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Inside View: Handshake

Fresh out of an $8 million investment round, NYC-based Handshake is on a hiring spree for its mobile app business.

With an $8 million investment led by private venture capital firm Emergence Capital, New York-based Handshake is on a hiring spree. Most of the funding is earmarked for growth – in recruitment, says Brandon Gracey, director of sales.

The technology company, founded in 2010 by Australian chief executive Glen Coates, provides a mobile wholesale sales ordering and fulfilment application.

Using Handshake, sales reps can take orders on a tablet or smartphone application while in a store or at trade shows, with the latest inventory and previous sales data at their fingertips.

CEO Glen infamously dropped out of Columbia Business School after just a day, says Brandon, opting to pursue Handshake instead of a business education.

But his decision has paid dividends. Over $1 billion in orders have been written by the company’s customers since 2010. B2B clients include retailers like the high end baby stroller and accessory company Bugaboo, and Skip Hop, the infant and toddler gear retailer.

Still, the company plans to hire a raft of new hires, from sales staff to account executives, and they see value in an MBA degree. Brandon is keen to explain why.

What backgrounds are desirable for your sales and account management and executive roles?

We're in a position where relevant experience is paramount because we’re growing really fast, and that comes with a need for people who can jump in the deep end, and start delivering as early as possible. So, experience is really key.

Are you looking for specific work experience?

The more specific, the better. Sales isn’t sales; there’s a lot of specificity in different roles. So, having a depth of experience selling the type of product we sell in the model we sell it in, and using similar tools that we use, the more closely aligned that experience is, the easier it is to jump in.

An MBA is not a requirement, you say – but do you place value in an MBA degree?

It certainly could be. Obviously there’s a cross section of educational experience that is really important. I wouldn’t say that it’s the most import piece for us.

But if you take something like our account executive role, if you compare three or four years of inside sales experience selling a fast product with an entrepreneurial-tilted MBA, it [the latter] is going to make the transition into a fast growing start-up that much easier for a candidate.

Have you hired MBAs before?

Our head of client services is an MBA.

Our founder infamously went to Colombia Business School for one day. It was around the same time he launched handshake. He got overwhelmed pretty early on with the reception handshake got, and had to make a decision.

How many employees does the company currently have, and how many new hires do you plan to take on?

We're roughly 30 right now and hiring in every department – marketing, support, sales, engineering. On the sales side there’s always room; we have quite impressive growth.

How difficult is it for someone outside the US to move to your New York base?

There’s no place like it [New York City]. From a tech standpoint, our sector is growing fast so the access to jobs is growing really rapidly, and on that side of the fence the opportunities exist.

What opportunities are there for career advancement at the company?

We’re growing fast and at the end of the day the best case scenario for us is: when the opportunities present themselves people will be ready for them, and we're doing everything we can to make sure that’s available.

Handshake recently raised $8 million in funding – what has, or will the capital be used for?

It’s essentially earmarked for growth. If you look at our careers page you can see how many roles we have – we’re hiring for a number of available roles.

Your office is equipped with a full bar and Ping-Pong table – how would you describe the working culture?

We’ve got a great office. It’s a beautiful spot and we believe you should love the place where you work. For the right kind of people an office like ours should be a perk.

We work hard, we're driven and we’ve got big expectations for ourselves. One of the things that we think makes that easier is being in a place that you want to be in.

We have happy hours, ping pong tournaments – all the things that help make that so.

You run regular team outings – what's the most interesting place you've taken the team to?

Being in New York makes it easy. We do a bunch of offsite stuff in the city.

We went to Vermont, north of Montreal; that’s probably the most interesting place we've been to.

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