Starting up with Ahva Sadeghi

She's the co-founder and CEO of Symba
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· 4 min read

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Ahva Sadeghi is the co-founder and CEO of Symba, a platform that manages the intern lifecycle, from recruitment and onboarding to development through a variety of programs, including accelerators and bootcamps. Founded in 2018 by Sadeghi from her parents’ house in Arizona, the company has raised $2.8 million from a variety of investors, including January Ventures and the 1517 Fund. Sadeghi told HR Brew about the issues faced by early-career employees, and how Symba plans to address them.

What product or service does your company offer? We have an internship management solution that helps companies ramp up their early-career recruiting strategies all in one place. We work with really large companies that typically have 25 interns up to 10,000.

How does the product work? The product steps in after recruiting. So, after you give [candidates] their offers, you welcome them into Symba well before they get their company emails, and you can onboard them—there’s a community board; they have all their projects there. Then they can track and measure their performance. In terms of real-time feedback, if [interns are] trending toward an offer, companies have insights on their top performers, and their conversion rates and career progression year over year.

What specific issue in HR does your company intend to solve? Two things: The first major issue is actually recognizing the impact of early-career recruiting. A lot of the data around internships and early talent is in spreadsheets. In HRS systems, you can’t really flag an intern or an apprentice and understand where they’re at [in] a company. It’s really hard to understand, what is the cost-per-hire of this candidate versus us going out to the market and recruiting?

And the second is making sure that they’re scalable, so that students can have more access to opportunities. And companies can really invest a lot more resources into these really strategic recruiting strategies.

How does your product hope to solve these issues?

By creating access to more opportunities. I’ve done six unpaid internships. And I also went to the University of Arizona, so no one really looked at my resume. I was kind of at the bottom.

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We started talking with talent leaders and were like ‘Why don’t you give more opportunities?’ because we’re going to college and are spending thousands of dollars on the degree, and we have absolutely no idea what we want to do with our lives. That’s a really, really big problem. We figured if we could scale these opportunities, then we can create more opportunities for the students. So we understood what it takes to scale up these programs. We realize, on average, [companies] use nine different platforms to run a 12-week program. That’s wild. How can we consolidate that? How can we streamline that process?

The solution creates a foundation, where you can have a program that is typically like 100 interns managed by two people [and] scale to 1,000 interns, still managed by two people, with high-touch kinds of flows and operations.

How do you think the HR tech field will evolve over the next five to 10 years?

It’s a really exciting time in HR tech, where HR was always just this space where it was not a revenue-generating arm, but more risk mitigation. Now people are realizing more and more that winning teams and companies are developed by their talent. We’re going to see a lot more funding for HR. And we’re already seeing a lot more leadership, like the chief diversity officer is coming up; there’s a lot more connection with the CEO and the CHRO. And second, gone are the days where employers kind of hold the purse strings and the voice. Now it is going to be a lot more where people unionize, they speak up, and employers really do need to feel the demands of anyone joining their workforce.

How do you think your company will help drive that evolution?

Our company has some of the recruiting communities of talent, because now with technology and internships, whether they’re remote or in person, you can scale them, so you can reach more students; you can share your brand, you can create bigger talent pools, and then you can stay in touch with them afterward. We have alumni strategies that anyone who’s interned at a company can stay engaged with them.

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HR is challenging. HR news doesn’t have to be.

HR Brew keeps you effective in the fast-changing business environment.