Announcing Searchlight's Seed Round & The Best Way to Evaluate Talent

January 10, 2020

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Today, we’re proud to announce Searchlight’s $2.5M seed round, led by Accel with participation from Founders Fund, Y Combinator, Soma Capital and angels from companies like Stripe, Ironclad, and Front. Searchlight’s SaaS platform empowers companies to make the best hires by automating and improving the reference check process. Our software provides customers with a well-rounded analysis of each candidate, which makes hiring committees more informed and less biased.

Read more about us in Business Insider

Our Founding Story

My twin sister, Anna, and I came face-to-face with the broken interview process when we tried to distinguish ourselves from each other during the recruiting process. Resumes felt one-dimensional and interviews felt too short for us to truly demonstrate what made us distinct. At first glance, we seemed identical, but if you were to work with both of us, you’d see we’re actually very different, from interpersonal styles to skill sets and everything in between. We believe there has to be a better way to evaluate talent.

In 2018, Anna and I joined forces as co-founders of Searchlight to develop a solution to bring richer, better candidate data to the hiring process. We’ve been privileged to develop our platform with amazing partners like Udemy, Wonderschool, and Snapdocs who took the first leap with us. We’ve already made measureable impact on the way hiring is done today, and the initial results are exciting:

  • Recruiters at our partner companies save 4-10 hours per hire with our automated process
  • 80% of employers who use Searchlight hire more candidates from nontraditional backgrounds within 90 days
  • Hiring managers feel 2X more confident in onboarding their new hires while using our data to create custom coaching plans

We’ve listened to hundreds of people leaders voice their own frustrations about the problem we’re solving. 80% of hiring decisions still come down to gut-instinct. Employers often fall back on top-tier schools and companies in the vacuum of reliable indicators of a candidate’s strengths, skills, and behaviors. In those moments, hiring committees make “safe” hires rather than the best hires. We believe hiring based on credentials rather than skills and behaviors is at the root of the diversity crisis within companies today, and contributes to the 46% mis-hire rate.

Our First Product

References from people who’ve worked with the candidate before provide information not discoverable in a resume or interviews. Reference data has the potential to serve as a counterbalance for people whose interview skills don’t reflect their actual performance. It has the power to better showcase candidate aptitude even if they have nontraditional backgrounds. Unfortunately, these valuable insights are usually lost because the traditional reference call process is inconsistently executed, a pain to manage, or not done at all. And by the time these reference calls usually happen post-offer, the opportunity for the data to improve the evaluation of the candidate is lost.

One of our customers, Elizabeth Shober, Senior Director of Talent at Udemy, shared that, “Reference calls are a broken process. Searchlight fixes this in a way that empowers my hiring managers as we scale.” Searchlight ensures that references are consistently asked a gold-standard set of questions that equips hiring committees with structured data on core behaviors and skills.

At Searchlight, our vision is to both enable employers to unlock the rich holistic profile of candidates and for these candidates to shed light on their full, best selves.


With this seed funding, we’re excited to work with a top-tier investor team led by Daniel Levine at Accel, who made early bets on Scale and Sentry, and others with deep founder and operator experience. Additional thanks to Founders Fund, Soma Capital, Y Combinator, and our angels Jason Boehmig, Mathilde Collin, Nick Bushak, Amber Feng, Charlie Songhurst, and Julia DeWahl.

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