Dublin social-recruitment start-up ReferStar gleans US$1.6m investment: jobs on way

10 Sep 2013

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The co-founders of ReferStar: Morgan Pierce, CEO; Pierre-Alain Bouchard, chief technology officer; and Ivan Solaja, chief product officer

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ReferStar, the new social-recruitment start-up that recently based itself in Dublin, Ireland, has secured US$1.625m in a Series A funding round, led by by Granicus Venture. Morgan Pierce, founder and CEO of ReferStar, spoke to Carmel Doyle about the start-up’s plans to direct the funding to innovate its SaaS solution further in order to boost referral-driven talent acquisition using one’s social networks, plus the aim to add three to four new hires to the Dublin team by the end of 2013.

In July Siliconrepublic.com first wrote about ReferStar.

At the time, the start-up, which was co-founded by the aforementioned Pierce, now CEO, had just set up its headquarters in Dublin.

Its target? To disrupt the social recruitment space via its software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform.

Back then, Pierce said that the system developed by ReferStar had the scope to automate and extend the reach of employers by empowering employees, customers, alumni and suppliers to use social-media networks to provide targeted talent acquisition through referrals.

The three main platforms that ReferStar is drawing upon at the minute are business-networking site LinkedIn, social-networking giant Facebook and micro-blogging platform Twitter.

Moving on to today’s Series A funding round, however.

Pierce said that the US$1.625m funding round was led by Granicus Venture, a Dublin, Ireland and Dallas, Texas-based private equity group.  

She said that Irish investor Sean Melly, chairman of Powerscourt Capital Partners, was an advisor on the fundraising, and has joined the ReferStar board (prior to this he was chairman of the board). In addition, Johnny Fortune, chairman of Pegasus Capital, has also joined the Board.

Leveraging the investment …

So what’s the plan then for ReferStar? First, a little more about Pierce. A New Yorker, she came to Ireland 15 years ago and, in a former guise, has worked as director of online marketing across EMEA for Oracle.

Having been working on ReferStar for the past year, she said the goal now for the digital start-up is to leverage the investment to expand the ReferStar platform into the UK and US markets, as well as pumping some investment into speeding up product innovation.

She said that while the process of employee referrals has been around for a long time, the aim of the ReferStar platform is to capitalise on the internet and the so called ‘big data’ on it so that employers can data mine information on employees
faster, more cheaply and in a more targeted way – using digital networking platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook.

"It’s also about empowering employees," explained Pierce.

Expanding the Dublin team

And, jobs-wise, the plan will be to take on three to four new hires in Dublin to work on the "development side" of ReferStar, potentially within the next 90 days, she added.

Already ReferStar has an 11-strong team.

On Irish soil, the company employs six people, while it also has an employee in Liverpool in the UK – Paolo Bafico, who is heading up EMEA sales. In terms of the US, Pierce said today that there are now three ReferStar people based there: in Denver, Colorado, New York City and Boston respectively.

Social graph and tech ecosystem

As to why the start-up chose to set up its HQ in Dublin, it seems to have been a natural fit for Pierce, as Ireland is where she has lived for the past 15 years.

She said that Dublin is "one of the best places" in the world to base a tech start-up from, especially as a result of the ecosystem.

"Practically all of the big pharma companies and tech giants, in addition to the banks, are based in Ireland. It’s a great springboard to help companies expand into global markets."

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Carmel was a long-time reporter with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com