20 HR Startups Starting to Take Off

by Josh Howarth - April 14, 2021

As businesses worldwide saw in 2020, work still needs to happen even during a global health crisis. The sudden rise in remote work caused more and more human resources departments to begin searching for digital solutions for recruiting, hiring and managing their staffs.

This increased reliance on technology, though originally jumpstarted by the COVID-19 pandemic, will only continue to grow in 2021, according to Business News Daily.

Couple that with a projected HR spending increase in 2021 and beyond, and the conditions are ripe for innovative HR tech companies to experience massive growth. We’ve scoured the internet for 20 HR startups that offer businesses a digital alternative to recruitment process management, leadership development, misconduct reporting, and more.

1. Thrive Global

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5-year search growth: 500%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2016

Location: New York, New York

Funding: $50M (Series B)

What they do:

Thrive Global offers companies and individuals technology solutions to curb the rise of an overworked, stressed-out workforce. Their “behavioral change platform” combines current science and storytelling in an interface that delivers bite-sized nudges to help workers improve their lives. The company’s founder, Arianna Huffington, also the entrepreneur behind The Huffington Post, started Thrive Global in part as a response to her experience with a burnout in 2007.

2. HeavenHR

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5-year search growth: 5600%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2015

Location: Berlin, Germany

Funding: €16M (Series B)

What they do:

HeavenHR is a digital HR management platform designed to help with a wide range of business processes, including recruitment, payroll, and administrative tasks such as schedule planning and more. The German SaaS startup was founded by Johannes Roggendorf, who went on to found MEDWING, a healthcare technology company.

3. iMocha (Formerly Interview Mocha)

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5-year search growth: 242%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2015

Location: Pune, India

Funding: $670K (Seed)

What they do:

iMocha, which changed its name from Interview Mocha in a rebranding effort, provides employers with the skills assessment capabilities they need to properly evaluate candidates during the recruitment process. Hiring managers can leverage their library of over 2,000 skills, video interview capabilities, custom skills assessments, and more. Amit D. Mishra and Sujit Karpe founded iMocha in the mid-2010s to make recruitment more efficient.

4. Vault Platform

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5-year search growth: 28%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2018

Location: London, England

Funding: $4.2M (Seed)

What they do:

Vault Platform is a human resources tech company that offers software for misconduct reporting. The platform opens up reporting capabilities, allows employees to track evidence of misconduct through an easy-to-use mobile app, and gives HR professionals a hub interface to work through complaints. Founder Neta Meidav, driven by personal experience with harassment, started the “TrustTech” company alongside Rotem Hayoun-Meidav in 2018.

5. BetterUp

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5-year search growth: 850%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2013

Location: San Francisco, California

Funding: $269.8M (Series D)

What they do:

BetterUp is an HR tech company that offers companies personalized, goal-driven coaching services through a mobile platform. BetterUp was founded by Eduardo Medina, now-COO, and Alexi Robichaux, now-CEO. Robichaux previously founded the startup Socialcast, which was acquired by VMware in 2011 but later removed from their platform.

6. Peakon

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5-year search growth: 3,600%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2014

Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Funding: $68M (Acquired)

What they do:

Peakon helps organizations boost workplace engagement, increase productivity, coach team members, and more through an employee success platform. The company, which Workday acquired in March 2021, works with well-known companies worldwide, including Verizon, Staples, ALDO, and more.

7. Personio

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5-year search growth: 525%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2015

Location: Munich, Germany

Funding: $254.3M (Series D)

What they do:

Personio is an SME-focused HR software company based in Germany. Their technology provides solutions for streamlined hiring, centralized HR document and data management, and payroll tasks. Personio garnered a hefty $125M in their latest Series D investment in January 2021 and reached 3,500 customers in January 2021.

8. Eightfold

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5-year search growth: 625%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2016

Location: Mountain View, California

Funding: $176.8M (Series D)

What they do:

Eightfold.ai offers a suite of talent intelligence solutions, including a Talent Management Platform and options to improve talent acquisition; talent management; diversity, equity, and inclusion; and more. The company, which has a valuation of $1B, received a $125M investment from General Catalyst, Capital One Ventures, and other investors in October 2020

9. PayFit

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5-year search growth: 766%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2015

Location: Paris, France

Funding: $208.4M (Series D)

What they do:

PayFit assists businesses with payroll automation, leave and absence management, employee onboarding, and more. Customers can manage tasks and processes on the go with their mobile app. The startup first launched in France and has since expanded to Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom, and in 2020, Italy.

10. Pickr

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5-year search growth: 553%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2017

Location: Norwich, England

Funding: £1M (Seed)

What they do:

Pickr is a recruiting platform that seeks to connect highly skilled contractors and engineers with companies in the infrastructure space. Companies benefit from the platform’s streamlined hiring assistance, and skilled workers can earn more for their effort. Founder Kane Halsey, inspired by his own experiences with inefficient staffing, launched the company in 2017.

11. Iziwork

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5-year search growth: 5,900%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2018

Location: Paris, France

Funding: €57.3M (Series B)

What they do:

Iziwork links temp workers with open positions and provides on-the-job support through their online staffing platform. They strive to be “Worker Centric” and currently boast over half a million registered users. Bpifrance and Cathay Innovation recently contributed to a total €35M investment in the French startup in January 2021.

12. Sapling

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5-year search growth: 6,300%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2016

Location: San Francisco, California

Funding: $4M (Seed)

What they do:

Sapling offers HR solutions for companies from the beginning to end of the employee lifecycle. Highlights of their platform include the ability to load recruitment data directly into their system, easy-to-use e-signatures, custom organizational charts, employee profiles, and more. In January 2021, Sapling announced a merger with talent management technology company Kallidus.

13. SeekOut

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5-year search growth: 325%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2017

Location: Redmond, Washington

Funding: $73.2M (Series B)

What they do:

SeekOut uses AI technology to give recruiting professionals greater insights into potential employees and achieve better hiring outcomes. In particular, they help companies source technical, rare, or diverse talent. In March 2021, SeekOut landed their most considerable funding amount yet—$65M—in a Series B funding round headed by Tiger Global Management. Mayfield and Madrona Venture Group also contributed.

14. Phenom People

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5-year search growth: 2,100%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2010

Location: Amber, Pennsylvania

Funding: $160.7M (Series D)

What they do:

Phenom People provides a talent management SaaS solution that seeks to match prospective employees with jobs and recruiters to grow high-performing teams. The HR startup serves over 300 customers around the world and employs over 700 staff members. Mahe Bayireddi, CEO and co-founder, launched the company in 2010 with the goal of matching 1 billion people with positions.

15. pymetrics

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5-year search growth: 222%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2013

Location: New York, New York

Funding: $56.6M (Series B)

What they do:

pymetrics helps companies identify better job candidates through the application of AI and neuroscience. The company’s technology uses data to determine stronger prospective employees and improve recruitment. pymetrics founder Frida Polli’s goal was to create a Netflix-life platform for recruiting that would provide better job candidates while reducing inequity issues in the hiring process.

16. Beamery

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5-year search growth: 242%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2013

Location: London, England

Funding: $35M (Series B)

What they do:

Beamery offers a recruitment journey management platform that helps companies find, interact with, and keep the best employees for their organizations. Brothers Sultan Murad Saidov and Abakar Saidov and friend Mike Paterson started the company in response to their experience finding jobs in a recession. Since its launch in 2013, Beamery has grown to over 170 employees and has been recognized by Tech Nation, Deloitte Fast 50, and others for its potential.

17. Papaya Global

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5-year search growth: 125%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2016

Location: New York, NY

Funding: $194.5M (Series C)

What they do:

Papaya Global is a SaaS payroll platform that helps businesses manage global payroll for multiple types of employees more efficiently. Their comprehensive platform helps companies stay on top of employment costs, centralize payroll management, leverage various HRIS features, and more. In September 2020, Papaya Global garnered a Series B $40M investment in a round headed up by Scale Venture Partners.

18. Staffbase

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5-year search growth: 325%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2014

Location: Chemnitz, Germany

Funding: $190.8M (Series D)

What they do:

Staffbase offers a communication platform to improve the way businesses work and collaborate. The platform is ideal for professionals in multiple industries, including retail, manufacturing, healthcare, and more. In March 2021, Staffbase and Bananatag joined forces to bolster Staffbase’s reputation as a leading internal communications company and grow their combined reach.

19. Glints

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5-year search growth: 400%

Search growth status: Exploding

Year founded: 2013

Location: Ayer Rajah Crescent, Singapore

Funding: $32.2M (Series C)

What they do:

Glints is a Southeast Asian job matching and employee development company with a reach of 1.5M+ workers and 30,000+ companies since its 2013 inception. In 2020 the company grew to 4M+ monthly visitors, and in early 2021, they announced a $22.5M investment round with contributions from PERSOL Holdings, Wavemaker Partners, Binny Bansal, co-founder of Flipkart, and others.

20. Firstbird

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5-year search growth: 207%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2013

Location: Vienna, Austria

Funding: €5.8M (Seed)

What they do:

Firstbird is an HR technology company that helps companies manage employee referral programs. The startup handles every step of the referral process, from onboarding employees to the platform and mobilizing your workforce to sort through incoming referrals and rewarding employees. CEO/Founder Arnim Wahls worked in recruiting and witnessed the need for better referral processes firsthand before starting Firstbird.

Conclusion

One theme in this list of HR startups really stands out: recruiting. Several companies on this list focus on upgrading recruiting and hiring processes, whether through providing employers with skills assessment tools, using AI to evaluate job candidates, or developing better job matching platforms.

Beyond this area, the companies compiled here are evidence of a growing interest in digitizing general HR processes and providing next-level employee engagement and development services.

Written By
Josh Howarth
Co-founder of Exploding Topics.
548 Market St. Suite 95149
San Francisco, California
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