‘You Have to Take a Chance’: Recruitment App Founders Share Their Best Pro Tips

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Deborah Gladney, 34, and Angela Muhwezi-Hall, 32, are part of a small but growing club of million-dollar black female founders.

The sisters are the creators behind QuickHire, a hiring platform that connects workers with service jobs and skilled trades. In November, QuickHire raised $1.41 million in an oversubscribed funding round, making Gladney and Muhwezi-Hall the first black women in Kansas to raise more than $1 million for a new venture, according to afrotech.

That’s a feat for any entrepreneur, but especially considering that Black female startup founders received just 0.34% of the total $147 billion in venture capital invested in U.S. startups during the first half of 2021. according to Crunchbase.

When the sisters began their affair in March 2020, Gladney was pregnant with her third child and Muhwezi-Hall ended up in hospital after contracting covid-19. They overcame the uncertainties of the pandemic, saw race riots during the George Floyd protests, skimped to invest $50,000 of their own savings, and experienced microaggressions while fundraising. A beta version of QuickHire was released in the fall of 2020 and they released a finished product to the public in April 2021.

Today, QuickHire connects more than 11,000 job seekers with jobs at 60 mid-sized and large service industry companies in the Wichita, Kansas and Kansas City metro areas. During the Great Resignation, QuickHire data also demonstrates how companies must provide better jobs to the working class—jobs with good pay, stable hours, health insurance, and future careers—if they ever hope to fill vacancies.

CNBC Make It spoke with the two sisters to get their best professional advice and how it helped them launch their first $1 million business.

‘Never let anyone see you sweat’

The biggest career advice Gladney takes to heart comes from a former boss: “Never let anyone see you sweat.”

“There’s so much power in not giving other people the power to know that they won any situation over you,” says Gladney.

Gladney says that the experience of introducing QuickHire and raising money has not been without experiencing bias and microaggressions, situations “where people have said or done something where, if we had shown them they got to us, I think they would have succeeded.” stop us.”

Gladney recalls going out to investors and feeling they had “all the cards stacked against us.” They applied for, but were turned down, accelerator programs, “and it left a bad taste in our mouths. The reasons why we were turned down were just not very clear. And it made us wonder, is it because we are black women doing this?”

It’s an all too common scenario for women and founders of color. in the resume world, where the majority of investors are white men. “We felt like we had to sit at the table with more revenue or more validation than our counterparts, because we knew we weren’t going to be able to raise if we didn’t make it even more comfortable for [investors] to take a chance on us,” says Gladney.

Gladney and Muhwezi-Hall almost gave up trying to get into an accelerator program until they had a motivational meeting with a managing director of the TechStars Iowa accelerator. They got into the accelerator and their growth took off.

Gladney says she relies on a few key people, including her sister, husband and father, to handle the frustrations that come with being a black female founder in the tech space.

“They get everything from me,” he says, “but it helps me go out and fight the world.”

‘You have to go grow up’

Muhwezi-Hall says the best advice she’s ever received is to “go grow up.”

“Sometimes in life, and especially in racing, to find those opportunities to advance and broaden your horizon, you have to get out of your comfort zone,” she says. “You have to risk yourself.”

For Muhwezi-Hall’s part, the seeds for QuickHire were planted in 2017, when she was a college and career counselor at a Los Angeles high school. She had plenty of resources to offer those headed for college, but few for students headed for service jobs or skilled trades. About 108 million peopleo 71% of the labor force, works in the service sector. Why weren’t there better ways to connect them to stable careers than filling out paper job applications?

“This was an idea we sat around for so many years,” says Muhwezi-Hall, adding that Gladney often encouraged her to bring it to life. The urgency of the pandemic, as she saw tens of millions of service workers lose her jobs, caused her to reprioritize her idea.

Muhwezi-Hall and Gladney went to work building QuickHire in March 2020. In August, Muhwezi-Hall moved with her husband from Los Angeles to Gladney’s basement in Wichita, Kansas for seven months to continue building. Muhwezi-Hall and her husband have since moved to Chicago, and the sisters work together remotely and during in-person visits.

“At some point, you have to move,” she says. “And if you’re afraid to move, you’ll never grow up. So that’s something I apply to everything: You have to go grow up.”

Check:

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