Interview with Filippo Negri, Co-Founder of Glickon, an Italian tech company that enables companies to optimise people’s work experience

Filippo Negri, Co-Founder of Glickon, an Italian HR tech company that enables medium and large companies to measure the voice of the employee and take effective action to improve employee experience.

Before becoming an entrepreneur, Filippo worked at the intersection of technology, people, nations and business for private companies, think tank and institutions in Brussels, London, Milan, Geneva.

Filippo holds a Master Degree in International Relations Management at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, and a Bachelor Degree in Corporate Communication at USI (Università della Svizzera Italiana).

You started your career in the International Relations field, and then, in 2017, together with Matteo Corte, Davide Griffon, and Matteo Bersanelli, you founded Glickon, an Italian company active in the HR tech software market. What led you to this decision, and how did the idea of Glickon come about?

Filippo: I started my career in institutional relations and advocacy where I had the opportunity to travel and meet with some of the people that play a leading role in shaping the future. I started to frequent startup circles in Atlanta, Georgia. I met a young entrepreneur named Michael who become a friend with an experience of various startups and one exit, and with him, I began to think about new entrepreneurial projects. I don’t have a technology background, but I have always been curious about technology, and the impact technology can have on people. That’s how I got into the mindset of doing business.

Glickon was born as a result of a personal experience linked to the fact that in my first 6 years of work, I changed many companies, always looking for a context that would satisfy me, a work experience that would make me get up in the morning and say I was in the right place.

I made a lot of applications and filled out many forms, and I had a frustrating experience with the way companies dealt with candidates. Typically they gave no reply or sent automatic responses after a few weeks.

At that time, I also read a research paper that claimed I would have to work 90,000 hours in my life. The realisation that I had to devote so much time to work meant that I saw work not as a parenthesis in my life but as something that concerns me more closely and must have value.

This is how Glickon was born, from the intersection of my personal experience in the US and the idea of improving the application experience at companies —making it possible for job seekers and job providers to meet, not through a form.

The initial idea was to create a “game” that would allow an applicant to tell and measure what their skills are. That is, to create a mechanism to help recruiters offer a better candidate experience and save time. So we created a recruiting “game” that each company could customise, providing a very meritocratic ranking of candidates without bias and connecting candidates with specific skills and knowledge with those looking for that type of profile.

The name itself, Glickon, reflects the core of our business: matching people with the right jobs. And what better way to do that than to name our company after the algorithm that forms the foundation of our business? Glicko-2 is a rating system used in competitive games such as chess and Go. It’s also used in online multiplayer games to rate players’ skill levels. The algorithm was developed by Mark Glickman, a professor of statistic at Harvard University. We were inspired by Glicko’s ability to accurately rate players’ skills in games, and we wanted to create a similar system to assess the competence of candidates: from this foundation we ideated our custom-made algorithm “Glickon”, and since this was the center of our initial product we decided to use this name also for our company. We believe that our technology combined with human factor is the better way to assess the skills and increase abilities of people and we are committed to make people and organisations better at their most important work.

Today, Glickon’s offer is much broader and operates within a large market, which is the experience management of a candidate or people already working in a company. We have therefore created a platform that covers the whole life span of a person in the company and, therefore, measures and improves the experience at 360 degrees.

So, Glickon is an HR tech company that enables HR and business leaders in medium and large companies to optimise their companies’ work experience. Can you tell us more about the business model of the company?

Filippo: Glickon’s business model is a software as a service. We sell a licence to companies that allows them to have two solutions, Hire for candidates and Grow for employees. Companies can create relationship experiences. The experiences offered by Glickon have evolved according to the expectations of the target audience. Besides the initial gamification, the platform provides podcasts, assessments, and content libraries to design onboarding, training, development and internal communication experiences, all highly customisable. We also offer professional services with consultants to help companies design these paths.

We believe in an equation: happy people (candidates or employees) = happy customers. People are the oxygen of companies themselves. If people are motivated, listened to, and recognised, a good relationship is created that allows companies to improve their business. We try to help client companies transform processes, creating experiences to improve the relationship with their people.

Glickon recently announced a Series A investment round, with € 3 million already subscribed by Synergo Capital SGR’s Sinergia Venture Fund as the lead investor in the deal. What results have you achieved until now? Also, what are the development plans of Glickon for the near future?

Filippo: I can say that today we have overcome the significant initial hurdles related to the early stages of a startup, those hurdles that lead 9 out of 10 companies to die in the first year.

We have managed to develop a solution that is now adopted by some of the biggest companies in Italy and the world, such as Deloitte, Eni and many others but also by small and medium-sized companies because we are very transversal. Our solution is also used by the largest search & selection firms and consulting companies. All with a very international approach.

In addition to customers’ appreciation, we have had some important recognitions. We are a benchmark player in the industry, according to Gartner, which included us in the Market Guide for Voice of the Employee Solutions. Recently we got recognition from RedThread Research as the only company in Italy to be listed among the best People Analytics Technology 2022.

We are a team of about 20 people, and we have exceeded one million euros in turnover, which proves our product-market fit. With the recent capital increase and new shareholders, we continue our journey towards the maturity of the company, which aims to scale as a SaaS in Italy and abroad.

What are the main challenges you experienced in creating Glickon and are facing now in the growth phase?

Filippo: In an entrepreneurial journey there are always many challenges.

First of all, for a first-time founder, finding the coordinates in the venture system and putting together a good team is difficult. Not everyone is as lucky as I was with the founding team.

Then there is the challenge of finding the first business angel money to get started, and then the difficulty of creating a product that would meet someone’s real need and not our imagination. That is why it was crucial to listen to the customers of the first pilots.

Also, the difficulty in going to market and building a sales process that would allow us to present ourselves to the best companies in the world and channel them towards either a trial or a purchase of our solution.

Another constant challenge is to decide what not to do. The HR tech market is very complex and constantly evolving. There are few reference points, and it is a complex world to navigate. It sounds like a platitude, but in such a context, deciding what not to develop and leave aside to focus on your goal is not an easy task.

But I believe that the biggest challenges in the past and future are always about people. What we have learnt, and sometimes got wrong, is the ability to bring the right people into the company and create a team that allows us to achieve ambitious goals.

One last question. The way of working after Covid-19 has changed. Many companies admit that they find it challenging to keep their people motivated. What would you suggest companies do to cope with the new working environment?

Filippo: What I think is very difficult to do but fundamental in order to try to manage such a changing work environment is the ability – together with the right tools – to listen to people. This is a problem that all companies have in common, and it is challenging to implement for large companies and a company of 20 people like ours.

Our Voice of Employee Solution seeks to address these needs. Thanks to technology, companies can connect with their candidates and employees profoundly and design an experience that lives up to the expectations of individuals.

The pandemic and the new ways of working that we have all embraced – with due differences – have raised the awareness of wanting each person’s 90,000 hours of work to be time well spent. Every entrepreneur and manager will find her or his formula depending on the goals to be achieved, the experience she or he wants to create and what she or he believes in. And we believe we provide companies a tool that can help in this.


SUBSCRIBE TO THE SCALEUPITALY NEWSLETTER

For more info on Glickon, visit: https://www.glickon.com/en/