(Non) human resources

By Yan Zhou, Bryan Borzykowski and Jim Middlemiss

Regardless of industry, competitive advantage starts with your employees. Hiring, retaining, engaging, developing, rewarding—if you can’t do these things well, your business won’t stand a chance. Thankfully, Canada’s startup community continues to develop employee-first technologies that are keeping their clients ahead of the pack.

The road to recruiting is littered with HR software programs. There are programs for attracting and managing resumes, others for onboarding and programming, and still more to track days off and goal-setting.

Kevin Kliman, a Toronto-based dentist who briefly ran his own practice, saw a gap in the marketplace for small businesses looking for a single HR platform that could serve multiple functions, automating routine tasks usually handled by staffing and resource personnel. By automating these tasks, he reasoned, employers could actually focus on more critical issues such as support and training. So, he created Humi.

Kliman is building Humi by first serving other startups such as inkbox and TribalScale. Bootstrapping the company in Canada, he chose to grow his firm in Toronto, partly because of the support of friends and family, but also because of the collaboration within the Toronto ecosystem: “In San Francisco, the barriers to entry into the market and finding the right (talent) are higher. Whereas in Toronto,” he adds, “there are more opportunities.”

Matching number-crunchers

There’s more to fintech than robo-advisors and personal finance apps—or, at least that’s what Michael Kravshik hopes.

The co-founder and CEO of Luminari is throwing his lot in with chartered professional accountants (CPAs), a group of more than 200,000 Canadian financial professionals that, he says, needs tools and services to help foster community and new job opportunities.

Luminari began in 2016 as a job-matching site, after Kravshik, a CPA who has also worked in counterterrorism and as the CFO of a technology company, realized that many accountants have experiences that don’t always align with traditional jobs. So, he and co-founder Adam Bercovici developed an AI-enabled platform that could better match CPAs with hiring companies. “The entire approach to matching people with jobs is fundamentally flawed,” he says. “We took a different approach with our algorithm.”

In the past year, Luminari has expanded to become a community for CPAs, where accountants can also talk, receive notifications for in-person events, view industry articles and see volunteering opportunities. (Membership is free; companies pay for job postings.) It also recently launched a program called #Finintech to match CPAs with startups that need CFOs or COOs.

Lori McGurran, vice-president of operations at Jazzit, an Edmonton-based company that develops software to help CPAs create electronic documents, says any technology that can help accountants do their work more efficiently is welcome. Creating a community for CPAs (Luminari now has 11,000 members) and having professional development events is something the profession needs.

Kravshik says he’s keen to provide more educational opportunities and help members use their skills in other settings. “We want to be the indispensable platform for CPAs,” he says. “We’d like to help them to break the mould of traditional accounting and really embrace the flexibility of their designation.”

R.I.P. resumés

Caitlin MacGregor doesn’t mince words about the changes now unfolding around hiring and the nature of work. “Total destruction,” she says.

It’s fitting, then, that the CEO and co-founder of Plum is championing a solution that’s every bit as dramatic—blending artificial intelligence with industrial and organizational psychology to create a candidate evaluation platform that, she says, is four times more accurate than a resumé at predicting on-the-job success.

MacGregor says Plum’s neural network takes organizational psychology “out of the hands” of expensive consultants. It combines input from hiring team members—identifying critical traits for job success—with evaluations of candidates’ cognitive and personality profiles to identify the best fit. Companies can also use it to help existing employees advance. “We measure the potential talent needed to do the job,” she explains.