Meet Ananth Kasturiraman & Caroline Fay, Co-Founders of Skillist. Skillist is a skill-based job application platform that makes it possible for companies to hire the best people based on what they can do, instead of where they come from.
Caroline & Ananth will take part in the LearnLaunch Breakthrough Accelerator, a 5-week intensive program at the LearnLaunch Campus in Boston. Read on to learn about Skillist’s journey, where they’re headed, and why they chose LearnLaunch.
*Written by Caroline Fay, Co-Founder of Skillist.
What traction do you have so far?
Since launching in April 2018, we’ve been working with a number of great employers including Wayfair, DraftKings, ezCater, and Toast. We’ve seen a 15X improvement in interview yield and a 4X improvement in offer yield for companies and job seekers. Our jobseekers report a +30% NPS (compared to negative NPS scores for sites like Indeed and Monster), and 70% of applicants belong to one or more underrepresented groups.
What is the story and inspiration behind starting Skillist?
My first job after graduating from college was working with adult learners and people coming out of community college. I met many people who felt that receiving their bachelor’s degree was the only way to advance their career, even when they had so many valuable skills, and when the price of going back to school was prohibitively expensive.
I went to grad school to study education and focus on career development for non-degreed workers. That’s where I met Ananth Kasturiraman, my co-founder, who was studying both business and education. We bonded over a shared interest in creating increased access to opportunity, and a curiosity about how we could make the labor market more functional for all.
What is the unmet market need or challenge that Skillist is addressing?
Skillist exists, in brief, because there are talented workers who are being overlooked for employment opportunities, and at the same time, employers are struggling to fill jobs. More specifically, for entry-level roles, many employers tend to rely on the credentials on a resume, like a four-year degree or a “name brand” employer, as a proxy for skill. However, this practice narrows their talent pool and leaves millions of jobs sitting open. At the same time, tens of millions of workers are under- or unemployed, and are overlooked for great entry-level professional jobs, even though they’re completely qualified.
How does Skillist solve the proposed problem and why you’re the team to solve this problem?
Skillist is a skills-based, identity blind application process that makes hiring more effective and fair for everyone involved. We work primarily with companies who have a high-volume of entry-level roles in functions like customer service, tech support, and sales. In terms of how it works, first, we help companies to translate their job descriptions into a clear list of skills, which creates transparency about the role, and alignment between the hiring team and applicants. Then, our platform generates a custom skill-based application that reaches a wider, more inclusive talent pool. Candidates apply by sharing detailed examples of the skills they have. Users can draw from all aspects of their lives, which allows them to tell a fuller story about everything they can bring to the job. When employers review the applications, there is no identifying information attached, which lets them makes a decision on skills first. So far, employers are seeing a return of high-quality applications (on average 30% of Skillist applicants are moved to the next round!) and increased diversity of their pipeline.
The Skillist founding team has 40+ years of combined work experience in business strategy, workforce development, higher education, digital community management, product development, and diversity/inclusion roles.
Between our two founders specifically, Ananth’s experience advising/supporting business leaders and my experience working with underserved jobseekers has given us the perfect complement of skills to build this skill-based marketplace with our end users in mind.
Why are you participating in the LearnLaunch Accelerator? Why did you choose this program?
LearnLaunch brings tremendous expertise in the Workforce EdTech space. We’ve been fortunate enough to get to know the team through our involvement in the Boston EdTech startup community over the last several years, and we’re really excited to be a part of this program — especially since it’s specifically designed for companies with early market traction looking to take the next step.