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The Next Big Thing? - Collegefeed

| 01.31.2014 |

For many new college graduates, the chance of finding a decent job is just as likely as finding Bigfoot. Sanjeev Agrawal, a former product marketing chief at Google, is trying to help new graduates via a social network called Collegefeed.


We spoke with Agrawal about how Collegefeed works and what it can do for the new wave of college graduates.

 

Q: What was the inspiration for creating Collegefeed?

 

Sanjeev Agrawal: Let me start with a personal story. I graduated from MIT 20 years ago at the top of my electrical engineering and computer science class, and as I look back I sometimes wonder what might have been had fate dealt me a different card at a key moment when I was looking for a job. Had someone told me about a little company called Cisco Systems, whose needs at the time matched my skills, I might be retired by now! Back then Cisco was too small to go on campus even to hire the “best and brightest.” So we missed each other and I only eventually joined them in 1997.

 

And my story isn’t isolated. Twenty years later, despite all the social networks and job boards and such, my story gets repeated every day. There are so many such “missed connections” that happen between students, employers and alums - it’s just not right.

 

For example, my co-founder graduated from Stanford GSB last year. The job search process was equally painful for him. He was faced with the same questions that plague every young grad:

 

  • How can I get in the door at companies I want to work at ?
  • Who might be interested in me - I don’t know what I don’t know.
  • Who should I send my resume to?
  • What should I write on my resume?
  • Which of the 100 job boards should I apply at?
  • Where can I get career advice?

 

As we dug into these problems, we found that it’s not just a one sided problem. For companies, too, finding college talent is equally painful. From finding schools to hire from, attending expensive career fairs, vetting candidates on paper, vying for attention - if you aren’t Google or Facebook or a handful of companies students know of, you have a hard time finding quality candidates.

 

After speaking with hundreds of students and employers we realized that this is a bigger problem that we imagined. When we started we didn’t know what the right solution should be, but we got married to the problem because we didn’t want our kids to go through the same pain we did.

 

Q: How can businesses use Collegefeed to find the right employees from the current wave of college students?

 

Sanjeev Agrawal: Our service makes it dead simple for employers to hire college grads and young alums. Employers just specify their requirements (domains, skills, schools, intern vs. full-time) and we start sending the company’s recruiters / hiring managers "feeds" of high quality, relevant, curated candidates. Recipients can ask to be connected to anyone in their feeds, removing a lot of unnecessary steps and friction. So whether you’re a recruiter or a hiring manager or a software engineer or a marketing lead, you can get curated, top quality entry level candidates delivered to your inbox.

 

In addition, if you’re looking to improve your brand on campus, Collegefeed can easily set up a custom, engaging brand site for you. You can tell your story the way it needs to be told to young millennials and capture their attention.

 

Q: How are you marketing Collegefeed to both prospective employers and potential future employees?

 

Sanjeev Agrawal: In several different ways. These include the following:

 

Word of Mouth: Our best growth channel is our own network. When our students get connected through our platform, they shout from the rooftops and let their friends know about Collegefeed. Nothing like positive word-of-mouth!

 

School Partnerships: We have been fortunate to be able to partner with some top schools that strongly believe what we are doing (building a connections platform) is the way they would like to help their students. This is why schools like Stanford University, CMU, CalPoly, MIT, SDSU, Claremont Mckenna are getting their students and employers to come on board.

 

Partnerships with VCs and other aggregators: VCs like Accel Partners understand how working with us can help get talent to their portfolio quickly and efficiently. Like Accel, we are working with several other such VCs and sending them talent feeds. If you think about it, each VC brings dozens or hundreds of customers automatically.

 

Press: We have been fortunate to be featured in some huge publications and media outlets - from Forbes, Fast Company, TechCrunch, Fox, etc. Just this week we were showcased on CNBC and in the New York Times for the way we are making it really simple for employers nationwide to discover, connect with and hire college grads. Given this is one of the the biggest crises facing our generation and the next, perhaps it's why we have also been voted one of the top 10 startups to watch this year.

 

Outreach to our own network: Our team is pretty well connected in the industry and we have been able to get a number of those in our ecosystem to start recruiting our students.

 

Q: Collegefeed is aimed at students coming into the workforce. Are you planning any similar products for older workers seeking new job opportunities?

 

Sanjeev Agrawal: Sure. There is no reason that the same technology and process we apply to the entry level workforce couldn’t be used for other segments (by vertical, older workers, military, veterans etc.). However, our first goal is to establish ourselves in one market niche - that of early careers - and expand from there.