HireVue Founder: When It Comes to Raising Money, 'No' Doesn't Mean 'Never'
Nine years into building his fast-growing company, which has quadrupled its head-count over the past two years, Mark Newman sounds exhausted and a little giddy: like a man who's just finished his first marathon, or who's been handed $25 million bucks.
The latter's nearly true. Newman's company, HireVue, announces Wednesday that it's raised a fresh round of funding led by Sequoia Capital, with participation from existing investors. The new round almost doubles the venture capital invested in the company; previously, three rounds of funding had amounted to $28 million.
Newman founded HireVue in in 2004 in Salt Lake City with the idea of turning the computer webcam into a sophisticated hiring tool. Today, it offers a suite of sophisticated technologies aimed at making a range of human-resources tasks simpler and more intuitive. It's also extending into the realm of employee-management and employee-interaction, setting it apart further from video-conferencing tools such as Skype, and other competitors, including Interview Stream and Spark Hire.
Employee-search and on-boarding is its specialty, and HireVue--a 2013 Inc. 30 Under 30 honoree that also made the Inc. 500 list of fast-growing companies--is no stranger to growing pains as it's been scaling head-count in recent years. (Sixty percent of the company's 140 employees are based in Salt Lake City, but the others work remotely.) It's planning on using the new cash infusion to hire even more.
"For us, when hiring, people say they want to be part of a startup, and if you have more than 10 or 20 people they say, 'Oh, it's so big now!'" Newman says. "But the vision for HireVue is for the long haul, so hopefully we'll have 1,000 people here eventually."
It's that long view that seemed to attract investors for this round of funding. And, perhaps, why Newman kept his head up through his prior rounds of pitching investors--which weren't so simple.
"In our seed rounds and Series A, we talked to so many investors who didn't think the market was ready for what we were doing and said 'no,'" Newman says. "I always tell everyone that we were part of the '100 No's Club.'"
But some of those "no's" turned into "yeses" over the years. Newman attributes the fact some venture capital firms came back to him and invested in this round of funding, which also included Growth Capital, Granite Ventures, Peterson Ventures and Rose Park Advisors, to the fact he made his goals for the future clear in earlier pitches, saw those goals through, and articulated his results to the investors he'd met previously. His advice to other startup founders upon hearing "no?" Remember "no" isn't synonymous with "never."
"In this round, we had a lot of in-bound interest for the first time, and none of the firms we talked with were new people," Newman says. "It's really important to invest in those relationships, because 'no' is never 'no' forever."
CHRISTINE LAGORIO-CHAFKIN | Staff Writer | Senior Writer
Christine Lagorio-Chafkin is a writer, editor, and reporter whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Village Voice, and The Believer, among other publications. She is a senior writer at Inc.