Fondion: B2B SaaS, an integrated ERP system for the construction industry Who we work with: The Founder team & Tech Lead Funding: from Icebreaker VC and other investors. How we help them at the moment: Build their talent acquisition function from 0 to 1: run recruitment, build processes and build an employer brand. Goal: Make sure Fondion can hire the needed GTM & tech team members in this growth phase, and build scalable talent acquisition processes and an employer brand for future growth.
In this case study, we'll delve into Fondion’s strategic decision to team up with TalentBee and leverage Talent Acquisition as a Service. Their goal is to ensure hiring the right talent won’t become their growth bottleneck.
Fondion is a fast-growing SaaS startup founded in 2020 – on a mission to revolutionize the construction industry. Their innovative product has already set sales records month after month and as Fondion gears up for further growth, they're expanding their inhouse go-to-market and tech teams.
However, like many fast-growing startups, Fondion recognized the challenges and risks of recruiting ad hoc in a highly competitive talent market.
Why can talent acquisition become a growth bottleneck for a fast-growing SaaS startup – and how to prevent it?
Talent acquisition can become a tricky growth bottleneck for a fast-growing SaaS startup. Most often this happens because of increased demand for top notch SaaS industry talent, leading to a limited and highly competitive talent pool. Startups face tough competition from established companies with well-known employer brands, making it challenging to attract top talent.
Especially when recruiting to key roles with the ad hoc method, the risk is high not to find suitable candidates and close the hires when needed. The processes may be delayed for months. Hiring becomes a bottleneck.
Also, the recruitment processes become time-consuming and complex for the founder team and the hiring managers, as the company scales, diverting focus from other critical tasks. And as a startup founder, you always tend to have something critical to do when you should be recruiting, right?
Rapid onboarding, training further and engaging current employees compound the challenge, while resource constraints can strain the company's overall growth efforts.
Addressing these obstacles proactively will help to ensure talent acquisition won’t become a growth bottleneck but rather a competitive advantage. This is exactly what Fondion did.
Fondion’s competitive advantages as a SaaS startup set a promising growth trajectory
Backed by the founders’ extensive industry knowledge and networks specifically focused on the construction industry, Fondion recognized the enormous potential in a sector that still remained underserved by digital solutions. And even before writing any code, they already had paying, happy customers.
What Fondion needed was a strategic approach to talent acquisition
Fondion's first customers love the product, which practically solves specific and critical business problems in the construction industry. Month after month, Fondion has set sales records. Hence, in the coming months, Fondion aims to grow its go-to-market and tech teams with colleagues that are eager to join their mission and growth journey.
"Our main objectives are related to improving the customer experience and helping customers with the dynamics of profitability. We will scale first in Finland, and then in international markets. To do this, we must continue to develop a world-class SaaS product. We are one of the fastest growing organizations through sales, but at the moment we are behind in recruitment, so there is plenty of work to be done here”, says Marko Valli, Co-Founder and board member at Fondion.
In order to reach their targets, they soon realized the need for a more strategic, long-term approach to hiring new talent.
Ad hoc recruiting and resorting to consulting services was a suitable strategy at the beginning. Now that the focus is to sustainably scale to the international market, it is necessary to acquire high-quality expertise and strengthen the internal team strategically.
“Hiring 5–7 developers to our in-house tech team would be a critical step for us during the upcoming year. There’s a lot to do – help is appreciated”, says Kimi Päivärinta, Tech Lead at Fondion.
Also other teams have critical hiring needs – according to the founder team, there are only critical and more critical recruitments ahead. The growth pace will be fast, but Fondion doesn’t want to do it at the expense of the well-being of its current team, but in a controlled manner.
What holds true for the current and future talent: the most sought-after SaaS industry experts want to work for respected brands. Top notch experts contribute to profitable business growth and satisfied customers. To win this talent as a startup, Fondion also needed to start building employer brand awareness in their strategically critical talent market.
“Should we prioritize strategic talent acquisition while aiming for a funding round?”
Many startup founders think that you should only start thinking about hiring when the funding round has been secured. Still, there are a lot of advantages to starting with the right steps already before that.
Strategic talent acquisition means not only hiring talent, but much more. Strategic thinking includes planning talent needs as precisely as possible, even months in advance. At the same time, when hiring for single roles along the way, you can build relationships and talent pipelines for the future.
Today, investors are interested in a startup's ability to recruit top talent within a reasonable time. If you can present your talent acquisition plan and even show that there’s motivated talent at your company's doorstep waiting to be hired, that is a huge advantage.
Fondion’s goal is to raise the next round of funding by the end of the year 2023. At the same time they invest in building strategic talent acquisition with the help of TalentBee’s team.
Talent Acquisition as a Service to support Fondion’s growth goals
In spring 2023, Fondion teamed up with TalentBee to work for a common goal: making sure talent acquisition won’t become their growth bottleneck. In the beginning of the collaboration, this means e.g. searching for and hiring talent for urgent, critical hiring needs. At the same time, building a talent acquisition strategy and scalable processes for talent acquisition, as well as initial stage employer branding activities are in the focus.
Teaming up with TalentBee & the buying process
Fondion is backed by Icebreaker VC and Icebreaker did the introduction between Fondion and Talentbee. Here’s what Icebreakers’ General Partner, Riku Seppälä said about this:
“One of our portfolio companies, Fondion is growing rapidly and they needed support in hiring the right people. One of TalentBee's founders, Saara used to work as a Talent Acquisition Lead in our portfolio company, Sellforte earlier. They were happy with the results so I was happy to introduce TalentBee to Fondion's team.”
The discussion actually started from hiring for a single role as a one-off project, but Fondion’s founders quickly realized that moving towards strategic talent acquisition would be the way to go.
With the Talent Acquisition as a Service package they would also get strategic support, development of talent acquisition processes, TalentBee handling all of their recruitment processes as well as building their employer brand (planning, content production & distribution).
“From TalentBee, we saw that we could get agile experts from a new company. We have acute needs for which we need acute solutions. An interesting approach for us was that employer branding is involved in the plan at the very beginning”, says Jarmo Valli, a Co-Founder at Fondion.
The ongoing partnership without a long notice period was also a nice plus for Fondion and makes this a risk-free investment for them. The fact that TalentBee focuses on helping SaaS scale-ups like Fondion made the decision easy to partner up with Talentbee.
What does Talent Acquisition as a Service mean concretely?
The service that Fondion actually buys from TalentBee is a long-term commitment to Fondion's growth goals and acting as a strategic growth partner for them. This means that an appropriately sized talent acquisition and employer branding team from TalentBee works as a part of Fondion's team with a monthly subscription model.
According to the information collected from Fondion’s founder and hiring manager team, TalentBee’s team of experts will help to choose and implement the right strategies and tactics from the talent acquisition and employer branding toolbox to reach the growth goals.
Here are the concrete steps that have been taken in the scope of this Talent Acquisition as a Service collaboration:
1. Fulfilling the urgent hiring needs
Usually, there are urgent hiring needs in a fast-growing startup. The speed of execution is crucial for startups in their early stages and there are often also plenty of things you can do more effectively in recruitment. There must be quick wins.
TalentBee’s collaboration with Fondion started with urgent talent searches. The first recruitments that have been started are Product Owner, Senior Fullstack Developer, Senior Frontend Developer, Sales Representative and UX Designer.
The Talent Acquisition Lead, Saara Kyllönen from TalentBee also coordinates Fondion’s cooperations with other recruitment agencies so that the activities, marketing materials and candidate experiences are aligned with the company’s long-term strategic goals.
2. Building a talent acquisition playbook
Along with the urgent recruitments, we started to build a talent acquisition playbook for the upcoming months. For that, data collection workshops were organized for the founding team, hiring managers and the current employees.
According to the data collected in the initial phase, TalentBee’s team has built a talent acquisition playbook that includes:
- EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: From business goals to talent acquisition focus points
- Focus points for talent acquisition
- The talent acquisition roadmap
- Competitive field analysis
- Fondion’s ICP – The ideal candidate profile
- Fondion’s talent mission and recruitment pitch
- Fondion’s focus in employer branding
- Recruitment guidelines
- The ongoing action plan
→ In short Fondion's playbook is designed to help find the best people for them, not just any candidates we come across. For that reason, focus on building the brand (EB) to attract those best candidates and gather data to find our sweet spot in talent market.
3. Building scalable processes for recruitment and talent acquisition
Just like in customer acquisition, talent acquisition processes can and should be outlined, tested, refined and built to meet the needs of a scalable company.
Building scalable and clear talent acquisition processes has many critical impacts:
- Predictability in the amount of work that recruitment requires from hiring managers and the founding team increases, which balances everyone's workload and takes the pressure off.
- Scalable candidate experience. When recruiting a lot of people, every candidate’s experience must be great. Candidate experiences build the company's reputation and employer brand. Without good candidate experiences, other attempts to build scalable talent acquisition processes become more difficult and expensive.
- Processes speed up through repeatability and measurability.
- Cost efficiency of talent acquisition increases.
4. Carrying out ongoing employer branding activities and building a career site
In order to achieve long-term goals and maximize success in talent acquisition, systematic employer brand building activities are needed. In the beginning of the collaboration, Employer Branding Strategist Siiri Laaksonen joined Fondion’s talent acquisition team.
Important development projects in the initial phase include building a light and agile employer brand strategy, building a social media content plan and calendar, activating social media channels, and designing and building career pages.
In addition to these, monthly activities include content production and publishing, content promotion on social media, tactical recruitment marketing, data collection and optimization.
Results of the collaboration so far
The collaboration between Fondion and TalentBee has started with initial development projects and recruitment projects. Both input and output results have been achieved. So far we have worked with Product Owner, Senior frontend developer & full stack developer recruitments
Outstanding candidate experiences & feedback
One of the first recruitment projects that we started together was the search for a Product Owner.
Our goal is always to create an awesome candidate experience. One of the ways we are doing it is creating a Growth Plan (It’s our version of the job offer) – with that you can get a better offer acceptance rate. And the candidate experience is great. Here’s what the hired Product Owner shared about that:“This growth plan should be illegal because you can’t say no to an offer like this!”
We have started building the function by putting the basic steps in place. The more we know, the better we can develop the process further.
The biggest part of working with TalentBee is that we don’t only focus on the urgent recruitments. On top of those we are currently working with the following themes with Fondion:
- We start creating TA playbook immediately and for that reason, we know the company pretty well from the start and can give relevant info to candidates
- We work on unique selling points and can communicate them to the whole hiring team
- We have built a clear structure & roles to interview process
- Implementation of the application tracking system to lead talent acquisition with data.
- Structured weekly meetings to track progress
- We facilitate a mindset change for the founders & hiring managers. We can't only focus on validation of the candidates. We also need to focus on selling the company to the candidates. Why should someone join this company? How will this change their career for the better?
- Developing and helping to carry out the decision making process in hiring.