Chance encounters guided the startup LineHire to become what it is today. LineHire, which offers businesses a more efficient method to fill open jobs with qualified candidates, launched its operations in 2015 in Chapel Hill. But the path to its inception and the testing of the platform began much earlier.
Co-Founder Nina Merklina had not lived in the U.S. until 2010, when she began a long and unplanned eight-year journey to U.S. citizenship that culminated last year. She met her husband in Moscow in the 1990s by complete accident. He was an American abroad and a student of Merklina’s aunt, who taught Russian. After living in Moscow for a few years, Merklina and her family left to be closer to her husband’s family in the States.
“One would think being married to an American is an easy way and the fastest way to a green card and a passport,” Merklina said. “It’s not as fast as you would think. There were a lot of struggles on the way. I honestly feel humbled when I hear stories of immigrants that are swimming, sailing to or making it to America on foot. I was fortunate because I arrived in an airplane and even with all the difficulties that I had, I had a very hard time complaining.”
The next chance encounters involved meeting on a playground as their children played together—as Merklina and original Co-Founder Phil Garber did—and then a dating-like site for entrepreneurs looking for Co-Founders, which connected Merklina and Garber with Co-Founder Chuck Solomon. (Garber has since left the company.)
Both Merklina and Solomon came from recruiting backgrounds and wanted to create a more efficient and cost-effective way for companies to find job candidates who were both vetted and interested in the position. Thus was born LineHire, with their first “office” being the Chapel Hill Bruegger’s Bagels.
“Our mission is to improve the hiring journey for all,” said Solomon, “which is sort of a lofty idea, but we’re trying to do our part of it.”
LineHire couples job-posting advertising with a pool of talent scouts. Solomon said the advertising attracts the candidates and their several hundred talent scouts put the candidates through a multi-step quality-assurance process.
Merklina said, “We bring this together and therefore they become a very flexible, on-demand, and very scalable source of talent for the companies at any given time.”
Raghav Prasad, the Vice President of Virginia-based Diamond Information Systems, said LineHire gave him access to a greater recruiting bandwidth.
“I almost kind of equate this to a Uber-for-recruiters model,” said Prasad, “where anytime I need recruiting help I just go talk to Nina and she posts it out and all the Ubers that are available come out and pick it up.”
Solomon and Merklina said LineHire is a mid-range cost option for companies searching for top talent. These companies often must choose between a $300 job ad that may deliver low-quality candidates or a more traditional recruiting company, which provides quality candidates but can cost up to $30,000 per hire. LineHire’s fees vary, but are typically less than $10K for the more than 300 successful hiring campaigns nationwide that they’ve run for clients ranging from startups to Fortune 500 companies.
Although LineHire utilizes software automation, humans are at the heart of what LineHire does.
“Hiring, we firmly believe, will always be a human-to-human interaction,” Solomon said. “A bot is never going to hire a human to a job. A hiring manager is going to hire a human to a job.”
Since Prasad began using LineHire, meanwhile, he has not needed a full time internal recruitment staff and has introduced the startup to many peers—because he feels that LineHire is outperforming its own peers.
Adds Prasad, “I think the big difference is that they’re executing their model really well compared to the one other, two other companies that are in the same space.”