From snowplows to drones, describing a company as “the Uber of (insert industry here)” has become the latest form of startup branding cliché. But the simple appeal of connecting consumers and companies through an online platform is showing surprising resilience across a wide swath of industries.
The newest sector to get this treatment is employee hiring. ReferralMob, which says it is trying to “Uberize” the recruiting industry, has closed a $2 million seed financing round.
Boston-based ReferralMob offers a website and mobile app that charges employers to access its “mob” — a network of people who, if they successfully refer a candidate, receive large cash prizes that can be split between the new employee and the referrer. Right now, the company has about 1,000 people in the “mob” and close to 40 companies signed on, including Boston-based companies GameFace Media and Drizly.
ReferralMob claims to have near-instantaneous matching, since people are looking to score a big hiring bonus. “We can provide companies with an almost immediate face and resume,” ReferralMob CEO David Samuels said.
The concept of aggregating job references, talent, and employers into an online system sounds similar to Drafted, which recently closed $2.5 million in seed financing. However, Samuels emphasized that with a market as big as online recruiting, valued at $30 billion, there is room enough for more than one company.
“One analogy that we like to make is the travel industry 10 to 15 years ago,” where multiple companies with similar models, such as Expedia, Travelocity, and Hotwire, all succeeded in the growing marketplace, Samuels said.
ReferralMob’s investors include Stage 1 Ventures, MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte, and EnerNOC co-founders Tim Healy and David Brewster.