It’s not often we run into an early stage SaaS company that already has giants like GE and Cisco as its earliest customers, followed by names like Deloitte, Panasonic, Disney and IBM. Large enterprises are notoriously difficult for startups to sell into. But with that customer roster, we knew Ascendify was on to something, and we jumped at the chance to lead their Series A financing of $11M. The fact that both GE Ventures and Cisco Ventures joined Canaan in the investment was an additional vote of confidence by their biggest customers.
At a time when most startups choose to market to smaller companies and other startups like themselves, Ascendify is a refreshing exception. It reminded me of our earlier investment in another human resources software company, SuccessFactors. They were a huge success, and they also started out by targeting large enterprises first. After that, targeting small to mid-size companies is relatively easy.
Ascendify is an HR software startup that helps large companies attract, select, and develop talent. Unlike so many options on the market today, Ascendify is a complete end-to-end platform, not a point solution. In addition to maximizing the power of their recruiting, large enterprises need a solution that assists with marketing to candidates, nurturing them, onboarding them and helping them develop as their careers progress over time.
Today companies often make the wrong hiring decisions because they lack sufficient data and the right intelligence. Up to 30% of a company’s workforce is comprised of “bad hires.” But recruiting software really hasn’t evolved in the past few years to address the growing chasm between a company’s needs and a candidate’s needs. Ascendify’s platform is built on a competency framework that structures the way companies define required competencies for a role and assess candidates based on those skills. Ascendify uses this framework to determine who the best hire is based on assessments of a team’s existing skills, their gaps and the skills of a potential candidate. Companies can clearly understand what makes a “good hire” or a “bad hire” based on historical data and use that to make hiring recommendations, which may sometimes be counterintuitive.
The platform is also built for collaboration between teams and employees. Better data and collaboration are key for making better decisions about talent. Ascendify uses predictive analytics to help HR teams and hiring managers hire and retain the right people for their needs, more quickly and with a better product experience.
What does all this mean in real terms for companies that are trying to attract and keep talent? Ascendify’s work with GE affords a clear view into the potential of the platform. Ascendify has been a close partner with GE Digital as they grew from 500 to 28,000 people over the past three years. Through the use of Ascendify solutions, GE shortened their time to hire by 70% — from 10–15 weeks to 2–5 weeks. Additionally, they moved 30,000 IT people into software engineering roles with Ascendify’s help. And through the use of this software they increased the quality of hires in a measurable way.
Recruiting and Talent Management software is an incredibly crowded and competitive market, but also one where customers are feeling a lot of pain. We think Ascendify’s early success with some very large customers is an indication of great things to come.