Otta, one of the latest startups aiming to fix what it sees as a broken job search and recruitment market, has picked up £850,000 in seed funding. Backing the young London company is LocalGlobe, along with a number of U.K. angel investors and founders.
The latter includes Paul Forster (co-founder of Indeed), Shakil Khan (an early investor in Spotify and founder of Student.com), Matt Robinson (co-founder of Nested and GoCardless), Duncan Jennings (founder of VoucherCodes), and Carlos Gonzalez-Cadenas (COO at GoCardless).
Founded in June this year by former Nested employees Sam Franklin, Theo Margolius and Xav Kearney — all of whom are 25 years of age or under — Otta wants to make it easier to find suitable skilled jobs at fast-growing companies. The startup does this via an initial online quiz, followed by a UI that shows you one potentially suitable job at a time, with a matching algorithm claiming to get more personalised as you provide feedback.
“Job seekers are frustrated by the amount of noise from most job search experiences,” CEO Sam Franklin tells me. “LinkedIn returns 25,000 software engineering jobs in London. There is very limited opportunity to filter these results down to what you care about. Plus the recommendations are ordered by how much companies are paying, not by what results are truly best”.
He says that while working at Nested he would often see engineers receive 50 or more messages or emails per month from recruiters, and yet those engineers would never engage. Digging a little deeper, he was told that potential candidates felt they couldn’t rely on recruiters because they aren’t in your corner. “They only push you the roles where they have commercial agreements in place,” he observes.
That has seen Otta “handpick” over 300 of London’s most innovative companies, says Franklin. From well-known brands like Revolut and Spotify to emerging companies such as WhiteHat and Cuvva. “The curation of quality companies alone adds a lot of value to job seekers,” he says.
Otta surfaces information such as whether the company hiring has a visa sponsorship licence, the exact office location (not just London), recent funding and founder profiles.
“For individual jobs we label the tech-stack used and pull out the most important requirements,” explains Franklin. “Jobs are shown one-at-a-time (instead of in a list format) and this means we collect more feedback on what candidates like and dislike. This feedback and additional data is really helpful for us to deliver better recommendations. Similar to how Spotify makes recommendations based on what you listen to, we use machine learning to recommend you jobs based on which jobs you like and dislike. Recommendations improve as our collection of users spend more time on the platform”.
Since launching in August 2019, Otta says that “thousands” of job seekers using the platform have shortlisted over 20,000 roles, although the company is yet to attempt to monetise this engagement.
“We currently aren’t monetising the platform, despite being asked by plenty of companies to help them recruit for certain roles,” says Franklin. “We have committed to only making money in a way that improves the experience for candidates. So this means we won’t charge companies to post jobs, as we want candidates to see all the fantastic roles suited to them. We also won’t allow companies to pay to influence our search results, as we want to show candidates their best roles first”.
Instead, the plan is to charge companies to proactively engage with Otta’s “high-quality pool” of candidates. The idea is to try and add value to both sides of the marketplace, akin to a much more targeted LinkedIn Recruiter. “Companies will get to reach out to active candidates that are interested in their company, and candidates will get directly contacted by their favourite companies without being spammed by recruiters,” promises the Otta CEO.