Chicago-Based Built In Announces Series B To Scale Its Community-Centric Recruiting Platform

In an exclusive with Crunchbase News, Built In is announcing a $3.6 million in a Series B. MATH Venture Partners led the round, with co-founding general partner Troy Henikoff representing the firm on BuiltIn’s board of directors. Serra Ventures, as well as a number of Built In’s prior institutional and angel investors, also participated in the round.

Many communities have some experience with building physical hubs to serve as the center of local entrepreneurial attention. These big spaces may offer co-working space, event venues, and regular networking functions to bring members of a city’s startup scene together as one, or at least they try to.

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What initially launched as a social network for Chicago’s tech community has since transformed into what Maria Katris, Built In’s CEO, called a “a highly-differentiated recruitment platform” that highlights local technology companies and connects talented folks with open positions at those companies. And it’s not just for Chicago anymore: Built In has spun up instances in six other markets: Los Angeles, Colorado, New York, Austin, Boston, and, as of just a couple weeks ago, Seattle.

The company has raised around $4.3 million across three prior rounds, the most recent of which was a $2.4 million Series A announced in November 2016. This Series B brings Built In’s funding total to $7.9 million across four rounds. Katris said this most recent round might be considered a Series A2 in many markets, considering the relatively small amount of capital involved and how recently the company raised a Series A round. But, she said, “When your valuation is doubling, it’s hard to say it’s an extension.”

“Our strategy with fundraising has always been to take money when we need it to grow, not to survive,” she said.“The impetus for raising this round was to fuel growth and build the platform for the future.”

Katris and her team at Built In bootstrapped the business for its first three years, expanding to two other communities – Los Angeles and Colorado – and growing annual revenue to $600,000 before seeking outside funding.

“I thought it was really important to have a [proven] business model before raising,” she explained during our interview in Built In’s Chicago headquarters.

According to Katris, the company has “pretty much doubled business year over year for the last few years.” Built In has over 500 customers across its markets, and customers range from small firms with under 100 employees to digital divisions of larger corporations and everywhere in between. Built In itself continues to grow its ranks, too. With approximately 60 employees today, Built In is on track to double its headcount in 2018 and could have as many as 80 people employed by year’s end.

Katris cited two major trends behind the rise of Built In and its community. She observed that “ten or twenty years ago, you wouldn’t have called [a company like] Walgreens, Grainger, or Caterpillar a ‘digital technology company,’ but today they have hundreds of engineers on staff. So the opportunity has become vast.”

It’s the second trend, though, that may give Built In more leverage, or so goes the company’s thesis.

“Millennials are really shaping the workforce today. They’ve driven this proliferation of community-based, purpose-based platforms,” she told Crunchbase News. “So if you think about what Etsy has done for DIY, what Airbnb has done for travel, WeWork for co-working, Built In is doing the same for recruitment. Our approach is to lead with content and community, so we’re connecting people who love tech, with those who hire tech, on something more than a job post ever could.”

There’s an audience too old to have found a job through listings in a newspaper that’s also tired of cold pitches from recruiters and other transactional interactions common on big professional networking sites. By Katris’s telling, Built In represents a third-wave of platform that goes beyond “employer branding” to “humanize recruiting” for the workforce of the future.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

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