Why we led the Seed round of PickYourSkills

Victoire Laurenty
Nov 26, 2019 · 6 min read

We are thrilled to announce our recent investment in PickYourSkills — a B2B SaaS company matching employees’ skills, personal request and availability with each project’s specific needs.

We share here a short summary of why we decided to back the outstanding team building PickYourSkills. This piece is structured as an internal memo, highlighting general takeaways from our internal analysis (without disclosing any confidential information about the company).

What is PickYourSkills?

PickYourSkills centralizes the employees’ key attributes (skills, assigned projects, current location, personal request, availabilities, etc.) with each project’s needs and optimizes the matching of both.

PickYourSkills solves the so-called “puzzle of resource allocation” which has been giving HRs and managers severe headaches for too long now.

The most common alternative solution — even in large companies — is an Excel spreadsheet altered over and over again by HRs and managers.

The high volume of information manipulated makes it virtually impossible for HRs to optimize the projects’ occupancy rate while complying with all the employees’ requests at the same time. These requests are the illustration of the employees’ personal development plans and are most of the time left behind, causing employee turnover.

The good development of new and relevant skills is inherently linked to the projects one is assigned to. To work efficiently, a timely mapmaking of the employees’ competencies and personal development plans must be integrated into a staffing software.

PickYourSkills’ vision is to create a unified organizational platform integrating resource allocation, employee performance and feedback management (and updated skills when a project is completed), up-to-date employees’ personal development plans, staffing and training needed.

PickYourSkills has 4 different types of users:

  • Managers. They request resources for a given project and update the skills of each employee once the project is completed. They can also research and request a specific employee on the platform given their skillset, history of projects, fit with the team, etc.
  • HRs. They validate the optimized overall staffing and oversee employees’ skills development, percentage of fulfilled individual demand, overall satisfaction of employees, etc.
  • Employees. They update their personal requests (skills to be developed, preferred location and type of project, etc.) and competencies on the platform. In some instances, employees can also directly select their upcoming projects from the platform.
  • C-level executives. They can track macro KPIs on the platform (occupancy rate, skills shortage, etc).

Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

PickYourSkills’ unique selling proposition is threefold:

  • Offer a real-time comprehensive view of the projects’ advancement, allocated resources and talent pool’s skills and competencies;
  • Maximize the occupancy rate with a direct impact on margins;
  • Increase employee retention by maximizing their day-to-day satisfaction.

Team

When we first met the Arnaud(s) and Etienne — respectively CEO, COO and CTO — we saw a passionate team that is hungry, driven and strongly bonded together (and they are hiring :)!).

We were not surprised to learn they had been knowing each other since childhood — from our experience, those founders who are close even before starting their company perform substantially better over time.

The Arnaud(s) have spent many years working in the consulting industry and have cultivated a crystal clear understanding of the resource allocation pain and the impact it has on employees.

They are driven by a shared purpose: developing employees’ skills and improving their well-being in the workplace (and there is 0 doubt they could spend years and years working on that).

This combined with very good Sales skills and an experienced Tech team (lead by Etienne) ended up convincing us.

One of our concern was at the time their ability to build a first-class UX to resolve the multidimensional staffing problem. The recent onboarding of their experienced Head of Product will definitely make up for that!

Market

PickYourSkills targets both service providers and large companies with project-based approaches.

We observed an interesting dynamic among PickYourSkills’ top users. They started to recommend the solution to their network. And when these users happen to be consultants who deal everyday with large companies sharing similar staffing pains, the whole story can take a very different course of action.

In terms of size, the Total Addressable Market in Europe amounts to ~€4Bn and is driven by:

  • The rise of agile structures made of project-based works across all departments (IT, R&D, Ops., Marketing, Finance, etc)

“Two-thirds of companies with high adoption rates for digital tools expect workflows to become more project- than function-based. New jobs defined by technologies that extend across functions have much shorter, project-oriented time frames.” Rethinking work at the Digital Age, McKinsey (2016)

  • The increasing importance of skilled employees development and retention in large companies
  • The acceleration of skill-based self employment and hybrid employment (combining traditional and independent work). Note: the long-term product strategy is to manage freelancers skillsset and assessment directly with PickYourSkills

To date, 30% of PickYourSkills’ users are located outside of France as teams are increasingly scattered internationally. This represents an evident opportunity for PickYourSkills to grow internationally.

Competition

As we’ve said earlier, PickYourSkills’ main alternative is an Excel spreadsheet. Some of these spreadsheets have evolved towards some internally-developed enhanced platforms. Up to now, Pickyourskills stands out very well against them :).

Other software solutions have been manipulated to solve the identified pain, but were incomplete in essence. These include:

  • Resource Management Software such as Mavenlink (2011, $115M raised), Smarsheet (2005, $5,5Bn Market Cap) or Workfront (2001, $95M raised). These solutions are complex and “project-centric” rather than “people- and strategy-centric”, meaning that their core focus is to maximize the occupancy rate with a lower focus on employee satisfaction. Users are mostly HRs and managers (KPIs monitoring) and employees are rarely involved
  • Project Management Software such as Asana (2008, $214M raised). Their core focus is the organization of underlying tasks within a project. They tend to map competencies, but on a project level rather than on an organization level
  • Talent Management platform such as Reflektice (2014, $100M raised), Betterwork (2013, $65M raised) or Lattice (2016, $10M raised) which do not include staffing, which means that competencies are not updated according to the assigned projects

Traction & KPIs

Six months post product launch, PickYourSkills was already implemented within large Enterprises (CapGemini, Mazars, Artefact, etc.) with first proof of return on investment, and began to expand accross teams to capture the huge business potential of its existing clients.

First product’s usage statistics showed strong adoption among employees, managers and HRs. Throughout the investment process, we built together key measures of success and top user ideal usage statistics to deeply understand each customer and maximize their satisfaction.

Final notes

Many thanks to the PickYourSkills team for choosing us to start this long and exciting journey. A kind wink to Alexis Robert (Kima Ventures) who’s making it together with us.

“It is good to have an end to a journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end”

If you want to learn more about our investment process and how we help our portfolio companies, please feel free to ping me at victoire@kerala.vc.

Reread by a brilliant analyst passionate about VC ⇒ Paul Moriou

Kerala Ventures

    Victoire Laurenty

    Written by

    Kerala Ventures

    Early stage investments. Massive strategic & operational support.

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