An arena for start-ups to showcase their disruptive, game-changing technology to the world, HR Tech World’s disruptHR is an outstanding opportunity for any ambitious organisation. Two people who know just how impactful the competition can be, particularly after winning it, are disruptHR winner 2016 London Robert Newry of Arctic Shores and disruptHR winner 2016 Paris Aisling Teillard of Tandem HR Solutions. Following the session at this year’s London iteration of the event, they speak to HR Tech lead blogger Faye Holland, reflecting on their respective disruptHR experiences.


FAYE: How have things been since winning disruptHR?


AISLING: Hectic! Winning disruptHR was a real game-changer for us; it led to the introduction of new customers, new potential partners and an investment round. We’ve really refined our approach to onboarding customers onto our platform too. It’s been a real whirlwind and the business has progressed so much on the back of that win.


ROBERT: Super busy! We were humbled and surprised to win and the interest that was generated on the back of this prestigious award has been phenomenal. We have doubled in size and expanded internationally with our application, now used in 14+ countries and translated into 7 languages.


FAYE: How have you acted on/used the feedback you got from your disruptHR experience?


ROBERT: We got some good feedback on how to focus on the ROI we deliver and make the most of the early adopters to our gamified recruitment app. One lesson from the last year was to be careful of who to spend time with. You get a lot of enquiries and it’s easy to dedicate resources to activities that won’t generate much revenue.


FAYE: DisruptHR features many companies starting on their journey so can you share with us what was the ‘snap’ moment you decided to embark on Tandem HR Solutions, Aisling, and what was the scariest thing you faced?


AISLING: Having worked in HR for over 25 years, I knew there could be something radically different to replace it. So I’m not sure I had a snap moment, more of a gradual build up! However, when we came to the core idea and my co-founders and I talked about it one evening, we could sense a real excitement in that this could change the way companies manage performance.


As an entrepreneur there are many scary moments! But when I needed to move beyond my comfort zone of HR, and think about areas like financial and legal matters, those were the moments I had to take a deep breath and dive in! Scary, challenging but also exhilarating!


FAYE: Robert, what advice to you have around securing funding for HR Tech start-ups?


ROBERT: It’s constant, for starters! I have two pieces of advice:


  1. Start early – it takes at least 6 months from start to finish
  2. Choose your investors carefully.


You want people who not only want to make a good return but also believe in you and your idea.


FAYE: Aisling, how do you feel about females being under-represented in new start-ups and do you have any personal ambitions of how you can help change this?


AISLING: Yes, you definitely stand out being a woman in HR tech. There are not enough of us, but there is a growing set of strong ladies doing awesome things in HR, who try to help each other where we can. I’m lucky enough to be part of a female accelerator in the NDRC. I’d love to play a bigger role in this space, both encouraging women to take the plunge and fulfil their ambitions, and to support those who’ve already taken the plunge and are facing challenges along the way.


FAYE: What do you think are the key attributes of upcoming disruptHR companies?


ROBERT: To be disruptive you must offer something genuinely different in the problem you are solving, not just an adaptation or variation. We’re using behaviours to measure someone’s fit for a role rather than self-report questions, for example. It’s fundamentally different.


FAYE: Assuming you would advise others to participate in disruptHR, what advice would you give them?


AISLING: Your application and presentation have to tell a really impactful story in a way that captures attention. Start off with your big grab, show what you’re fixing and if it’s a big enough problem, people will already be interested. You also need to invest time in ensuring your story is easily understood. Finally, nothing beats customer traction and testimonials. Your customers are your biggest story so don’t be afraid to show them off!


FAYE: What are your goals for the coming year?


ROBERT: Our goal is to consolidate and build the business for the next level of growth. The last year has been frenetic and every now and then you need to take stock, plan carefully and make sure the business is ready for the growth ahead. As my father advised me “Don’t be a busy fool!”.


AISLING: We’ve recently gone live with some exciting clients so our focus is on making those a success and ensuring we get the impact we aspire to. Also, we’ve got a strong pipeline developed so securing a certain percentage of those new customers is important too. We’ll also be building our team this year so there’ll be some new recruits to add to our team! Finally we’re working with some academic institutions, testing new theories in this space, so we’re hoping to uncover some ground-breaking new research in feedback and development.


The next disruptHR competition will be at the HR Tech World show in Amsterdam 24th – 25th October this year. Start-ups are already able to apply here to be shortlisted by expert judges before competing in the on-site competition. If you’re shaking up HR with your technology solution, we want to hear from you!