Attending the HR Tech conference and expo in Las Vegas is always exciting, and this year was no different.  We live in an era where virtual attendance is becoming the norm, but nothing is more revealing, engaging and productive as in-person meetings, and we had  loads of them at this annual gathering.

The expo floor was crowded and buzzing, with overwhelming attendee interest in the second annual Pitchfest competition. Of the 100 entrants who entered, 30 were selected to pitch their startup companies at the event. The quality of the ideas was good and the offering very diverse. These included blockchain, matching technologies, chatbots, talent-centric solutions, various platforms and so forth. Founders with diverse backgrounds came from all over the world and were well prepared. Each gave a passionate argument for their ideas and competently fielded questions from the panel of judges, of whom I was one.

The judges’ mission was clear: qualify the startups’ target market, the problem or client need it intended to solve, understand who are the team members or advisors driving the vision, their market strategy, demonstrated performance to date and their growth plan. Based on the information gathered, the panel then determined the most promising technology presented. Expo attendees also were able to vote for their favorite solution, although the judges’ decisions were more weighted.

ppl at hr tech
ppl at hr tech

The importance of the Pitchest, amidst all of the other commercial solutions on display is that it provides a look ahead to see what is coming. As the sponsor of the Pitchfest prizes, the Randstad Innovation Fund is hoping to encourage the brightest minds with the most promising ideas.

Since HR Tech is a market for buyers, it’s interesting to see that attendees who voted at the Pitchfest tend to choose solutions that enhance productivity (like chatbots), while the judges focused on what is really new and innovative.

There was a lot of focus among the contestants on making working life easier and more productive from an employee perspective. This is one reason that mentoring platform PILOT, a hybrid coaching solution, won the $25,000 overall prize. Blended mentoring is the way forward, and we see many companies popping up in that space. The jury is still out on whether it is more effective at increasing employee productivity, engagement and retention, but if this support proves to be valid, it will be a must-have employer benefit for many organizations.

One valid comment I heard was that this year’s conference was all about the employer and the talent, but when are we going to make life easier for the hiring manager?

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about the author

Ilonka Jankovich

venture partner randstad innovation fund

Venture partner Randstad Innovation Fund, founder of Brainpower seed investment boutique, entrepreneur, board member & strategic advisor, focused on the HR Tech industry.