Embedded Recruiting Service at an Early-Stage Chatbot Startup

‘With Gabrielle, we had someone that was part of our team from day one that helped us to implement the process to scale quickly. In parallel, she found talented people with speed, so were able to achieve our hiring goals ahead of time. Having someone directly working with the team, with the ACELR8 machine in the background, is a new must-have for ambitious founders that are looking to scale.’
Max Koziolek, Co-Founder of Spectrm

Success story: Spectrm

Chatbots are becoming more and more common in industries like retail, e-commerce, and automotive. Spectrm is a SaaS company that revolutionises the marketing strategy of global brands. With access to their AI conversational platform, customers like Ford, Red Bull, and Deutsche Telekom build personalised chatbots displayed in messaging conversational applications for acquiring leads and seeing strong business results.

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The challenge: upscaling the recruiting process

Spectrm's product was very successful. Back in 2016, the company received $1.5 million in a seed funding round, followed by $3 million from Runa Capital in May of 2020 in Series A round. The company wanted to grow its twenty-people, but their recruiting processes at that time were not yet well-defined, and hiring the next nine employees seemed like a big challenge. There was no documentation on recruiting, no implemented tools, and no clearly-defined interview questions. Thus, at the beginning of 2020, the company reached out to ACELR8 for help, and we kicked off the project in February.

acerlr8 spectrm platform

The results: setting up the recruiting function and hiring across departments

Spectrm's small team was mainly focused on the development of their product. There was no recruiter who could take on the challenge of developing the company's hiring processes and set up a hiring function to attract and assess talent at scale. Gabrielle Dhavernas, ACELR8's Talent Partner, went on a six-month mission to improve the company’s hiring processes and progressively close the nine roles required.

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1. Recruiting playbook and training Hiring Managers

We reviewed previous recruiting practices and decided to implement a five-step hiring process, that was adjusted to a new remote scenario:

  • Screen call with a recruiter
  • Call with a Hiring Manager
  • Challenge for the candidate
  • Cultural-fit interview with CEO
  • Team-fit interview with four peers

To train the team to make the right assessment of talent and come to a hiring decision, all Hiring Managers also took part in one-on-one training sessions. At the same time, peers were coached on performing interviews as a team, which included defining common expectations from their potential colleagues, coming up with questions for them, and structuring the team-fit interview.

To continue using the hiring processes beyond our collaboration, we put all of the best practices, learnings and processes into a Spectrm Hiring Playbook that the company can use in the future for hiring new employees. The Playbook includes:

  • The process of kicking off a new role
  • A detailed feedback process
  • Interview guidelines
  • Tips on defining high strategic roles
  • A remote hiring setup (we started the collaboration when Berlin went into lockdown), and more

'I loved setting up everything from scratch and making a long-lasting impact!'
Gabrielle Dhavernas, Talent Partner at ACELR8

2. Implement a modern recruiting and sourcing toolset

ACELR8's Talent Partners are up to date on the latest recruiting and sourcing tools and use them to hire the best people for the roles. We temporarily implemented a tool called JOIN, a free job posting tool for early-stage startups whose hiring volume is not worth investing into a costly ATS (but be sure to check out our ATS comparison for some recommendations too!). Our diverse sourcing strategy LinkedIn, Github, and SourceHub, Meetup communities and a developer-focused visit to a Vue.js conference gave Spectrm access to great talent.

In order to assess the candidates right, we co-created a set of interview challenges based on real-life scenarios, and developers are faced with a remote challenge of building a small application.

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3. Hiring great talent

All of the above resulted in us hiring nine people for a variety of positions, growing Sales, Engineering, Product, and Design teams. In the product department, Senior Product Manager and Lead Designer were two roles under the responsibility of Jendrik, Co-Founder. It was time to delegate and professionalise these key functions and bring Spectrm’s tool to the next level in terms of customer experience.

Regarding the Sales team, Max, the company’s CEO, declared that there should be a Sales Director to lead the new outbound strategy that could result in the growth of the business in the following years. Besides deploying a strong market-mapping sourcing strategy for finding a good fit for the role, ACELR8 activated its network for hiring 2 SDRs, ensuring the next Sales Director to lead a small team before growing it further.

As for technical hires, Lead Frontend, Senior QA, and SRE were all new openings for respectively moving the frontend framework to Vue.js, setting-up the new QA department with 80% of automation, and, finally, pushing the platform functionality forward and scaling up the engineering and IT infrastructure.


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Lucas Bremer
CPO & Co-Founder, quantilope
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