26 – 100 in alphabetical order: Ilonka Jankovich and Paul Jacquin, Randstad Innovation Fund

Ilonka Jankovich and Paul Jacquin have been co-managing the Randstad Innovation Fund, the corporate venturing arm of the eponymous staffing firm, since its inception in 2014.

With a background in corporate law, Ilonka Jankovich founded two recruitment firms that she subsequently sold to Monster in 2001, and to Randstad in 2012. Following the acquisition by Randstad, discussions led a to partnership that would see Jankovich found and manage a corporate venture arm funded by Randstad.

Paul Jacquin, who was head of business corporate development for Randstad at the time, had several years of experience in technology mergers and acquisitions and venture capital. He had closed many deals across several continents and was tightly involved in Randstad corporate development. He was chosen as partner to co-fund and co-manage the Randstad Innovation Fund.

Since its launch and with €50m in earmarked capital, the Randstad Innovation Fund has made 17 investments across six countries in the US and Europe, primarily in talent acquisition and workforce management startups. As the investments are early-stage, the strategic value to the startups comes from a deep understanding of the market and the ability to test large-scale deployments in a global staffing firm, they said.

The fund has also been paramount in conducting research focusing on trends in HR technology and in helping Randstad realign its digital strategy to be considered more innovative than competition, they added. The early-stage nature of the investments implies a longer investment horizon, yet some early success includes a global partnership with Checkster to supply reference checks for Randstad as well as the acquisition and integration of Twago by the Randstad Group. Global partnerships were also put in place for Montage and Shiftboard.

Earlier this year, the unit participated in a $7.6m series A round led by VC firm Jazz Venture Partners for US-based recruitment technology provider Wade & Wendy in March.

Last year, it co-led a $10.8m series A round for US-based youth-focused professional development network Goodwall in July, contributed in February to a $30m series C round for US-based skills assessment technology provider HackerRank and to a $8m series B round for US-based recruitment software developer Gr8 People.

When Jacquin nominated Jankovich in for GCV’s Rising Stars award in 2018, he said: “I think Ilonka’s role as partner and board member in several companies has only increased and built on past experience; she has done incredibly well in terms of her learning path and her mastering of the investment dynamics.

“Being a strategic investor is very different from being an entrepreneur, and while I have a long tenure and experience on the investment side, Ilonka is also bringing perspective from the other side.”

Aside from her activity at Randstad, Jankovich also has a hand in private equity through her non-executive board member role at Delft-based cloud software business Exact, acquired by Apax Partners in 2015. “Switching from one world to the other is fantastic,” she said. “It is a very different level, but with very similar topics, which makes it very instructive; I can bring a lot, and learn a lot too.”