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Feature story

HR tech startup : Italy is in the front row

Italian Glickon is a Gartner leader for Voice of Employees solutions.


The HR tech sector is on fire. “The sector, which includes startups and companies, is destined to grow. It is estimated that if in 2021 it had exceeded 53.1 billion dollars globally, in 2025 it will be worth over 90 billion – says Carlo Rinaldi, Glickon Chief Marketing Officer. North America is driving this growth, but Europe also plays a central role, with Italy in fourth place (we had a growth of 9.9% in 2021) in a ranking in which Germany, UK and France are on the podium and Spain is last (Q2 2022 market analysis by Growth Capital and Cosmico)”.

“Looking at these numbers and the social, economic and cultural phenomena that are touching the world of work, the importance and urgency of designing solutions for this market and this sector is clear. There is a need to innovate and stimulate new approaches to workers, so there is space and margin for many realities that today are still establishing themselves – in the case of startups – or consolidating, in the case of more structured companies like Glickon – adds Rinaldi”.

On the one hand, companies need the construction of healthy and stimulating and well-balanced working environments, on the other the possibility of stemming important costs for companies that do not know how to exploit the talent of their colleagues - just think that replacing a profile with a medium-high level expertise, to a company, costs about 125% of its RAL (Gross Annual Remuneration)”.

Who is Glickon

Glickon is an all-Italian reality that operates in the HR tech sector, taking up the challenge of transforming HR processes into "intelligence". Combining the use of technology, Big Data and AI (data-driven approach) with the human one, it offers companies solutions that integrate with HR platforms (ATS and HCM) and with those of communication and collaboration, to generate and analyze surveys on which to act in a concrete way – tell us Rinaldi -. We start from listening to return to people with qualitative indications, initiatives and actions. The result consists, in the ability to return a powerful photograph of the entire experience of candidates and colleagues within a company with the aim of supporting people and companies to achieve excellent results, making the work experience better”.

Glickon has developed a "golden formula" to find the talent that is in each of us and is based on three pillars: what you do best (skills), what is your "why" (motivation) and with whom you work best (relationships). It all started in 2013, with an idea: to revolutionize the application process. From frustrating, long and boring to fun, quick and effective. And based on data analysis. A challenge in which both people and the company in search of the best skills would win. In 2014 the idea turned into a startup thanks to Filippo Negri, Matteo Corte, Davide Griffon and Matteo Bersanelli.

This is how the Glickon Candidate Experience platform, now Seek, was born – says Rinaldi. Three main ingredients: engagement, gamification and lots of technology”.

The recipe works

The recipe works. In 2016 Glickon Employee Experience (now Glow) was born to measure and improve the experience and performance of colleagues in the company. The quality of all these experiences determines a company's ability to attract, hire, and retain talent with data to support important strategic business decisions. From 2017, therefore, the first significant turnover began to be recorded.

Initially, the reality grows through business angels and in May 2022 it starts a Series A investment round, with 3 million euros already subscribed by the Sinergia Venture Fund of Synergo Capital SGR as lead investor of the operation. Glickon has established itself as a leading company in the HR tech software market for medium and large companies.

Today it has about 30 employees and is internationally recognized by Gartner as a reference point in the field of Voice of Employees solutions. Along with Seek (for candidates) and Glow (for colleagues) is the new and recent Flow suite, powered by AI to generate and analyze talent insights and objectify data for HR and business leaders.

The strategy for founding

Glickon has grown in its early years thanks to a network of business angels that has supported its growth until the recent entry of Sinergia Venture Fund in 2022 – added Rinaldi -. Only now, thanks to a solid customer base and a proven product/market fit, we are starting to evaluate bank financing. Italy is certainly a country where the venture capital sector is not very developed compared to the United States or, to remain in Europe, France, Germany and especially the UK. The USA remains the ideal place to create a business, especially digital, and is really ahead of Europe, while Italy is lagging behind even compared to similar contexts, such as France. In the USA the work of VC starts directly from universities, there is a very solid network between private investors and university structures that favors the birth and development of startups”.

The first VC company was born in America back in 1946, a process that starts from afar and arrives to obtain, in 2022, a total of 330 billion dollars of investments in VC, more than double compared to the previous two years. In Europe the market is narrower and in Italy even more, despite the volume of investments is experiencing a strong expansion: they have reached and exceeded the goal of two billion euros (+67.3% compared to 2021), in contrast to more mature ecosystems in Europe, such as the United Kingdom and Germany, where the volumes invested have remained substantially stable (data: EY Venture Capital Barometer).

Why VC don’t pay attention to Italian startups

It is more complicated to get the attention of Italian VCs – tell us Rinaldi -, both because numbers are much smaller and for an industry reason. So if you do not belong to sectors in strong development such as Smart City, Software, FinTech and DeepTech, you can hardly get the attention of VCs. In our case, fortunately we immediately obtained a strong interest and support”.

Glickon has acquired the Isaak platform of the British company StatusToday (Gartner Cool Vendor 2019 and Best AI Startup – AI Summit 2017), a leader in the application of artificial intelligence technologies to People Analytics. The goal of this transaction was to increase the ability to transform every interaction between organizations and their people into a unique and meaningful experience by providing a powerful platform for listening, analysis and action to those tasked with driving the business. Isaak's well-being and organizational effectiveness information still complements Glickon's solutions for answering HR and business leaders' toughest questions and improving work experiences.

Over 100 customers in 84 countries

Today Glickon has over 100 customers over the years, all based in Italy, but present in 84 countries. Among these there are realities such as Deloitte, EY, Acea, Jakala, Groupm, DHL and many others. There are also customers such as Golden Goose, Medtronic and Crif who also use Glickon solutions in foreign branches because, in addition to supporting them in the management of onboarding processes and collecting feedback from the working and collaborative environment.

They give them the opportunity to launch surveys with open questions and use a multilingual model in which the strengths and improvements of the various country/region, which are highly variable by geographical culture – explain Rinaldi. Glickon, in fact, differs because it works on specific models offering the opportunity to bring out the context, the distribution of topics, the sentiment and has the possibility to combine the active data with the passive data. From all these outputs starts the definition of actions aimed at creating a better corporate culture where, in addition to skills and motivation, the keystone is in the quality of relationships between people. The goal for the future is in fact an internalization plan that allows us to scale the software of our solutions on specific markets where, through technology, we can create tools that are able to digitize processes, monitor and follow the work experience of each talent, objectify the results, and spread culture in organizations".

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Valerio Mariani.
Journalist, Math graduated.

He has been writing of technology & innovation for more than 25 years, spending his time in the spasmodic search & write of useful and inspirational contents for managers and entrepreneurs.
Favorite quote: never believe what you think.

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