Anybody who’s worked in human resources and have sorted through hundreds of resumes from job applicants know how painfully tedious this part of the hiring process is. Chris Twyman saw the opportunity to solve this age-old problem after completing a project for a strategy consulting firm looking at efficiency in the recruitment industry, and founded Zapoint.com in 2007 with a mission to change the manner by which talent is captured, consumed and managed.
“(Have you tried) reading a pile of 100 resumes and making an effective evaluation? I decided if I could turn resumes into numbers I could provide a new tool for resume comparison,” says the founder and CEO of Brookline, Massachusetts-based Zapoint. Twyman previously spent 12 years working in the software industry – most recently at CA Inc – and is not new to entrepreneurship, having formed UrbanFox, a UK-based startup providing online trading solutions to telecommunications carriers.
Fast forward one year later and Twyman’s team has developed what the company calls ‘the industry’s first true Web 2.0 talent platform’. The system is based around a patent-pending talent algorithm that quantifies an individuals skills and achievements into an objective and common ‘talent currency’, whose basis can used for objective comparison and removes the ambiguity and subjectivity that plagues much of today’s HR practices.
Twyman turns evasive when asked how Zapoint‘s talent algorithm works. “Can’t do that… it’s our secret sauce. Like I said it converts skills and achievements into numbers so we can rank talent.”
Twyman put the system to the test, pitting it against a recruiter in ranking 100 resumes. “He took 4 days to read and rank the results we did the same in 4 seconds.” He says the real genesis started the day Google acquired YouTube. “I could see that Web 2.0 technology could really add value and Zapoint could be a part of that growth.”
Essentially, Zapoint changes a person’s resume into a dynamic LifeChart, a graphical resume that captures and presents the data in a much more digestible format. “For the first time, talent can be ranked… the process is interactive and it empowers both the recruiter and the professional.” Tyman shares that this has tremendous benefits for everybody in the value chain. “Professionals get instant feedback on how they compare to peers. Recruiters get to manage their applicants in a more efficient way. Businesses can benchmark the skills and achievements of their employees.” Twyman names Success Factors, online job boards and – cheekily – Microsoft Word as Zapoint‘s key competitors.
Twyman shares his simple philosophy on putting a great team together. He basically looked around the business school he had attended – Hult International Business School in Cambridge, Massachusetts – for people who are ‘start-up ready to go the extra mile’. “A great example is Joe Brooks. His background is in real estate but his aptitude and competency has meant he is perfect for the role.” Brooks is Zapoint‘s Chief Technology Officer and its head of development. Brooks was keen to work in an entrepreneurial and dynamic startup environment after graduating with his MBA, where his skills and experience – he worked in London for 7 years in real estate – could be readily applied and stretched. Having worked previously in an industry with relatively high staff turnover, Joe was keen to work on developing talent management solutions to help companies identify, retain and manage the skills within their organizations.
“(Joe) is the classic example of hiring the best and they will achieve,” Twyman says.
Twyman first funded his venture with his own money – once that ran out he asked angels to participate. His first angels ended on his advisory board and, according to him, are some of “the best HR brains in Boston”. At time of writing, Zapoint found a great VC firm and is rolling towards a Series B.
Despite the current world economy, Twyman is optimistic about Zapoint weathering the storm. “Talent management is so high on (company) agendas right now. They cannot afford to lose their best people.” Twyman has reason to be optimistic – the company names Sovereign Bank, Direct TV and (Twyman’s and Brook’s alma mater) Hult University amongst its clients and already estimates a revenue of around US$500,000 this year. He’s also looking at growing his team from the current 15 to 40 by the end of this year.
He aims to get everyone ‘zapping’ their resumes. “If we get that into the vernacular then we have done our job…we are on our way,” he says.