Australian startup snapshot: The Search Party

'Data is our game,' says CEO Jamie Carlisle

The Search Party CEO Jamie Carlisle was part of the management team at Spreets when it sold for $40 million to Yahoo!7. Credit: N2N Communications

The Search Party CEO Jamie Carlisle was part of the management team at Spreets when it sold for $40 million to Yahoo!7. Credit: N2N Communications

The Search Party is a Sydney-based tech startup that seeks to disrupt the recruitment industry.

The pitch

The recruitment industry is ripe for innovation, according to Jamie Carlisle, founder and CEO of The Search Party.

“Recruitment is one of the very, very few industries that will inevitably be disrupted by technology that has yet to in any way disrupt itself or be disrupted in a complementary way as opposed to a combative way through platforms such as LinkedIn,” he said.

Carlisle said he realised this while suffering through a job at a recruitment agency. One of the most “bizarre” parts of the job was the “complete absence” of technology at the firm, he said.

He began to form an idea for an “automated recruitment service” that would use technology to commoditise the service of the recruiter, much like investment websites have done for brokering services.

In January 2011, he launched a recruitment website called The Search Party.

“The first thing you do is find a candidate you want, [and then choose] the recruiter, not the other way around,” said Carlisle.

When they have a job opening, employers can log into The Search Party online for free and search across a pool of millions of candidates posted and updated by 70 major recruiters in Australia, Carlisle said.

Employers enter what skills, salary, other details they are looking for in a candidate. The site displays a profile of the candidate based on the CV and other data.

The website uses a constantly evolving algorithm to analyse CVs and identify what it believes are the best candidates, he said. “We want to make the smartest possible recommendations most quickly for our users.”

If the employer finds someone, it can make an offer to the recruiter to secure the candidate. If the match is successful, the employer pays a recruitment fee to The Search Party, which in turn passes it onto the recruiter minus a 20 per cent commission.

For the employer, the system saves time and also money because fees are lower than they would be going directly through the recruiter, he said.

Funding and selling

To fund the startup, Carlisle tapped money from a previous exit — he was part of the management team at Spreets when it was sold to Yahoo!7 for $40 million — as well as angel funding from some friends, he said.

“From then we’ve continued to have a solid capital strategy from high net worth and private equity. We have raised several millions of dollars to date.”

The Search Party has had about 100 employers as customers, including several large global brands. While the site is industry agnostic, IT and finance industries currently are particular strengths, with sales and marketing a growing area, he said.

Some industries rely on recruiters more than others, he acknowledged. “We won’t crack them all but if you see a job on Seek or a candidate based on LinkedIn, eventually we’ll be there, too.”

Next: Harnessing big data and the state of Australian startups

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