Meet Adrian Duke and Paul M Fox, Founders of Higher: a Futuristic Recruiting Platform

Higher Adrian Duke (L) & Paul Fox (R)

Recruiting sucks. It’s time-intensive, inefficient and expensive. Getting hired is just as painful. The hiring process is long and opaque, with all sorts of invisible pitfalls that are often completely outside your control.

The way we currently match good candidates with good employers is outdated and poorly incentivised. It’s a malfunctioning machine that brings out the worst in all of us. We want to make that machine obsolete.


How is Higher Shaking Up Traditional Recruitment?

Higher is a better way. We envision a human-centric kind of professional matchmaking. A process without the tedium of sorting through hundreds of resumes, the danger of hiring the wrong people, the headache of having to trust recruitment agents and the risk of losing great potential candidates to over-enthusiastic AIs.

In short, we want a world where well-suited people find each other as easily as they can call a taxi.

So we built a web application to start making that world a reality. Higher is part Applicant Tracking System and part social investment platform. Rather than using machine learning to filter out unsuitable applicants, we use the wisdom of the crowd to filter in great candidates.

And those candidates get the best experience out there: we’re the first recruiting platform to offer complete transparency and control to job applicants. Love the idea of this job and want to get noticed? Your personal dashboard will tell you exactly what to do. Want to know how many applicants are currently in each stage? It’s a single click away.

For business-minded employers, the best part is that we’re cheaper than the competition. If you factor in screening time and the cost of paying recruiters, we’re way cheaper and there are no ongoing contracts.

But the crowning achievement of Higher is that we recycle all excess system resources into good for the world. Every unused penny is funneled into charitable donations via the Effective Altruism Funds. The way we see it, no one wins unless everyone wins.

Tell Us How You Came Up with the Idea Behind the Company?

We’re both entrepreneurial software engineers, with long backstories involving agencies, tech startups and third-sector (essentially charity) projects. That entails a lot of changing jobs, short contracts and dealing with recruiters. After starting our first business together in 2016, we were on the other side: we needed to hire people and help our clients hire people.

As it turns out, we did a pretty good job. Our clients were happy, we felt good about ourselves. So we pivoted into being a technical recruitment agency. For a couple of years, that was our full time source of income.

We hated it. Not the work, but the whole landscape of recruiting.

We realised eventually that, from a systems engineering perspective, recruiting is an MC Escher-esque nightmare of deeply entrenched, misaligned incentives and crudely evolved, inefficient and inequitable practices. It’s no one’s fault, but it’s everyone’s problem. At least if you want to hire anyone or get a job.

The solution to this messy problem came to us from the blockchain world.

We imported the idea of stakes into the recruitment process. A stake is a form of collateral that’s first-cousins with a bet. It’s like saying, ‘I’m so confident in this claim that I’ll put money on it’.

Blockchains can use a combination of rewards and staking to ‘buy’ information from the world. They essentially say, ‘I have a question, and there’s a reward to everyone who gives me the correct answer.` All answerers have to put up a stake, and the answer with the highest combined stake is deemed to be the most likely to be correct.

It might sound rickety, but it works incredibly well. With the right combination of risk and reward, it’s possible to purchase good information from strangers.

And so Higher, the social investment platform, was born. We ran the numbers, balanced the equations and branded stakes as ‘endorsements’. Do you know for a fact that your colleague has the chops for a new role? We’ll buy that information from you.