SHRM Announces HR Tech Competition Finalists

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer July 8, 2021

​The five startups battling it out in the inaugural SHRMLabs Better Workplaces Challenge Cup Finals will showcase their innovative workplace technology solutions live at a pitch fest. The competition will wrap up in grand style at the SHRM Annual Conference & Expo 2021 (SHRM21) Sept. 10 in front of a live audience in Las Vegas. 

The finalists will make their last pitch to a panel of judges, including Daymond John, award-winning entrepreneur and star of ABC's "Shark Tank," as well as an audience of investors, leading HR professionals, fellow innovators and the media, before the winner is announced on the main stage by SHRM President and Chief Executive Officer Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP.

SHRMLabs is the workplace innovation hub and venture capital arm of SHRM. The competition aims to bridge the gap between companies that are creating workplace technologies and the end-users of their products: HR professionals and their workforces.

"The Better Workplaces Challenge Cup highlights real companies providing real solutions to real HR challenges," said Nick Schacht, SHRM-SCP, chief global development officer at SHRM. "These companies spotlight innovative technology applications that help us rethink our approach to these challenges and truly define the future of work."

Guillermo Corea, the managing director of SHRMLabs, said that the competition "is unique in that it exposes HR professionals to the kinds of technologies that will help them reconfigure the workplace to meet both employers' and employees' needs, and, in turn, these startups have an opportunity to hear insights to take their solutions to the next level. It's truly a win-win."

The Final Five

From over 150 initial submissions to compete in the challenge, through 51 regional finalists representing innovations across workplace tech, the following winners of the regional competitions will advance to the finals in Las Vegas:

  • Compt, perk stipend software based in Boston.   
  • Symba, remote internship management technology from Chicago.  
  • TiLT, a leave management platform in Fort Collins, Colo.
  • UnboXt, a leadership development platform based in Atlanta.
  • WorkWhile, technology that connects hourly workers to shifts based in San Francisco.

The five regional winners will receive an all-expenses paid trip for two representatives to SHRM21, complimentary space in the Workplace Innovation Zone and exposure to 18,000 potential future users. The winner will also be awarded a cash prize of $50,000.

Narrowing the Field

Local contests were set up in 17 cities across the U.S. earlier this year and, in most cases, co-hosted with SHRM chapters.

Participants were required to submit a video presentation and take part in a Q&A session with a panel of judges from local SHRM chapter leadership and SHRM staff. The judges weighed several considerations such as:

  • Does this product create better workplaces?
  • Does this product provide value to SHRM members?
  • Is this a viable business?

The top three startups from each local round advanced to the regional rounds in June. The remaining companies presented a more in-depth pitch and participated in another Q&A with a panel of senior SHRM executives and other business leaders.

"The regional finals provided an opportunity to hear about a wide variety of truly innovative workplace solutions," said Nancy Woolever, vice president, certification operations at SHRM and one of the regional round judges. "These organizations look at common problems through a different lens and offer workable, affordable and innovative solutions to common and some not-so-common problems."

Marc Goldberg, SHRM's chief technology officer and another regional round judge, said that the best solutions he saw "are the ones that give tools or insights to HR leaders' strategic process or automate logistics to free up more time to practice strategic process."



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