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Business Observer Friday, Aug. 24, 2018 3 years ago

Proving ground: Area company reshapes the hiring process

Tampa startup eTeki believes it has a winning formula in the race to help companies find top employees. Up next? Market traction.
by: Brian Hartz Tampa Bay Editor

The term technical debt has been around for a long time in the IT industry.

But it’s taken on new meaning in recent years because effective IT departments have become crucial to a business' success. It makes sense, then, that IT job openings are just as crucial to fill — fast.  

“Companies that have open IT roles can lose anywhere from $12,000 to $42,000 per month, depending on how critical the role is,” says Amanda Cole, vice president of operations at eTeki, referring to research by ERE Media, a resource for HR and recruiting professionals. "The longer the position sits open, the more costly it is."

Headquartered in Tampa, eTeki aims to solve this issue, working with hiring managers and HR professionals who struggle to fill IT roles with the best possible candidates. 

'We’ve laid the foundation. The funds we are looking for are to accelerate to the next step.' Amanda Cole, vice president of operations for eTeki

Founded in 2015 by tech entrepreneur Bala Nemani, eTeki acts as a middleman of sorts between staffing and recruiting agencies and companies with open IT positions. With its 3,000-strong network of IT professionals from 85 countries who serve as freelance interviewers, eTeki conducts extensive, in-depth, on-demand video interviews designed to screen out unqualified candidates before their resumes even make it to the HR department.

“The interviewer speaks the same language as the hiring manager,” says Cole. “The recruiter does not — they don’t speak the language of technology at the same level of proficiency.”

Cole says eTeki’s services also reduce the strain on a company’s existing IT personnel, who don’t have to take time away from their day-to-day responsibilities to be involved in job interviews.

“Let’s say you’ve got three individuals on a technical interview panel,” she explains. “Those three people, if they were to prescreen 10 candidates, that’s 30 hours of their time, and they’re not working on important projects that contribute to a company’s bottom line. So now you’ve got technical debt piling up on the interviewer’s workload as well as the open position.”

Cole says eTeki has been conducting interviews since early 2016, which has given the company a great deal of data to analyze. The firm’s internal research reveals 87% of candidates for IT positions are unqualified for the roles they seek. It’s a sobering revelation — but also indicative of a huge and potentially lucrative niche in the HR space eTeki is poised to conquer.

Mark Wemple. Bala Nemani and Amanda Cole are seeking $1 million in investment to help them scale up eTeki.

“There are approximately 100,000 open IT jobs in the U.S. at any given moment,” says Cole, citing U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. “For each of those jobs, companies are using at least two, if not three, sources of recruitment tools to fill those positions. But we have the potential to be screening anywhere from five to 30 candidates for every one of those roles, per recruiter.”

Company officials decline to disclose specific sales figures, only to say it brings in five-figure revenues every month, using a couple of different pricing mechanisms. In one, the client pays a fee per interview. But Cole says the majority of the company’s clients have signed up on an ongoing, subscription basis, in which they pay a monthly fee for a certain volume of interviews. The company offers clients a 10% discount for bulk interview purchases.

Cole and Nemani expect the company’s performance to rise in the coming months and years as eTeki wins investment that will help it better market its services to the world’s leading staffing and recruiting agencies. Locally, one of its major clients is WilsonHCG, a Tampa-based talent recruitment agency with offices in London, Toronto and Singapore.

Marketing and messaging are hurdles eTeki will have to overcome. Although it boasts 35 clients, mostly split between the United States and India, it faces stiff competition in the talent-search industry. The company seeks $1 million in investment capital for marketing, hiring more sales personnel and increasing its capacity to conduct interviewer certifications.

“We want to expand our presence in the HR tech community,” says Cole. “We’ve laid the foundation. The funds we are looking for are to accelerate to the next step.”

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