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“We’re responding to an outdated ‘hope and pray’ recruitment model”, says iRecruit’s CEO

From let to right: iRecruit co-founders Todd Pierce and Aleksander Svetski

From let to right: iRecruit co-founders Todd Pierce and Aleksander Svetski

Fed up with the time and money they’d each wasted on a ‘trial and error’ approach to recruitment, serial entrepreneurs Aleksander Svetski and Todd Pierce partnered to develop an intelligent job-matching system that removes guesswork and uncertainty from the equation.  

Set to roll-out from November, iRecruit is a cloud-based, data-driven platform that uses cutting edge behavioural science and proprietary machine learning algorithms to instantly pair employers who are eager to fill a job vacancy with the ideal candidate.

“It’s like LinkedIn – but much more powerful,” said Aleksander, iRecruit’s 29-year-old CEO and co-founder. “We’ve identified the most influential behavioural models from the past 100 years and extracted and synthesised the best components from each. We’ve also gamified the requirements elicitation process to eliminate cognitive bias and engage platform users. No other job-matching platform in the world is quite as data-driven as iRecruit, nor do they emphasise behavioural profiling and cultural fit to the degree that we do.

“Unlike other platforms, we don’t deal in job ads, resumes and applications – and we don’t have a search function. Instead, a job seeker’s profile captures their personality, values and career desires – not just what they can do – and they’re matched to employers with corresponding preferences. Our smart user interface (UI) then helps job seekers and employers determine whether or not they want to connect. The percentage match is displayed, together with a blurb of each party and their key attributes, and the job seeker and employer can swipe to short list each other quickly. It’s a true dual buy-in. When the right candidate is matched with the right business, this leads to much higher retention, productivity and passion.”

Aleksander spoke to Dynamic Business about his career leading up to iRecruit, which is based out of Fortitude Valley, Brisbane; the origins of his business partnership with 26-year-old co-founder and director Todd, who also heads up Alpha Omega Performance, a professional training and coaching provider; and the plans for the iRecruit in the year ahead.

“I made a bunch, lost it all and found myself in hole”

In 2006, Aleksander, then aged 19, abandoned a bachelor’s Degree in Engineering to pursue his fortune on the stock market. Financed by his university scholarship fund, he ‘made a bunch and lost it all’ in quick succession, leading him to found Redline, a boutique sales company, to dig himself out of the hole he found himself in.

This venture proved successful – by the time Aleksander decided to transition away from the company, it was making around $20,000 a week. His subsequent business, Green Tiger Energy, was even more profitable. Prior to selling the renewable energy company to his business partner, Aleksander had grown it to over $250,000 in weekly revenue at a Gross Operating profit (OP) of 20%.

In the subsequent years, he spearheaded businesses across a range of other sectors including retail, technology, hospitality and franchising. Undeterred by his initial foray into the stock market, Aleksander even returned to trading, this time with greater success. Despite enjoying his fair share of ‘home runs’, Aleksander admitted to having made ‘some complete air swings’ throughout his career: “Along the way, I’ve learned A LOT about business, people, finance, leadership and much more.”

“I’d been put through the recruitment wringer”

Aleksander said the idea for iRecruit was born out of a pain point he shared with the company’s co-founder Todd: the ‘hope and pray’ recruitment model.

“I met Todd in 2014 when he walked into a hospitality venue I was then running,” he said. “What started off as a random conversation with a customer evolved into a discussion about how much of a pain in the butt hiring is. Todd, in his own business, had been attempting to hire salespeople for three different offices around Australia – and was frustrated by the experience. Meanwhile, I’d been through the wringer myself, having spent eight years hiring people for different roles in different businesses in different industries.

“We realised the prevailing approach to recruitment was tedious, wasteful, out-dated and – like traditional advertising – expensive and one-size-fits-all.  With the ‘hope and pray’ model, you can invest an incredible amount of time in a candidate who looks good on paper but who you later realise isn’t a good fit.

“This dilemma led Todd and I to co-found iRecruit in February, last year. Taking advantage of our combined experience in neurolinguistics, behavioural sciences and personality profiling, Todd and I have spent nearly two years developing the concept.”

“Like Salesforce, we’re democratising a business process”

According to Aleksander, the concepts underpinning iRecruit –cultural fit, behavioural modelling and personality profiling – have typically been the realm of big business, government and organisations with the money to spend.

“What we’re doing is similar to what Salesforce has done with CRM,” he explained. “CRM was traditionally a big ticket item where you had to go to an Oracle or SAP to find. Salesforce leveraged the cloud to basically democratise CRM. At iRecruit, we’re using modern technology, apps, smart UI, data and machine learning to democratise big ticket recruitment.”

 “We pounded the pavement to get the right investors”

Aleksander and Todd self-funded iRecruit’s launch with $100,000 in start-up finance. More recently, they secured $550,000 in capital during part one of a two-part seed round. This funding is being used to accelerate the company’s national growth strategy, the aim of which is to populate 20,000 employer profiles and 250,000 talent profiles within the first twelve months of operation.

Aleksander said funding from part two, which is partially filled ahead of its October close date, will put iRecruit on the path of cashflow neutrality – an outcome he expects to achieve in the second half of 2017. While attracting business finance in Australia is ‘no easy feat’, Aleksander said he and Todd were able to find the right investors by ‘pounding the pavement’.

“We were fortunate to have gained investment from three experienced angels,” he explained. “We have Navin Kirubairajah, who is an R&D tax manager and lawyer plus Winston Bayne, the APAC sales director for Marketo. Then there’s our lead investor Aden Forrest, who’s held senior roles with Oracle, Salesforce and Marketo (APAC). Aden is also the chairman of iRecruit’s high-calibre board where he is joined by Leigh Kelson, the founder of PRM Cloud Solutions; Suresh Sood, a data scientist with Chartered Accountants ANZ and SVP, Smart and Dove; and Andrew Morello, winner of the first season of Apprentice Australia and head of business development, Yellow Brick Road.”

Not only has iRecruit attracted an impressive lineup of investors and board members, it also boasts a team of 19 ‘extremely talented’ employees, including Queensland University of Technology (QUT) students Austin Wilshire and Bernd Hartzer. Last month, the two developers – aged 18 and 24 respectively – won first prize in a hack-a-thon for designing a cloud-based census server that seriously outmuscles the government’s $9m census platform – for only $500!

“Austin and Bernd are superstars who reflect the quality of our entire team,” Aleksander said. “There’s some talented young designers and developers in Queensland but more needs to be done to support from their time in university through to the time they graduate. We’re getting there though!

“There’s a lot of noise in the market right now”

iRecruit is currently in ‘very light beta’ with the public beta set to go live in Brisbane CBD in November. While the 1st ‘real version’ of iRecruit won’t be widely available until next year, Aleksander stressed that it was important not to jump the gun.

“Todd and I have had to resist the temptation of launching too big too early,” he explained. “There is a lot of noise in the market right now, and everyone is launching a new recruitment app, but more often than not these apps a) arrive too early and don’t achieve product-market fit, or b) don’t work. We’re adamant on this and will ensure that once our first version is released, it will deliver value to the market in a profound way.”