Tofu nets $1.2 million to fast-track hiring for tech startups

Tofu co-founders, CTO Jonathan Perez and CEO Jason Zoltak.
Company’s backers include Night Capital, Garage Capital, Wayfinder Ventures, Ritual Capital.

Toronto-based Tofu aims to make it easier for technology firms to find qualified candidates that other companies have already vetted, but not hired.

Fifteen months ago, Tofu began developing a talent marketplace to do just that. Today, the startup’s platform allows over 170 firms to share talent with each other, and the company has helped dozens of tech workers find jobs and saved other firms weeks of time filling roles, Tofu co-founder and CEO Jason Zoltak told BetaKit in an exclusive interview.

“Tofu is creating a new model for discovering and hiring talent.”

Mike McCauley, Garage Capital

Now, armed with $1.2 million CAD in pre-seed funding from Night Capital, two other San Francisco-based investors, and Kitchener-Waterloo’s Garage Capital, Zoltak said Tofu plans to scale up its marketplace to serve more companies and grow its team with product and engineering hires.

The round, which closed earlier this month and came via a simple agreement for future equity, marks Tofu’s first external capital to date. It was led by Night Capital with support from Garage Capital, San Francisco’s Wayfinder Ventures and Ritual Capital, and angel investor Deva Santiago (former recruiting leader at Rippling, Weebly, and Dropbox and current VP of talent at Tailscale).

Tofu’s vision involves incentivizing companies to share the talent they gather during the hiring process with other firms. Zoltak, who founded Tofu in late 2022 alongside CTO Jonathan Perez, noted that businesses spend lots of time interviewing candidates they do not end up hiring, while job seekers spend a great deal of time being vetted for roles they ultimately do not land, often for reasons unrelated to their skills.

“As you can imagine, that results in a lot of duplicative effort, and our mission is to unlock that idle talent information, convert the sunk interview time and costs into value, and connect candidates to companies, and vice versa, in minutes,” said Zoltak.

As tech firms have continued to shed staff during the market downturn (including by cutting down their talent acquisition teams), Zoltak noted that there are a particularly high number of quality candidates looking for new roles these days, at a time when many companies are still looking to hire—and do so more efficiently.

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With Tofu, businesses considering hiring candidates that were passed on by other firms can reach out to them, see which company they were referred by, and view any other info the candidate opts into sharing, such as their work history and skills. Depending on their hiring needs, Zoltak said Tofu customers pay either a software-as-a-service subscription or a per-hire fee, and those that decide to list folks they vetted receive hiring credits from Tofu to reduce future hiring costs.

“The product is unique and already delivering great results to talent teams, while delighting applicants with additional opportunities that are very relevant to their job hunt,” Night Capital founder and general partner Kevin Carter told BetaKit. “The marketplace taps into a latent supply of job seekers that are qualified and actively looking. Jason and team have built an intuitive product that creates a new and more efficient way to hire.”

Before launching Tofu, Zoltak spent just over a year working as a general manager with Shiftsmart, a well-funded New York-based workforce management software startup that has developed a marketplace to match shift workers with employers. 

At Shiftsmart, Zoltak noticed that some of the things that the company was doing could be applied to the white-collar jobs market. Sensing an opportunity, Zoltak left Shiftsmart in late 2022 and launched Tofu, teaming up with Perez, who Zoltak said brings an engineering background that complements his own experience in operations.

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“It’s rare to find the level of passion and persistence that co-founders Jason and Jon display towards an industry that is often overlooked and ignored by the venture world,” Garage Capital co-founder and general partner Mike McCauley told BetaKit. “Tofu is creating a new model for discovering and hiring talent. They are putting up real results and Garage is excited to be supporting their growth trajectory.”

Zoltak claimed that Tofu can connect companies to qualified candidates within minutes, and help those companies hire folks in as little as 10 days. “Tofu is designed for speed and quality, and it’s something that some other platforms just haven’t been able to crack,” he claimed.

Tofu is currently targeting seed to Series F-stage tech companies, but the nascent startup has even bigger ambitions, which involve catering to enterprise firms across a wider array of sectors. “We want to get every company in the world on Tofu,” said Zoltak.

Feature image courtesy Tofu.

Josh Scott

Josh Scott

Josh Scott is a BetaKit reporter focused on telling in-depth Canadian tech stories and breaking news. His coverage is more complete than his moustache.

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