Gr8 People, Philly HR software maker, gets $8M from Ascent, Delancey, Randstad

Gr8 People, based in Newtown, Bucks County, says it has raised $8 million from investors led by Ascent Venture Partners in Boston, Mass.

The company is run by Diane Smith and Jayne Kettles, who started the company in 2009 after selling their previous personnel software business, VirtualEdge Corp., to ADP in 2007.

Gr8 People says it has built a “recruiting process outsourcing” software package, combining customer relationship, recruiting, and hiring, into what it calls the “One-Experience Talent Platform.” Gr8 People claims staffing giant Ranstad, Comcast’s NBC Universal, Netflix, and women’s retailer Talbots among its customers.

The firm says it will use the investment to expand “in existing and new markets.” Gr8 currently employs around 50, and plans to add a net 20 jobs this year. The firm landed 70 new customer-management and recruitment-marketing clients, plus “more than 25 full-platform” customers last year, ” CEO Smith said in a statement.

Before they automated recruiting and hiring services and began raising venture capital, Smith and Kettles were former college field hockey players (Smith at the College of New Jersey, Kettles at Ohio State) who went into business together when they started Virtual Edge in 1998.

Ascent general partner Luke Burns called Ascent a “pioneering business that will shape and change markets.” Ascent’s co-investors include Delancey Street Partners, the Conshohocken investment bank headed by B. Andrew Schmucker, who formerly headed the investment bank at Janney Montgomery Scott, and the Randstad Innovation Fund. Gr8 raised $6 million in a previous capital raising with the same investors.

Ascent’s other Philadelphia-area investments include Sidecar, Andre Golsorkhi’s program-advertising firm. Ascent previously was also an investor in cloud-based security provider Cloudlock, acquired by Cisco in 2016.