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Placed App: How Gen Z Recruitment Startup Lured Cash From VCs – Business Insider

Jennifer Johansson is not a typical tech entrepreneur.
Johansson, 31, has held roles across the hospitality industry, from hotels to McDonald’s. Now she’s setting out to solve the sector’s high labor churn by forcing the recruitment process out of an era of “help wanted” signs in shop windows and printed CVs.
Johansson spent over four years at Quintessentially, a personal concierge service, where she found that owners of restaurants, bars, and members’ clubs all complained about staffing issues.
“The methods that we were using, they’re very old school and completely mismatched for a younger audience,” Johansson said.
“When you look at the demographic that they try to target — under-25s — it’s the mobile-first generation. They don’t have CVs. They don’t have printers.”
Johansson founded Placed, an app that uses machine learning to match job seekers with relevant roles in hospitality, in 2016.
Job hunters answer quizzes about their soft skills and attitudes rather than their past experience. They may also be asked about their values and career progression and whether they are looking for a summer gig.
Johansson convinced 50 of her contacts in the industry to sign letters of intent, telling them what she wanted to build and asking them if they’d use it if she did.
Then she took the letters to venture capitalists. “That’s how I raised the first funding round,” she said.
Johansson has lured a total of 2.5 million pounds from True Global, an early investor; angels including Martin Robinson, the chairman of Burger King UK, and Stephen Sacks, the former customer lead at both Selfridges and Burberry; and the angel group SyndicateRoom.
“You can be an amazing bartender, an amazing chef, or an amazing person, but you may not know how to write an amazing CV,” Johansson said. “That sometimes can eliminate your chances.”
She added that Placed is “helping candidates shine on their profiles.”
Johansson said it wasn’t until 2020 when the pandemic hit that Placed really found product-market fit. The company started signing up enterprise customers that also struggled to fill roles.
The Great Resignation, a pandemic-fueled exodus of people from cities, and labor shortages have affected sectors from retail to tech.
“That’s really when things kicked off,” Johansson said.
Recruitment apps and platforms in Europe had a record year in 2021, raising $1.6 billion following a mere $288.2 million in 2020, according to PitchBook.
The founder said that while Placed had raised “a fraction” of what its competitors have — adding that “initially that was quite scary” — she believes her 22-employee-strong company has better customer retention.
“I don’t have a business degree. I haven’t run a business before. I’m sure there are reasons why we haven’t been able to raise as much as fast. But you can compensate for that,” Johansson said.
It comes back to your understanding of customers and resilience, she added.
Check out the pitch deck Placed used to raise its seed round in 2019:
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