Tampa, Florida-based entrepreneur Vaishnavi More has created Archslate, a new kind of job search website for the architecture, engineering, and construction industry. | Business Observer
The architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry was facing a shortage of skilled labor long before the coronavirus pandemic made the problem even worse.
The National Home Builders Association has been tracking labor force levels since 2000, and in December 2021 reported that nationally there is 410,000 unfilled jobs – the highest number ever.
As the COVID-19 crisis recedes, will more people be willing to return to work? Tampa entrepreneur Vaishnavi More isn’t waiting to find out. An architect by training, she created Archslate, a new type of job search site for the AEC industry. Based at the Embarc Collective innovation center in Tampa, it connects employers with job seekers, but also provides e-learning services and uses artificial intelligence to “automate” recruiting and hiring processes.
“Ironically, when I started working at an architecture firm, I realized they were struggling to attract top talent from across the country to join the firm,” says More, 29, a graduate of the prestigious Harvard Graduate School of Design. “There’s a huge disconnect across the whole ‘recruitment industry’. Employers are flooding job sites and candidates are randomly applying for every job they see.
Archslate, More says, is tackling the problem from both sides, serving candidates and employers alike.
“Basically,” she says, “it’s a two-sided talent market. It’s one of our main differentiators – not many platforms do. With our e-learning model, a candidate can come to the platform, at any point in their career, learn software and be equipped for the latest industry standards, and have the chance to become a candidate of first order.
“We ended up having our first paying customer on the first day of our launch. This was a strong validation point. Vaishnavi More, Founder and CEO of Archslate
Archslate is free for job seekers, but employers pay fees ranging from $299 to $549 per hire. Not only is this good value, More says, but the time it takes to hire a new employee can be significantly reduced, leading to even greater efficiencies.
“Traditionally, it takes employers about 52 days to fill a position,” she says. “On our platform, employers filled positions in as little as three hours.”
Plus declines to disclose Archslate’s revenue, to date, and its projected sales for 2022, but says the company, which launched less than a year ago in May 2021, has worked with ” hundreds” of employers and “thousands” of job seekers.
“We ended up having our first paying customer on day one of our launch,” she says. “That was a strong validation point.”
Investors seem to agree. Archslate recently closed an oversubscribed pre-seed funding round that raised $700,000 – $250,000 above its target.
“Since we started fundraising, our platform has seen massive growth,” says More. “Employers have found our platform to be quite competitive compared to some of the other more traditional platforms.”
Archslate – the name is meant to evoke “a clean slate” for the AEC industry, says More, adding, “we’re going to start the hiring automation process from scratch, because we were tired of how things work in this industry” – intends to disrupt multiple aspects of how people connect with employers and vice versa. More believes this will reduce the need for employers to rely on job hunters heads and other expensive third-party recruitment services, while candidates will benefit from training and certification in essential industry software tools, such as Autodesk and Revit, while having a place to post the their entire portfolio of work, not just a resume, to potential employers.
This last point, says More, is essential.
“A portfolio of work is extremely important to the AEC industry,” she says. “Your work portfolio is your identity, something that sets you apart from millions of resumes.”
Archslate faces the challenge of competing with Indeed.com, Monster.com and Glassdoor.com, but More says the company is committed to serving the AEC industry exclusively, which should increase its chances of success. It also targets employers in key markets such as Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco and, of course, Tampa Bay.
“There were a lot of responses from the Tampa Bay area,” More says. “But we have a national presence, and in the next five to seven years we expect to be on the path to becoming global leaders within the AEC space.”
To begin in this direction, More plans to quickly strengthen Archslate’s staff. It already has 16 employees and plans to double the size of its team by the end of 2022.
“We’re going to hire more people in Tampa now that we have our headquarters at Embarc Collective,” she says. “We’re going to use a lot of their resources to recruit local talent.”