16 Oct '12
Oleg Kouzbit, Online News Managing Editor
Smart Start, a six-month-old recruitment start-up, has come up with an IT app solution that helps students and fresh university graduates interacting via social networks find employment in sectors they have majored in. With a reported $500,000 in venture investments under its belt the young team of experienced headhunters and application developers has already brought on board more than 300 clients, built up a growing portfolio of over 1,500 vacancies, and attracted an estimated 20,000 users across Russia. With its overall goal of “fostering a culture of career planning” for the youth the start-up wants to launch a mobile version of its application next month, and hopes that in a year, “every third student in Russia will look for a job through Smart Start.”
On its way from an idea to an actual business project Smart Start has raised an estimated $500,000 in seed capital from Moscow’s Softline VP, a VC fund and business accelerator, and, just very recently, from Startobaza, a Kazan-based managing company in the Republic of Tatarstan that acts as a business angel investor, and provides support for IT start-ups with potential for explosive growth.
Aiming to fan a ‘cultural revolution’ for the youth
The start-up’s seven-strong team of experienced headhunters, social network-based PR specialists and IT application developers takes on the task of “fostering a culture of career planning” for the youth, according to the Smart Start website.
The new app is designed to assist active social network users aged 18 and up in looking for their first or second employment in life. Those primarily include students and new college graduates.
Smart Start also lends a hand to young part-timers willing to combine work and studies, and can provide the fast track for those seeking on-the-job training at companies and government agencies to improve their work skills, and those surveying educational training opportunities at universities across the globe.
According to Smart Start CEO Alexander Svinin, the start-up now partners with more than 300 corporate clients, and over the past few months has built up a growing portfolio of over 1,500 vacancies and a user base of an estimated 20,000 young people across Russia.
How it works
The team has developed what seems to be a simple and user-friendly application that offers candidates “turn-key” customized solutions generated on the basis of their expectations.
With its software compatible with social networks (currently available for users of VKontakte, Russia’s leading network), the Smart Start app automatically creates an account, borrowing a user’s open data like age, gender and education from his or her profile in the host network, and enables résumé placement in the profile.
In addition to enabling a user to receive automatic invitations from potential employers and respond at will to job openings, other advantages reportedly include his or her ability to publish an assessment of, or opinion about, vacancies offered for other users to see, and to store the app-generated résumés on the user’s personal computer in a handy format.
Job openings or training opportunities are automatically displayed each time the user opens the application; with new openings available the user can see updates on his or her social network account page.
Corporate clients partnering with Smart Start are also said to obtain innovative tools to benefit from the application. They can use a special administrator panel to update job openings on their own and collect users’ responses. They may also choose to receive feedback by email, and request search by users that have downloaded the recruitment app.
Smart Start claims it offers companies and government entities a two-week free trial period with a full set of vacancies displayed.
Cashing in on a positive trend
Online recruitment is a sexy market segment today. An estimated 89% of global headhunters tap into social network opportunities to do their job, pushing the international online employment market to a reported $3bn.
In Russia with its 49% overall Internet penetration rate, Pew Research Center estimates 77% of young people aged 18-29 are active social network users. Of those, the younger populations, including college graduates, are routinely stigmatized as “inexperienced” and are therefore particularly at risk for unemployment.
Russia’s labor market has been contracting over the past decade and is expected to ‘age’ in years to come in consequence of a considerable birth rate decline in the transitionary 1990s. However, in the years that followed the 2008 economic crisis analysts observed a perceptible increase in job openings for young people (up 83% vs. a 44% rise for older populations, according to HeadHunter, a Russian recruiter). Smart Start wants to jump on this bandwagon and attract employers to its platform, helping the most overlooked groups of Russia’s workforce along the way.
The start-up has announced plans to launch a mobile version of its application next month, and hopes that in a year, “every third student in Russia will look for a job through Smart Start.”