“I think that’s really weird”, says Willem van Roosmalen, co-founder of Homerun, who is on a mission to change the way we hire. Homerun helps companies create job openings that are way more personal and richer than traditional ones, and streamlines the process of reviewing applications. “Compared to using email and Excel, hiring someone with Homerun, together with your colleagues, is so much better”, explains Willem.
How it all started
It’s not an obvious field for a young designer with a background in branding, marketing, and visual identity, and Willem himself agrees. “I think if you would have told me 5 years ago that I’d be the owner of a recruitment software company, I’d just have started laughing”. But that’s kind of the point: you can’t reinvent the world of recruitment if you’re clouded by the traditional ways, and Willem is sure that not having a background in recruitment has only been an advantage.
We felt job openings should essentially be more like stories rather than uninspiring, replaceable lists of bullet points.
So how did he fall into the field? Willem started a blog ten years ago, FONTANEL, writing about the Dutch creative industry with who is now also co-founder of Homerun, Thomas Moes. After gaining around 40,000 readers, they decided to monetize their platform by creating a job board focused on the niche of the Dutch creative industry, something that didn’t yet exist. “After a couple of years, we got to know all these various companies through visits and interviews”, explains Willem. “And we noticed they were placing jobs on our job board that weren’t giving an impression of how cool we knew it was to work at those companies. And that’s where the idea for Homerun was born”.
A new way of selling
The start of Homerun coincided with changing trends in the marketing industry - one which Willem follows closely thanks to his background. “Over the last 20 years or so, marketing really changed from feature-based selling to storytelling”, explains Willem. “If people start caring more and more about where they work and why they want to work somewhere, we felt job openings should essentially be more like stories rather than uninspiring, replaceable lists of bullet points”. By creating a job post with a story that’s told by everyone in the company, Willem points out that the whole team - not just the recruiter - gets involved.
“We felt that recruiters were just working on an island by themselves, begging the team to read the pile of applications, but really, hiring should be a team sport”, he says, explaining the rationale behind Homerun’s name (it’s an added bonus that it’s also shortened to HR). In addition to their software, Homerun produces an immaculately designed online magazine, the Art of Work. The magazine focuses on company culture and work/life balance, amongst other topics, at “design-minded companies” worldwide - so far, they’ve interviewed the likes of Oedipus and JWT Amsterdam.
Balancing personal and professional goals
Homerun already boasts a number of high-profile clients who use their software, including WeTransfer, Buffer, Ticketswap and The Next Web. They’re now setting their sights on Scandinavia - some companies in Oslo and Copenhagen have organically picked up Homerun, but they want to further expand their client base in the region. Fortunately, Willem just moved to Gothenburg for a year - he and his girlfriend were looking for an adventure - and it also tied in well with Homerun’s business goals. The company makes sure to practise what it preaches: “before we started the company, Thomas and I said we wanted it to enable us to live however we wanted to live. Me moving to Sweden is a good example of that”, Willem explains.
We want to inspire people through the Art of Work, our content platform, to help people be happier in their work.
So what’s next for the company? Willem is excited about how Homerun will expand from just a B2B SaaS to become “more of a brand that reflects a change in the way we work”. This is Homerun’s end goal. “On the one hand we want to build tools that enable companies to respond to the needs of the next working generation”, Willem explains, “and on the other, we want to inspire people through the Art of Work, our content platform, to help people be happier in their work”. Changing the “negative vibe” that HR suffers from is no easy feat. Willem’s company is raising the bar, and if anyone stands a chance at ridding recruitment of its dreary stereotype, it’s got to be an aesthetically-minded brand like Homerun.
Which books or brands inspire you?
“I’m super inspired by the founder of Patagonia, he has this book Let My People Go Surfing. Somehow everything came together for me in that book: how they do their marketing, and how they combine their purpose with their commercial goals. I’m also a big fan of It’s Nice That, a London based company, and Protein also shares interesting stories and insights. I think I get my inspiration very much outside of the startup world. There’s a lot of companies that do super cool stuff that’s applicable to Homerun - more to do with universal truths about how to create loyalty or how to create a good brand. For that, I love brands like Aesop, Patagonia, Monocle and Acne.”
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
“Often they underestimate their brand and their design: it’s not just something that needs to look cool, but a brand is something that will set you apart from your competitors. You can never outcompete on features or pricing or service, there’s always a company that has more money and a bigger team that can outperform you. But a unique brand can never be copied, it’s a vessel to clarify your purpose so your employees, customers and fans feel connected to your company on a much higher level than hype, discounts or features.”