Draftboard lets companies list referral bonuses for anyone

Companies that offer role referral bonuses do so with the assumption that their employees know their work culture — and a role’s requirements — best. But what if companies were to open up those referral bonuses to people outside the organization?

That’s the idea behind Draftboard, co-founded by Zach Roseman, the former CEO of mobile app dev group Mosaic. Draftboard lets employers post referral bonuses and have referrers compete to earn them by scouring their networks for talent.

“If you’re a large enterprise, you’re getting thousands of resumes per role you post,” Roseman told TechCrunch. “So you either have a massive talent team spending inordinate amounts of time poring through each one, or you’re spending six or seven figures a year on an AI screening solution that undoubtedly has big downsides, like privacy, bias, errors and so on.”

Draftboard is Roseman’s first project after Mosaic and IAC, the American holding company that owns a number of consumer brands including Allrecipes, Handy and Care.com. At IAC, Roseman was senior director of strategy and mergers and acquisitions, and frequently had to deal with finding the right fits for talent.

“The thought behind Draftboard was, why not leverage existing referral bonus programs and the power of a networked world to identify the best candidates?” Roseman said. “You get a much smaller, but much higher-quality, funnel of applicants — allowing you to hire faster.”

So how does Draftboard work?


Image Credits: Draftboard

Free for companies, Draftboard notifies its roughly 1,000 referrers — in Draftboard’s parlance, “scouts” — as referrals move through the different stages of companies’ recruiting processes. Referrers are graded on the quality of their referrals, and Draftboard takes a 20% cut of each referral bonus.

I asked how Draftboard found its initial group of referrers. Cold calling, Roseman replied.

“We started by putting out calls to our network — via WhatsApp groups, listservs, LinkedIn, etc. — for people who ran and owned tech communities,” he said. “I’d do discovery calls with them and ask them what their pain points were … On top of that, every time I had a call with a founder or talent person to try to get their company to list roles on Draftboard, it almost always ended up with them saying, ‘I know three people who would be great scouts — I’m going to ping them right now.’”

Aren’t there requirements to be a referrer? Not really, Roseman said — which might sound like a massive risk for companies to take. But he asserted that, in fact, it democratizes the process in a sort of meritocratic way.

“There aren’t requirements to be a referrer — and that’s by design,” Roseman said. “I thought, why not make the system data-driven and self-reinforcing? Companies set minimum scores; if your score is lower than their minimum, then you’re not allowed to send referrals to them anymore. So rather than us top-down policing who can and can’t be a referrer, we let the referrers moderate their own behavior in a bottoms-up way all by themselves.”

But, you might say, isn’t Draftboard essentially contracting out headhunting and recruiting without calling it that? Roseman claims this isn’t so — and that in fact many recruiters support the platform, which they use to run side hustles.

“Scouts run the gamut, from Substackers to recruiters to everyday employees at tech startups like Amazon, Spotify, Deel and TikTok,” Roseman said. “We think referrals can and should be open to everyone, not just company employees — as long as you can control for quality, which we do via our reputation score system.”


Image Credits: Draftboard

The business model certainly seems to be appealing to brands. Around 70 are on Draftboard today, including SeatGeek, Via and Formlabs.

It’s evidently intriguing to investors, too. Draftboard has raised $4.1 million from investors, including Founder Collective and Twelve Below, at a $13 million valuation.

“Job boards like LinkedIn, Indeed and ZipRecruiter exist to connect job seekers and companies, which results in some funky incentives and selection bias,” Roseman said. “We don’t do that. Instead, we connect referrers with companies, and those referrers bring the talent — whether they’re active job seekers or simply open to opportunities passively.”

New York-based Draftboard, which has 10 employees, plans to spend the bulk of its early capital on hiring and growing both sides of its marketplace — referrers and companies.


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