These former engineers from Dropbox and Facebook just got $9 million to help companies recruit better candidates

GemGem co-founders Nick Bushak, CTO, and Steve Bartel, CEO
  • On Tuesday, Gem announced it raised $US9 million in series A funding led by Accel, launched a new product and rebranded its company — previously known as ZenSourcer.
  • Cofounders Steve Bartel, CEO, and Nick Bushak, CTO, started Gem after realising they faced similar problems in recruiting and building relationships with candidates their respective companies, Dropbox and Facebook, wanted to hire.
  • While LinkedIn is a site for possible candidates and Workday is a site for employees who have already been hired, Gem sees itself as a software for the process in between — building relationships and keeping in touch with possible new hires.

When Steve Bartel worked as an engineer at Dropbox, the company was looking to hire and expand as fast as it could. But there wasn’t an effective way to keep track of candidates except with spreadsheets, where engineers would list the best candidates they wanted to keep in touch with and call them “gems.”

With this idea in mind, Bartel decided to start a business to help companies build relationships with talent. On Tuesday, his company announced it has raised $US9 million in a series A round led by Accel, launch a new candidate relationship management platform, and rebrand its company to Gem.

Previously, Gem was known as ZenSourcer and focused on candidate sourcing.

“We hope with our name brand, we hope to start getting people to think of us as more than a sourcing product,” Bartel, Gem’s co-founder and CEO, told Business Insider. “The idea that we can expand our product to help companies build relationships with people over time is something we want to move towards.”

Gem co-founder and CTO Nick Bushak says that while LinkedIn is useful as a public database of possible candidates, and there’s Workday for employees once they’re hired, but there’s no software in between those two processes that’s specifically designed to keep in touch with and build relationships with candidates over time.

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“LinkedIn is really good at finding an initial set of people to hire,” Bushak told Business Insider. “Once you know the people you want to hire, companies should want to build relationships with those people over time. That’s where we come in.”

How the company started

Bartel said that at Dropbox, he felt that he spent half of his time recruiting. Meanwhile, Bushak, who Bartel met at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, faced the same problems at Facebook. From then on, they spent nights and weekends brainstorming ideas and working to get them off the ground.

“I experienced a lot of these problems firsthand,” Bartel said. “When me and Nick got our heads together and realised Facebook is building such a big team and we dealt with very similar problems, it just seemed like a no-brainer to try to bring that solution to the rest of the world.”

Bushak says that Facebook did have internal recruiting software, but it was only because it had the resources to do so. However, not every company can dedicate a team just to build recruiting software.

Attracting hires and investors

Gem already has about 100 paying customers, including Dropbox, Pinterest, and Slack. It’s using its own software to recruit candidates too, and it’s already started building a team of hires from companies like Dropbox, Uber and Facebook. Investors took note of how fast it’s moved.

“Recruiting is in our DNA. We use our own product,” Bartel said. “Beyond that, all our hires were relationship driven. For a lot of them it was keeping in touch and building that relationship over time.”

Since the company started, Bartel and Bushak say it’s been smooth sailing.

“When we were thinking of starting the company, we were ready to hit a tough endeavour,” Bushak said. “We’re so fortunate in that we hit on something that’s a real issue. We’re always mentally prepared for that possibility and so far things are going better than we heard startups are like.”

But if their startup faces challenges in the future, they’re ready.

“We’re buckled up and ready for some hardship down the road,” Bartel said.

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