Quite a lot has changed in the past year for Drafted, the Boston-based job referral startup founded by Kayak vet Vinayak Ranade. Two of the biggest changes? It doesn’t have an app anymore and cash rewards are no longer required for successful job referrals, which were part of the startup’s original appeal.
But for whatever challenges Drafted may have had with its first incarnation, it has found a promising way forward with a big, new investor: Slack, the workplace communications giant that has become one of Drafted’s key platforms for future growth.
Drafted announced on Tuesday that the Slack Fund invested in its new $1.7 million financing round, which also included Lightspeed Venture Partners and other existing investors. The round, which brings total funding to roughly $4 million, will be used to accelerate the company’s go-to-market strategy and work with new integration partners like Slack and Greenhouse.
In an interview with BostInno, Ranade said Slack’s investment comes after Drafted launched a chatbot for the workplace communications platform back in March. Available on Slack’s App Directory, Drafted’s bot helps companies automate the internal job referral process. It does this by scanning the professional network of each employee through integrations with Google and LinkedIn and then matching up an employees connections with job openings. By using machine learning, the bot then makes job referral recommendations to employees, who can then make one-click referrals and supply additional context for hiring managers.
While the Slack bot is focused on internal referrals, Ranade said Drafted external job referrals are still a big part of what the startup provides. With a mobile-optimized website, Drafted gives job seekers an easy way to request introductions to companies posting jobs through connections on LinkedIn. The site also lets people refer friends to job openings, which could lead to rewards of various kinds, including cash, if someone ends up getting hired.
One of Drafted’s original appeals was a mobile app that gave people an easy way to make job referrals, but at the end of last year, the company announced it was pausing mobile development. Ranade said Drafted moved away from a mobile app to a mobile-optimized web experience for a few reasons. For one, hiring managers didn’t want a backend system they could only use on a mobile device. Moving to a web-based interface also made it more flexible for new features and integrations.
“It turns out our main customers are enterprise and are used to web-based software,” Ranade said.
Another part of Drafted’s early appeal were the potentially large cash payouts people could win from companies if they made job referrals that resulted in successful hires. Large dollar figures used to feature prominently next to jobs listed on Drafted, but that’s no longer the case. Ranade said companies can still offer cash rewards for successful job referrals, but it didn’t make sense to make it a requirement for companies that don’t hand out money as part of their recruitment strategy. So Drafted made its rewards system optional and more flexible, so companies could offer other kinds of rewards.
ReferralMob, another Boston startup that provides a job referral service, still offers cash rewards as one of its main appeals. Ranade, however, said it’s no longer a priority for Drafted, though it is important for companies to have a reward strategy.
“We can’t come in and mandate how everyone does referral rewards,” Ranade said.