June 10, 2014

Startup That Matches Jobs, Candidates Heads For Charleston Digital Corridor

Liz Segrist  /  Charleston Regional Business Journal

The CEO of Echovate, a startup that helps companies find the right candidates for open positions, plans to launch in Charleston and hire up to 90 employees over the next three years. Matthew Gough, the co-founder of Chequed recruiting solutions, launched Echovate last year. Echovate provides software as a service that helps companies find the right candidates for open positions.

An open position in the U.S. gets an average of 100 applications, Gough said. To help the best candidates rise to the top during the application process, Echovate's software requires applicants to fill out a 10-minute questionnaire that focuses on their personality and thought processes.

The questionnaires, created by professors at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, rank applicants on a scale of 1 to 100 on whether they would be successful for the position. Gough said the idea is to find the best fit for the company and save time for hiring managers.

Gough has been traveling biweekly from New York to Charleston to work with Sparc to build a software prototype that's mobile-optimized. "It might be used by a business leader in the airport and who wants to review a candidate's score. They can do that from their phone," Gough said. "We are building it for a busy person on the go."

Gough plans to be in private beta with 250 companies in the fall and launch fully by January.

He said he expects to hire between 75 and 90 employees in Charleston over the next three years. Most of those hires will be software developers, engineers or coders. Some will be marketing and sales hires. Gough plans to run Echovate out of the Charleston Digital Corridor's Flagship on East Bay Street. The coworking space has hosted 78 early stage software startups since it opened in 2009.

Gough envisions an office on Upper King as the company scales up. As for a controversial proposed city ordinance, which proposes closing new bars and other businesses at midnight to create a more diversified Upper King area with bars and office space, Gough said it's a healthy dialogue to have.

"There are exciting things happening on Upper King," Gough said. "I like the dynamic of the area. There's a cool energy about it that would be a good fit for our company."

Gough said he looked at San Francisco, Boston, Austin and Raleigh, all well-known tech hubs, as possible places to launch Echovate. Charleston's quality of life, climate, cost of living and growing tech sector attracted him to Silicon Harbor.

"On a personal level, I want to plant roots there with my family. On a business level, I want to help contribute to the digital knowledge economy," Gough said.

Echovate targets privately held, high-growth companies, specifically Inc. 500 and Inc. 5000 companies, throughout the United States. International expansion is a possibility in the future.

Echovate has raised $250,000 thus far. Gough said he is seeking value-added investors and plans to move into a Series A funding round next year.

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said in a statement that he's confident "our Charleston Digital Corridor can provide Echovate with all the tools they need to become a highly successful business in our community,"