When Garrett Lord, Ben Christensen and Scott Ringwelski founded Handshake in 2013 — they initially did it to help close the ‘glaring inequality’ in career opportunities for students. Rather than basing job opportunities on who you knew, they aimed to base it on what you know. Nearly ten years later, their company has become a platform for 9 million plus active users. Approximately 650k employers and 1,400 universities have also signed up as official partners of the Handshake network.
“We wanted to solve the job problem by building a platform that helps all students receive the same level of opportunities as if they were to go to one of the Ivy League schools.”
All in all, their idea has rapidly grown into a company valued at $3.5 billion, after successful funding rounds in the summer of 2021 and in early 2022. “We realised that the hiring market is just not fair at all”, co-founder Garrett Lord told Forbes. “We wanted to solve the job problem by building a platform that helps all students receive the same level of opportunities as if they were to go to one of the Ivy League schools.”
Spreading their wings
In 2020, Handshake had already spread its wings to Europe, where it opened its UK headquarters. The company has since partnered with several prestigious UK universities, such as the University of Cambridge and the University of Liverpool. “They’ve been a tremendously valuable partner”, said David Ainscough, Deputy Director, University of Cambridge Careers Service. “Support, positive influence, encouragement, reliability, all of those words can genuinely be applied to the Handshake team.”
Aiming for continental Europe
Now Handshake is aiming for bigger and better things, through its first acquisition ever: Talentspace, a German-based European platform for managing career fairs, both online and in-person. The company was founded in 2017 by Jason Reich, Marco Eylert and Markus Duecker, after the trio had grown frustrated with their own job hunting experiences. So they had a simple aim: improve the recruiting experience and make opportunities accessible for everyone. Today, Talentspace has approximately 200 thousand users.
“Together, we can help job seekers build relationships with employers and skills that translate to better career outcomes and economic mobility.”
“As Handshake’s first-ever acquisition, Talentspace will strengthen our suite of virtual event offerings and accelerate our entry beyond our UK office and into the larger continental Europe”, Garrett Lord, founder and CEO of Handshake said in a press release. “Together, we can help job seekers build relationships with employers and skills that translate to better career outcomes and economic mobility.”