A Chat with Mike Davies, Co-Founder and COO at Data Insights and Careers Marketplace: Haystack

Haystack is a mobile-first, data insights and careers marketplace that uncovers opportunities based on your interests, values, and tech stack.

We’re ditching dull jobs and taking recruiters out of the equation, allowing tech talent complete freedom to casually browse the tech landscape without being bombarded by unsolicited spam messaging or CV scraping.


How did you come up with the idea for the company?

I was working at a HRTech startup as a software engineer as it scaled from a less than 10 employees to over 50 employees in the space of 2 years, and it was during this growth phase that I first stumbled upon the idea for Haystack.

With ambitious plans to double the engineering team, the CEO said to me, “Mike, one of the hardest things about growing a company is putting bums on seats.” That got me thinking, how could an organisation with great culture, amazing employee benefits, exciting tech, and an interesting product, struggle to hire tech talent? At that point, I was hooked.

I was relentlessly trying to get to the bottom of the problem and as it turns out it was twofold. For businesses, unfair recruitment fees, shady practices, biased job boards and noisy social media platforms meant that it was virtually impossible to organically promote your employer brand and get in front of your target audience, leaving recruitment agents with a monopoly on localised tech markets. For tech talent, lack of employer transparency, being hounded by recruiters and poorly matched job listings meant that your ideal employer was often hiding in plain sight without you even realising.


How has the company evolved during the pandemic?

Haystack kicked off mid-pandemic. It was a hugely challenging time to start thinking about building and growing a business, never mind creating a positive working culture with a number of people you’d barely met in person. We worked very hard during the interview processes to choose candidates not only based on their technical capabilities and know-how but also based on their cultural fit and values.

Our office always has and always will be a great place to be, but we understand that it isn’t for everyone. We have a completely flexible working policy, meaning people can work from where ever, whenever they like – they’re trusted to make the best decisions for them and this has remained true from day one.

What can we hope to see from Haystack in the future?

Haystack is already trusted by some of the UK’s biggest and most exciting tech employers. Having started in the North East, we’re expanding our userbase rapidly over the UK and expect to be across Europe and America very soon.

We’re planning to double our headcount in the team within 12 months and ramp up our internal processes to allow us to scale easily.

Instead of techies automatically going to traditional recruitment platforms, they’ll be going to Haystack to browse new opportunities.