Boston-based Filtered.ai has raised a $7 million round to accelerate its hiring cadence, and built out the go-to-market model for its its engineering and developer-focused hiring service, it recently announced.
TechCrunch caught up with the company to discuss not only why it decided to leave bootstrapping behind, but also to dig into how its service could widen the market for some technical roles.
The startup was born back in 2016 out of a need when its founder and CEO Paul Bilodeau started to work on it as an internal project while employed at a consultancy. Filtered later split from the consulting group in 2019, signing a term sheet to raise capital in March of 2020. Then COVID-19 arrived, and things got a bit turbulent.
But before we get lost in the money side of things, let's talk about what the company does.
Filtered's product is interesting as it could help shake up a hiring system for technical roles for startups that is rife with bias and wasted time. If you are friends with any developers, for example, or data scientists, you are aware of how not-good their hiring process can be.
To pick two issues: Resumes are often a pretty poor indicator of talent, and on-site whiteboard sessions are super unpopular. Filtered is taking on both by providing skills-based take-home tests with AI aboard to help detect fraud. The hiring company can play back those sessions to see how candidates approached problems. Filtered also allows companies to ask candidates open-ended interview questions via video, removing the need for formulaic phone screens that are only good for providing full-employment to junior HR staff.
Filtered claims that its system can get companies to the point of making offers more quickly.
That's all well and good, but what TechCrunch was most curious about was what the startup's service might manage when it comes to making hiring more equitable. If it's more skills-focused than resume-centric, does that shake up who gets hired? It does, the company thinks. Once resumes lose some of their luster, and candidates are vetted on skills over keyword optimization in their applications, "diversity just happens," Bilodeau explained.
Let's get back to the money. The timing of Filtered's anticipated venture capital round and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic were unfortunately timed rather close to each other.
So, Bilodeau told TechCrunch in an interview that his startup effectively raised capital on a drip basis throughout 2020, until it finally closed its round in the fourth quarter of the year. That timing was somewhat fortuitous for its investors -- Silicon Valley Data Capital and the AI Fund -- as Filtered's CEO said that that was the company's best quarter in its history.
From bootstrapping to taking on capital, what changed at Filtered that led it to decide to raise external funding? Per Bilodeau, he didn't want to raise money. And he said that crowing about fundraising news is somewhat nonsensical, likening it to sharing on LinkedIn that he took out a mortgage on a house.
But as Filtered wanted to hire proactively instead of when it closed a new deal, picking up new funds made sense. The startup also wanted to work more on its marketing efforts, shake up its pricing and move toward a land-and-expand model from an enterprise sales focus. More money would make all of that a bit easier, so it took on capital.
Looking ahead, we're hoping that Filtered can somehow quantify the impact it has on hiring diverse folks for technical roles. If it's material, that could be even more exciting than rapid revenue growth.