Nairobi-based Employment Tech Startup Shortlist Receives $1 Million in Seed Fund

Shortlist Logo

We are in that period where startups are disrupting something, which is a good or bad thing depending on many factors. This can be attributed to where the world is moving to in terms of hiring, financial services, healthcare, agriculture, taxi hailing and so forth. On the other hand, disruption may have clouded what it means to bring progressive change (which some call innovation) and disruption. There is a line in there that sets the two apart, but that does not mean that firms are involved in either are doing anything wrong. It just need to be mentioned, and the bottom line is that their offerings are appreciated, in addition to boosting the quality of life – supposedly.

Other than the previously mentioned sectors, startups like Shortlist (nice choice of name, by the way) are involved with employment. The tech firm, which is based in Nairobi aims to change the traditional approach to how employers hire workers. To inject new blood into this process, Shortlist uses data-driven products that include chat-based interviews as well as competency tests. By doing so, Shortlist believes that it has found a way to eliminate time-consuming and bias-prone stages of hiring employees. Equally important is that the platform has a level playing field for candidates, who, it believes, can take advantage of the product to showcase their potential to employers.

To make sure that it elevates its missions and goals, Shortlist has received receive $1 million in seed funding from a U.S.-based private equity firm University Ventures, Indian angel investor Samir Shah of Sattva Capital, Kenya-based seed fund Zephyr Acorn, the Farm Fund at ImpactAssets and U.S.-based investor Bodley Group. These are a lot of funders, and their contributions have not been made public. Shortlist will use the funds to enhance its product.

“The single biggest challenge for growing companies is finding the right talent to scale,” says Paul Breloff, co-founder and CEO of Shortlist. “We believe that both jobseekers and employers deserve a better way to find each other and gauge fit. We’re thrilled to have a group of investors who share our desire to fix this broken talent marketplace, and believe in the mix of expertise across India, East Africa, and the United States will add significant strategic values as we build on our early traction.”

So, how does the platform work? Well, Shortlist, which was launched in early 2016, has a single application flow where participants are engaged across a company’s sourcing channels such as referral programs or third party recruiters. Afterward, candidates are gauged using a chat platform that has tools that predict a candidate’s performance score. Those who prove their worth qualify for the next step, which involves engagement with employers. In essence, Shortlist ensures that employers have access to candidates who have showcased the right ability for the task applied for.

Shortlist Chat Interface

“Recruiting has been a challenge over my career and finding the right talent for a role is so demanding and time consuming for nearly all companies in which I have invested,” says Samir Shah. “Knowing the co-founders in many years, I’m excited to see the team come together to build a much improved, tech-enabled solution for companies that want to hire the best without the stress. I’m thrilled to support the Shortlist team. ”

Shortlist, which has offices in Nairobi, Mumbai and Hyderabad has served more than 80 clients in East Africa and India, including M-KOPA, Ather Energy and MicroEnsure. It has also worked with multiple SMEs and consulting firms. The firm has managed to reach nearly 200,000 candidates on a global scale.


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