Could a tiny start-up in the online talent sourcing market really take on the industry giant LinkedIn? The founders of Weekday believe they can survive and prosper in this David versus Goliath story – and so do investors in their $2.2 million seed round, which the company is announcing today.
Founded in 2021 by Amit Singh, Anubav Malik and Chetan Dalal, Weekday is targeting a single industry as it builds its business – albeit a large and lucrative one in software engineering. The company has already built a database of more than 800,000 engineers, a pool from which it claims recruiters will have a better chance of finding the best talent.
“We want to solve the problem of lack of trust in the hiring process,” explains Singh. “We believe that a recruiting platform with references as the cornerstone is the solution that solves all these problems – we are what LinkedIn should have been.”
By “problems”, Singh means that while recruiters appear to be well-served by rival platforms that offer access to millions of would-be candidates for roles, identifying the best people on those platforms is often challenging. In particular, candidates’ references may be misleading, because they’ve often sought them out themselves.
Weekday’s alternative is a different type of model. It invites software engineers to sign up and to connect their “social graph” – essentially their LinkedIn networks and other contacts. The platform can then search for engineers who match a particular recruiter’s needs; Weekday then approaches the closest contacts of those who make the shortlist and seeks references for them. “The quality of candidates is much superior to any job board-based platform,” Singh insists.
His analogy is to internet shopping, where many customers will not buy without first reading the dispassionate reviews of products posted by other shoppers. Recruiters should be able to read the same sort of reviews when looking for candidates for their roles, Singh argues. But currently, they seek out references only once they’re very close to making an appointment – and even then, those references typically come from people lined up by the candidate, rather than being provided independently.
Weekday’s approach therefore offers the potential for recruiters to connect with the best candidates for their roles more quickly. “We have a ready pool of users willing to give references; that, along with automated reference forms being sent on WhatsApp and by email, makes reference collection very easy and fast,” Singh explains. “For most candidates, we are able to get quality references within 24 hours.”
It’s an interesting approach, particularly in the software engineering sector where the battle for talent is hot and remote working is becoming the norm. Recruiters are racing to hire good-quality engineers but need to be sure they’re talking to the best candidates, many of whom they will never meet face to face.
Singh, Malik and Dalal have spent the past two years refining the product and building their database, but have now begun to sell Weekday’s services. So far, around 120 companies have used it to recruit staff – participation on the platform is free, with recruiters only paying a fee if they hire through the company.
It’s a humble start given the scale of the main competition. But Weekday, backed by the Y Combinator accelerator, thinks it has a shot at winning plenty of business from the likes of LinkedIn. “We believe that in order to build a truly powerful hiring platform; social data and references need to be the centrepiece,” Singh says. “It is the back-channel references which end up being the most important ones.”
The company’s target market is essentially any business looking to hire software engineers, but the founders believe start-ups making their first engineer hires – and in need of support rapidly – are likely to be early adopters. If the model works, moreover, there is no reason why it cannot be applied in other areas of the technology sector, or even to support recruitment in completely different industries.
For now, that’s some way off, but the $2.2 million of seed funding raised by the business speaks to the faith that investors have in its potential. The funding round was led by Venture Highway, with participation from a number of angel investors. “While most other company functions, including design, product, dev tools and sales have seen breakthrough products in the last five to six years, recruitment still hasn’t,” says Venture Highway’s Aviral Bhatnagar. “LinkedIn is a 20-year-old company that continues to be the defacto platform for recruitment – we are partnering with Weekday as they try to change that.”