Jopwell is trying to increase diversity in the workplace and announced today funding of $7.5 million for its job recruitment platform, which targets black, Latino/hispanic, and Native American students and professionals. Returning investor Cue Ball Capital led this round, with participation from other existing investors Kapor Capital, Y Combinator, Omidyar Network, and Valar Ventures. New investors include SJF Ventures, Blue Ivy Ventures, and Teneo Ventures.
Candidates create a profile on the Jopwell website, much like on other job recruiting sites — the difference being that they are asked to select their racial identity. “Jopwell relies on self-identification and does not require proof of origin,” wrote Jopwell cofounder and CEO Porter Braswell, in an email to VentureBeat. “Candidates also have the option to include a photo in their profile, but it is not required.”
Once the profile has been created, the system uses algorithms that analyze a candidate’s resume, skills, past experiences, and preferences, thus allowing Jopwell to tailor the pool of qualified applicants for hiring managers at partner companies. These include Airbnb, BlackRock, Facebook, LinkedIn, Lyft, Pinterest, and the NBA (Magic Johnson is an investor in Jopwell). Since its seed round in 2016, Jopwell has added a little over 30 partners, bringing the total to about 70.
“Jopwell acts as a personal referral for the community,” wrote Braswell, “meaning if a candidate is qualified for a position at one of our partner companies, our team works to ensure that their resume or application receives the attention it deserves from the appropriate recruiters or hiring managers.”
The platform enables the Jopwell team to track the status of applications, so that when candidates indicate that they have applied for a specific opportunity, Jopwell’s team of account managers are notified. According to Braswell, the team is in regular contact with Jopwell’s partners and flag each application submitted to the appropriate contact at the company.
The service is free for job applicants. The New York City-based startup charges its partnering companies to search the pool of candidates, receive tailored feeds, and attend offline events allowing recruiters to engage with the Jopwell community. The fee depends on the scope of the partnership.
Braswell and his cofounder, Ryan Williams, founded Jopwell in 2015 after working together at Goldman Sachs, where they covered hedge funds and asset management on the foreign exchange sales desk. Recognizing how important it is to further diversity in the workplace, the duo left Wall Street in 2014 to participate in Y Combinator’s summer 2015 batch and launch Jopwell.
To date, Jopwell has raised a total of $11.75 million from a range of investors, including Andreessen Horowitz and Kapor Capital. The latter’s involvement isn’t surprising, as it is laser-focused on promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace. According to Kapor’s website, 44 out of 79 of its investments (56 percent) have a founder who is a woman or a person of color from an underrepresented background. The firm also recently appointed diversity pioneer Ellen Pao as a partner.
Jopwell will use the fresh injection of capital to further develop its platform, continue building its digital magazine The Well, and grow its team of 30. “This round of investment will also help us expand our product suite to reach more partner companies of all sizes from startup to enterprise, ensuring diversity is prioritized from day one,” wrote Braswell.
When asked whether companies should have hiring quotas, the chief executive wrote, “Filling a quota just to fill a quota is ineffective. A diverse workforce is an imperative for companies looking to compete in our global economy, and it needs to be valued as such.”
While partnering with Jopwell is a good sign, companies will need to actually hire candidates through the platform for it to meet its mission of increasing workplace diversity.