August 25, 2009 / 2:37 AM / 8 years ago

Wanted: investors for online job board

TORONTO (Reuters) - Ivy Exec, a job posting and recruiting website, aims to target high-profile professionals by offering exclusivity: job-seekers must first be approved as a member to access the site’s job listings.

<p>Ivy Exec founder Elena Bajic is seen in this undated handout photo. REUTERS/Handout/Amanda Sromek</p>

“They don’t like to be part of the masses,” explained Ivy Exec founder Elena Bajic about the site’s 25,000 members. “They’re looking for a way to differentiate themselves, an exclusive club and a network of peers. So the fact that they have to get approved to be members of Ivy Exec is very important to them.”

At a time when the public is decrying corporate bonuses and elitism is taking a public-relations pounding, Bajic’s New York-based business has found a receptive audience of top-tier graduates who, despite the recession and a near 10-percent unemployment rate, aren’t interested in entry-level jobs.

“If employers know that Ivy Exec is the place they go to hire top-tier professionals, then professionals want to be part of that club,” said Bajic, who boasts that 86 percent of her members have an MBA from a top-20 business school. Bajic said this is a very attractive resource for firms seeking to fill more high-level positions quickly, as they don’t have to sift through the hundreds of applications they would get if they advertised on sites like Monster and Career Builder.

Through Ivy Exec’s screening process and selective network, they are able to access potential employees whose qualifications more closely match their criteria. Bajic said this kind of recruiting is normally handled by executive search firms. “What Ivy Exec is doing is taking what is typically serviced offline and bringing it online,” she explained.

<p>A screen shot of Ivy Exec's website is seen in this handout photo. REUTERS/handout/Ivyexec.com</p>

Bajic, who started her company in 2007 during her second year of business school at Columbia University, covered her initial start-up costs with the $260,000 she received through friends and family. She said Ivy Exec is now cash-flow positive and anticipated 2009 revenues of $315,000.

THE PITCH

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Initially free to join, Ivy Exec recently started charging a monthly fee that ranges from $22-$42 depending on the package. Bajic said she always intended to charge for the personalized service, but wanted to wait until Ivy Exec grew its community to a level where it would be more attractive for people to pay to be a part of it. On the corporate side, Bajic charges an average of $8,000 for her selective recruitment services, which includes pre-screening all job applicants to find better match. In this way Ivy Exec operates more like a dating site for job seekers.

The recession has been both helpful and hurtful for Bajic. It slowed her growth as firms cut back or stopped hiring altogether, but allowed her to take advantage of lower infrastructure costs, like rent, furniture and office supplies, to streamline her business. When the economy picks up and companies start hiring again, Bajic hopes Ivy Exec will be well positioned to cash in on the abundance of over-qualified candidates looking to land those high-level jobs.

To facilitate that Bajic is seeking to raise $1.5 million in funding to assist Ivy’s sales and marketing push and to upgrade the website. Bajic said she wants to boost Ivy’s membership to 100,000 by the end of 2010, which would significantly increase revenues.

“We started fundraising a month and a half ago and we already have commitments from several investors,” said Bajic, who is primarily talking to angel investors in the New York area. Bajic hopes investors see Ivy Exec as a kind of Web 3.0 job board. “In the past decade there has been little innovation and most job boards follow the same model and cater to a very broad market. Few job boards are trying to change the way recruiting occurs and that’s what at Ivy Exec we do.”

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