Get The Memo: Issue 4
There is a huge lack of diversity in all major workforces, including tech. Diversity is at the forefront of all company initiatives, but for some reason, leaders of the companies have said there is a “pipeline issue” with finding that diverse talent. Some have taken initiative, however there is not a place to effectively and efficiently recruit from a qualified pool. People have liked the idea of a marketplace to cultivate and place black talent, but the products on the market weren’t doing it for them. Enter Martel Metellus and his vision for a social network for black people with a twist, Soko. Soko is Swahili for marketplace. A marketplace made for black folx, by black folx
Soko connects Black talent with the resources needed to pursue different career paths in tech that are not just technical, but non-technical. They also will be providing mentor matching services with future development to get support for your career journey.
Martell graduated from Babson College, the #1 entrepreneurship school in the country. He used his intangible networking & drive from playing sports (College basketball) to focusing on his career in tech entrepreneurship. Martel is a previous founder, starting his own business “PillowTalk” which sold to Yoga studios. He took a software sales role post-graduation which led him to identifying a market need and building Soko.
Market, Model & Inflection Point
The Total Addressable Market is $159B, with $151B in recruiting and $8B in diversity and inclusion. With combined markets, it is ripe for innovation when it comes to diversity talent acquisition. There is a big shift in specialty/niche recruiting and there is a space for automation and scalable technologies within this space. Martel says the rise in importance began at the death of George Floyd and companies were scrambling to have strong representations of diversity within their organizations. So let’s see how big the market is:
D&I + recruiting: $159B TAM
Tech companies: $SAM 84B
Tech companies looking for diverse talent: $16B SOM
Soko charges companies a subscription fee for access to their talent database. Within their service they provide advanced filter systems to efficiently and effectively find diverse talent. They also charge a flat subscription fee with no recruitment fee that recruiting agencies typically charge.
Soko’s metrics for tracking customer growth upon public launch will be MRR, CAC, LTV, and NPS. They want to hit $565,500 MRR by the January of 2022. Currently our CAC is $0 but Martel foresees their CAC being around $50,000 considering our target customer is a growth stage startup.
Soko sells to growth stage (series A+ with more than $10M in funding) startups that have product market fit, traction, and a VP of Sales within their organization. They source through Crunchbase, BuiltIn, and LinkedIn to find their customers, and the platform is free for professionals. Soko charges the companies based on size ($250 per post per month). Most impressively, Soko has attracted 620 users waiting to access beta without any marketing.
Soko does not have direct competitors since they are focused on Black talent moving into tech sales at startups. Soko has a pure technology platform where as any competitors such as Valence or Jopwell have unscalable hands on recruiting and training services.
Soko’s Moat is their brand and user base. As their brand gets stronger, they get higher loyalty from users and become the go-to platform. Since they are early movers, they have the probability of being the staple brand for an active database of diverse talent. Soko will be hosting many events for community building and continue to tighten the relationship between the brand and our community.
How would you deploy capital if you would hit your next milestone?
Soko will hire 4 more engineers, and 2 digital marketers. They will do a college tour to collaborate with HBCUs and get senior collegiate talent onto the platform for entry level tech sales roles, and sponsoring/hosting conferences for Black professionals in tech. This will all tremendously increase product quality, brand recognition and loyalty, and a tight community. Lastly, they want to onboard 5 key social media influencers to really engage and grow our community.
Martel sees all of this happening by the middle of 2022 and then expanding to other segments of business talent within tech like operations, marketing, engineering and more as we grow to increase our talent pool for our existing and future companies.
Martel says the biggest hole is feature sets that enable strong engagement within the platform and that is why they are looking to hire more software developers to fill these holes.
What is the legacy you as a Founder want to leave?
I want to be the greatest innovator of the human race. My goal is to open doors for people who didn’t have those opportunities.