Ex-iProspect CEO Stefan Bardega launches recruitment tech start-up

He has co-founded Traktion and attracted angel investment from ex-Dentsu executive Nigel Morris.

Traktion co-founders: Munos Villareal, Soh, Shodhan and Bardega
Traktion co-founders: Munos Villareal, Soh, Shodhan and Bardega

Former iProspect UK chief executive Stefan Bardega has launched a London-based tech start-up that will connect businesses to freelancers for digital marketing projects.

Bardega has co-founded Traktion with specialists in data, marketing and marketplaces and said the platform will help businesses achieve higher returns from their marketing budgets by taking a more agile and data-driven approach to finding and managing talent. 

The platform has three key features: it aims to identify what marketing talent businesses need; matches them with freelancers; and provides tools and services for managing them. 

Bardega, who left iProspect in March, told Campaign that the venture is targeting businesses that are looking for “rapid, marketing-led growth”. The rationale is that these businesses need immediate flexible access to top digital marketing talent without big overheads or long contracts.

He said: “We believe there is a better way to do marketing than the current models. We have a fundamental belief that the future of marketing will be more agile, flexible, data-driven, and that this will deliver superior marketing-led growth to all businesses.”

People who work in the creative industries are also demanding a more agile and project-based approach to work, Bardega believes. “We are not only able to deliver superior growth for businesses but also superior growth and opportunities for talent too."

He added: “There are a number of benefits that more agile and flexible hiring models provide. One: specialist talent, on-demand, with access to the talent you need when you need it. Two: contracts that enable businesses to pick and choose who they work with and when they work with them. And three: commercial models where the fee a business pays goes directly towards the talent working on your business not the overhead of the building or management.”

Freelancers can become part of the Traktion talent roster by application, where they will be subject to a four-stage verification process called Evie (enhanced verification and insight engine):

  • Stage 1: evaluation – a 100-plus point test that every freelancer goes through. 

  • Stage 2: a video interview with an expert in their field to establish capability and knowledge. 

  • Stage 3: references where Traktion speaks to three people to validate the freelancer’s experience independently. 

  • Stage 4: under the moniker, “Continuous improvement”, Traktion will evaluate the freelancer’s performance over time by using “business performance data” as well as “monthly client satisfaction scores”. 

But how will this recruitment tech provider ensure brands are served with respect to providing diverse freelancers and diverse thought for creative services?

Agencies that have explored automated or off-the-shelf solutions have found they are prone to inherent bias because they are based on existing data.

Amazon fell into this trap in 2018 when its machine-learning-powered recruitment tool failed to rate candidates in a gender-neutral way because male CVs had been overrepresented in its data modelling.

Bardega said: “Our commitment is to create a new model where the primary performance indicator is business outcomes. By focusing on business outcomes our hope is that we can help address the industry’s many diversity issues – including ethnic, gender, age and geographic.”

The founding team will share a 70% majority equity stake in Traktion and comprises Bardega; Saher Sodhan; a serial entrepreneur who helped launch Uber in India; Luis Munoz Villarreal, former head of engineering at Live Better With; and Jaron Soh, founder of ecommerce marketplace Artisan & Fox.

The business has secured early-stage angel investment from Nigel Morris, who used to work with Bardega at iProspect parent Dentsu, and Nimrod Priell, chief executive of software company Radical and a former Facebook UK product manager.

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