiPeople’s customers span fast growing startups to tech scale-ups and more established upper mid-market companies. For example, process mining company Celonis, which doubled its workforce in the last 12 months to 1,200 employees globally, uses HiPeople to improve hiring quality for roles in San Francisco, Munich and Tokyo. “By programmatically conducting reference checks the company hires talent based on verified insights on topics like areas of improvement, skills, teamwork style, or work values,” explains HiPeople.

Adds Moonfire’s Mattias Ljungman: “Workflow automation of repetitive processes, and insights on the candidate that go beyond the limitations of the CV, are a clear pain for anybody in recruiting. The Covid-influenced reality of remote work, hence remote hiring practices, has increased the complexity of finding the right talent. HiPeople created a way to enable anybody who is hiring to make better decisions, whilst improving processes and increasing hiring velocity”.

Gillmann and Schüller tell me that in Europe, HiPeople mainly competes with the existing infrastructure and processes recruiters use to manually conduct references checks. In the U.S., companies like Xref or Crosschq are more direct competitors in terms of automating reference checks.


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