Monday Oct 8, 2012 by Susan Johnston - Contributor, VentureFizz
While earning her MBA at Harvard Business School (HBS), Danielle Weinblatt struck up a conversation with Andrew Paradise (then CEO of AisleBuyer) about the frustrations of interviewing job applicants. “It’s that painful experience of meeting a candidate and knowing in the first five minutes they’re not a fit,” she says.
The two started brainstorming better ways to screen candidates, which included having them answer questions on videos uploaded to YouTube. “We had to put it into a more seamless, compliant software as a service platform,” says Weinblatt, who would interview candidates while working as an investment banking analyst at Citigroup. “That was how Take the Interview was born.”
Now CEO, Weinblatt says she had no intention of starting a company during business school, but a classmate convinced her to participate in HBS’s Silicon Valley Immersion Program. After receiving positive feedback on the idea, she decided to actually build it.
Weinblatt and Paradise invested some of their own money in the idea and hired developers to work for equity. “It’s not for the faint of heart to build a company while you’re in a fulltime MBA program,” she says. “I think I must have slept four hours a night. It was pretty miserable.” However, those sleepless nights and hard work paid off when Take the Interview launched a private beta during their participation in DreamIt Ventures’ 2011 summer accelerator program and raised $775,000 in seed funding last September (they’ve since raised another $346,000).
In August 2011, after her first year of business school, Weinblatt left HBS to focus on running the company, which moved from Dogpatch Labs in Cambridge to New York City in February 2012.
Take the Interview now has five full-time employees and recently launched an enterprise product that’s used by companies including NBC, Kickstarter, Kaplan, Compushare, Dallas Children’s Hospital, and Boston University. Weinblatt says the concept has especially gained traction in the media, technology, and eCommerce industries.
One of Take the Interview’s key features is that “with technical screens you can’t see the question in advance,” says Weinblatt. “You do one test question and watch that answer before you move forward.”
The site also has a live option and the ability for hiring managers to share candidate videos and comments privately with colleagues and record their own videos so that candidates can get a feel for the company culture. “The entire platform can be branded as your company, so you can change the look and feel,” adds Weinblatt.
Going forward, Weinblatt predicts that the number of companies using videos will continue to grow. “The next six months are going to be focused on laying the groundwork for more customer activity in 2013,” she says. “I think that’s when the market is going to tip. A lot of companies that hadn’t considered video will see their counterparts utilizing it in really interesting ways.”