Rethinking referrals: Seattle startup Candidate raises more cash to help companies with hiring

Candidate CEO Ryan Agresta. (Candidate Photo)

New funding: Candidate launched out of beta on Wednesday and closed a $4 million seed funding round. The Seattle startup pays people between $2,400 and $6,000 for referring friends and peers for open job positions.

How it works: Employers post jobs on the Candidate platform. Vetted referrers submit qualified people from their professional and personal networks. If their contact is hired, companies pay Candidate, which gives around 80% of the fee to the referrer. Candidate keeps the rest as its revenue.

The idea is to extend employee referrals beyond a company’s internal network. Candidate shows open roles for in-office jobs in Seattle, San Francisco, New York City, and Los Angeles, and also for remote positions nationwide.

Traction: Ryan Agresta, the company’s CEO, declined to share revenue or growth metrics but said demand is greater than expected. He said many companies are making workforce changes, embracing remote talent, and seeing turnover as employees relocate or change their lifestyle — trends that are driving tailwinds for Candidate.

The push within the tech industry for more diversity also plays into Candidate’s model. “While employee referrals have consistently been the best source of hires, companies are increasingly aware that it’s the single worst way to build diverse teams,” Agresta said.

Agresta previously managed operations for Seattle logistics startup Convoy and also spent time at Uber and Amazon.

Investors: Voyager led the seed round, which included participation from Positive Sum, Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, Ascend, BAM Ventures and Vulcan. Mekhato previously reported on the initial funding as part of the seed round in August.

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