Kartik co-founded SpringRole in 2014. SpringRole is a crowdsourced recruiting marketplace powered by referrals. It goes after the passive candidates through the network of the community. SpringRole has a current network of over 8M passive candidates with an average 300,000 new users coming on board each month. Jobs posted to SpringRole receive on average 100 referrals. Of those referrals, 10% pass the initial screening phase.
He also is a Technical Advisor at Science in Santa Monica, California. He graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with Masters from the Language Technologies Institute focusing on Big Data, Machine Learning, NLP and BioTech.
Science employs a ‘studio’ model to create, scale, and acquire digital businesses out of our shared space in Santa Monica. As the director of technology, he works with early stage startups to architecting out their technology stack – database architecture etc. He closely works with AWS to build highly scalable web servers to handle high traffic. He built the Science India team having 25+ software engineers and product working across the portfolio companies.
Kartik has a wide experience working with startups. Before joining CMU, he was a full-stack developer working at Shareaholic on the product distribution channel and different web properties.
In 2010, he created AutoBudder – automatically wishes one’s friends on their birthdays. It reached out to 2 million people at its peak and won the ACM Challenge of Code.
Also, he served as the CTO of Let Me Know, an online portal delivering internships, scholarships, conferences etc to college students in India.
Kartik did his under-graduation in Computer Science at MIT.
In your own words what is SpringRole?
SpringRole is a marketplace for recruiting. In other words its Uber for Recruiters. Companies post a job and our internal + external network of recruiters(SpringRolers) source candidates with the help of proprietary machine learning technology. SpringRolers and the candidate split the bounty on hire. Companies get perfect candidates through referrals.
How did you come up with the idea of SpringRole?
My best hires were always through my network’s referrals. There was no way to scale referrals – you ask your friends to refer, they say yes but they don’t know who to refer. So we built a technology which goes through your network and recommends whom to refer.
Could you walk us through the process of starting up SpringRole?
I got my classmates together and setup a team of 7 to build an engine which matches a candidate with a job in our final semester at Carnegie Mellon university. On graduation, 4 of us decided to pursue and make it a real business. I pitched Mike Jones, CEO Science (ex ceo of MySpace) and because of our relationship it was a quick raise. We came to Los Angeles and started building a business around our technology. From there, it was a continous iteration through customer feedback on business models and product.
Did you encounter any particular difficulties during startup?
Yeah what’s a startup without problems? We had our fair share of problems. First one was the visa – we solved that with Science. Then it was a lot about pricing and the right pitch – we were in an industry which is dominated by big enterprises and hasn’t changed much in the last decade. We tried to create a new bucket and had resistance so it was constant learning on the right product offering – setting the right expectations, pricing and delivery.
What kind of feedback did you get for SpringRole so far?
It has been great. We’ve had some very good initial traction – our angel list page shows happy customers. But we had some negative feedback too – which is always great to learn. We pride in converting unhappy customers to happy customers.
What is your strategy against your competition?
Yes constantly. Recruitment is gazillion dollar business. Hence you compete with hundreds of billion dollar firms. Our strategy is simple – constant innovation.
What can you tell us about the industry?
Yeah – three main ways to recruit.
a) Job Boards – active candidates.
b) Databases – passive candidates.
c) Recruiters – passive
The best hires are always people not looking for a job. So to reach out to them, you either hire super expensive recruiters who spam everyone or you reach out yourself spending hours. Either way is not efficient. So you let SpringRolers do your job.
What is the future of the industry and how do you plan to stay relevant in this industry?
Dynamics are changing. There will be more jobs than qualified people. Companies will need more and more qualified people. What will end up happening is people will not go looking for jobs, instead jobs will come to them. This is when it gets interesting and the market will be ripe for SpringRole.
Were there anything that disappointed you initially?
Yeah the nature of the industry. Its old, broken and it doesn’t want to change. The nature of not welcoming change.
What do you think about being an entrepreneur in Asia?
It’s fun – the environment is changing every day. This is where the next billion dollar businesses are going to happen. It’s harder in the sense that the society is not ready yet.
What is your opinion on Asian entrepreneurship vs Western entrepreneurship?
Its very different – In Asia the price matters whereas in West it does not matter so much. The regulations are way harder in Asia – difficult to setup companies, banking regulations and legal. It’s time consuming and inefficient.
What is your definition of success?
Success to me is reaching a state of mind where you are always happy but constantly improving. Staying focused and committed even after failures. Not distracted by outside noise – what the society says. Success to me is imagining yourself to be on your deathbed and not regret what you are doing now. It’s all relative.
In your opinion, what are the keys to entrepreneurial success?
Commitment – staying focused even after failures. There will be times when your team, family, investors, customers and friends say you’re wrong – if you’re able to survive that roller coaster of emotions then you win.
Any parting words of wisdom for entrepreneurs out there from your personal experience?
Find out what you want. Startups are multi year commitment. Be 100% sure that you’re ready for it.