When looking for a job in Sri Lanka, it’s the same gruelling process for everyone. You could be a fresh graduate or an experienced engineer that got laid off. After making a prayer, you’ll send your CV across to several companies. Consider yourself lucky if you get a response from any of them. This scenario is the reality for job seekers not only in Sri Lanka but across Asia. Having raised LKR 122 million in funding, Rooster is looking to improve recruitment by creating a better experience for both job seekers and HR professionals.
How Rooster makes recruitment easy
In many of Asia’s developing countries, the labour market heavily favours employers. There’s a large amount of unemployed talent struggling to find a job. Yet, contrary to popular belief, hiring managers want to respond and give feedback to all candidates. But the challenge, according to Co-Founder of Rooster, Bhanuka Harischandra, “There’s just no way to sift through every CV and give constructive feedback to all of them. It’s just too much work for hiring managers.”
Rooster bridges the gap between job seekers and hiring managers with an affordable Applicant Tracking System. Head over to rooster.jobs, and you’ll find a job portal where you can either apply for a job or as a hiring manager post openings.
Meanwhile, hiring managers can utilise Rooster’s many automated features to screen through CV’s quickly, identify the ideal candidate for the position, and instantly give feedback using its templates to the other candidates. “It’s all about how quickly we can pass information between the two parties. With automation, Rooster can make this almost instantaneous,” says Bhanuka.
The benefits of using automation go well beyond simply speeding up response times. It also makes Rooster significantly cheaper compared to its counterparts.
Building affordable software for better recruitment
Before Rooster, Bhaunka founded Surge Global – a digital marketing agency based in Sri Lanka. Over the years, it has grown from a team of 2 to a full-time team of 90 digital marketing professionals. During this time, he saw first-hand the chaotic, unstructured nature of recruitment in Asian countries. “We were looking at bringing some order and structure to the recruitment process. We found there was an entire industry of Applicant Tracking Systems tackling this issue,” recalls Bhanuka.
This issue is that the top Applicant Tracking Systems are expensive to the tune of $12,000 – $20,000 per year. “It’s viable if the average hire is a software developer in San Francisco earning $200,000 per year. But it doesn’t make sense to have a $20,000 recruiting system if you’re hiring a content writer in Colombo,” explains Bhanuka.
He continued, “We saw there was a lot of great tech in the US and Europe. Arguably it’s most needed in Asia. But there’s a massive price disparity between what’s out there and what’s available in the region. So we sought to build a system that even startups, which are the most in need of great talent, could easily afford. That’s how we thought of Rooster in terms of pricing. We didn’t want to make 10% or 20% cheaper but one or two orders of magnitude cheaper.”
Improving the job hunting experience with automation
Currently, Rooster has three licenses, which start at free and go up to $900 per year. It’s a massive drop from the prices of existing Applicant Tracking Systems. So what’s the big secret to this? “Incredible levels of automation,” says Bhanuka,
He went on to explain, “Automation allows us to reduce costs and provide a better overall experience for both job seekers and hiring managers. For example, let’s take rejection. Rooster has internal templates covering typical reasons for rejection such as technical skills, salary fit, communication skills and more. With a single click, hiring managers can draft an instant response they can send to candidates. We’re constantly pushing to increase those rates. By automating different parts of the recruitment process, Rooster can create a better overall experience for everyone.”
Building a global clientele with a cheaper product
Bhanuka also credits Rooster’s unique sales strategy for making it more affordable. Typically, companies selling Applicant Tracking Systems have legions of salespeople. Hence they need to factor in the cost of commissions when setting their prices. In contrast, Rooster opted to use digital marketing as its primary means of acquiring new clients.
While it has helped lower costs, it wasn’t always smooth sailing to secure new clients. Recalling their early days, he shared, “We launched Rooster in March 2020 when it was still in its infancy. At the same time, we ran a series of ads to acquire clients. But many companies weren’t happy with the product back then since it lacked many key features. It was a rough period that took a toll on our team.”
Despite many rejections in those early days, the Rooster team persisted. They continued developing the platform, incrementally adding new features and bringing it on par with the competition. Now the conversation has largely shifted to a more positive note.
“Whenever a company reaches out, they might ask for five features. Today we can confidently tell them that we have 3 of them, with the other two features launching soon. So they’re more open-minded to trying out the platform. Increasingly, many of our clients are now opting for annual subscriptions. They see strong value in Rooster and plan to use it for a long time,” shares Bhanuka.
Rooster is used by several companies in Sri Lanka, and a handful of other countries including Brazil, Cameroon, and India.
The future of Rooster
Recently, Rooster closed its seed round of funding by raising LKR 112 million ($610,000) at a post-money valuation of LKR 1 billion ($5 million). The funding round includes a diverse set of angel investors from Sri Lanka, Australia, and Headfound.com, a recruitment firm based in Germany.
Originally, Rooster was a product by Paladin Analytics – a product development agency in Sri Lanka. Alongside Bhanuka, Paladin was co-founded by Nisal Periyapperuma and Dave Chesson. Having closed its seed round, Rooster will be spun off a separate entity. In the next 18 months, the funding will be spent on upgrading Rooster and creating a better recruitment experience for all.
Towards building an improved recruitment experience, Rooster has many new features planned. Among them is letting hiring managers make a talent pool. It will allow them to instantly identify the ideal candidate from past applicants to fill new positions. The company is also working towards introducing integrations into existing enterprise software like Zapier and Slack.
Rooster has made its mission to change recruitment by automating much of the process and reducing the time for information to go from job seekers to hiring managers and back. In doing so, reshaping the recruitment experience for all. One that is on par with advanced economies but also accessible to those in developing countries, which arguably need it the most.