Shortlist Raises $1 Million in Seed Funding to Help Employers Discover Untapped Talent Across Africa and India

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Shortlist’s unique technology platform utilizes chatbots, skills-based assessments to screen talent, enabling firms to hire based on competency, rather than pedigree

Employment tech startup Shortlist today announced $1 million in seed funding from US-based private equity firm University Ventures, Indian angel investor Samir Shah of Sattva Capital, Kenya-based seed fund Zephyr Acorn, global impact investor Farm Fund at ImpactAssets, US-based investor Bodley Group, and other individuals in India and the United States. Shortlist will use the funds to enhance its data-driven talent screening product, which automates applicant vetting using online competency-based assessments.

Recruiting and talent management is a core challenge facing growing businesses in emerging markets. Over 1 million people enter India’s workforce each month, and the World Bank estimates that Africa will add more people to its job market in the next ten years than the rest of the world combined. Given this volume of jobseekers, companies are typically left to sort through hundreds of applicants for a single job opening, relying mainly on CVs and personal connections to guide decisions on who to meet and hire.

“The single biggest challenge for growing companies is finding the right talent to scale,” says Paul Breloff, co-founder and CEO of Shortlist. “We believe that both jobseekers and employers deserve a better way to find each other and gauge fit. We’re thrilled to have a group of investors who share our desire to fix this broken talent marketplace, and believe the mix of expertise across India, East Africa, and the United States will add significant strategic value as we build on our early traction."

Shortlist helps companies in India and East Africa hire for early and mid-career roles based on demonstrated potential and skill, rather than pedigree. The startup’s unique technology creates a single application flow to engage candidates across a company’s sourcing channels, including job boards, referral programs, and existing third-party recruiters.

Shortlist then screens these candidates using chat-based interviews, online competency assessments, and other proprietary tools that predict how candidates will perform in a particular role. Employers receive access to interview-ready candidates, streamlining the often time-consuming and bias-prone phases of hiring, and ultimately only engaging with the applicants who possess the right ability, experience, and fit for their teams.

“Over the past century, we’ve become much more efficient in figuring out how to allocate physical capital. Over the next decade, we will see a revolution in how we allocate human capital,” says Ryan Craig, author of College Disrupted: The Great Unbundling of Higher Education and Managing Director at University Ventures. “The shift from degree- and pedigree-based hiring to competency-based hiring has tremendous potential for employers, individuals, and overall economic growth. University Ventures is proud to partner with Shortlist, which in a short period of time has become a leading competency marketplace in emerging markets.”

Since its launch in early 2016, Shortlist has partnered with over 80 companies, including Ather Energy, M-KOPA, MicroEnsure, and Xynteo. Nearly 200,000 jobseekers have engaged with the Shortlist platform, where they are able highlight their strengths and be considered for jobs based on demonstrated potential and fit, not merely their educational background and formal work experience. Shortlist has previously received funding from AHL Venture Partners, Blue Haven Initiative, the Shell Centenary Scholarship Fund, and Shell Foundation, and was a winner of the ANDE-Argidius Talent Challenge.

“Recruiting has been a challenge over my career and finding the right talent for a role is demanding and time consuming for nearly all companies in which I’ve invested,” says Samir Shah. “Knowing the co-founders for many years, I’m excited to see the team come together to build a much improved, tech-enabled solution for companies that want to hire the best without the stress. I’m thrilled to support the Shortlist team.”

About Shortlist:

Shortlist works in India and East Africa to help growing enterprises hire based on skills and potential, rather than pedigree. The Shortlist platform screens candidates using predictive chat-based interviews and online competency-based assessments, letting employers skip the most time-consuming and bias-prone phases of hiring. Launched in 2016, over 80 companies including Ather Energy, M-KOPA, MicroEnsure, and Xynteo now partner with Shortlist to build high-performing teams. Shortlist has offices in Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Nairobi. To learn more, visit

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