Recruitment tools remain stuck in the past, believes Achuthanand Ravi, the co-founder and CEO of Kula, which is today announcing a $12 million funding round for its innovative recruitment technology platform. “Recruitment methods have evolved rapidly in recent years, but the tools available to recruiters have not kept pace,” Ravi says. “In functions like sales and marketing, new technologies are having a huge impact, but recruitment is still underserved.”
In a world where organisations continually stress that people are their greatest asset, that seems surprising – and all the more so given the talent shortage facing businesses in so many markets today. Even top-performing companies are currently struggling to identify and recruit the people they need – and seeing their growth held back as a result.
Ravi believes Kula can solve some of those problems, with tools aimed specifically at the pain points felt by many recruitment leaders. “The issue until now is that no-one has focused on the workflows of recruitment departments,” he says. “CEOs describe recruitment as their competitive priority, but their recruiters are expected to deliver while using the tools of the 1990s.”
Kula’s focus is specifically on outbound recruitment, where businesses seek to proactively identify candidates for specific roles, reaching out to them individually to persuade them to pursue the opportunity. Distinct from inbound recruitment, which depends on a wide selection of candidates finding organisations through job adverts and similar channels, outbound recruitment is especially important to small and medium-sized enterprises that lack brand awareness and struggle to make themselves heard as organisations try to attract the best talent. Kula will focus, at least initially, on businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees.
The idea is to automate large parts of the outbound recruitment process so that organisations can operate more efficiently and focus their resources on building engagement with the best candidates – and, ultimately, on securing the right people to fill their gaps.
To deliver on that ambition, Kula offers two different modules. Its Circles suite of tools aims to automate processes around referrals, where organisations identify potential candidates through recommendations, particularly from staff they already employ. Circles brings together employees’ individual networks in a centralised database, improving the business’s visibility of pools of talent where they can make more personalised connections.
Separately, Kula’s Outreach tool gives employers the ability to automate the work of reaching out to candidates on platforms such as LinkedIn and GitHub. The idea is strip out the repetitive work involved in identifying and approaching multiple potential candidates over and again.
Since its launch earlier this year, Kula has been working with a small number of companies to test and fine-tune its tools. Ravi says this work has delivered spectacular results for recruitment functions: the Circles tool has reduced companies’ time-to-hire by an average of 60%, he says, while Outreach has more than tripled company engagement.
Kula built its tools, which it sells through a software-as-a-service model, on the basis of its founders’ own experience. Ravi has held senior recruitment positions at fast-growing businesses including Stripe, Uber and Freshworks. “We understand the challenges of a recruiter through first-hand experience,” he says. “We want to empower them to do their best work, close more candidates, and focus on the future.”
It’s an approach that appears to appeal to investors. Today’s seed funding round takes the total amount of capital raised by the business to $15 million, even though Kula has yet to begin selling its tools on the open market.
The latest round is led by Sequoia Capital India and Square Peg Capital, with Kula’s initial backers, Venture Highway and Together Fund, as well as a number of angel investors, also adding to their investments.
Aakash Kapoor, vice president at Sequoia Southeast Asia, believes Kula’s tools are well-placed to capitalise on evolution of the recruitment market. “We are seeing a tectonic shift as organisations across the spectrum are switching to outbound hiring processes as default,” he says. “Achuthanand and his team have unique insights in outbound recruitment gathered from their own past experiences and they are leveraging it to build a platform that replaces ad-hoc hiring processes with an automation stack.”
Today’s funding will help Kula to deliver on that promise, with Ravi and his colleagues planning investment in further product development, alongside a determined go-to-market strategy.
“Recruitment is an absolute priority for companies across the spectrum of size, industry, and geography, and is still an underserved business function,” adds Piruze Sabuncu, a partner at Square Peg Capital.