Y Combinator
Eleonora Sharef
Founder of HireArt (YC W12)


HireArt is a marketplace where employers can find qualified, pre-vetted applicants, along with data that shows why they are a good fit. We create trust between employers and job seekers by assessing candidates and using specific data to create matches.

Q: How did your background prepare you for starting your startup?

I was born in Bogota, Colombia and moved to Nuremberg, Germany when I was 12. The transition taught me a lot of lessons that I'd later use as an entrepreneur. As a newbie in Germany, I didn't fit in and had to develop a tough skin to make it through the first years. I moved to the US when I was 17 and immediately fell in love with the country– the openness, the willingness to dream about ideas, and the creativity were unlike anything I had seen before. After studying at Yale, I worked at McKinsey. I am really glad I had the experience, as it taught me a lot about client satisfaction and how to deliver great service.

Q: How did HireArt get started?

My cofounder and I wanted to start a company together, so we wrote down all the things we thought were wrong with the world. One of the biggest trends we noticed was how dysfunctional the labor market was: our friends could not find jobs they liked; as hiring managers, we had struggled to find employees we wanted to hire; unemployment was raging. The labor market was clearly broken and we wanted to fix it and make it more transparent. We started out by focusing on one small area (candidate assessment) and got our first client within a week. After that it has been completely iterative based on feedback from our clients about what they want and need.

Q: How did you meet your cofounders?

My cofounder Nick and I met in college, but lost touch when we graduated. A common friend re-introduced us when he realized we were both interested in entrepreneurship. We spoke on the phone for 3-4 hours every day for a few months and got to know each other very well, so it felt very right once we decided to work full time together.

We actually had another cofounder when we started. He was phenomenal and a great friend, but unfortunately we ended up parting ways after Y Combinator.

Q: What was your YC experience like?

YC is like having a new group of friends who aspire to the same things you do and who are willing to help you with anything. What I remember most was the feeling of community and friendship, both with the other companies but also with the YC partners.

Q: What is the atmosphere like at YC with Demo Day approaching?

The best word to describe the atmosphere at YC approaching Demo Day is "focused." We were all extremely focused on the priorities of our business, primarily on growth. For some people, this intense focus translates into stress (it did for me), but it doesn't necessarily have to. YC helps you figure out what you need to do to succeed. Having a few months to work on your idea without any distraction is incredibly liberating and allows you to home in on exactly the things that matter.

Q: Was being female either an advantage or disadvantage in working on your startup?

Neither. I think once I want to have children it will be a disadvantage.

Q: What was the toughest thing you went through as a founder?

Losing one of our cofounders. Struggling to raise money. Having doubts about our product/market fit.

Q: What do you wish someone had told you when you were 15?

I am glad I was naive and a dreamer when I was 15. I don't really wish anyone had told me anything more than they did back then. I discovered how the world worked in due time and am still discovering it every day.