The CEO of one of Europe's fastest growing startups says hiring is his most important job. Here's why he calls every reference and has an 8-hour interview process.

The CEO of one of Europe's fastest growing startups says hiring is his most important job. Here's why he calls every reference and has an 8-hour interview process.

Avi Meir TravelPerk Funding 1


Avi Meir, CEO of TravelPerk

  • TravelPerk, a travel software company based in Barcelona, is hiring up to 50 people a month after raising more than $100 million in a year.
  • Even with that rapid growth, company CEO Avi Meir calls every reference for every candidate in order to ensure the right hire.
  • Some candidates can spend a full eight-hour day being interviewed and assessed as part of the startup's hiring process.
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Hiring is a major focus area for startups, amid an increasingly competitive market for the best talent.

Barcelona-based startup TravelPerk says it hires some 50 people every month as the company scales up. Founded in 2015, the company provides corporate travel software. CEO Avi Meir plans to take the total number of staff to nearly 600 by the end of 2020 from just 150 in early 2018.

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TravelPerk has raised $133 million to date, which Meir is using to continue expanding.

The urge to get the best talent is key to TravelPerk's growth plans but the competition is intense. A recent survey from Indeed, the US' largest employment site, said that 86% of tech recruiters and employers were struggling to hire top talent in a limited pool of star candidates.


As a result, Meir has taken a stringent and unconventional approach to hiring by putting candidates through an often gruelling interview and assessment process, and checking every reference, to ensure TravelPerk gets the right people.

"Hiring is a tricky challenge for us. We have been adding employees very quickly, sometimes as many as 50 a month," he told Business Insider in an interview.

"Numbers like this make it tempting to cut corners and take chances with new hires. But, when you consider the bigger picture, having someone join who isn't a good technical or cultural fit and having to let that person go and then restart the process is actually much more time consuming and probably more expensive, this is why we insist on keeping our process as thorough as possible."

In order to make sure the company gets the right employees, prospective candidates are called by a recruiter, then a hiring manager before being asked to do an assessment task. If successful, candidates can expect a series of interviews with relevant people who would be working with them, potentially Meir himself, and a deep-dive session with TravelPerk's HR team.

"This can mean taking the whole day for your final interview. It's also not the last step as we don't just ask for references, we check them too," Meir added. TravelPerk claims not to hire anyone until they've spoken to every single reference.


TravelPerk is trying to disrupt a more than $1 trillion market for corporate travel booking which can be clunky and soulless through legacy systems.

According to the Global Business Travel Association, cited by TravelPerk, 50% of business travel happens outside of company policy, often because existing platforms are outdated, can't offer the choice or prices of consumer equivalents, and require travel managers to endure multiple sites, emails and calls to manage a single trip.

Asked if the stringent hiring has resulted in losing talent, Meir suggested not. He added it had also helped retention.

"The more you can learn about what you're taking on or who you're hiring, the more likely that person is to stay and more importantly the more likely they are to thrive and deliver. And that's a recipe for contentment on both sides," he said.