RelishMBA: Adding Value to MBA Recruiting

19 February 2015

By Amy Halliday

Even before arriving on campus, many MBA students start figuring out what they’ll do once they leave. In a process that begins on day one or earlier at many schools, students are meeting with career advisers, interviewing with companies, and lining up a summer job that could turn into a long-term position.

“At Darden, you’re immersed in recruiting pretty much immediately,” says Second Year student Sarah Rumbaugh. But unlike most of her classmates, Rumbaugh experienced the process not as an MBA student looking for a job but as an entrepreneur spotting an opportunity in a market that was playing out right in front of her. At the end of her first year, instead of an internship at a large company, she had a prototype of an online platform and a spot in the 2014–2015 class at the UVA i.Lab Incubator, which gave her a chance to develop her offering.

Rumbaugh’s venture, RelishMBA, improves the recruiting process for job seekers and for companies in search of talent. “Companies devote a lot of resources to on-campus recruiting,” she says. “They really emphasize their on-campus presence, but there’s a limit to what any company can do during its visit.” Moreover, small organizations, such as startups and nonprofits, can’t afford a large recruiting effort.

RelishMBA, which Rumbaugh calls the “ or eHarmony of recruiting,” offers recruiters a database of information about students, an opportunity to tailor their approach for individual institutions, and a way to manage relationships with candidates throughout the recruiting season. The goals, Rumbaugh explains, are to enhance the experience of visiting companies, streamline the off-campus aspects of the process, and help level the playing field for companies that don’t have large recruiting budgets.

The young company is looking to complement, rather than displace, a business school’s career services office. “Any MBA program’s career development center is looking to improve hiring outcomes for students and build strong relationship with companies,” Rumbaugh notes. “We support both of those missions. The data we’re collecting on trends in students’ interests and on the kinds of companies students are reaching out to could be very valuable to career advisers at a business school.”

Rumbaugh, who worked in cyber security consulting at Booz Allen Hamilton before coming to Darden, entered the MBA program eager to develop her own business. Once she spotted the opportunity to improve the recruiting process, she found software developers through HackCville, a Charlottesville-based community of designers and programmers, who helped her develop a minimum viable product (MVP). “Having that MVP helped me demonstrate on my i.Lab application that I was already taking steps to execute my idea,” she says. “And it allowed me to make the most of the ten-week summer residency at the i.Lab. My goal going into the program was to use the summer to figure out if this opportunity was something I’d be able to pursue full-time once I graduated.”

To that end, Rumbaugh spent the summer of 2014 running a pilot in order to prove her concept and gather feedback on the platform. She enlisted 30 companies—50% were Fortune 500 firms in a range of industries; 50% were smaller and included a handful of startups. She also enlisted 60% of incoming first-year students and 40% of her second-year classmates (many of whom were in summer internships at the time and were already receiving offers of full-time jobs). By the end of the pilot, companies and students alike indicated a strong interest in continuing to use the platform. “For any new business, success depends on having access to stakeholders. For us, many of our stakeholders were right there,” Rumbaugh notes.

She also spent the summer gauging the interest of other business schools. They are a crucial element of the venture’s business model, building network effects by endorsing the platform to students and to recruiters. And she took on a summer intern: Zach Mayo, Rumbaugh’s section-mate in the MBA program, who has since become a co-founder and a member of the management team. Before entering the MBA program, Mayo started and ran an e-commerce company, and he spent two years at a rural technology center in Uganda with the United States Peace Corps.

From the experience of the pilot and continued research with stakeholders, Rumbaugh and Mayo have developed a business model in which students use the platform for free and companies purchase a license to gain access to three features.

  • Data. RelishMBA offers a database from which recruiters can export profiles and resumes and get recommendations about students whose activity on the site indicates that they might be a good fit. The platform also offers data analytics about trends in students’ search activity.
  • Branding. Through the platform, companies can tailor their recruiting materials for individual schools by, for instance, including alumni testimonials.
  • Candidate tracking and CRM. RelishMBA gives companies a way to manage the relationships they develop over the recruiting season.

In the near term, Rumbaugh is looking to expand to other schools and to build new software to enhance the site’s functionality and data-capturing capabilities. Rumbaugh hopes to track data not just about interactions during the recruiting process but also about where students land jobs. She also plans to assess Relish’s contribution to the process.

In the long term, she hopes to transform Relish into the premier platform for highly qualified candidates at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Law and engineering recruiting, she notes, could be promising markets. “We see an opportunity to add value and create efficiencies in a range of recruiting processes,” she says.

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D., MSBA and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


Press Contact

Sophie Zunz
Director of Media Relations
Darden School of Business
University of Virginia