As fast-growing companies — or, dare I say, ‘scale-ups’ — add new headcount, the pace at which they are able to on-board new hires doesn’t always keep up. In fact, I’m told it is not unheard of for new employees to turn up on day one apparently unexpected, and to be passed from pillar to post as they attempt to get set up and be shown all of the things you need to be shown to actually start a new role.
Enter Personably, the London startup founded in late 2016 by Katerina Pascoulis and Lewis Blackwood, after the former Crowdcube and GoCardless employees spotted an opportunity to use software to streamline and in some instances automate aspects of the on-boarding process. Bootstrapped until now, the company is disclosing that it recently raised £500,000 in seed funding.
The round was led by GFC, the venture arm of e-commerce behemoth and company builder Rocket Internet’s GFC — which knows more than a thing or two about the teething problems scaling companies have — along with a number of angel investors. The latter includes Matt Robinson, co-founder of GoCardless and Nested (which I’m told are both early customers of Personably), and Caroline Sage, founder at Kea Consultants.
“Right now, on boarding people into fast growing companies is incredibly time-consuming,” Pascoulis tells me. “If you don’t onboard that person properly you’re losing out on the first 6 months of their time at the company. They’ll take longer to get up to speed which is expensive for the company and a poor experience for the individual, especially if they then leave sooner because of it”.
In researching the viability of a solution like Personably, Pascoulis says everyone her and Blackwood spoke to had their own story about something that had gone wrong in their first week that had stuck with them. “What Personably does to solve this is automating away a lot of those manual tasks that need to happen when someone starts,” she says. “Things as simple as sending welcome emails right up to automatically scheduling everything that new starter needs to attend.”
When a company is relatively small, these types of on-boarding tasks and the organisation around it tend to fall to one or two people and happens at a hiring pace that makes it manageable. However, if a company hits hyper-growth mode or simply becomes a much larger organisation with many more moving parts, the on-boarding process itself also needs to scale.
“When you’re hiring one person every couple of months it’s something you can handle. But when you’re hiring one or more people a week, you’re spending a lot of time doing these tasks that should just be handled automatically. We give teams that time back,” says Pascoulis.
As an example, imagine scheduling weeks of training across a company, involving lots of different team members. This might typically be handled through a combination of spreadsheets, email and task manager, but with Personably can be done with a single click and tracked all in one interface.
Meanwhile, the business model is typical SaaS. Companies pay a monthly subscription fee to use the product, and the pricing varies based on the volume of hires a company is making.
Pascoulis cites competitors as newer HR systems like CharlieHR and HiBob that have on-boarding features, but, she argues, don’t scale as well. There’s also traditional enterprise products like Workday that handle on-boarding on an enterprise level.