How RoiKoi Wants To Change Employee Referrals, With Andy Wolfe

If you're a big employer, recruiting the right, new employees is usually a big problem--unless you are lucky enough to get some great referrals from your existing employees. Is there a way to make that easier for your employees, and smooth out potential hires for your recruiters and hiring managers? Austin-based Roikoi ( is looking to solve that problem, with a new service which helps employers collect names and information about the people their employees think ought to work for the company--even before there is an open position for that person. The company has the backing of such local angel investors as Brett Hurt, Andrew Busey, along with Capital Factory. We spoke with Andy Wolfe, the company's founder, about the company.

What's the idea behind Roikoi?

Andy Wolfe: We help companies collect about 30 great names from each of their employees, of people they might hire someday, regardless of job, to make it easy for corporate recruiters. We let those recruiters search for data on the great folks they might be able to hire for jobs.

How is this better than what is out there?

Andy Wolfe: Most everything out there now collects active referrals. If you work for a large company, and you are actively looking to fill a job, you might talk to your friends. However, that means you might have to search through thousands of jobs and see what might be a match, and vice versa. If I run into a manager at work, and who is having a problem filling a job, they have to work through all your contacts to who might match that open job. That's lots of work, and it's even more if you have multiple jobs multiplied by your own network. What we've done, is we've seen a huge opportunity in the 90 percent of your employee population that doesn't have the time, or initiative, to do all of that matching, no matter how easy those tools are. We've created something really simple and frictionless, where you just provide 30 great names of folks you think should work for your company, regardless of the job, and it takes only five minutes of your time. This is similar to what's already being done by companies like Facebook manually, but which takes them hours per employee. We can do that in five minutes.

How did the company start?

Andy Wolfe: We started this as a consumer product. The idea was that everyone knows a lot of really fantastic people, what if there was a simple and easy way to get that information out there, and help to solve the hiring problem. We started with putting out some names for fun, and made its so that people could play a game with it, who they would like to work with, who is great, who they'd like to hire. It was a great proof of concept. We took this to half a million professionals, and we found that data was quite valuable. We though, if we were able to focus ths signal on a particular company in terms of getting a signal from employees, we'd really be on to something. So we started piloting this earlier this year, and went into beta this week at HR Tech.

When did you decide to focus in on employers rather than the consumer aspect?

Andy Wolfe: Honestly, it was less about the employer as focusing on our user base. With the consumer model, the only motivator is it's fun. But, when you switch it to a group of people who are joined together, and have a common interest, such as a company, there's a vested interest to use it to make the company successful. Roikoi makes your company a better place to work, and also helps your friends out. That's more altruistic than it is a novelty. The use has become stronger as well, and through that altruism, there's a lot more willingness for people to point out the great people they know, because it might get them a job, and because it's more about the utility.

Where are you right now, in terms of deploying this?

Andy Wolfe: We've got some great beta and early customers know, and a bunch of hires to date. We have a lot of happy companies.

As an entrepreneur, what has been the biggest lesson for you so far?

Andy Wolfe: Oh wow. I think, is that it's hard starting a company. It's never kidding around. It's one thing to hear about your friends joining a startup, or starting their own company, because it's kind of a cool, fad thing right now. But, it's actually a lot of hard work. I've been operating on three and a half hours of sleep in the last 48 hours, and that's not unusual. Starting a company is not easy, it's hard work!

Thanks, and good luck!