TTL LookBack V2: Taking a Closer Look at the Randstad Innovation Fund

Welcome to Talent Tech Labs Lookback. We spend a lot of time exploring the Talent Acquisition Ecosystem and Marketplace and while every TTL Trends Report focuses on a different theme, we occasionally like to look back at some of our greatest hits.

Taking a Closer Look at the Randstad Innovation Fund

TTL is constantly watching emerging industry leaders to gain insights into where the industry is heading, and how others can learn from their successes. TTL sat down and interviewed Ilonka Jankovich and Paul Jacquin from the Randstad Innovation Fund (RIF). RIF has recently garnered attention for its backing of some exciting new companies, and so we asked RIF to share some strategic insights for startups and other investors in the talent acquisition technology space.

Q: Can you tell us a bit more about the Randstad Innovation Fund?

Randstad Innovation Fund (RIF) is the corporate venture fund of Randstad. Randstad is the second largest HR provider in the world, with revenues of US $21 billion and presence in 39 countries. The corporate venture fund was established in early 2014 to accelerate innovation within Randstad. Its focus is HR technology companies. The size of the fund is €50 million and RIF typically invests in late Seed or Series A.

Find out what core criteria #investors consider as they choose companies to fund for projects with @IlonkaJankovich and Paul Jacquin of @Randstad. Share on X

Q: We’re sure you have identified some core criteria you use when deciding which companies to consider.  What do you look for?

As a strategic investor, one of the top criteria for us is finding companies whose offerings have the right fit for Randstad Group. On one hand, we seek technologies that can have an immediate impact by improving our internal efficiency or enriching our client offering. On the other hand, we also look strategically at technologies or models that could be really disruptive. Labor markets are changing quickly; demographics will lead to a shortage of certain talents, new roles will emerge, talents will be increasingly mobile and the distinction between employment jobs and projects is blurring. We need to bring even more transparency to our clients and candidates. We strive to create better engagement and offer more data-driven solutions.

The management team is crucial for the success of a company. We look at their track record and drive. There should also be chemistry, not only with us personally, but also with the Randstad culture (or more generally, the culture of the respective investment firm).

A careful evaluation of the business plan is also essential. Is it realistic? Entrepreneurs should challenge themselves, but the assumptions should be correct and the goals achievable. We dive deep into the business plan to understand drivers of the business and discuss them with management to sharpen focus and priorities.

Technology is key. If appropriate, we involve experts to assess the technology and its viability. We also pilot solutions and always get valuable feedback.

We do not invest in pre-revenue companies and always talk to clients who are using the service or product or have churned. This exercise gives us good insights in the strengths and shortcomings of the product.

Q: What trends, solutions and ideas are you currently excited about?

There are a few things right now that we are particularly excited about, including:

  • Analytics.

We make a distinction between workforce analytics and candidate sourcing analytics. We are currently reviewing a dozen companies active in this field. There is plenty of data. The question is what kind of data do you really need to drive your business? What is the right mix between conclusions from data and human action, and what do you do with the conclusions?

  • Candidate Engagement and Branding.

At both a personal and organizational level, candidate engagement and branding are at the forefront. As the world has become transparent, how can candidates and companies show who they are, what they can offer and what they want.

  • Assessment.

There have been some tremendous advancements in the area of assessment. Many tools are entering the market that assess candidates through gaming, speech or text, to name a few. As several leading contenders emerge, it will be interesting to see which are successful.

“Technology is key. If appropriate, we involve experts to assess the technology and its viability. We also pilot solutions and always get valuable feedback.” @IlonkaJankovich @Randstad Share on X

Q: What makes a successful startup?

Success among talent acquisition technology startups often comes down to several factors. Entrepreneurs who not only have a strong vision but also strong commercial skills (or can attract people with strong marketing/sales skills) have often performed better than others. You can have a great idea, but if you do not know how to sell it, you will not progress quickly enough. With analytics and in the competitive landscape, we are seeing the emergence of leaders who are analytical and more scientific in their approaches. Having the right priorities and key drivers in your funnel from lead generation to conversion and contract value is critical for early stage companies. It is a challenge to build any company, so it makes an enormous difference if there is a good team spirit, common belief or purpose and enthusiasm for the company goal. The right spirit across the organization is key for a successful company.

Any company is going to require good investment. Jankovich and Jacquin seem to be in agreement that they would only advise in investing in companies with companies that have a strong vision and can sell it. Technology helps catalyse these two in creating success. Inspired yet? Want to discover more about investments, HR and talent acquisition? Head over to Talent Tech Labs website to get more industry insight and sign up for our blog. Want to explore more into TTL’s Think Tank and industry research? Download our latest trends reports and while you’re there jump into our series of trends reports covering topics from Real AI, Vendor Marketplace, Employer Branding and more!

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