Ilit Raz, Founder and CEO of Joonko.

The founder bringing diversity to the workplace

Ilit Raz, CEO and founder of Joonko, was never good at school and yet her startup has raised $40 million to develop an automated sourcing platform focused solely on underrepresented candidates

Ilit Raz, CEO and founder of Joonko, is not your average founder. She worked for HP and lasted only three months before she realized that the pace was way too slow for her liking. She is the sole founder of Joonko, which is rare as most startups usually have two or more founders, and she was never a good student claiming to have almost dropped out of high school. And yet, her company Joonko, which has developed an automated sourcing platform focused solely on underrepresented candidates, has raised a whopping $40 million so far.
“I think being a CEO is a very lonely job. Although YC said the ideal team for a startup is three founders, today you can go solo as long as you have a good team. I have a female CTO and CMO that don’t want to start their own company,” Raz explained. “Sometimes you can find good people that have all the skills you need and don't want to be founders. They do however, want the responsibility, they want to work hard and they really care. I don't make any decisions without my team, but they are not founders. It's all my responsibility which, as a CEO, is true anyway.”
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Ilit Raz, Founder _alt CEO,  Joonko
Ilit Raz, Founder _alt CEO,  Joonko
Ilit Raz, Founder and CEO of Joonko.
(Photo: Alon Reuveni)
Raz expanded on the story behind Joonko. “I am one of those people that never had a dream to start a company. However, today I can't imagine doing something else. My team and I wanted to do something that would be interesting from a tech perspective with an outcome that would be moving the needle for women and people of color in the workplace. We got accepted by Techstars however, we didn't get along and four years ago we split and so I pivoted the company and started Joonko by myself. I am a solo founder, we still help women and people of color and we have been building a product that helps underrepresented minorities find jobs and companies to find underrepresented minorities.”
As Raz continued, the story got even more exceptional. “No one in the company has an HR background, including myself. We raised $40 million and even though the market is not in its best shape, we are still growing.”
CTech's She-inspires series follows the stories of various female leaders in Israel. The interviewees hail from various sectors: some work at high level positions in large organizations, some are founders, and some are key players in industries aimed at changing the world for the better. The goal is to learn where they came from, where they are going and how they are bringing inspiration to an entire sector making its way towards a glass ceiling just waiting to burst.
What does Joonko do?
Raz begins by telling the story of how the idea came to be. “I was looking for a data scientist and surprisingly had a lot of women applying. During a call with an angel investor she was surprised there were so many women applying for the role and asked if I could send her the candidates I liked but did not accept for the role. Eventually they made four hires and I realized I can do this at scale.”
Joonko connects underrepresented talent with companies looking for diversity. “We are currently expanding our offer, taking a more marketing approach into recruiting by enabling companies to market themselves which is great for smaller companies and also, larger and more well known companies that are recruiting for positions that their company is not necessarily known for such as Nike and engineers.”
How did your childhood support the founder you have become?
Raz laughs and says: “My mom says I only did the things I wanted to do which I translate to chasing my passion. I almost dropped out of high school, I even got caught cheating on my English Matriculation exam. I was doing poorly and even though I was a bad student I still got into 8200. When I was older I redid my matriculation and studied. Today I am the CEO of a successful company. Things have a way of working out. I don't think being a good student means anything in life.”

What would your tip be to fellow founders?
“Don't invent the wheel and don't be afraid to ask for help. Once you do, you also need to reflect on the real situation you are in. If you ask for help and then keep saying how amazing everything is, people can't really help you.”