We failed, but that doesn’t stop us

Startup failure

Our start-up journey started with Hirenodes at the end of 2014. We started working on referral based hiring platform. Hiring is the biggest challenge for start-ups and large companies alike. A good hire can make or break companies, and companies spend significant amount of resources to get the right hire. Among the multiple channels for hiring, referrals have proven to be the best source of hires.

Our vision was to build a referral based hiring platform to help companies find their next rock-star employee through their current employees, trusted friends and experts in their network.

Why Referral based hiring?

The benefits of referral based hiring were very clear; Faster hiring, higher retention, lower cost/higher ROI.  We wanted to build a platform that could enable referral based hiring as a primary channel for hiring. We wanted to connect active job seekers to their next dream job, at the same time help companies target passive rock-star potential candidates through referrals.

Where did we go wrong?

While the problem statement and solution we wanted to build was convincing, we relied heavily on existing social network data like Linked to build our referral network. Using existing social network we were able to pin-point matching jobs to candidates where they not only had the skills, but also had the connections who could refer them directly to the hiring manager.

Our solution was designed to reduce friction for both employees and seekers to find each other through their trusted network of connections. We built the beta version of the platform and released it in Jan-15, around the same time LinkedIn announced changes to their API policy (LinkedIn API policy change ). This restricted any job based solutions access to LinkedIn connections, even if the users ware willing to share their data. This prevented us from finding user connections to refer candidates for a job through referral.

This effectively sealed the fate of our referral based hiring platform. We explored other options like enrolling into LinkedIn partner program, but later decided against it. We shut down the product and moved on to find a solution for another founder’s problem we had encountered while developing the referral product.

Lessons learnt

If we had to redo the referral product again, we would do it without any dependency on other products. One cannot build a successful product based on data owned by another company; we learnt that as Start-up’s we need to remove critical dependencies on data and execution to be successful.

We were also little slow in releasing our product, we were striving to build the right product before launching. We weren’t lean in testing the waters early on, we realize that releasing early and getting customer feedback is crucial for any product success.

We haven’t written off referral based hiring platform idea yet, we still believe referral is a great channel for hiring. We have some thoughts on how to approach the problem without critical dependencies, but feel that we need more time in developing the right solution.

What next

We have learnt lot of lessons trying to build the referral based hiring platform, being part of TLABS accelerator program (2015 Spring Batch) has refined our approach to building a start-up.

Being a start-up we faced significant challenges on-boarding resources; full-time or most often a quality freelancer who can get us across the chasm. Getting the right resources at the right time can be the difference between safe landings or crashes.

We tried few freelancing sites to hire freelancers, but our experience was bad. We realized that start-ups need resources at their office to exchange thoughts and get tasks executed, and none of the freelancing sites supported the onsite model. We did manage to hire a very smart Android freelancer, who worked with us closely to complete some critical flows. Guess where the resource came from, well he came to us through referralJ.

What better place to start than trying to address founder’s problem.  We decided to connect crucial resources/freelancers to start-ups with our new Android app.

If you are a freelancer or have the skills to help start-ups download the app and try your skills at a start-up freelance job. If you are a start-up and need quality resources, download the app and connect with great freelancers.

Hirenodes Freelance App


Pankaj Goyal

I am a startup technologist with over 11 years of experience. I have been working with startups since begining of my career. We started Hirenodes in June 2014 with basic concept of building a referral based hiring platform.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>