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Meet the Kiwi startup moving from strength to strength

08 Jul 15

Auckland-based start up Weirdly officially launched its recruitment software tool of the same name in February, and has barely paused to catch a breath since.

Keren Phillips, Weirdly co-founder and CMO, says Weirdly is currently focused on building its existing customer base, developing the service and integrating with other tools and companies.

Weirdly is continually looking at ways to make its software more valuable. Right now this means making the tool faster and easier to use, and working on incorporating new features such as deep analytics, trend reporting and gamification.

Enabling analytics features is an on-going project. At present, Weirdly is looking at natural text analysis technologies that provide insight into an applicant’s character traits based off free text answers.

Integrations is also an on-going focus for Weirdly, particularly with other companies involved in recruitment. For example, last month Weirdly integrated with Trade Me Jobs.

As a result of this partnership, a company can now set up a Weirdly quiz and share it to the Trade Me Jobs site, whether they have an account or not, and can also buy Trade Me ads through Weirdly. Integrations with similar organisations are in the pipeline, according to Phillips.

Phillips says Weirdly has gained a lot from the robust and collaborative start up culture in New Zealand, as well as the relationships they have built with customers and other innovative businesses.

Organisations such as Spark, Xero and Vend have been Weirdly customers right from the start, and Phillips says Kiwi businesses across the board have responded well to the software.

“The minute people get their hands on the tool they say they would love to use it in their business. It’s more a case of, 'When and where do I inject this?', rather than a case of do I want to at all,” she says.

Weirdly has a broad spectrum of customers - both those that are very brand led like Spark or Xero, but also professional services companies such as accounting and law firms.

“New Zealand businesses seem to […] look at culture as a really crucial factor in growing a business. We are thinking progressively about the way we manage talent and the way that we think about growing teams of really awesome people,” says Phillips.

“This idea of talking about organisational culture and recruiting talent that reflects your brand, that’s no longer limited to niches anymore - now it's just part of doing good business,” she says.

New Zealand remains a key market for Weirdly, but the team is looking to move into other markets - with Australia and the United States in their direct line of sight.

“We’re still focused on growing in New Zealand because that’s where we’re based at the moment, but we are going over and doing market validation in the US and doing a deeper market validation in Australia.

“The question really is: where do we throw the most resource? Are we going to throw it behind Australia, or the US, or a third market we haven’t thought about yet?” Phillips says.

Australia is an obvious market for a lot of Kiwi start ups and it has a lot in favour of it, including the fact that it shares a lot of similarities to New Zealand and is close enough to visit regularly, according to Phillips.

However, the Weirdly team has learned that Australia is not necessarily always the easiest or most logical market, at least in regard to an innovative software tool.

Weirdly pushes against the boundaries of the traditional recruitment process, and because of this some markets are more responsive than others, Phillips says.

How an organisation responds to the tool says a lot about its approach to company culture, she says.

”Because we’re a new piece of software for people to adopt and manage themselves, it’s an exciting and innovative move for a company to bring on someone like us into their very traditional recruitment process.

“What that says about a company is that they’re prepared to experiment and amend a traditional process to embrace a new way of doing things and put more focus on what's important to them, like culture,” says Phillips.

“What we’re finding is that New Zealand companies are really prepared to do that - there’s lots of excitement in New Zealand about adopting new software to help you do your job better, or help you be more productive, help you evolve, or be more innovative.

“In Australia, that capacity, or the appetite for experimenting is really different. It’s not worse, it’s just really different. Particularly in recruitment and ideas about organisational culture.

“There’s less appetite to try something new, experiment with something new.”

This market knowledge is invaluable, and something that is very difficult to gauge without having on your feet on the ground, Phillips says.

“There are things that you can find out by having your feet on the ground that you can never find out by being here.

“Our experience in Australia really cemented that for us, so that’s why I’m going over to America, and that’s why we’re going to keep going back to different areas in Australia,” she says.

The past six months has been non-stop for Weirdly, and this start up shows no signs of slowing down. The rest of the year sees Weirdly extending its service, partnerships and reach on a global scale.

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