While building his successful technology consulting firm, Rob Patten experienced the pains of hiring in a tight technology market. In the early 2000’s, his hometown of Atlanta was gaining more notoriety for technology companies, and he found the hiring market stretched thin.
“Recruiting is tough in any company, but in a consulting company, where your product is your people, it was really, really difficult,” Patten tells Hypepotamus.
What’s more, he found that the very best developers were “passive candidates,” meaning that, though they would be open to a better opportunity, they were also fairly content with their current situation.
In 2012, Patten sold the firm, Northridge Systems, to public company Perficient for $14.4 million. In the interim, he went back to that recruiting problem and took a hard look at what was already on the market.
The biggest players are the recruiting agencies, which charge a high retainer fee, and online job boards like ZipRecruiter and Indeed. But those are tedious to sort through, and again, passive candidates aren’t taking the time to look.
“There’s no good platform to give passive candidates a way to be on the market in perpetuity, to wait for that one right opportunity,” Patten says.
The recruiting platform is sort of a LinkedIn meets Indeed for technical talent and tech companies. It launched its beta this past January and already has around 50 companies using it.
To power further scale, Patten has closed on $650K in pre-seed funding led by Atlanta-area investor Jon Hallett, a previous backer of Patten’s Northridge Systems.
Nexza is entirely free for both employers and candidates to create and host their profile. On the company side, the employer enters their description and company-wide benefits. Then, each individual team — software development, QA, product managers, etc. — can create their own profile specifying their tech stack, individual details and more.
On the candidate side, the individual inputs education, citizenship status, tech and non-tech skills, LinkedIn, Github or personal website. They also clarify what they might be looking for: preferred geography (or remote work), whether they’d like to work from home at all, their ideal company size and role.
All in, the profile gets far more detailed than a LinkedIn while only taking a few minutes to complete.
Nexza scans it all and automatically matches the individual with employers and teams that look like they’d be a fit for his or her needs. It does the same on the company side, though personal details are hidden from the potential employer.
Candidates can reach out to employers they’re interested in and vice versa. A dual opt-in is necessary for the actual connection to be made.
For candidates, the entire process costs nothing. Employers only pay for “connection credits” once they want to be connected to a specific candidate.
Nexza is also not a job board — companies and teams don’t even have a place to post specific roles on the site.
Patten explains that they created this model to very intentionally avoid becoming a “tech-enabled recruiting agency,” like some of their technical recruiting competitors.
“The reason we think that’s going to be important is that ultimately, in the long-term and at scale, the winner is going to be the platform that has the most companies. You want to put up this profile and let the best teams in the country come at you,” he says.
“Candidates really need an Amazon, where you can go and shop everything and pick what you want, not a specialty store that only has a corner of the market.”
Patten points out that the removal of personal identifying information upfront also removes any inherent or perceived bias in the hiring process.
“By ensuring candidate anonymity, we eliminate multiple forms of prejudice and we attract passive candidates that are notoriously difficult to engage.”
For the rest of this year, Patten and team will continue to onboard employers onto the platform. They’re conducting a number of digital marketing outreach campaigns to bring in candidates.
They plan to start bringing in revenue later this year.
“The nice thing about our model is that we can expand to similar geographies with a nearly identical playbook,” says Patten. “When we achieve meaningful platform adoption here in our home city, we will begin to rapidly scale across the U.S. and ultimately across the globe.”