SkillLab deploys AI for a more fair labor market

13 June 2023 11:30

A college education, but also years of caring for your sick mother. Both provide valuable skills. But not both are visible and equally valued by employers. Social enterprise SkillLab helps job seekers create a skill profile and resume with AI. This way, SkillLab makes it easier for job seekers to match with job openings in as many as 28 languages. This gives newcomers and others, like people with poor job prospects, a fairer chance of finding a job.

Easy matching with skill data

SkillLab's technology takes all of a job seeker's experience into consideration: education, degrees, certifications and skills. SkillLab's artificial intelligence (AI) interviews people based on nearly 14,000 skills and knowledge concepts, and thus helps them to create a skills profile.

Employers can use SkillLab's technology to identify which skills are needed for a job. With SkillLab's skill profiles, they gain a better understanding of candidates' skills and can easily select the best candidate. Once they’ve found the perfect match, they can also use the skill profile to best onboard that person and offer additional training.

The first growth

As a promising startup, SkillLab won a Google AI Impact grant in 2019. This money helped the company expand and earn its first contracts. This was soon followed by impact investors, including Rabo Foundation in 2020. "With loans from Rabo Foundation and investors, we were able to broaden our product offering," says Simon Schmid, partner at SkillLab. "It also helped us win important contracts."

But when SkillLab wanted to scale up, the young company's founders ran into a wall. Schmid says, "To grow, you have to bring in contracts, which required us to increase our team and scale up to a bigger office. That required working capital, but bringing that in quickly was a challenge at the time. As a young company without a long track record, most banks showed little interest. Until our contact at Rabo Foundation, Nanouk Grootendorst, introduced us to Rabobank's Startup & Scale-up team. That was an instant match."

Financing with impact

Jos van Zante, Rabobank's Startup & Scale-up Advisor who guides SkillLab, agrees: "We are convinced that as a bank we should help innovative startups and scale-ups, especially when they play a role in important transitions, such as the transition to a more inclusive society. And in that area SkillLab really stood out."

After the introduction, the first step was to get to know the company's founding team. Van Zante: "This way, we want to find out whether a team is capable of successfully leading a company and taking it to the next level. To do this we base ourselves on interviews and objective points such as track record, experience and competencies. At SkillLab, one very strong point was that they had already mapped out a network of potential customers. And that they were well prepared for tenders. Those things increase your chances of success, so that really appealed to me about SkillLab."

How Rabobank supports SkillLab

As a next step, van Zante advised SkillLab on loan options. "When it comes to a loan for a startup, we are flexible and help think through the terms, such as the duration and grace period. It's always about customization." In SkillLab's case, Van Zante came up with an innovative guarantee loan. "The state offers various guarantee arrangements especially for innovative companies. In those arrangements, the government guarantees part of the loan. As a bank, we provide a large part of this type of credit in the Netherlands, and know how to find our way to these kinds of arrangements, which are often favorable for startups and scale-ups."

Even more growth

Schmid is very happy with Rabobank’s team: "They were incredibly helpful in preparing the application for the loan. And we were surprised that other financiers were not aware of this state-guaranteed loan for start-ups and growing entrepreneurs. 'Thanks to this loan, we got the funds we needed and grew from 20 to 40 people."

"We’re very grateful for the creativity, resourcefulness and dedication of Rabobank’s team. After the loan, the team looked into other things for us and introduced us to experts in the insurance, pensions and business risk field. Our partnership with Rabobank began with financing, but has grown into a trusted partnership that helps us get better and grow as a business."

Find out which financing suits your business

SkillLab is a great example of how Rabobank supports startups and scale-ups in different stages of development. Is your startup or scale-up also in need of financing? Rabobank offers various financing products and innovation funds for sustainable growth in every stage of development.

Discover our financing options