“The truth is that we never loved the name Canvas,” admits Ben Herman, CEO, in the latest episode of “Untapped.” But what he did love was the mission he created with Co-Founder, Adam Gefkovicz, four years ago: to make the workplace more equitable for everyone by creating access to opportunities. After a synergistic meeting rivaling a whirlwind courtship in a romantic comedy, Ben and Adam formed a partnership initially with the goal of making these opportunities available for early-in-career candidates who tend to get lost in the shuffle and have a hard time being noticed by recruiters.
“We knew that early career was a volume game. In early career, companies receive the highest number of applications to the number of open jobs,” said Ben. “So a company might be looking to hire 75 interns, and they’ll receive over 20,000 to 30,000 applicants. And when you think about that, you understand that even if they fill all of them for inbound applications, which is not likely, that would mean that, if they received 30,000, 29,925 candidates would go to the wayside. I was thinking, if we believe we want to help people, we have to start at the place that receives the most volume and is most underserved.”
Serving the Underserved
As Canvas evolved, and Ben and Adam continued analyzing hiring data, they realized that the problem of volume isn’t just an issue of early-in-career candidates being ignored—it is a workplace diversity and equity issue as well.
“Most companies don’t look at their inbound applicants. That’s the hard truth. So you can have a White woman. You’re going to have a Black guy. You’re going to have an Asian person, whoever applies to jobs. But no companies even really look at them. And there’s no way for them to discover this talent,” Ben said. “And very quickly, through research that we did, we were astonished by the numbers in that these companies would go out proactively and source people when they had thousands upon thousands of people who have expressed interest in working at their company. And so it wasn’t necessarily that we were trying to solve something specific to early in career, it was more about the solution that we identify could solve the problem that was faced in this volume.”
To address the problems caused by volume, Canvas created recruiting tools that help candidates and companies connect in an authentic way. Quickly organizations and candidates alike were able to benefit—making the products wildly successful.
“When we first went to market with our all-in-one university recruiting solution, we did so in February of 2019,” said Adam. “And literally, in five months after that, with just me selling, we closed our first $1 million in revenue. And these were from companies like Lyft and NerdWallet and Stripe—some of the best brands out there.”
The Future Looks Like You
As Canvas's solutions became more popular, and Ben and Adam’s passion for creating opportunities for underserved groups in the workplace grew, they realized they couldn’t rest on their laurels and it was time to make changes in the company that can be summed up in one word: amplification. The first step in this process is to reinvent ourselves—starting with our new name, Canvas, which better represents our mission to make the world more equitable and our belief that the future looks like you.
Also, we’re releasing a diversity recruiting platform that addresses six problems in diversity recruiting that Adam discovered after 10,000 conversations with recruiters:
- going out and finding underrepresented talent
- understanding the diversity of a company’s pipeline
- building an inclusive employer brand that truly celebrates DE&I
- understanding the ROI of different DE&I initiatives
- running virtual events
- running an intern/new-grad program
“So much of recruiting today just feels like, when you apply, you are a gigabyte. And your resume is going into this black box, and no one is ever going to get back to you. At Canvas, we’re completely changing that,” said Adam. “We’re creating a reality in which not only do we show you that the future can look like you, but we show you how to get there. And I’m confident that Canvas can create a more equitable landscape in which more people can have that experience.”
For more information about Ben and Adam’s journey, as well as the new direction of the company, listen to the latest episode of “Untapped,” where Chief People Officer, Tariq Meyers, has vital conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion issues.