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This article was published on 21 May 2021

Callaghan Innovation is proud to sponsor once again the NZ Hi-Tech Kamupene Māori o te Tau – Māori Company of the Year award. Ahead of the awards announcements on 28 May, we’re checking in with the five finalists – AgriSea, Jobloads, NZ Trade Group, MB Century and Weirdly – to find out how they’re making their mark as Māori innovators.

‘David and Goliath’ is the comparison Dale Clareburt draws when describing the relative size of Weirdly, the tech business she co-founded, and its customers. 

The Auckland-based recruitment software business has just 18 staff but services some of the biggest names in Australasian retail – think Bunnings and Target – as well as a growing number of leading US and UK businesses. 

“These businesses benefit from working with us because we’re fast, nimble and they want our innovation. Our platform solves a really expensive and painful problem for them.”

A single large business typically attracts hundreds of thousands of job applicants annually, which makes filtering out the best candidates time-consuming and expensive via traditional recruitment processes.

Weirdly’s solution is a software platform for high-volume recruitment, which helps businesses quickly and effectively screen candidates, predominantly for entry-level retail roles.  

The human touch

Weirdly’s secret sauce, however, is the human touch it brings to this process.  

Clareburt (Ngāti Porou, Ngā Rauru) has an extensive recruitment background, and prior to co-founding Weirdly, she and her husband had a boutique recruitment agency. The idea for the business came about when Tim Alpe, co-founder of Jucy Rentals, posed a question: how can you find people that fit with our culture and values better than we can ourselves?

And if they could package that ability into a product, Alpe said he’d buy it. Weirdly had its first customer. 

“We realised that with 20 years’ experience we knew how to ask the right questions and get to the heart of who a person really is. Then we met with our other two co-founders, who are the digital specialists, to work out how to take that experience and digitise it.”

While big businesses are its customers, Weirdly has distinguished itself in its market by providing value to job candidates. Tailored for young job seekers, its application process is fun, interactive and gives fast feedback. 

“One of the biggest growth opportunities for us is there are obviously more candidates than there are jobs. So we have this opportunity to grow a community of young people, help them get ready to work and to showcase them for other roles.”

Fast and fair

Importantly, Weirdly’s software substantially reduces bias in the candidate screening process. 

“Providing a fast and fair recruitment process for entry-level workers in frontline roles is what we do, and in NZ, tangata whenua and Pasifika peoples are employed in 21% of these roles,” says Clareburt.

“As a founding team, we see mahi as the most meaningful way we can lift people up, because we believe work is intrinsically linked to self-esteem. In te reo Māori, mahi means ‘work’, but it also means ‘abundance’, and we believe these two concepts coexist.”.

Being named a finalist for the Hi-Tech Kamupene Māori o Te Tau Award, says Clareburt, is helping share this message.

“We want to create a zero-bias recruitment process for our customers, and this awards recognition helps elevate our platform to share that message and purpose – and hopefully get more businesses to jump on board.”