Startup Spotlight: WeSolv connects Fortune 500 companies with a network of MBA students

The WeSolv team. (Photo via WeSolv)

WeSolv is putting a new spin on today’s recruiting market, bringing together MBA students — and potential future employees — with Fortune 500 companies that need help solving real world challenges.

The Chicago-based startup works with companies like Salesforce and Discover, matching them with MBA students who get a chance to work on projects and build connections with potential employers. Founded in 2016 by Stella Ashaolu, WeSolv has more than 1,700 candidates from across 60 MBA programs on its platform.

WeSolv CEO Stella Ashaolu.

“I founded WeSolv as a direct response to the failures of today’s inefficient recruiting model,” Ashaolu said. “As a solo founder, I initially worked to understand the real needs of customers (companies) and candidates (MBA students) to develop the product concept and a functioning MVP. Through pilots and close partnerships with early customers such as Morningstar, I was able to pinpoint exactly how to connect companies with a broader range of candidates and more accurately assess them for actual performance capabilities.”

WeSolv has five employees and is part of the current Techstars Seattle cohort. The company’s network of MBA students is split evenly with men and women, with more than 70 percent of underrepresented minorities.

“Our mission is very important to our business, and we’ve found that people who share our mission around diversity and performance-based hiring are the people who will work the hardest to achieve it,” Ashaolu said.

Continue reading for Ashaolu’s answers to our questionnaire for this Startup Spotlight, a regular GeekWire feature.

Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “WeSolv is a performance-data driven platform that increases companies’ reach to diverse MBA candidates and helps reduce bias to make the best hires at scale.”

Inspiration hit us when: “WeSolv was inspired by seeing my clients and my own firm struggle to find and hire high-performing diverse candidates — not because they were not out there, but because companies were not effectively recruiting and assessing them for performance. I realized how my own personal experience of being overlooked as an MBA job candidate because I lacked the traditional background and opportunities to showcase my abilities highlighted the flaws of traditional recruiting methods. I knew I had the ability, but was only able to prove it by working on company projects or winning case competitions which identified a better way to address the problem.”

VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “Prior to Techstars, WeSolv was completely bootstrapped for a couple reasons. First, I did not have access to friends and family capital as some entrepreneurs do. Second, we knew our ability to be scrappy and still land huge clients would prove the need for WeSolv and allow us to learn and scale more efficiently once we did decide to raise outside capital. We are currently interested in connecting with Angels and early-stage seed funds to expedite our ability to reach more customers.”

Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “We have experienced the problem on all sides — as candidates, recruiters, and hiring managers — so we understand how to create the right solution for all stakeholders. We have figured out a way to truly address the diversity and talent acquisition problem that companies face. Our solution streamlines current processes, and elevates the experience and skill of the talent they are looking to hire. Additionally, we are a data-driven company that continues to increase our value to customers as we use data from the challenges and apply our research-backed methodology to help connect companies with the best candidates.”

The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Surrounding ourselves with mentors, leaders and partners that truly care about our mission and the problem we are solving. We have come this far as a result of these relationships, and will continue to make smart decisions as a result.”

The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “The biggest mistake I’ve made was not having a co-founder to build and scale WeSolv from the beginning. Finding the perfect team is so important, but very difficult, and we had to make some tough decisions, such as initially contracting out the product build.”

Would you rather have Gates, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “The Gateses. Our mission falls in line with how the Gateses are trying to leverage technology to build a more inclusive society, through initiatives like their newly-announced gender-equality strategy. Melinda and Bill are genuine examples of individuals using wealth and technology for good.”

Our favorite team-building activity is: “Our team is full of foodies! We love to try new restaurants and experience interesting cuisine.”

The biggest thing we look for when hiring is: “When hiring, we look for two key elements: passion and performance. Our mission is very important to our business, and we’ve found that people who share our mission around diversity and performance-based hiring are the people who will work the hardest to achieve it. It is their performance that will get them in the door and indicate we have made the best hire.”

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Stay hungry! Let that hunger for success and your mission drive your perseverance to overcome obstacles (there will be many). I always say that closed mouths don’t get fed. If you are hungry enough, you won’t be too proud or afraid to ask for help or whatever you may need. The worst you’ll get is a no, but more often than you think, you’ll get a yes.”

Editor’s note: GeekWire is featuring each of the ten startups in Techstars Seattle leading up to their Demo Day on April 18. Techstars is a worldwide network that offers 40 mentorship-driven accelerator programs around the globe.

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