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#7 – Startups, Funding, & Mental Health w/ Katherine Allen & Atreya Misra (Flo Recruit)

Katherine Allen first began work on Flo Recruit, a personalized job recruitment tool, with two of her sorority sisters in her sophomore year at the University of Texas at Austin. She said she faced some obstacles along the way but largely lucked out when she met now co-founder Atreya Misra, a UT electrical and computer engineering graduate student.

Misra had no entrepreneurial pursuits when a friend invited him to a pitch presentation sponsored by MOBI, a software company. “I thought it was really impressive that she was able to put the company together, as well as the software,” Misra said. Allen then asked Misra to offer his help as a software developer, and he seized what he called an opportunity to learn and gain exposure to entrepreneurship.

“Atreya wanted to join the team, be a part of the team and build this thing,” Allen said. “Every other person we talked to wanted cash that we didn’t have… We were lucky that Atreya totally refused money.”

The two have since raised over $240,000 for Flo Recruit, which Allen said she wants to become a tool for “personal recruitment at scale.” She added, “Our big vision in the end is to allow companies to recruit in a way that makes the candidate feel like [the company is] actually reaching out to that specific person.”

Allen and Misra said their luck receiving funding for their education afforded them the ability to take risks with FloRecruit. Instead of adhering to the mainstream paths within college, they have been able to create something they both felt passionate about — but it came at some costs. In order to invest the time necessary to launch Flo Recruit, Allen said she greatly sacrificed her academic success, while Misra said he turned down an opportunity to work at Microsoft.

That is not to say the work has been easy. Allen explained that people’s preconceptions about the entrepreneurial field lead them to believe all the work needed for a startup is minimal. “I think that as entrepreneurs in general, we do a [good] job only publicizing the great things that are happening, and we don’t do as good of a job at telling people, ‘Here are all the times we messed up that led us to success.’”

Now, with money in hand and viable customers showing interest, Allen and Misra said they are excited to grow Flo Recruit. “There definitely needs to be a spike in growth in the near future,” Misra said. “With just the two of us, it’s not really possible to achieve everything we want to achieve.”

More people will be added to the team, and with that help, Allen said she thinks Flo Recruit will enable companies to weed out biases in hiring practices while finding top talent. And as for the changing labor market, Allen said, “Our generation really wants to feel like companies are talking directly to [us]. Large companies are really going to struggle to make sure that individual feels wanted, so part of our vision is to give companies that ability.”

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