Business development / Entrepreneurs / Funding / Hiring / HR

Amber Wanner’s second startup, Vette, just launched to the public after a pivot

After a $2 million round, Wanner's "Uber for phone interviews" is ready to onboard the public and build out a team. "You can’t be stuck on what you think your product will look like or feel like, you have to find what it actually is," she said of its biz model sift.

Vette founder Amber Wanner. (Courtesy photo)
While the year 2020 was a hard one for many, many reasons, Vette founder and CEO Amber Wanner credits it as a pivotal moment for her business.

The second-time founder had closed down her first startup, CandiDate, and began building what’s now a platform that allows anyone to do a first screen of applicants for high-volume and high-turnover jobs. But the first iteration of the company wasn’t quite right, she said.

“2020 was my favorite year because I learned a hell of a lot,” said Wanner, who is based in Graduate Hospital. “I learned what the market needs versus what I thought it needed.”

The 2022 RealLIST Startups honoree had been catering its process to highly skilled technologists — the platform was built to allow software engineers to vet other software engineers. That service definitely had a market, Wanner said. But it wasn’t as large and didn’t serve as pressing a need as the market of vetting workers for warehouses, retail, fast food and other service-focused jobs.

The platform, which launched Wednesday to the public, is meant to solve the issue of delayed touch points for applicants. Someone might apply for 10 jobs in a day, and take another offer before a company has the time to get back to them. With Vette, a client company will prompt an applicant right after they apply to have an interview via phone immediately, or whenever is convenient. Their target clients are high-volume industrial staffing companies who just don’t have the resources or time to keep up with the roles they need to fill.

Vette’s platform in use. (Courtesy image)

Vetters screen candidates (mostly for entry-level hiring data as a first step) in a few-minute call, and the results are sent to the client company in an applicant tracking system. The platform is live 24/7, which has the potential to draw in folks who work second or third shifts. The most common time applicants request a screening is 8 p.m., Wanner said, and in the platform’s beta phase, they got several midnight requests.

“The platform was always meant to be a sort of Uber for phone interviews, and we realized the higher the skill, the less on-demand it could be,” Wanner said. “This pivot is exactly what we needed. The applicant is initiating their own interview.”

Vetters can be anyone — stay-at-home parents or caretakers, college students, retirees, HR professionals, teachers, or anyone who’s looking to pick up some gig work, Wanner said. You just have to be 18 or older, with a reliable device, phone and internet connection. The platform’s tech stack is built with Twilio primarily, with Node and React, and Wanner said she’s deciding between Google Cloud and AWS.

Since 2021, cofounders Sree Kotay (Comcast’s former CTO) left the startup and Austin George has moved into more of an advisory role, the CEO said. Wanner also began working with an advisor who was previously with Uber, and an engineering team from Prague. She recently closed a $2 million seed round, and plans to hire around 10 people by the end of the year to serve two teams on either side of the supply and demand of Vetter operations, as well as in-house software engineer.

“CandiDate was a services business and I had always looked at a pivot like, ‘Why would you have to?'” the founder said. “Now I know the pivot was the best thing. You adapt based on the market. You can’t be stuck on what you think your product will look like or feel like, you have to find what it actually is.”


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