As heard on the HR Latte podcast, CEO and Co-Founder shares details of $4.2M raise, what he believes the future of hiring looks like, and what his biggest DEI inspiration is.
Momentum funding, future of hiring, and why Rosa Parks is inspiration behind the mission for diverse, inclusive and equitable hiring.
Rayanne: I am so excited that you’ve taken the time out of your crazy schedule to sit and talk to us. First of all, I know you have some amazing news, but before we get to that, I would love for you to tell me a little bit about yourself and then tell us about what’s going on at Humanly.io and your role there.
Prem: Absolutely. I’m CEO and Co-Founder of Humanly.io. My career has really been focused on the intersection of people and data. I spent 10 years at Microsoft, working on a lot of our internal HR tooling, how we solve people problems with technology. After a moment of self-reflection I realized I really wanted to make an impact in the startup ecosystem, and I went to a company called TinyPulse, where we were focused on measuring employee engagement and how engaged folks were in the workforce and with their jobs.
P: I found that engagement, inclusion, and belonging all start with hiring. Who are we bringing in? How are we helping make hiring more equitable and more efficient? It made me realize that there really was a need, particularly in talent acquisition. There were tools that helped on the applicant tracking side and sourcing side, but there weren’t tools that would actually help people be better at the direct conversation with candidates.
R: I love what’s going on. And today, a huge announcement for Humanly.io, why don’t you give it to us?
P: Yeah, so we’re tremendously excited to be announcing our fundraise. We are launching a $4.2 million seed round. I’m really excited about that. Particularly in having more capacity to build a product that’s going to help our customers be successful. We’ve learned a lot over the last couple of years around how we automate manual tasks, repetitive conversations, and help humans be better in the interview. The great part about having more resources, expanding and growing our team is we’re now going to be able to deliver on that promise at scale.
R: Congratulations! I know this is a huge team effort. Huge congrats to you and the whole team. Now, let’s dive into the story of Humanly.io, why is hiring so important to you?
P: When I graduated from the University of Washington in 2006, there was really this moment, I was doing a lot of job interviews at a lot of great companies. A colleague at the time, her and I would go in and interview with the exact same company, exact same interviewers for the exact same job and we’d compare notes. And we did this primarily to get better at interviewing. After a week of comparing notes, we realized the level of inconsistency in the type of questions we were being asked.
She was being grilled hard on technical questions. Meanwhile, they were asking me a lot of questions about, can I communicate, am I good with people? They weren’t asking her those. She was actually much more technical than I was, and probably better for the job in many ways, but she was just getting grilled in a way that I wasn’t. And it just seemed very unfair. That really stuck with me.
As I kind of fast forward and I worked at Microsoft and I got on the other side of things and got to work on technology to help people get better at working with candidates. I realized it wasn’t because recruiters or interviewers were bad, or trying to be biased. Certainly a lot of unconscious bias existed, and recruiters didn’t have the tools to really engage at scale and in a consistent manner.
R: Diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging is a passion for you. I love that this has become a baseline through story for Humanly.io. Somebody whispered in my ear to ask you about Rosa Parks?
P: Absolutely. So, I have a lot of idols. Many of them are women of color, such as my mom. And she was very inspired by Rosa Parks. I was born in Kansas, then we moved to Seattle and it was definitely different. At the time there weren’t a lot of folks of Indian origin in Kansas or Seattle. I definitely experienced some racism. And at first, I reacted to that more with action – I was fighting back. My mom took me out of the kindergarten because I was fighting with third graders. As I grew older, I realized I really wanted to make change programmatically, through inspiration, to make change through non-physical action.
P: I ended up getting a tattoo of Rosa Parks after my mom passed away from cancer. It’s a reminder that I believe fights should be non-violent. I look at what’s happening right now in the world, and there’s a lot of fights to be had. In terms of diversity, equality, inclusion and belonging, the great thing is there are many people such as yourself, and others who are in this fight together. You don’t have to be a person of color to be in the ‘fight’ together. You know, you don’t have to be a woman necessarily to be in this fight together. I think that’s one thing that has really inspired me through my career.
R: That’s such a great story. I really appreciate you sharing that with me. And I know, I know your mom is so proud of the work you’re doing. Congratulations on all of this.
P: Thank you.
R: So I did get a chance to talk to some of the team. Humanly.io’s CTO, Bryan, did fill me in on a little bit about this, but why is automation or AI artificial intelligence so important right now when we’re looking at technology for the future?