Sucks being on the outside. How should we decide who gets in? Photo by Ethan Hu on Unsplash.

RippleMatch: Why We Invested

People are more than their surface credentials, particularly before they’ve had time to collect them.

Mike Troiano
Sep 5, 2019 · 5 min read

t’s good to know a guy. Growing up Italian I’ve always known this, though later in life I learned to say it like a ‘Medigan: The right relationship is everything.

That’s why LinkedIn — now the closest thing we have to a system of record for business relationships — stands astride the recruiting world. They’re the 800-pound gorilla, leaving smart startups to compete, enhance their platform, or look for under-served niches in the market for sourcing and recruiting candidates. And good luck finding a good niche where someone with a record of everyone’s work experience, ownership of the professional social graph, and unlimited access to capital lacks an overwhelming advantage.

Turns out the college recruiting space might be one. A $20 billion opportunity including early career and technical hiring, it came into focus for me as our eldest began chasing a Summer job before her senior year of college. She’d found a non-profit she was excited about, and a role that seemed like a great opportunity to learn. She called me a few months ago, frustrated she’d “sent in a resume,” and “gotten no response.” I said “of course not,” in that know-it-all, Dad way. “That’s not how the world works.”

“Do you know someone who works there,” I said, “or someone who knows someone who works there?” “I don’t think so,” she responded. “But how would I even know?”

In an hour we had her LinkedIn profile up and running, packaging a couple of waitressing jobs and one season of Varsity Sailing Team as best we could. She’s up to 18 connections now, but a long way from knowing who she knows.

The Dark Side of Knowing Someone

Think about how much is wrong with this picture… not only for Kate, but for people trying to hire people like Kate. They won’t really have great insight into whether she’s a fit for what they need, and will bear the added risk of not knowing anyone who knows her. They’ll read the tea leaves of her bullshit school jobs, often more indicative of her parental support than her real world experience and aptitudes, and take the plunge on a big investment of money, time, and lost productivity to get her up to speed.

Everyone accepts this, of course, and knows how the college recruiting thing actually works: The CXO sends a team with table banners and logo merch to whatever college he went to (and a few he wanted to,) looking for people who look a lot like him (and — just to be clear — it will most often be a “him.”) In time the company gets comfortable with tangible proxies for culture fit and potential… an A in Professor Rosencrantz’ class, membership in the Python club, a “C” on their Lacrosse jersey or whatever, and gets better at finding more and more of those. These people rise and want more people like them, and the cycle repeats, reinforcing itself over time.

Sound familiar? Do those attributes reliably predict human potential, success in a role, or durability at a company? Aren’t they really just reinforcing the social hierarchy, giving kids from families rich enough to get them into the right schools yet another advantage?

The fact is, companies aren’t getting the best entry level people. They’re getting people like the people they have, from among those available in the places they all look.

This isn’t just about encouraging diversity, though that is a noble aim. It’s about restoring meritocracy, which for a couple centuries was at the core of the American idea.

There are many reasons places like the UK, Denmark, and Canada now offer more economic mobility than the so-called “Land of Opportunity.” But this is almost certainly one of them.

Meet RippleMatch

What if you could turn the entry level recruiting process from a Tinder-like competition of surface credentials into an eHarmony-like matching of what a particular company is looking for, and what a specific student brings to the table? That’s what RippleMatch does.

RippleMatch helps companies who care about diversity source the right people for their early career hiring, delivering better candidates in less time and at lower cost than traditional collegiate recruiting programs. In a job market too often driven by surface credentials, alumni loyalties, and parental networks, RippleMatch collects deep preference information on location, career path, and company culture from both candidates and employers. These preferences - comprising over 300 proprietary data points - enable sophisticated matching by attributes that encourage job success and employee retention, while delivering on diversity goals across racial, gender, and socioeconomic lines.

The company — based in New York and growing fast — is led by two smart, young entrepreneurs named Andrew Myers and Eric Ho. The pair left Yale to start the company 3 years ago, Eric after a brief engineering stint at Facebook, and Andrew before he even graduated. In that short time and without a lot of capital they’ve built a great team and a mission-driven culture, along with a fantastic set of Series-A operating metrics, all powered by happy customers at places like TripAdvisor, Liberty Mutual, Pfizer, and Qualtrics.

We could not be more excited to lead this round with Accomplice, Bullpen, and Work-Bench to support this team and this mission, and look forward to helping more companies find the BEST early career candidates for them… not just the most similar.

By the way… my daughter did end up getting that job. She found someone who knew the person at the company who hadn’t responded to her, and reached out after a little coaching from Dad to ask for a coffee to get some “career advice.” They met and talked about the role that was available, and he hired her on the spot.

It helps in life to be a rock star, like my little girl.

But it’s still good to know a guy.

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G20 Ventures

Human scale venture capital.

Mike Troiano

Written by

Venture storyteller, wartime consiglieri, lyrical gangsta. Partner, G20 Ventures, thoughts here are my own.

G20 Ventures

Human scale venture capital.

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