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Learn from active startups: “At first we had very ambitious expansion plans set”

About four years ago, Kaya Taner and Emma Tracey hooked up the startup Honeypot. In the meantime, 50 employees worked for the start-up company, a “tech-focused job platform”. Well-known companies such as Zeiss, ProSiebenSat1 and zalando rely on Honeypot. The goals of Taner and Co. are great. “We want to create the world’s largest working life community of IT learners,” says Taner. In an interview with, the honeypot-maker also talks about hidden champions, candidate-friendly processes and coding courses.

How would you explain your grandmother Honeypot?

In the context of digitization, it is becoming increasingly important for companies to be involved digitally. No matter if you are a young company or a long-established top dog: All of you need IT-ler,

So software engineers, product managers or data scientists. The challenge is to bring together these professionals and the companies. That’s exactly where we help.

In what way?

Through our platform companies compete with the top 10 percent of IT professionals in the market. For both sides, we are not just agents, but also partners and consultants.

Has your concept changed since the start?

The service and CV advice for talents are free. Companies pay when hiring through Honeypot: in our “pay-as-you-go” model, 15% commission on the first gross annual salary or significantly reduced rates through loyalty pricing for regular customers. This last group will receive additional support, such as free employer branding videos tailored to IT talents, market data, workshops and recruiting advice. We have further developed our vision – especially with regard to the community aspect of the IT industry – since its founding. We want to create the world’s largest community around the working life of IT-ler. We do this on the one hand through our platform, on the other hand, for example, through our own event series such as GraphQL Conf with about 1,000 expected visitors this year, open-source projects and video documentations. Recently was the release of our second tech documentary. The next documentary is already in the starting blocks for Q2.

How exactly has Honeypot evolved since its founding?

According to industry association Bitkom, the IT shortage of skilled workers in Germany has risen by more than 90% since our foundation in 2015. In this context, we have made significant service as well as product enhancements. In the beginning, only software engineers could be found through Honeypot – today, the platform offers all the roles of a classic tech team, including product managers, QA testers and data experts. On the product side, our Data and Tech teams are constantly working to improve matching between companies and candidates.

But once butter with the fish: How big is Honeypot now?

We now cover nine metropolitan areas in Germany and the Netherlands and help over 1,500 companies from the start-up to the DAX Group in their search for IT talent. On average, 1,000 IT users register with us every week. Over 100,000 professionals are currently in the Honeypot community. In our two offices in Berlin and Amsterdam, 50 honeypots are now working together to bring together great jobs and good programmers.

At the moment you give gas, especially in the Rhine-Ruhr area. What is your view of the region?

The area has a lot of potential. We see more and more innovative startups from NRW and large, digitizing groups and hidden champions already exist. The state government has recently invested 150 million euros in top-founder universities to promote young people and new ideas. We are here to help such founders, as well as the larger companies in the region, to build and expand their technical team.

What is your ultimate advice to founders looking for employees?

We get structured feedback on the application process of the individual companies and thus help to make the processes more user-friendly. The most common issues are more transparency in the application process, constant feedback and attention to the candidates. So you should, for example, explain in advance exactly what is essentially in the role and what stages there will be in the application process. If there are more tests in the process, then you should be quick with the feedback and not back in weeks. About a third of the offers are rejected in favor of other offers – speed is one of the main reasons for this.

Please take a look back: What has gone so wrong in the past few years?

Initially, we set ourselves very ambitious expansion plans for foreign countries and immediately wanted to actively participate in several markets at the same time. However, at that time we still did not have the necessary understanding for the business and simply did not have the necessary resources to handle it. As a founder, you are quick to be enthusiastic about new business opportunities, but the focus on a few things is extremely important.

And where have you done everything right so far?

From the very beginning, we took the developer’s perspective from Honeypot and understood that finding a job can often be even more frustrating for companies than companies. Developers are often inundated with irrelevant offers from headhunters and companies, which can be annoying. As a matter of principle, we do not make any direct contact with the candidates, so developers do not receive proactive personal messages from us. In addition, we focused on transparency. Practically, this means that the job offers directly contain all the important information, which are exciting for the developers and these offers are proposed only to the candidates who are just open for a new job. We also make sure that our employees understand the tech roles: we offer coding courses to the honeypotters themselves to promote understanding, have opened up software projects such as the Honeypot search engine as an open source project and created documentary films.

Where does Honeypot stand in a year?

We want to help Germany and Europe to be at the forefront of digital technology. To this end, we are further expanding our network of IT-learning and want to intensify our business in Germany within the next year and expand abroad.

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Also published on Medium.

Published inStartups

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