Untapt delivers ‘game-changing’ recruiting system

Ed Donner Headshot
Ed Donner

In covering the fin-tech revolution, we often profile startups who have envisioned some area of commerce and are going about developing solutions they hope will save their clients time and money.

The growth in this area is clear. A week does not go by without notification of a new platform or two, or of an industry conference where dozens of fin-tech companies gather.

As the level of disruption grows, it has created some unique issues which are ripe for disruption. One of these issues is how companies can access and retain top talent.

This is the issue which led Ed Donner and Geoff Massar to create untapt, a platform connecting software developers with hedge funds, startups, and financial services firms.

Mr. Donner would know the hardships of attracting and retaining quality software developers. In his 20-year career, he has developed risk-management tools for companies ranging in size from startups to JP Morgan Chase. He said a common complaint he heard industry-wide was the frustration in finding, hiring and retaining good engineers.

“The problem is particularly acute in financial services and fin-tech,” Mr. Donner explained, “Because the demand is off the charts and the need for technology to disrupt this space is greater than ever, yet engineers do not necessarily understand the problems getting solved in fin-tech.”

“That is when I realized I need a platform that solved exactly this type of problem.”

Mr. Donner ran the idea by Max Kantelia, the recruiter who placed him at JP Morgan. Mr. Kantelia loved it and said Mr. Donner needed to meet Mr. Massam who was a CIO at Deutsche Bank. Together they created untapt.

“As a technologist myself, as someone always looking for a better way to do things through technology, the idea resonated immediately,” Mr. Massam said. “Hiring hundreds of people worldwide is a long, slow and expensive process.”

The platform development process also does not happen overnight. It took six months to finalize plans and another six months to build it. The site was unveiled late last year.

Mr. Donner said at its core untapt takes the very best of what a human recruiter does and completely automates it by building a fully scalable automated platform that connects two sides of the marketplace, by concentrating on a specialized market.

Many types of jobs require a defined skills set, and the screening and interview processes are often similar. This lends itself to the automation and scalability Mr. Donner speaks of. Senior level and executive positions require more of a human touch.

“At the technological level we believe the recruitment can be basically automated,” Mr. Donner said.

Mr. Donner drew on his experience building marketplaces and systems that allow two sides to match needs and connect with each other. There was plenty of overlap when it came time to attack the recruiting challenge.

In order for untapt to succeed the platform has to concurrently execute two unique recruitment strategies, one for companies and one for individuals. On the business end Mr. Donner said they rely on the oldest of maxims.

“Connections are everything,” he explained. “Geoff, Max and I are very well connected with startups, medium-sized companies, hedge funds and larger companies, and that helps us get them on board. We’re getting meetings there and they like the product.”

Untapt has hiring managers record short videos introducing themselves and the types of problems they are trying to solve. They then create a web page for each of their clients which describes what an engineer does at that firm.

“That is a game changer,” Mr. Donner said, before adding they have signed up between 150 and 200 companies before the end of April.

When recruiting both companies and individual candidates they also rely on digital marketing through sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google.

Jobseekers joining untapt create a profile of their skills and experience. They browse the corporate pages and directly contact the hiring managers from the companies which interest them. Untapt is attracting as many as 300 engineers per week and has more than 7,000 registered users.

Untapt makes sure candidates can actually do what they write on their profiles by asking experienced-based questions that can be judged by the depth of response.

Mr. Donner said companies can save up to $30,000 per hire, which adds up when one considers there are 400,000 tech-related jobs in the New York City area.

“We do it faster, with better quality, and for cheaper,” Mr. Donner said. Fees start at $10,000 per position and can go as low as $5,000 depending on the number of untapt candidates a firm hires.

As is often the case with most disrupted industries, untapt has faced some establishment backlash.

“A few recruiters have tried to sign up and get access to our candidates, while a few have applied to work for us,” Mr. Donner admitted. “Some are sanguine about it and admit it had to happen one day.”

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