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Local Startup Is A Finalist For NC IDEA Grant

By Johanna Cano, posted Nov 1, 2018
iCruits, a Wilmington-based startup that provides a platform for employment recruitment, is one of the 11 finalists for the fall 2018 NC IDEA SEED grant, program organizers announced this week.

The grant, which is up to $50,000 per company, is from NC IDEA, a private foundation that aims to support North Carolina-based entrepreneurs.

iCruits was founded in 2016 by its CEO, Manish Bhan, a computer engineer who went to Bundelkhand University in India and now lives in Wilmington. It the only local company included in the grant program's fall cycle.

With iCruits, applicants would be able to apply for a position by using a job simulator that assesses how well they perform the job, Bhan said.

The startup has not yet launched the product and is currently implementing pilots, he said.

Under Bhan's plan, if a company hires iCruits to create a simulation for job applicants, resumes and cover letters would no longer be used.

“We are building role-based smart job simulators that will eliminate the need for traditional resumes and screening interviews,” he said. “A lot of talented people are being prematurely screened in the current process. Through these simulators, anybody can apply for a job and show they can do the job.”

iCruits is currently focusing on companies and jobs in sales, marketing, customer support, management and other creative industries.

Bhan decided to apply for the grant because the startup’s mission aligns with NC IDEA.

“We both want the local startup ecosystem to be recognized and developed within the state,” Bhan said. “We are impressed by the clarity of vision that NC IDEA has and want them to be one of our early investors. There are not many options that provide funding without dilution.”

The NC IDEA SEED grant started with 158 applicants that were then narrowed down to 11 finalists.

“This group of finalists is perhaps one of our most diverse for the types of organizations advancing. It defies a convenient generalization, which is great,” said Thom Ruhe, president and CEO of NC IDEA in a news release. “I think it may be a reflection of our diverse and growing partners that are actively helping more (different) companies be competitive in the grant process.”

The startup finalists will present before a review panel made up of investors, industry leaders and entrepreneurs who will choose five to seven recipients in mid-November.

If iCruits receives the grant, it would be used for development and to gain more traction, Bhan said.

There are seven employees at iCruits, and four of them are in Wilmington.

Jillian Howden, director of business development at iCruits, said they were excited to learn iCruits was a finalist.

“We are proud to be able to share what we are working towards with our local community,” Howden said.
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