Where is the next great HR tech company? Right here in NYC.

Taylor Majewski

While innovation continues to flood into every facet of the workplace, startups focused on disrupting human resources have continued to make waves — and they’re proliferating in New York City.

From humble beginnings to multi-story corporate offices, a company’s success is contingent on its team, especially in today’s competitive tech landscape. A top-notch product or an instinctively savvy founder can’t grow a company alone, which is why startups are now looking to invest in people from the start.

We took a deep dive into how a group of local HR tech players help other companies make this happen — and how New York City has been conducive to their growth.

Stack Overflow provides a platform where software developers can learn from each other by sharing their own knowledge. The website helps developers solve coding problems, find expert answers to their questions and discover job opportunities. We spoke with director of people Joe Humphries and product manager Sam Brand to learn more about the company’s role as a major HR tech player.  

How has being based in NYC helped Stack Overflow grow in the HR tech space?

For years, New York has been ahead of the game in regards to its support of the tech industry; that support has led to an influx of new tech companies that will inevitably need HR software infrastructure. Being based in NYC allows us to be on the ground with so many other companies that face similar challenges as we do. We understand that competition for talent is at a peak, because we're also living in that reality and feeling the same pressures. So many incredible companies are being born in this city, and our products can help them find the talent they need in order to get off the ground.

What trends do you think you'll see in the HR tech space in the coming year?

More companies focused on metrics: cost per hire, time to hire, qualified prospect per resume, et cetera. These are things we're optimizing for on Stack Overflow Talent, but not all clients are paying attention, which is understandable — priorities vary across recruiting teams. From a product standpoint, I expect we'll see more recruiting tools taking advantage of natural language processing and matching of job descriptions and resumes. We'll also see more employer branding and analytics on employer branding to help companies understand how they can recruit more effectively and who they are competing against for talent.

How do you think NYC's HR tech community will mature over the next five years? The next 10 years?

I think a number of things will influence the HR tech community in NYC over the coming years. More and more people will graduate with computer science degrees and business degrees and will begin to monetize their ideas. Technology will evolve in such a way that new developments can be made to further improve HR software. Companies will respond to shifts in political and social climates, and will partner with HR tech firms to move the needle.

 

Justworks is a benefits and payroll company that looks to provide a seamless payroll experience, affordable benefits and comprehensive compliance coverage all in one product. We caught up with Isaac Oates, Justworks' founder and CEO, to learn his take on HR tech in New York.

How has being based in NYC helped Justworks grow in the HR tech space?

One of the biggest benefits of having New York City as our home base is the proximity to our customers and the over 50,000 small businesses in our target market. Since our customers are our neighbors, we’re often able to meet with them face-to-face or go door-to-door to sell our products, which adds a huge value and a personal touch that can’t be measured.

New York is also one of the most diverse cities out there — for industry and culture. Media, fashion, finance and many other industries are booming in New York; being surrounded by them all gives us access to unique business perspectives. The vastness of New York enables us to recruit people from all different walks of life so we can build an HR technology platform that helps people of all shapes and sizes.

What trends do you think you'll see in the HR tech space in the coming year?

The HR landscape is changing dramatically as policies around health insurance administration and health savings accounts (HSAs) continue to evolve. In the next year I think we will see more HR tech companies move below the application layer to tackle these infrastructure-level challenges and find ways to help consumers more easily navigate the complexities around healthcare.

How do you think NYC's HR tech community will mature over the next five years? The next 10  years?

Right now the cost of distribution is steep for HR tech solutions, and the competitive marketplace keeps customer acquisition costs high. In the next five to 10 years I expect we’ll see more consolidation of complementary HR products and services, creating more all-in-one solutions for businesses at a reduced cost. Not only will this be good for end users, but HR tech companies will also benefit from higher ROI on customer acquisition costs.

 

Greenhouse, a recruiting software as a service company, got its start back in 2012. The company sells licenses to other companies looking to use its product, which collects job seekers’ applications from employment websites and referrals into one dashboard. We spoke with CEO and co-founder Daniel Chait to find out more about how Greenhouse has innovated within the recruitment space.

How has being based in NYC helped Greenhouse grow in the HR tech space?

NYC has helped Greenhouse in that there is great talent here, great VCs, lots of customers and quite a few other HR tech companies that we’ve become close with.

What trends do you think you'll see in the HR tech space in the coming year?

We’ll continue to see high growth and innovation within the sector. It’s not slowing down — if anything, it’s accelerating. We’ll also see a battle between best-of-breed innovators who sell to direct users versus all-in-one older suites such as Workday and Oracle who sell to the CIO.

How do you think NYC's HR tech community will mature over the next five years? The next 10 years?

NYC could emerge as a hub for HR tech — I would bet that we will have at least one NYC HR tech unicorn in the next five years. As for the next 10 years, whoo boy! As Yogi Berra said, predictions are hard, especially about the future.

 

 

Smart Screen is an automated onboarding and background service that delivers personalized background checks in a fast and affordable manner. The company aims to help organizations reduce risk through screening employees, contractors and suppliers using their secure and compliant platform. We spoke with Smart Screen CEO Subrat Nayak to learn more.

How has being based in NYC helped Smart Screen Grow as an HR tech space?

Smart Screen is grateful to be a part of the New York tech scene. Silicon Alley is known for having some of the best companies across a wide variety of sectors. To be in the same city as some of the most innovative people in the tech industry provides us a big advantage because we built our business with their needs in mind and can connect with them in person. Companies such as Greenhouse and Justworks have completely disrupted the HR tech space and are just a few subway stops from us. But being in NYC also affords us the ability to meet and work with a wide variety of companies in various stages of growth, not just in the tech space.

What trends do you think you'll see in the HR tech space in the coming year?

AI will continue to grow and make its way into the HR tech space in the coming years. Automation and machine learning, already in place with some recruiting sites, will replace a number of the manual and repetitive tasks that HR is now performing when it comes to onboarding candidates. Along with automating the tasks, AI will make compliance process faster and easier. With the automation of onboarding processes from start to finish (background checks included), HR will be able to invest more time on management and growth of human capital. Over the years, HR practices have become more bureaucratic with lots of paperwork and compliance rules at play. The power of AI will help streamline much of that process. At Smart Screen, our proprietary algorithms and bots are already making that possible during onboarding and the background check process, saving time and money while increasing accuracy.

How do you think NYC's HR tech community will mature over the next five years? The next ten years?

Over the next five years NYC's HR tech space will create a number of technologies that make HR more productive and efficient. We know the gig or freelancing economies will be even more entrenched. HR practices will therefore need to change to accommodate a workforce that is mobile or working on different projects at any given time.

We also anticipate the need for making the onboarding and background checking process faster, simpler and cheaper. The demand for instant access to background check results and quicker adjudication of the results will grow multifold. Smart Screen is creating proprietary databases and tools for applicant scoring systems to help make the hiring process faster and much more affordable. Another area we see AI disrupting the industry is with chatbots and videos being used to communicate with candidates during the selection and hiring process. Predictive analytics will therefore gain much importance in a hiring and talent management practices.

Over the next decade, these technologies will have become a common practice at HR departments across industries and sectors. HR won't be a siloed organization that is feared or not liked. HR will be much of efficient, lean and productive. It will play an actively role in decision making process for businesses and growth of human capital especially as the human capital becomes even more dynamic.

 

Wade and Wendy is building virtual personalities in the realm of recruiting and hiring. The company operates two personalities: Wade acts as a personal adviser throughout your career and Wendy acts as the frontline of a company, vetting candidates as a recruiter would. We spoke with Wade and Wendy co-founder Ian Jaffrey to talk about the future of recruitment, chatbots and HR automation.

How has being based in NYC helped Wade and Wendy grow in the HR tech space?

NYC has provided a fantastic base camp for our domain.The startup community here is both thriving and highly collaborative, a perfect combination to find early adopter customers who have allowed us to test, iterate and polish our product in the early stages. Additionally, NYC is home to a broad spectrum of large enterprises and we’ve been able to reach key decision makers to work on deals and partnerships across various domains. While the city isn’t the cheapest to bootstrap an early stage company, the ecosystem here is extremely favorable to getting a B2B startup off the ground.

What trends do you think you'll see in the HR tech space in the coming year?

A lot of changes are taking place in HR tech. The use of intelligent bots in HR and recruiting is a very hot topic. While the applications are still in a nascent stage, several innovative companies have already begun implementing them to improve candidate engagement and enhance the information gathering process. This significantly reduces mundane, time-consuming tasks and facilitates better communication between the job seeker and recruiter.

There are also a lot of developments among applicant tracking systems to increasingly facilitate developer-friendly APIs. This is an important development, as they provide the platform for a lot of technologies to slot into. As this trend continues we’ll see a lot more digital tools coming available to the recruiter that will make the process easier, while also facilitating more data-driven insights and decision making.

How do you think NYC's HR tech community will mature over the next five years? The next 10 years?

A lot of strong HR Tech companies are located in NYC that are complementary in nature. The community is also pretty tight-knit and highly collaborative. In the coming years we’re going to see a lot of partnerships and integrations that will work together to put data and insights to use across the hiring funnel — from initial sourcing activity, to screening, interviewing and even in the later stages such as performance management.

This will also lead to a lot more automation of mundane tasks, which is a very good thing. With the aid of AI and a suite of digital tools, the recruiter will be able to focus more of their time on higher value functions. They will have more time to focus on areas like deepening relationships with candidates and hiring managers, sourcing efforts, attending events and people management.

 

 

WayUp, which was founded in 2014, is a platform designed to connect companies with college students and recent grads. Simply put, the company places millennials into the modern workforce. We spoke with Michael Wieder, the company’s head of brand marketing and partnerships, to find out more.

How has being based in NYC helped WayUp grow in the HR tech space?

Being based in New York City has allowed us to forge strong partnerships and relationships with other HR tech companies, since NYC is home to many great companies disrupting the space.

What trends do you think you'll see in the HR tech space in the coming year?

Three things to look out for are new technologies around candidate experience, employee mobility and recruitment AI.

How do you think NYC's HR tech community will mature over the next five years? The next 10 years?

We believe that the HR tech community is evolving mainly because HR teams are becoming some of the most strategic teams in an organization. As business problems become more complex over the next five to 10 years, organizations will have to continue to double down on how they find, hire and retain the best people.

 

 

Built In is the top online community and recruiting platform for startups and tech companies in New York. The network of six Built In sites (including Built In NYC) provides an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at the innovative products and cultures of today's top tech companies and helps them recruit the talent they need to thrive. Built In's co-founder and CEO Maria Christopoulos Katris weighed in on what the journey has been like so far, and what we should expect from the space going forward.

How has being based in NYC helped Built In NYC grow in the HR tech space?

NYC is home to standout national and global HR tech companies like Greenhouse, Namely, Andela and Justworks, to name a few. NYC investors understand HR tech and have seeded, mentored and helped create an ecosystem where HR tech can not only start but flourish. Given that NYC is the second largest tech market in the U.S., tech companies are finding it ever more important to highlight their unique cultures to job seekers to get their attention. There is no better place to do that than in NYC.

What trends do you think you'll see in the HR tech space in the coming year?

From a candidate acquisition perspective, I think we will continue to see more niche and targeted solutions for finding and engaging talent (e.g. industry specific, location specific, gender specific, etc). The “all things to all people” platforms of the past simply do not deliver anymore in a passive job seeker market. In addition, it is no longer about job postings but rather getting in front of talented candidates when they’re not looking to leave their current role. 

From an internal HR perspective, we continue to see that employees are craving the ability to not just find a job, but live where they want to live, work the hours they want to work, have impact and believe in the company’s mission. Keeping this workforce in mind, I think we will see products and software focused on employee engagement and the remote worker/internal communication tools.

I also believe we will start to see consolidation of platforms available to HR/talent teams. The current number of tools these teams are expected to manage is not sustainable — especially when they solve siloed needs. Given the demands of HR/talent roles, we'll see more teams eliminating tools that don't deliver ROI or make their lives easier.

How do you think NYC's HR tech community will mature over the next five years? The next 10 years?

Within the last five years alone, we have already seen first-hand the intense number of companies that have popped up in the space. HR used to be this scary department where employees went with their problems. Now, HR, people and talent acquisition teams are the core focus at almost every tech company, with representation on leadership teams and in board meetings. It is becoming necessary for companies to focus on people and employees first in order to build profitable businesses for the long term.

Images via featured companies, Facebook and Shutterstock. 

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