Join us for a walk down memory lane for a minute and think about the days of summer right before beginning your senior year of high school. If you were like many incoming high school seniors, you were soaking up the final days of summer and hanging out with friends. If you were a band kid, you were probably preparing for Indiana State Fair Band Day. Shout out to those band kids – Indiana summers can be unforgiving! You might have had a summer job that gave you a little spending money. But if you’re one local teen and fellow zWORKer — you’ve got other things on your mind.
When Zionsville Community High School incoming senior, Izzy Branam, isn’t at one of his two internships this summer, he is working with his co-founders on their latest startup. We say latest because this isn’t his first foray into business. Izzy has done this before. In the sixth grade, he realized there was an opportunity to start a record label for aspiring DJs. There was an abundance of talent on the DJ scene, but many artists were overlooked by record executives because of their age. Izzy started Xygen Records and managed it throughout middle school. At the height, he’d signed over 150 artists.
By age 14, the business bug had bit. Not one to sit on his laurels, Izzy found another business opportunity. He realized he could make more money than his part-time job at Chick-fil-A by reselling a wholesale lot of sunglasses so he quit to focus on that. This quickly peaked his interest in eCommerce and digital marketing.
Izzy and his co-founders, Krishna Thiru and Emma Hamilton, created the startup Fia Recruit to make hiring more objective, efficient, and effective. Instead of playing a game of pin the tail on the donkey, which is oftentimes the traditional way of filling positions, Fia uses artificial intelligence and data-driven technology to help streamline this business critical process.
Their startup is grounded in the idea that finding the right fit for a company’s culture is a huge part of hiring as well as reducing the time and effort it takes to sift through the dozens, sometimes hundreds of applicants. In addition, there are inherently unconscious biases at play during the hiring process. There are other applicant platforms out there, but Fia takes it a step further by identifying applicants that meet both the job requirements and fit the company’s culture.
Fia identifies lacking perspectives and personalities in a company’s existing team and suggests applicants from the applicant pool that rounds out the team. Then the platform analyzes how the candidates’ personality and social styles align with the company’s unique culture and team. And finally, Fia analyzes the applicants’ education and work experiences to automatically sort out those that lack the necessary job qualifications. This method creates a more qualified, well-rounded applicant pool but also improves the talent acquisition experience by saving valuable time in the applicant review process.
The local teens have won several awards for their innovation. Izzy credits zWORKS as a place he can get the help he needs to be successful.
“It is such a great environment to put me in the right headspace to work on our startup,” Izzy says. “Sometimes we meet at zWORKS and just talk through things together and whiteboard ideas.”
It’s also a great place to leverage the collective community. Finding other people to give guidance as they launch their product has been advantageous. They don’t feel overlooked because of their age or the fact that they actually have very little experience themselves in talent acquisition.
“zWORKS is such a great place to talk to other people who have already been in our shoes,” Izzy comments. “Everyone has been so welcoming and other zWORKers are happy to answer questions. They take us seriously. They know we are committed to making our business work and they offer their connections and broader network to help us achieve our goals.”
Fia has concluded alpha testing and is now in the beta testing phase. They have several well-known Indy-based firms beta testing the platform and they are actively seeking more companies to sign on to the beta test. If any company is interested in becoming a beta tester, you can sign up on the Fia website.
Fun facts about Izzy:
- Even though he is busy and works hard, he loves to hang out with his friends like a normal teen.
- He loves watersports and tries to get on the water whenever possible.
- He’s looking at colleges and weighing his options for the future, but he knows it will involve his love for entrepreneurship.