We interviewed alumni Mike Reiffers (Luxembourg) about his experience launching a business after graduation from EADA’s International Master in Management. Mike co-founded skeeled with classmate Nicolas Speeckaert (Belgium), and they are currently equal managing partners, managing the company, its operations and its teams in Luxembourg, Brussels and Porto.
Can you tell us a bit about skeeled, the business you launched with partner Nicolas Speeckaert?
Skeeled focusses on the early stages of the recruitment process. We offer a software to automate the first steps of the process: the publishing of offers, automated screening of CVs with artificial intelligence, personality assessments and pre-recording of video interviews, scheduling of face-to-face interviews and many other features in a unified user-friendly platform.
We focus not only on the CV, but also on the personality, giving candidates the opportunity to prerecord a video interview. This way, recruiters have more information about the candidate’s profile, allowing them to manage their candidates, and rank and share the decisions made with the recruitment team.
We began by consulting recruitment professionals to assess what functionalities and features were needed and to identify in what ways we could bring innovation to their current recruitment processes. Our research began in EADA, and we already had our core business plan structure developed during the first few months of the course. In 2016, we had the honour of receiving the awards for HR Startup of the Year and Best HR Performance Tool in Luxembourg.
How would you define the current challenges of recruiting in a digital world? How are skeeled’s soluctions innovative?
In today’s quickly-evolving technological world, recruitment needs to become more digital – working on paper needs to become obsolete, and companies should look forward to innovative and
find modern solutions better suited to their needs. Skeeled offers exactly that with its artificial intelligence technology and algorithms automating CV screening in multiple formats. This type of process also helps with the company brand, as applicants are more satisfied. Moreover, with the new legislation on data protection (GDPR), companies need to adopt a digital approach so that they can monitor, secure and control access to all data. This will ensure that they comply with legislation as well as delete unnecessary data.
The idea for skeeled started as your final project for the MiM. Can you tell us more about how your time at EADA inspired you to start your own business?
For me, it was very important that EADA gave me the opportunity to create a business plan as opposed to a traditional academic thesis. The business plan was more practical, and better oriented towards what we wanted to accomplish in the future. As both Nicolas and I were business-oriented, writing a business plan that could lead to a company was incredibly inspiring and exciting for us.
In large part, our business plan was inspired by our own experience during the job search – we started applying, sending out CVs and getting no responses from recruiters. This was frustrating because we understood that our CVs were being ignored because they did not accurately reflect our best qualities. We were also aware that recruiters had thousands of CVs coming in that needed reviewing, and we started to study the complexity of job markets and to identify issues on both sides. We realised that there was a big gap and we wanted to do something to change the industry. Skeeled was then – and still is now – a software focused on the experience of both the recruiter and the applicant. This is an important part of our company vision.
How did your EADA experience prepare you for your career as an entrepreneur?
Our experience in EADA was very challenging, with modules that gave us insight into what a successful business requires. We analysed a lot of case studies – the practical nature of the courses and how they went very deep into the issues of specific companies provided the best preparation. The regular presentations – many very demanding – also helped us develop our interpersonal skills. The practical methodology, presentations and quality of the professors made for a very intense year of growth. During this year, we gained the confidence, knowledge, and skills that allowed us to become active players on the entrepreneurial stage today.
You are now managing multicultural teams and offices in several countries. What was the most important thing you learned during the Professional Development Modules in the Residential Training Campus?
In the modules in the Residential Training Campus, we learned to integrate into a team effectively by developing our skills in terms of interpersonal relationships, presentations, leadership and teambuilding. One of the greatest challenges in these modules was learning how to manage our time effectively.
Do you have any advice for future entrepreneurs?
I think that it is important to remember these 5 things:
- Education: Go for the more practical subjects – these will help you gain the knowledge and skills that you need.
- Surround yourself with the right people: Don’t believe that you can do it all on your own and be prepared to rely on your team.
- Pay special attention to the initial employees that join your company: Hire people as passionate as you are about your product.
- Keep an eye on your budget: Don’t splurge, but don’t be afraid to invest and spend.
- Do a proper evaluation of the market: Gather as much information as you can and prepare yourself – be prepared to sell. You are the best sales person of your own project! Always think: How do I sell this to the first client? The first one is always the most tricky to convince, as you have no references yet. That was certainly that the biggest challenge for us at Skeeled.