New Atlanta startup Knac is using software to solve tech’s diversity problem
The lack of diversity in tech isn’t a pipeline problem. It’s a process problem, according to Ariel Lopez, founder of Knac, a recruiting software that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to screen all job applications.
Lopez spent about a year as a career coach for General Assembly, a job training and placement company, where she helped people transition into the technology field.
“It’s frustrating that recruiters are still using antiquated software and not really changing their processes,” Lopez said. “Lack of diversity and bad candidate experiences are the things we’re trying to fix that are a result of that process.”
Knac, founded in 2019, aims to help recruiters make unbiased decisions on their next hire while providing feedback to the job searchers.
Lopez said companies have a better chance of increasing diversity of thought and people by using Knac. Instead of relying on their personal networks, recruiters can use Knac software to filter specific resume data, creating a fairer vetting process.
The Atlanta startup, which has three employees, is getting its legs during a time in which workforce diversity is a huge conversation in the Atlanta technology ecosystem.
Data shows companies with more diversity perform better financially. Tech giants Microsoft and Airbnb specifically mentioned the city’s diversity as a major attraction when they both chose the city as their East Coast hubs.
Leaders in the community hope the West Coast companies follow through with those diversity commitments, in part to prevent a similar pattern of displacement that plagued the San Francisco Bay Area as Silicon Valley exploded into a tech mecca.
But companies have the responsibility to make recruiting process changes that reflect their commitments to diversity, which is where Knac could help.
Knac screens all applications that come in for a specific job based on what the recruiter needs in terms of skills. Knac says 85% of applications do not get considered because they got lost or overlooked in the process. Lopez said the startup should have about 25 customers by the end of the year.
If the applicant is not a good fit, Knac can send a rejection letter with specific feedback to the job seeker.
“Our ethos is just making this process more human and repairing the relationship between the company and job seeker,” Lopez said. “It shouldn’t feel like you’re throwing your resume into a black hole.”
Lopez launched the beta version of the company in 2019, moving to Atlanta from New York because of its growing reputation for technology and corporate residents. When the pandemic hit, her business stalled as her customers looked to cut costs.
She joined the Acceleprise accelerator for software-as-a-service companies, which helped her revamp the company to be more data-driven and automated with better integration capabilities. Knac relaunched an updated version of the product in 2021.
Knac has funding from Google for Startups Black Founders Fund and a strategic partnership with hiring software company Greenhouse to use its customer base to grow Knac’s sales. Greenhouse CEO Daniel Chait also invested in Knac, Lopez said. The startup has about $500,000 investments total.
By this time next year, Lopez hopes to have about 10 employees and raise another funding round. Right now, Knac is focused on onboarding new customers and continuing to update its technology, including adding more insight features.