Building recruitment pathways between students and employers to improve hiring outcomes Matthew Longley is the CEO and co-founder of Visable, a hiring platform that helps companies better target and recruit college students. Visable was one of six startups AccelerateBaltimore, an annual business accelerator program, selected for its 2015 class. The company launched shortly after the program ended last spring. Offering services for students and recruiters alike, Visible aims to disrupt the job fair model of student employment by improving speed, searchability, and level of interaction for people on either side of the hiring process. The platform allows students to create profiles, identify their unique skills and experiences, and access an otherwise unreachable network of employment opportunities. Click here for the Visable launch press release. EDWIN WARFIELD: How did you and Visable co-founder Charlie Sido first come up with the idea for the company? MATTHEW LONGLEY: Charlie and I—and also Ben [Schuster], our other co-founder—all went to [Johns] Hopkins together. Charlie and I uniquely spent about 40 hours a week running a speaker series there, and so we got to know each other very well. We stayed in touch as we went through our previous careers. This was an idea that we had really passed back and forth a good amount. Basically, from our experiences as students trying to get jobs, which we both found really frustrating because we were both liberal arts majors who wanted to do something interesting but didn’t exactly know what that was going to be, and knew it was not going to be banking, and then going through our experiences hiring for our employers—both Charlie and I have been on the other side of the Hopkins career fair, sitting behind the desk trying to find students who were going to work with us—this was something that really resonated with those experiences. And so, about 18 months ago—after a little due diligence period—we decided to take this full-time, and this is what we have been working on since. Could you describe what Visable provides? Essentially, with campus recruiting right now there is very little information, there is very little data driving decisions, and there is very little beyond happenstance that connects students with employers. If you happen to know someone who works somewhere, that’s great; if you happen to meet someone at the career fair that you can immediately judge each other as someone who would fit well together, that’s great; but for the most part, students are really confused about where the opportunities that they’re eligible for are, and employers have very little information on the people who they’re trying to recruit. Essentially, what we’re trying to do is inject more data and inject more analytics into that process. So, if you’re a recruiter and you’re looking for a specific type of student, instead of going to the eight schools that your company recruits from and spending time hoping that student passes by you, we’re trying to build out a platform where you can enter in the key information that you’re looking for in a hire and see, regardless of where they go to school, a list of the candidates that might be generally appropriate for that role, and then interact with them and see if they might actually be interested—start to do some early assessment before you invite someone on to interview at your office, which is probably the most expensive part of the recruiting process. What stage is the company at right now? We are currently wrapping up development of our first version. You know, we did a little beta in the spring where we had a lot of students go through and create profiles and give us some feedback on both the data fields and also the user experience. Our user experience we’re very happy about. In a couple of weeks we are going to have wrapped up our first version and we are going to be hitting campuses. Do you envision staying in Baltimore, or expanding nationally at this point? Campus recruiting is really local, and so we want to capture what’s going on right here in the Baltimore area. We’re focusing on most major Baltimore schools. We’re looking at University of Maryland, University of Maryland in Baltimore County, Towson, Loyola, Goucher—obviously Hopkins because we went there—and Morgan State. How have you been able to keep Visable growing? We scaled the business, we always say, by creating unique hiring opportunities. The best way that we can spread on the college campus is someone comes and sits down at the library and says, “I just got a message from a recruiter over this system.” Students are right now inundated with marketing messages and deals and people trying to get their attention, and it’s so easy to get people’s attention these days that everyone’s spaced out. We think that the best way we can grow on the campus is to become a trusted partner of a number of students, who then tell their friends about it, and then they tell their classmates about it. So, we’re really focused on getting the attention of a select group of students who will be influencers and who will take value from our product. What is your revenue model? We’re absolutely free to students and career centers. We view them as partners. Their currency is their time. Our revenue model consists of basically charging employers access to play in the market. We think that the average cost per hire for a college student is between $3,000 and $8,000, and we have a relatively low price point that we’ve gotten great feedback from employers on. We’re essentially looking to capture that part of the market.
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