Why Work Here 7 Startups Pitch Themselves As Employers At Big Top Reverse Job Fair

Dated: 01/17/2018

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RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Seven startups from the Research Triangle pitched working for their companies to a large room full of job seekers at the Big Top reverse job fair event held at the Frontier Tuesday evening. 

In a reverse job fair, companies pitch to the job seekers. The firms stressed their startup culture, innovative products and growth potential rather than pay and perks in making their pitches. This reflected the attitude of many job seekers at the event, who said finding an intellectually stimulating job where they could make a difference to a company and community was a top concern. Automated Insights, the Durham-based creator of Wordsmith, that translates raw data into human-like narratives, has 65-70 employees now expects to hire 30 more in the next year. Vista Equity Partners acquired the company, which was backed by Associated Press and AOL founder Steve Case, in 2015. It’s the company behind AP’s earnings reports turned into narratives by the technology. Automated Insights seeks employees with skills in project management, software development, data & analytics, artificial intelligence, sales, and customer success. Adam Long, vice president of product management, said one area where the company has trouble hiring is among web app developer. 

“There are a lot of people who worked for the big companies here, Cisco, SAS, who have skills writing desktop apps for computers, but never tried writing for the Internet.” Durham, Long said, is becoming something of a hub for web app developers and web app startups. Front-end software developers with Ruby skills can also be difficult to find, he said. Galatea Associates, a Massachusetts-based software consultancy founded in 1996, describes itself as “Wall Street without the suits.” It says it has the culture of a FinTech startup with the security and reputation of 20 years in business. 

The company culture includes weekly company lunches, monthly outings, games, volunteer activities, running groups, movie nights, board game clubs and more. In addition to offices in Boston, London, and Tampa Bay, the company has five people in an American Underground at Main office in Durham. It is seeking software developers. Hiroshi Kirby and Clay Plumridge, also an associate, said the company, which employs 70 people overall, wants to hire five more people by the end of the year and “40 more when that’s possible.” “We have more work than people to do it,” said Kirby. Momentum Learning Inc., is a tech training company. 

Its founders previously started The Iron Yard’s campus in Durham. It offers a 3-month immersive code-education course. It’s looking to add a fifth person in sales and student recruiting to its team housed at the American Underground. Pendo, the software as a service company based in downtown Raleigh, says its mission is “to improve society’s experience with software.” Melissa Crosby, manager of recruiting, said the company has had a lot of luck recruiting via events such as Big Top where they could meet job applicants face-to-face. On the other hand, she said, “It can be tough find people with the right qualifications for us. We’re very picky.” Pendo was founded in 2013 by alumni of Rally, Google, Cisco, and Red Hat. It offers analytics to help companies measure and improve customer experience with their apps. Pendo has 25 openings in every department, software development, design, sales, and customer success among them.

Strongkey, has created a new product, a physical box with security hardware that it says makes the Internet safer for small and medium businesses at less than the cost what an average SMB pays for a photocopier. Its parent company, StrongAuth, sold cybersecurity solutions to enterprise level businesses for 16 years and spunout Strongkey. It recently closed an A round of funding and is ready for its next round of hiring. Located in the American Underground in Durham, it’s looking for employees interested in being part of its new product launch. In particular it seeks people with skills in operations, project management, customer service, software development, IT, marketing and design, sales and customer success. SugarCRM is a customer relationship management firm based in California with an office Durham. It describes itself as “A mature startup.” “We help our customers take care of their customers,” the company says. 

It is seeking employees with skills in operations, customer service, software development and sales. Thoughtbot is a Raleigh-based consulting agency that helps design and build web and mobile apps. It has run design “sprints” for companies large and small, including Merck, MIT, Klarna, Code Climate, and many others. Emily Bahna, managing director, said it does have some difficulty finding people at the “Level of product design that we want. We don’t want anyone who isn’t an A-player.” The company offers apprenticeship programs to help anyone it believes has potential in the area.

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