“A year and a half ago my brother asked me to design and update his CV and I remember telling him, this is the social era man, I'm sure we will find a good web application that can collect some information from your facebook or twitter accounts and bootstrap a CV or a profile and then you can fill in the blanks. But I was shocked that I didn't find that service or web application. So I decided to build the product myself, and now both of us use it,” explains Ahmed El Hussaini, founder and CEO of Alexandria based startup splinter.me.
“The recruitment industry hasn’t seen a real change in the way companies look for and hire talent," he points out. "The process is still the same as it was in the 90s. This has resulted in a gap between the talents and the recruiters due to the fact that recruiters where looking in the wrong places using inefficient tools."
His startup introduces a new method, the "splinter profile," that automatically aggregates information from a user's social media accounts into a simple, easy-to-read page, with regular, automated updates, he describes. Splinter then compares and match profiles, based on the skills recruiters are looking for, in order to recommend splinters to them.
"Splinter [offers] a simple way for recruiters to broadcast jobs to defined social networks, and manage responses,” he summarizes.
Iterating and Scaling
Of course, going from idea to usable product wasn't as simple as El Husseini makes it sound. “The first version of splinter.me launched as a closed beta in March 2012, and it was a complete disaster. No one understood what it was or what it offers. So I collected all the feedback I could get, got back to the whiteboard and ended up rewriting everything from scratch. I launched the current version in September 2012 and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive ever since!”
A great lesson for all those starting out: don’t let your ego get in the way of a creating a great product. “The fact that I managed to change the product from a bad experience ... to a product that people love, nothing in mind brings more joy that a happy customer.” If only more Egyptians companies focussed on the customer this way.
Although Egypt has more than 10 million users online, most of whom will look for jobs, there is stiff competition from traditional recruitment sites like LinkedIn and Monster.com, skill- and sector-based sites like Nabbesh and Laimoon, and social recruitment sites like Facebook-integrated career platform Identified, Jobvite, and The Resumator. Splinter's differentiating point is that it builds social profiles based on users’ activities on multiple social networks, using these activities to showcase skills, work experiences and interests.
Splinter uses the freemium model for job-seekers, so the service is offered for free, with premium plans charging a fee for features like applying for internships while still at school or college. Companies must sign up for paid plans, with prices based on the number of jobs, employees, and applicants allowed.
Unlike most new Egyptian founders I've come across, El Husseini is married with two children. "Taking the decision to quit my full time job and fund myself since last July was a really hard decision that took me almost a year to make,” he confesses.
He deserves kudos for his bravery and confidence in his concept. Unlike some, the current political situation in Egypt actually spurred him on: “[it] definitely encouraged me to build my own company!”
I’m glad then to report that Splinter is gaining good traction. “We’re attracting users through social networks, and this is working well enough that we have recruiters from the UK and the US, and even an Apple architect signed up. I'm also currently negotiating with multiple Egyptian universities," he says.
"I hope to have all IT technology start-ups and companies in Egypt using splinter.me before mid 2013. In the meantime, companies and start-ups here in Alexandria are super excited. A lot of them plan to use the company's profile feature once it's ready,” El Husseini concluded.
So if you’re one of the new breed of socially networked Egyptians, and you want a new job, you may want to check out this new breed of recruitment experience.