At the Nyenrode Incubator in the heart of Amsterdam, three Nyenrode alumni and founder Karim Akhlal run Recrout, a company that develops matching and selection technology. David Hoek, Wisse Roelofs and Martijn Spek discuss how the company was formed and the role that Nyenrode played and continues to play.
Hoek: “Karim Akhlal started Recrout in 2015. As a recruiter, he noticed that candidates who seemed to be a good match based on their CV and the job vacancy criteria often turned out to be a mismatch in terms of personality and organizational culture during job interviews. Furthermore, personality and talent appear to be far greater determinants of work success.” Roelofs: “Karim turned it around: his idea was to start with the soft skills like personality, talent and competences, supplemented with hard skills, of course.” Recrout then developed the technology for a young talent platform. “Job applicants complete a talent assessment that measures their competences. This results in an assessment report that is matched with various talents and personality traits.
The recruiter then creates an ideal profile based on the desired talents, personality traits and hard skills, and the algorithm searches for candidates who meet these criteria. With just one click, the recruiter receives a ranked list of suitable candidates. Our goal in matching based on soft skills is to ensure that candidates are paired with the right job vacancy. This way they can in excel in what they’re good at.” Spek: “We want to prevent wasted talent. Better selection up front – that is, creating a better match between employers and employees – also ensures that employees stay with the company longer.”
Roelofs and Hoek joined Recrout as partners year and a half ago, and later connected with Spek via Nyenrode. His experience in the area of business IT and talent development came in very handy. “We do a lot together since we’re in the scaling-up phase, but we do have a clear division of tasks,” Roelofs says. Spek: “I have a commercial role, which means I’m the face of the company to the outside world. David focuses on business development, and Wisse handles operations and finance. Karim is the CEO and does a lot of IT work.”
“Our first milestone was finalizing the technology for the young talent platform. That took a while, because it’s a very complex task,” Hoek explains. “The second milestone was partnering with Inholland University of Applied Sciences. We also decided to launch a third proposition: a B2B proposition.
We separated the matching engine, which is the basis of the platform, and expanded its programming so that businesses can easily integrate it into their career pages without any major changes to the existing IT infrastructure. We’ve since secured our first B2B client. Our future milestones are to have 10,000 people on the platform and five more clients for the employers’ proposition by the end of this year.” Spek adds: “We also want to partner with another educational institution, because students are the employees of tomorrow.”
Nyenrode’s major role
“I learned all the basic elements of entrepreneurship during my BBA studies, which is extremely useful for the business development work I’m doing now,” Hoek says. “I see the connections between all the elements very clearly. If you make a decision in the area of commerce, for instance, that has an impact on finance and operations. I mainly put my commercial skills into practice, but I also draw upon the general concept of entrepreneurship.” Roelofs studied in in the MSc in Management program. “I gained skills in delegating responsibility and managing multiple things at the same time. I also learned to build and maintain a network.” Spek: “I have a lot of practical experience, which helped us to avoid beginners’ mistakes in many cases. My Executive MBA in Business & IT and an executive doctorate program I completed at Nyenrode are useful due to the intersection between IT and business.”
“Many fellow Nyenrodians have made valuable contributions to Recrout. They want to support and encourage us,” Roelofs says about the company’s contact with alumni. “Some guys from my year club will be assisting us with IT and finance as well.” But the link with Nyenrode goes one step further: Recrout is located in the Nyenrode Incubator. Hoek: “During my studies I took a course taught by one of the managers at the Incubator. That’s how we got into it. The Incubator is ideal for young and enthusiastic entrepreneurs. We're surrounded by seven startups and scale-ups that are led by Nyenrodians.” Roelofs: “The location is great and has good facilities. It’s an inspiring environment that stimulates our creativity. People encourage and help each other. We can also promote Recrout through activities such as workshops at Nyenrode.”