TrueAbility, San Antonio Online Recruiting Tool, Raises $2 Million

7/29/13Follow @angelashah

San Antonio startup TrueAbility today announced it has completed a Series A fundraising of $2 million in venture capital.

TrueAbility sells a cloud-based service that allows recruiting managers to assess candidates’ technical skills in an online environment that mimics the workplace.

“In the typical interview process, it isn’t easy to assess the technical skills of employees,” says Frederick “Suizo” Mendler, TrueAbility’s founder and COO. “This is like a flight simulation for tech positions. Can they do the job or not?”

The startup sells its AbilityScreen program, through which job-seekers are evaluated by online tests in a live server environment that attempts to illustrate real issues they might face on the job. This approach, company founders say, is far better than the traditional interview process of resume scanning and in-person visits.

AbilityScreen can evaluate the candidate’s ability—no matter where they are physically in the world—to think critically, leverage resources, and see how well he or she will adapt to learning new things on the fly.

Customers can select from three pricing plans from an a la carte payment of $129 per candidate screening to monthly plans for $499 and $999 to screen 50 or 250 candidates, respectively.

The Series A round is led by Austin Ventures and includes investors such as Patrick Condon and Dirk Elmendorf—founders of Rackspace in San Antonio—and Rackspace’s chairman, Graham Weston. Other investors include Cloud Power Capital and Jason Seats, the former managing director of TechStars Cloud who is now running TechStars Austin.

TrueAbility will use the money to make key hires, such as a director of marketing, and expand and deepen the services it currently offers. In January, the company raised $750,000 in seed-stage funding led by Rackspace’s Condon and Weston.

Finding a talented workforce has long been difficult for technology companies. Mendler says he and his co-founders knew this pain up close and personally during a decade at Rackspace, an open-cloud hosting company based in San Antonio, where they were tasked with hiring employees for the fast-growing startup.

Mendler estimates that together, he and Rackspace’s other co-founders did about 8,800 interviews to hire around 1,100 people.  “We hired a lot of bad people based on resumes that had all the right certifications and yet they couldn’t even log into a server,” Mendler says. “They didn’t know what they were doing. We thought there had to be a different way.”

TrueAbility was founded in May 2012 and has 12 employees. This past spring, the startup was part of TechStars Cloud’s most recent class, a three-month mentoring and business development program sponsored by Rackspace Hosting.

Rackspace has also signed on as one of its first clients by making about 90 systems administrator hires since last November. Mendler says TrueAbility has about 120 clients so far.

The startup has been active in beta mode and will officially launch in mid-September, in time for the LinuxCon conference in New Orleans. In the meantime, TrueAbility’s founders are putting the finishing touches on a second product, one that’s a byproduct of AbilityScreen. This product, AbilityMatch, is meant to help screened and qualified job-seekers who, for some reason, did not get hired for a specific job.

AbilityMatch is essentially a database of pre-qualified candidates. For one position, companies typically review about 20 candidates. “Other employers prioritize these candidates because they have actual data and proof of their ability to do the job,” Mendler says. “This is better than a stack of resumes.”

For each hire, TrueAbility takes a placement fee. Job-seekers may individually sign onto the AbilityScreen process in order to expose themselves to hiring recruiters. Mendler says traditional recruiting methods can overlook hobbyists who have expertise than can rival that of professionals. “I met a guy that has a dozen cloud servers that he plays with,” he says. “It’s not on his resume, but he sure knows what he’s doing.”

Angela Shah is the editor of Xconomy Texas. She can be reached at ashah@xconomy.com or (214) 793-5763. Follow @angelashah

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