Startups

Led by former Convoy exec, new Seattle recruiting startup Candidate lands $1M to rethink referrals

Candidate employees, clockwise from top left: Chris Kohout, Ryan Agresta, Abby Woodard, Stephanie Bai, Matt Rubright, and Emma Turin.

A new Seattle startup is gaining traction and investor attention for its business idea that rethinks the job candidate referral process.

Led by former Convoy exec, new Seattle recruiting startup Candidate lands $1M to rethink referrals
Candidate CEO Ryan Agresta. (Candidate Photo)

Candidate is helping early-stage startups across the country fill positions with a unique model that extends employee referrals beyond a company’s internal network.

Employers post jobs on the Candidate platform. Vetted referrers submit qualified people from their professional and personal networks. If their contact is hired, companies pay Candidate, which gives around 80% of the fee to the referrer — anywhere between $2,400 and $4,000. Candidate keeps the rest as its revenue.

Ascend, Maveron, BAM Ventures, Voyager Capital, Vulcan Capital, and angel investors participated in a $1 million seed round for Candidate earlier this year.

The company is led by CEO Ryan Agresta, who previously managed operations for Seattle logistics startup Convoy and also spent time at Uber and Amazon.

“Employee referrals are the No. 1 source of the best hires,” Agresta said. “But existing referral programs only incentivize a company’s own employees to source talent — ensuring that any existing homogeneity is amplified, and severely limiting geographic and social reach. Job boards have emerged as the solution to extend company reach, but have resulted in a numbers-driven resume submission game which buries recruiters in irrelevant candidates and frustrates talent with expired listings and lack of response.”

Led by former Convoy exec, new Seattle recruiting startup Candidate lands $1M to rethink referrals
A mockup of an example job post on Candidate.

Candidate is taking on thousands of other traditional recruiting agencies. Agresta said their “placement fee” pricing model has not changed even with the increase in tech salaries over the past decade.

“Rather than review hundreds of resumes and conduct dozens of screens, employers can use Candidate to get a small handful of screened and vetted referrals,” he added. “This results in time savings for employers and higher quality at a fraction of the cost of other direct placement services.”

Candidate has four other employees, including founding engineer Chris Kohout; marketplace lead Stephanie Bai; business development lead Matt Rubright; operations lead Emma Turin; and recruiting lead Abby Woodard.


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