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Original author: 
Liz Gannes

A platform for investing in young people to help them pursue entrepreneurship and other opportunities is not a Google-like business. And a company called Upstart, founded by a team of former Googlers to arrange these investments, is not yet having Google-like success. (Not to set the bar high or anything.)

UpstartIn its first year, Upstart has arranged just over $1 million in funding to 83 participants from 135 backers, and repayments have already begun.

But Upstart says its ambitions, and the potential for the idea of “human capital,” are much bigger than that.

“The productive abilities of people represent all the potential of the economy. If we allow people to start investing in income potential, that’s the mother of all asset classes,” said Upstart CEO Dave Girouard in a recent interview.

(Girouard, 47, was formerly president of Google Enterprise and VP of Google Apps; and Upstart co-founder Anna Mongayt, 32, ran Google’s enterprise customer programs and Gmail Consumer Operations. A third co-founder, 22-year-old Paul Gu, was part of Peter Thiel’s 20under20 drop-out-of-college program.)

Having judged its early trials as successful, Upstart has now raised $5.9 million from new investors including Founders Fund, Khosla Ventures, Collaborative Fund, Eric Schmidt, Marc Benioff and Scott Banister, after raising $1.75 million from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, NEA, Google Ventures, First Round Capital, CrunchFund and Mark Cuban last year.

The company currently hand-reviews applications, rejecting about half of them so far, and running income-potential analysis to determine each person’s investment terms (for instance, $4,000 upfront might promise a return of 1 percent of a person’s income over the next decade). Almost everyone who made it through that process so far has raised a minimum of $10,000, according to Upstart.

So how does Upstart turbocharge its own growth? Girouard said he hopes to fund thousands of applicants within the next year, and that it would take a combination of getting the word out, product improvements like better mentorship communication, and U.S. law changes like the yet-to-be-implemented JOBS Act that would make it easier to publicly solicit investment.

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Dozens of startups have launched in the past few years claiming to fix the broken recruiting and hiring process. One of them, Readyforce, has already signed up some well-known startups with a relatively straightforward and compelling idea, and it’s opening up its beta test today.

When it comes to finding the right job applicant, CEO Alex Mooradian says that “it’s all about data.” And when Mooradian says “data,” he also means videos, which are a big part of a Readyforce profile. Unlike other sites that just ask people to record videos on their own (often resulting in stilted, awkward videos), Readyforce has actually hired interviewers to do 20-minute webcam conversations with the applicants, which can be edited down into a 3-minute highlight reel. (If you’re not happy with the interview you can do it again.) Users can also fill out something called the “infinite quiz” (in reality, Mooradian says there are more than 100 questions) which tests their interests and skills.

Employers probably won’t make hiring decisions based on Readyforce profiles alone, but they should be a provide a much better filtering mechanism than a generic resume (though yes, you can upload a resume too). As an example, VP of Client Services Anna Binder recalls one user who was not hugely impressive on paper — he was a CS major at not-particularly-prestigious school — but comes across as intelligent and articulate in the video: “Within 30 seconds, you say, ‘I want that guy.’” (You can see a real, sample profile here.)

To start out, Readyforce is targeting a specific group of applicants (college students who are looking for internships or jobs) and a specific group of employers (tech startups) who want to reach them. After all, executives at pretty much any startup will complain about how hard it is to find talent, particularly technical talent. Colleges could offer one of the main solutions to that challenge, but building a traditional college recruiting program is tough. A Silicon Valley company might never have the time or budget to travel to schools outside the Bay Area, but with Readyforce, they can find promising students at those schools and reach out to them directly.

With the beta, students nationwide can create Readyforce profiles (though for now, the video capabilities are largely limited students at UCLA, Boston College, and Stanford), and companies can request to join the program. More than 300 companies are already using Readyforce, and some of them, including Bloomspot, Reputation.com, and SinglePlatform, have actually made hires.

Readyforce has raised $14 million from Menlo Ventures, US Venture Partners, Founder Collective, and First Round Capital.

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