Drafted app dangles big money for persuading your friends to switch jobs

Drafted co-founders Vinayak Ranade and Sandy Kreis.
Drafted co-founders Vinayak Ranade and Sandy Kreis.

Not many mobile apps offer this kind of economic upside: ping a friend about a job that some company is trying to fill, and earn a few thousand bucks if they land it. That’s the pitch from Drafted, a Boston start-up whose founders hail from Kayak, the travel-planning site.

CEO Vinayak Ranade said that Drafted has already lined up a group of Boston-area companies, including HubSpot, TripAdvisor, and Rue La La, who have agreed to post $250,000 worth of rewards for help filling open positions. The company launches apps for Android and iPhone this week.

Here’s how it works: A hiring manager trying to fill an open job posts it, and invites people they know to suggest candidates. Those people can choose to pass along the request, and anyone receiving the request can apply for the job. If it is filled using the app, then the people who successfully circulated the job opening share in a bounty — as does the candidate who fills it.

“If I pass along an open position to Paul, and he passes it on to Bill, who gets the job, we all share in the referral reward, which is split three ways,” Ranade explains. The app will recommend a reward level based on the type of job being posted, but Ranade says most will be $2,000 or more.

Ranade was both the director of mobile engineering at Kayak, and also responsible for technical recruiting. As a hiring manager, he says, “You’re going through piles of résumés, a lot of which are not very well suited for the job, and you’re negotiating with headhunters about their fees, and it takes a massive amount of time. And everyone knows that referrals from friends and people at the company are what get you the best candidates.”

While individual companies often create their own bounty programs, and startups have tried to build sites that offer rewards for filling jobs, Ranade believes that Drafted’s mobile app can “simplify and streamline” things, making it easy to spend a few minutes passing along a relevant job to someone you know.

The company has raised “just north of $500,000 so far,” Ranade says, from a group of investors that includes Blade and Launch, two Boston startup incubators, as well as Boston Syndicates, a group of individual investors.

Nicole Stata of Boston Seed Capital says that she sees a “total shift in mentality” among managers, who are “helping themselves using their networks and colleagues” when it comes to filling jobs, rather than relying on human resources. Stata was previously founder and CEO of Deploy Solutions, which built software for employee recruiting and retention at large companies.

“Recruiting is a massive industry,” says Paul English of Blade, “and candidates and hiring managers both hate how it works. Even though there are lots of competitors, I think a brilliant team will find a path.”

Incidentally, English, previously co-founder and chief technology officer at Kayak, hired Ranade to work at the company fresh out of MIT. “He was a referral from one of my other star MIT grads,” English says.

Scott Kirsner writes the Innovation Economy column every Sunday in the Boston Globe, in which he tracks entrepreneurship, investment, and big company activities around New England.
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