I would normally rather have a root canal instead of write about the issue of women in technology. I just find most essays on this really tedious and obvious. (Sorry Alexia.)
But I do want to point one thing out. When I went to my first Y Combinator Demo Day three years ago, there was one woman. At this week’s Demo Day, there were four companies with one or all female founders among the 66 startups in the class.
I’m going to keep this post simple. No complaining. Less navel gazing. Just more role models. So here are the women of Y Combinator and they are awesome.
(Ladies, if you’re interested in joining the next class, the deadline just passed. But there are two classes a year, so the next one will come up soon.)
Elli Sharef, HireArt
Growing up in Colombia, Sharef was lucky to have a strong female role model right by her side. Her mother had a Ph.D. in economics
“She’s a strong figure with opinions and she was an intellectual,” Sharef said. “I never thought about being a man or woman. She just told me to be ambitious, to do my thing and try and build something good for the world.”
Sharef’s company is attacking the HR and recruiting space. She’s a co-founder of HireArt, which is trying to ease that first step of sifting through an impossible number of resumes.
HireArt has job candidates actually perform a series of tasks or do video interviews. For example, if an interview candidate says they are an expert in Excel, they can demonstrate their skills on HireArt by creating an Excel model using a dataset.
“I saw how hard it was to hire the right person. Everyone knows that the right person can 10X your team,” she said. “At the same time, it’s equally bad when you don’t hire the right person. It can be really terrible.”
HireArt’s site is growing 40 percent week over week and currently has 238 open positions. The company earns revenue every time a candidate is successfully placed, the way a good recruiter might earn a fee or a salary percentage if they find a good hire.
To get into Y Combinator, Sharef came together with a few friends from her university days at Yale: Dain Lewis and Nicholas Sedlet.
There’s a question of how easy it will be to scale HireArt’s model given the idiosyncrasies of hiring and finding a good cultural fit between employees and employers.
Sharef says that over time, the company will collect more and more data from employers about interview questions or tests that are strong predictors of success.
“We really try to work with data to understand which questions work the best. You can think about it like designing the SATs for different jobs,” she said, pointing out that one of her co-founders has experience working with huge data sets as a commodities trader and quant.
4 is better than 1, but out of 66, that’s still a long way to go. Ladies, get to founding!