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Startup Feature: Acuspire

Acuspire is a participating startup in Batch #2 of The Accelerator, providing an automated search service for job seekers and employers.

An interview with Stephen Wensley, CEO of Acuspire

Acuspire aims to predict your next job by checking all local jobs and finding the best fit for education, experience and skill set. Its automated hourly search keeps the results fresh! 

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how Acuspire came to be. 

I started thinking about the problems with job search shortly after my wife was let go by her employer and my biggest contract was near its end date. Both of us were on job boards and recruiting sites regularly, and we were exhausted trying to find our ideal job in a sea of options. That's when I realized there had to be a better way to filter data quicker to apply for suitable positions. Additionally, I discovered there were many user experience issues in the application process. My wife never received a response to more than 100 job applications. It’s very demoralizing for a person to go through that and I could see the effect.

As a pre-launch market test, I competed and produced a jobs app together with a designer teammate at the Calgary Region Hackathon in March 2016. The goal was to see how robust a product could be created in 3 days and gather feedback from both professional colleagues and municipal staff. The app successfully won the runner-up prize of “Best Regional App”, taking a $500 prize.

At the end of last year I took a short trip to Silicon Valley. Seeing the work ethic of entrepreneurs there was incredible. I came back with motivation, hustled hard, and raised $130,000 in seed funding shortly after.

What problem does your company solve? 

According to Statistics Canada, candidates spend an average of 13 hours per week looking for work while unemployed. In Calgary specifically, the unemployment rate is 9.2% (EI qualified only). This is a huge problem impacting our economy.

The interesting thing is that we have at least 10,000 – 12,000 job postings open at any given time in Calgary. Why does it take so long to fill a position? If we look at the traditional job search, it is a “pull” rather than “push” based system. If a candidate does not continually search all of the job sites on an ongoing basis, they may miss a great opportunity. If they do not apply continuously, they will never be hired. This is the 21st century. Shouldn’t the best opportunities be delivered to them automatically? And shouldn’t employers find qualified candidates as they become available?

I do not believe there is a future in job search in the long term. The experience is very poor for most people; they’re still unemployed, and nobody has addressed the pain points on the application side. After running a survey, we discovered that job seeker satisfaction with the traditional application process is only about 50%. Recruiters have confirmed pain points on their side as well. They sometimes get harassed by applicants phoning and emailing repeatedly. There is huge room for improvement.

How do you solve that problem?

We remove unnecessary time and effort for everyone by connecting job seekers with their ideal employer quickly using machine learning to go beyond typical word-matching found in other software. It is free for job seekers has a low cost for employers! 

How has your experience been at The Accelerator?

It’s been inspirational, challenging, and intimidating all at the same time. From pitch coaching with Pat Lor to sales training with Carey Houston, it has really helped me push my limits.

Tell us about some of your major accomplishments in 2017.

Our biggest accomplishment will be the public launch of the new Acuspire platform. We recently landed our first paying customers, and we’re hoping to sign some licensing deals in the coming months.

What's next for Acuspire?

We’ll be marketing the new platform quite a bit once it’s launched, and we have very specific targets we want to reach in terms of users and revenue. We plan to start raising a second round of seed funding sometime after the end of summer to accelerate our growth.

Support Acuspire and other local tech startups at The Accelerator Demo Day: Batch #2

Demo Day will showcase local tech companies in front of accredited investors and celebrate all they have accomplished during the 5-month program at The Accelerator. Early bird tickets on sale for $25.