Q: Hello Ilonka, thank you for taking the time to answer some of our questions.
Kindly state the name of your company and whether you are a VC/ Private Equity / Angel.
A: Randstad Innovation Fund, the corporate venture fund of Randstad
Q: Do you have any HRtech companies in your portfolio and if so, which ones.
A: Brazen, Checkster, Coffreo, Cornerjob, Crunchr, Gigwalk, gr8people, Hackerrank, Pymetrics, Rolepoint, Vonq, Wade & Wendy
Q: Which is your favorite technology to invest in today and why – Advanced AI sourcing tools, Recruiting tech, Screening, HRIS, talent managing, tech to support contingent workforce or others?
A: We don’t have a favorite technology. We look at all the spaces you mentioned. The supply and demand in the labor market is changing rapidly. For me, the most important pain to solve, with aid of technology, is how can the matching can improve and be more efficient, match skills & drive with the career opportunity. How can we make applicant and customer journeys a great experience and not only use the data for our own insights but give relevant data back to the stakeholders involved.
Q: We see more and more HRtech applications developed for small and middle market companies – Is this a trend you feel is catching on and if so why?
A: This is not a trend specific to the HRtech industry, it is very prevalent in any industry. Technology is being adopted by the SME’s and because it is such a large part of our economy it is a very interesting market but not an easy market to conquer. You need to get the product-market fit right and also make sure your customer acquisition cost allow to build a sustainable business.
Q: HR professionals are frustrated with HRTech founders for not consulting with them early in the process and listen to their pains. Startup founders don’t do so as they are concerned with exposing their ideas too early in the process. What is your experience with startups that you are familiar with and what is the best way to go about it, in your opinion?
A: I do not recognize this frustration. HRTech founders should get input from potential customers anyway from the start. You should not be building something because it is a great idea. You should be building something because because there is a need in the market. Best is to get constant input as early as possible from potential customers. My advice would be pilot in a contained environment with teams who are agile and understand that the product is in development and are open to learn jointly.
Q: It seems many investors are concerned about investing in HRTech, can you explain why in your opinion this concern exists? We witnessed the LinkedIn acquisition by Microsoft, MYA’s latest $11.4M round, Woo’s $7M. Would you consider this as a renewed interest in HRTech?
A: Last year indeed less capital was invested in HR tech than in 2016. However it is still a considerable amount. We estimate circa 1.2 B. We expect a consolidation to happen in the coming few years and anticipate more M&A activity.
Q: We welcome your opinion on any other HRTech issue you think requires more attention from all sides – HRs, Founders & investors.
A: The fact that companies or individuals do not want to deal with tools. They want to have a seamless experience. This means that you need to be able to integrate with main systems. No matter how great your tool is, you need to fit into the process flow/ecosystem, especially if it concerns large companies and demonstrate a clear ROI on your solution.