Q&A Wednesday :: Meritful

Meritful LogoQ: Your company made its way to Austin in a unique way. Please tell us about that.
Moving to Austin for Meritful was almost an accident. We used to work out of a co-working space called Ann Arbor TechHub, and one morning late in February, we started talking about SXSW. None of us had ever been to it and we wanted to come, but we were saying how expensive it is to attend. And then somehow, we came across a post by Josh Baer about the Capital Factory competition called ‘Move your startup to Austin for Free‘ which was taking place on the first day of SXSW. The premise of the competition was simple: if you win, we will give you a $100,000 worth of prizes to move your startup to Austin. AND, if you are one of the five companies selected to pitch live at SXSW, your team will get a free pass to SXSW Interactive. We thought the gods were smiling, and applied promptly. We figured, at the very least we will get to go to SXSW for free.

The next two weeks were nothing short of amazing. Just a couple days later, I got an email from Josh saying, are you guys really willing to come over here if we select you to pitch? That took a bit of time to think about. We love Ann Arbor, and the University of Michigan is our alma mater for most of our team. But we also understood the opportunities that are awaiting for us here in Austin. We build a platform to help companies hire talented students from great universities, and the make-up of Austin was a lot like Ann Arbor, only bigger. So at a high level, it made sense. And we said yes. What followed was several sessions of pitch practices, a 20 hours drive to Austin, a live pitch on the SXSW Interactive stage…and lo and behold, we won the competition after over a 100 companies that applied and 5 that pitched on the stage. We were offered a great set of prizes from CTAN, Capital Factory and great Austin companies like HomeAway, SpareFoot, uShip, OutBox, Greenling, CDW and Rackspace. It took a couple months to finally make the move, but here we are! As we were planning our move here, we were also selected to launch Meritful on the stage at TechCrunch Disrupt 2013 in New York. We are grateful to follow in the tracks of some amazing companies that launched at Disrupt in prior years. You can check out our launch on TechCrunch.

Q: Explain what you do in a way that my mom can understand?
Hiring talented people is probably the most important concern for growing companies. One of the best sources for talented employees is university recruiting: top students can often do amazing work, and they cost a fraction of what talented professionals cost. Meritful is a platform that helps companies hire top graduating students by starting recruiting early, and building a relationship with students.

University recruiting is unique in a few ways. First, students are not well connected professionally, and companies do not have access to them through referrals. Second, the hiring process takes a number of years, starting from sophomore year or so where students are looking for internships all the way to graduation. Third, big brands and companies have an advantage on campus because they can command more mindshare from students. Meritful is a platform that helps medium sized companies compete effectively for top talent by doing the work earlier instead of waiting for senior year. At its core, Meritful is a candidate relationship management platform specifically built for college recruiting. It allows companies to engage students through activities like projects and challenges, and connect promising students with professionals and alumni at the company around these activities. So, what you have with Meritful is a platform to engage your student pipeline in efficient and one to many ways, allowing you to build a relationship with talented students, and generate data points about their skills, helping you make great hires. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) does a lot of research on college recruiting, and their number one suggestion for employers in hiring top talent is building a long term relationship with students. Meritful is a platform built to help companies with exactly that, and it is already being used by a number of companies.

Q: Who are the hard working geniuses behind the company?
Well, that is flattering. Let me tell you about our founding team. I am the founder of Meritful. I earned a PhD in computer science from the university of Michigan and Meritful is my second startup. I also spent some time working at LinkedIn in Mountain View, CA. Observing how college recruiting is different from traditional recruiting, and how it is not often addressed by existing recruiting solutions was the main reason for building Meritful. Lander is our head of business development, and also comes with a mix of startup and corporate experience. He has an undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan, and an MBA from Wharton. He spent a few years working at Accenture in technology implementation, and Meritful is also his second startup.

We are growing our team in Austin, and looking for talented developers and business people who are interested in helping amazing students get great jobs, and amazing companies hire top talent. If this space interests you, and would like to be part of a growing startup, contact us!

Q: We’ll know we made it when:
When companies don’t have to think twice about what to use to manage their college recruiting process OR when we have a million followers on twitter, whichever comes first. (@bemeritful)

Q: The best advice we’ve received so far has been:
It always seems impossible until it is done. [this one actually comes from Nelson Mandela]

About Bryan Menell

Bryan is the Managing Editor for AustinStartup and the CEO of Mahana. He is a co-founder of Capital Factory, an investor and advisor, and runs the popular Austin Tech Happy Hour with his wife.


  1. Bryan, Thank you for the kind welcome! It was fun doing the Q&A. Cheers!