Updated Aug. 10, 2017 at 2:51 p.m.

Startup profile: MindSumo matches students, employers through 'challenges' (+ video)

Published: 2017-08-10 14:42:00
Updated: 2017-08-10 14:51:23


A Durham startup seeks to help create better match-making between prospective employees and employers through what it calls "challenges." And some 100 of the Fortune 500 have already given MindSumo a test.

Employers taking challenges can earn money as well as build up a resume.

A MindSumo challengeAnd employers can find talented employees who have shown they can deliver on tasks.

An image with those post is from a challenge: Building an interface for facial recognition.

"Gain experience and prove your skills by solving challenges from Google, McKinsey, Facebook, and hundreds more," the emerging startup, which has already raised $1.8 million.

One participant, for example, has earned $4,000 from participating in 37 challenges.

“Each challenge represents a new set of skills I can develop and new knowledge I can acquire... just think of what this means to one’s resume," wrote Pedro Simplicio.

MindSumo will be presenting at the CED Tech Venture Conference next month. And the company is already generating traction, having grown to employ nine people.

Keaton Swett"By completing challenges, students can prove their skills to employers and learn how to apply their knowledge to solve real-world problems," explains CEO Keaton Swett.

"Employers can crowdsource creative solutions from a student audience, while gathering concrete work samples that demonstrate which students are the best fits for internship & job openings."

He points out that his firm offers a solution that is "almost like a “try before you buy model that lets both the candidate and employer give the other party a test drive before making any sort of long-term commitment."

This profile is the second in a series featuring CED Tech Venture presenters published by WRAL TechWire in partnership with the CED.


PROFILE: MINDSUMO

What is the focus of your business?

MindSumo connects college students to employers through real-world projects called “challenges.” By completing challenges, students can prove their skills to employers and learn how to apply their knowledge to solve real-world problems.

Employers can crowdsource creative solutions from a student audience, while gathering concrete work samples that demonstrate which students are the best fits for internship & job openings.

What is the top pain point/business application you are seeking to address?

Employers currently waste countless millions on hiring and training employees who end up being a poor fit within their first year. MindSumo dramatically reduces the likelihood of this happening since employers can interact with candidates through the challenge experience to determine whether their skills meet the needs for the job.

It’s almost like a “try before you buy” model that lets both the candidate and employer give the other party a test drive before making any sort of long-term commitment. When hiring decisions can be based on verifiable skills provided by MindSumo challenges, both employer and student will be more confident that they have found the right match.

What makes it unique?
MindSumo is unique because it replaces worn out recruiting methods (resumes, career fairs, etc.) with real-world projects that students can use to prove why they are qualified for open positions. It’s more of a meritocracy, which can benefit students who don’t attend top universities.

Additionally, the projects that are posted on MindSumo can generate creative new solutions that can explored and implemented by the employers, so it’s like killing two birds with one stone (recruiting + uncovering innovative solutions)

Why should investors be interested in your firm?

  • MindSumo already has launched over 1,000 challenges, and counts nearly 100 of the fortune 500 as customers.
  • MindSumo has been profitable for nearly 2 years, and has experienced YoY growth of over 150% the last two years
  • MindSumo raised a seed round in 2011 from notable investors like Google Ventures, Stanford University’s X-fund, The Data Collective, StartFund, and others.

How are you financed at this point?

$1.8 million raised. Investors include:

  • GV (Google Ventures)
  • Voyager Capital
  • The Data Collective
  • StartFund
  • Stanford University X-fund

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