Ask Erik Ayers, and he’ll tell you that the employer branding space is hot right now.
And he might be onto something. A 2017 Universum report shows that 69 percent of the world’s most attractive employers plan to invest in social media for employment branding. Meanwhile, Indeed reported in 2014 that 83 percent of job seekers are looking for employer reviews when applying and interviewing with a company.
That’s why Ayers started GoodSeeker in 2014, and on Tuesday, the company announced it had closed $1.3 million in seed funding led by Capterra founder Michael Ortner.
Based in McLean, Va., GoodSeeker provides a platform that makes it simpler for content marketers to craft the so-called “good” stories from an employee’s day-to-day work. Employees can use a story generator to easily craft their own testimonials, and approved stories can be added to a company’s public GoodSeeker profile where it can be commented on and shared on social media channels.
“It dawned on me that all of these little stories happen within the four walls of workplaces,” Ayers said. “If you can capture them and connect them to the people, you can help people feel really good about their job at the same time. So HR and marketing could merge together to shine a light on the good things.”
The new seed funding will be used to grow the product further and hire employees for the product marketing and customer success teams — all while the startup works to bring on more paid pilot programs and recruit users for what Ayers’ calls the “early adopter community,” or early-stage users who will become the company’s core base.
See, it was back in 2014 when Ayers found himself with the idea for GoodSeeker. He had been in and out of various marketing roles around the D.C. metro area at companies like PricewaterhouseCoopers and MorganFranklin Consulting, and he started noticing the rise of content marketing at its beginning. Ayers did some research and thought a bit more about what his startup would look like.
In late 2015, GoodSeeker started growing at full-force.
“Employers are now starting to hire people in jobs like employer brand,” Ayers said. “This has all come about in the last 24 months, in terms of people’s understanding of the need.”
The business is now targeting professional services companies as clientele. Adding Ortner as an investor and advisor will only help them with that goal, Ayers said.
Ortner founded Arlington, Va.-based Capterra in November 1999, and the company became one of the top online marketplace and review sites for business software. In 2015, Gartner acquired the company, and Ortner stepped down from his role as CEO in September 2017.
“It was really a nice match,” Ayers said. “I’m happy to have him on board, and certainly with his background as somebody who led the early days of the review economy.”
Ayers and Ortner had met a few decades ago during the early days of Capterra, but they soon went their different ways, until last year when they ran into each other at a soccer game. Ortner’s kid was the soccer coach for Ayer’s son’s soccer team. And at the time, Ortner was looking for something new as he phased out his role at Capterra.
It was a stroke of luck for Ayer. Trying to raise capital, build a tech product and run a business — all while being a parent — is tough work. Often times, Ayers found it difficult make the time to reach out and chat with potential new investors. Ortner ended up being just his fourth investor pitch, and it stuck.
“I certainly don’t want to give the impression that fundraising is easy. Knowing what resources exist and where to start was hard, and that’s from a guy who has been in this market for some time,” Ayers said in an email following our interview. “Fortunately I meet Mike early on in my fundraising efforts. He saw the potential right away.”
So far, Ayers has worked with a range of contractors and has two full-time employees. In the next few months, GoodSeeker is hoping to change that.
“I think we’ll be at this for many years,” Ayers said.”I wouldn’t say our plan is to do X, Y and Z. I want to build a great business, recruit great people and give them the opportunity to change the world of work.”