Six years ago, Tim and I had been successful individually, but together, we were a bit of a tech industry cliché. We had a great solution written down on a napkin (literally).
After years of work - test and learning, trying and failing - we’ve made it to 2016. We have the Xref platform, we have a genuine solution, we have customers and most importantly, we have our Xref team.
Earlier this year when we took our business public, we knew it would be a defining year for Xref, but none of us was expecting the growth in our business and scaling of our technology that we’ve been able to achieve.
As a listed company, we have tripled our workforce and raised $12 million in capital as we invested in the business to expand our physical presence into five countries and three offices. We took more than 65,000 references all over the world.
And while we’re all excited to grow, 2016 was also a time of preparation. We’re ticking all the boxes to mobilise the business for accelerated growth. We’ve not only grown our team, we’ve invested in specific skills within the team to build capability in new areas. 2017 is going to be just as big as 2016 for Xref, so we have made sure our foundations are strong and our team is prepared. Xref is ready.
It’s been clear to me for a long time that there are huge problems with the way organisations recruit talent – particularly in the way references were collected, checked and evaluated. As soon as I talked to Tim about the problem and a potential technology-based solution, I knew Xref was the solution.
Small businesses grow in stages or lifecycles. It took us three years to hire our first employee….and this year we added 33. I believe 2016 was the start of a new lifecycle for Xref. It’s gratifying to look back on this year, and how it unfolded.
Taking the company public in February - and raising $4 million in capital - was the culmination of years of hard work from our entire team and support network, and a vote of confidence from some extremely accomplished investors. Our newfound status as a listed company, combined with further support from our investors, allowed us to further expand in Australia and take Xref international.
We worked extremely hard to find more amazing people to grow our business and expand our team, increasing our Sydney workforce to 33 and launching offices in London and Toronto, with 9 full-time staff across the new offices. Everyone of those people is playing a critical role for Xref and our customers.
At the same time, we know we must continue to embrace change and improve the platform – this has been key to our success so far. Our diversification into new markets means we need to constantly re-engineer and scale the Xref platform to meet the specific requirements of each individual market. I’m proud to say our development team was able to do this without causing inconvenience to a single customer.
The result? Twelve million dollars raised, 735 employees onboarded to the Xref system, 324,000 lines of code written, 67,228 Xrefs taken. We now have 2,194 users around the world.
This year, for the first time, we also took some steps that reflected our growing maturity as a company. We began to look more deeply into the empirical factors that drive our industry, conducting a significant thought leadership effort as we launched the inaugural Xref Recruitment Risk Index. This took the form of a quantitative survey, designed to explore behaviours of candidates, referees and hiring managers in Australia.
The results proved what we already knew - that there are serious flaws in candidate referencing, that organisations are taking too long to hire great talent, and that businesses must do better to protect themselves against fraud and discrimination.
However, some of the results were staggering, even for us. For example, the research showed that 70 percent of respondents admitted to taking advantage of flaws in the reference checking process to better their chances of landing a job, and three in ten (29 percent) of those who had been contacted as a referee, had been asked discriminatory questions.
As we continue to grow and evolve, we’re initiating integrations to constantly improve the Xref platform, and give our clients more flexibility and security in their hiring process. In 2016 alone, we’ve partnered with Expr3ss!, Veda and Taleo – and we have more to announce in 2017.
As we wrap-up a successful, roller-coaster ride of 2016, I can’t believe how quickly we’ve grown and what we’ve achieved as a company. I can’t help but wonder where we’ll be in 365 days’ time - what we will have achieved, what the platform will look like and whether Xref Sydney will still fit in one office. I can’t wait to see what the year holds for Xref – and I am looking forward to building another great year, as part of the Xref team.