September 8, 2021
Atlanta, GA

Grayscale has nailed product-market fit, flown past $1M in ARR, and now is poised to lead the text recruiting and automation space. We are elated to be leading the Grayscale seed round.

Why We Invested in Grayscale

By Jon Birdsong and A.T. Gimbel

Fall of 2017 I met up with a respected then-acquaintance and entrepreneur, Ty Abernethy, at Empire State South’s bar right in the heart of midtown Atlanta. Ty had recently moved back from New York City after co-founding and scaling a company in the recruiting space called ConveyIQ -- coming off six years of experience in search and recruiting. Grabbing a cocktail at Empire State South around 5:00 p.m. is a unique experience; you can hear espresso machines grinding as the ingress of the happy hour crowd mixes with the dissipation of the coffee crowd. An even warmer environment emanates in the restaurant during late fall and foliage. Family, UGA football, logistics relocating from NYC, and startups were all topics of discussion. While ConveyIQ was successful, it didn’t fulfill Ty’s entrepreneurial ambitions. Through the course of a beverage or two we discussed markets, ideas, products, and talent. It was clear Ty wanted to leverage his knowledge and experience in recruiting towards his next chapter. 

One of the beautiful realities in our line of work: when you meet with an extremely talented founder, a random conversation about a market one afternoon, oftentimes will be a rapidly growing business years later. Leaving the happy hour that night, a few thoughts pierced my reflections. It was still unclear what exact product he would build. However, two things were apparent. He was going to build something big and it would be in a market he knew intimately. 

A few months later, as he was settling into his work rhythm, we ran into each other at the Atlanta Tech Village and he mentioned the name of his new company: Grayscale. Outside the immediate thought of Game of Thrones, it was a sublime name for a startup in recruiting. 

All the while, Ty was sniffing for the ever elusive product market fit we all know is so hard to find. At first, the solution revolved around a chatbot for recruiting. Through time, product iterations, and customer feedback, the business evolved into texting and automation for hiring teams. In a world where a company has tens of thousands of applicants a year, traditionally an applicant goes to the company’s website, fills out the required forms, and that information goes into a large pile where hopefully someone sees it and acts. Imagine a world where that company who has tens of thousands of applicants a year could produce a hiring and recruiting experience catered more to the individual needs of the applicant through simple communication, scheduling, and coordination. With Grayscale, a hiring manager who previously could handle 100 candidates can now handle 1,000 -- with a much better experience for the candidate. 

The first 20 paying customers are so hard, yet Ty had the sales skills and leadership gravitas to recruit talented engineer, former Rigor CTO, and Lebron James fanatic Hubert Liu from of all places…the Atlanta Ventures team. We were extremely disappointed Hubert wouldn’t be around the Atlanta Ventures office, especially his weekly didactic speeches on why LeBron James is the GOAT. We were elated for Hubert who found his next big adventure. Together they formed the founding team of Grayscale.  

Four years after we caught up pre-product and nearly pre-idea, Grayscale has nailed product-market fit, flown past $1M in ARR, and now is poised to lead the text recruiting and automation space. We are elated Ty asked Atlanta Ventures to lead his seed round. My colleague and desk-neighbor at the Atlanta Tech Village, A.T. Gimbel shares more around our thesis for investing. We are honored to be part of the next phase of Grayscale’s growth. 

Founding team

We have known the co-founders for several years. Ty first started building Grayscale out of our office and have really enjoyed seeing his vision and working style. Hubert has been a part of several of our teams in the past, and is a true technology leader. Furthermore, customers consistently point out Ty and the team’s deep industry expertise, ability to listen, and most importantly aptitude to coach their customers about the problems they are currently facing and will soon face. That type of partnership focused on the customers’ job to be done creates a powerful relationship.

Market opportunity

Grayscale is in a massive HR/recruiting market that we all know struggles with efficiency and effectiveness. Many legacy based approaches and tools are used to recruit candidates. Especially for high volume recruiting, many candidates fall through the cracks and place more burden on recruiters to manage the process. As mediums shift from phone and email, texting is proven as a way to improve response and engagement in the hiring process.

Customer base

Most importantly, customers like Peloton, Wayfair, and DoorDash love not only the product but the way in which the Grayscale team supports them to improve metrics such as reductions in time to fill roles and increases in interview sit rate, which ultimately help reduce the number of candidates seen to fill roles and the time it takes a recruiter to fill an open position. They have seen explosive customer growth with minimal churn, as well as many customers increasing their usage and relationship with Grayscale after using and loving the product.

We are excited to partner with Grayscale and support another great Atlanta company!

Grayscale is currently hiring for several roles in customer experience, engineering, and sales if you know anyone interested!

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