Former Dragons’ Den star Invests £5.1m in Recruitment Disruptor

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James Caan

Debut, a careers mobile app that connects candidates with employers, has announced that its revolutionary ‘smart data’ technology has attracted a further £5.1m investment from former dragon and recruitment entrepreneur James Caan CBE, who now joins existing investor Paul Forster, co-founder and CEO of job site Indeed.

Debut’s most recent investment of £5.1m amounts to a total of £7.3m investment raised in just two years since inception. The latest investor, James Caan CBE, joins an impressive team of venture capital funds and angel investors including LocalGlobe,Europe’s leading late stage seed-focused venture capital firm that has backed some of the UK’s biggest success stories, such as Zoopla, Graze and TransferWise, and Deliveroo investor Entree Capital.

The multi-award-winning careers app, which was launched two years ago by recent graduate and Forbes 30 under 30 technology entrepreneur Charlie Taylor, has already attracted over 120,000 prospective candidates aged 16-24 making it an essential recruitment tool for over 60 multinational employers to date.

Debut’s smart data technology involves millions of data points collated by purpose-built crawlers and its proprietary search algorithm, which enables employers to target and attract candidates with precision, resulting in high-quality, long-term hires, within a matter of minutes, putting an end to quantity over quality in recruitment.

An example of which is HSBC – after sending one intelligent push notification they made 25 hires in just 3 weeks. EY has already made 300 hires via the app to date.

After downloading the mobile app, candidates use their smartphone to register and complete a short profile, before being invited to complete a set of psychometric and personality tests. The smart data technology begins immediately after registration, and candidates start to receive ‘Talent Spots’ – precision-targeted push notifications to their smartphone, which can propel candidates straight into an interview, without even having to apply for a job.

The smartphone app features a range of innovative firsts, including a unique integration with employers’ application systems which allows students to apply in just one touch – completely abolishing the CV and lengthy and cumbersome online application process.

This dedication to user experience saw Debut being responsible for half of O2’s overall graduate job applications, achieved in just 10 days, and was responsible for delivering 25 percent of their hires. Debut received an industry accolade for delivering ‘Best Online Candidate Experience’ for its ‘Instant Apply’ feature, as used for the first time by Debut partner and telecoms giant, O2.

Debut’s use of in-app psychometric testing ‘Debut Abilities’ is disrupting the long-standing graduate recruitment process by supplementing traditional indicators such as university attended, subject and degree classification with unique cognitive and personality metrics, vastly improving the way candidates are screened for interview.

Charlie Taylor, Founder and CEO of Debut comments on James Caan getting behind his global ambitions for Debut: “Given the importance of an effective, productive and motivated workforce to the country’s economy, I continue to be amazed by how little innovation the recruitment market has seen in recent years, especially considering the prevalence of smartphone technology over the last decade.

“Already, in just 2.5 years, Debut has collated and analysed more data than any traditional job board would be able to capture in 10 years. The fact that we have started at the entry level, and have such a high level of user adoption and data, we are in a stronger position than any other platform to take on the global recruitment market and stay with candidates at each stage of their entire careers.

“Debut prides itself on delivering an intimate user-experience, which results in more data collation, and a chance for our technology to learn more based on candidates’ and employers’ behaviours and actions, which further enhances that experience – it’s a big loop.

“This latest investment will enable us to expand out of early careers and impact the broader jobs market. I hope that eventually our system will become so incredibly powerful that it will play a part in shaping the national skills agenda to promote improved supply and demand – first here in the UK, and then on a global scale.”

Serial investor and recruitment innovator James Caan comments on his latest investment decision.

He said: “The recruitment industry needs innovation to survive, and Debut entered the market at the right time – smartphone penetration was already well-established, but what made the opportunity so perfect for now, was the cost-effective access to unlimited, or large amounts of mobile data, meaning the mobile-only movement was just starting to gain traction. Debut embraces this audience and helps employers to do the same.

“Debut’s global ambitions are fantastic and full of new opportunities – the US has already seen mobile-only users overtake desktop-users, making it an obvious next stop, with the changing times ahead, Debut is not one to watch – it’s one to download.”

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