Recruitment & HRInvestment

A startup looking to tackle the unfairness in employee referrals in tech has raised almost £900,000 in pre-seed funding.

Tangent was founded by former LinkedIn employee Gary Izunwa with Joe Adams after he became frustrated by a system where privileged people recommended other privileged people for roles.

“I ticked lots of the less-privileged boxes when I was younger, but became socially mobile after joining LinkedIn,” said CEO Izunwa. 

“LinkedIn is an amazing company, but whilst there, I kept on seeing my private-schooled colleagues refer their private-schooled friends and them landing top jobs. 

“It felt so unfair for those who are just as talented but lack the networks.”

Only 9% of all UK tech employees come from low socioeconomic backgrounds despite making up 39% of the total UK population, significantly worse than that seen in the finance and law industries (29% and 23% respectively).

“You are nine times more likely to be hired through an employee referral, however if you come from a less privileged background like me, chances are you don’t have a professional network to get referred,” added Izunwa, who worked within LinkedIn’s recruitment offering for companies. 

Adams, whom he met on Zinc VC’s Venture Builder programme, is a former strategy manager at EE and BT.

Tangent’s platform connects jobseekers from low socioeconomic backgrounds with employees in tech for mentoring and employee referrals.

Starting with entry-level tech sales roles, the platform connects jobseekers directly with employees from London’s leading tech employers including Stripe, Amazon, and Revolut, who offer mentoring, advice, and referrals to Tangent’s pool of socially diverse talent. 

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The investment round included participation from Zinc VC, Google’s Black Founders Fund and The SyndicateRoom. 

Angel backers include Leonard Picardo, Deliveroo’s second employee, Catherine Lenson – prior to being named COO at LocalGlobe/Phoenix Court Group – Andrew Robb, former COO at FarFetch, and Scouts from Atomico and Ada Ventures.

The startup, which has already sold enterprise solutions to companies including Multiverse and GoCardless, is now launching its platform out of beta.

Ella Goldner, General Partner at Zinc VC, said: “Tangent sits at the heart of Zinc’s thesis of building commercial solutions to solve the world’s most pressing problems. 

“We’ve been inspired by the progress that Gary and Joe have achieved in a short space of time and are excited to continue to partner with them on the next phase of their journey.”

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