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Oesterle seeks to map state's talent pool with new startup

September 22, 2017

Organizations use big data and predictive analytics to interact with consumers in a variety of ways today, from targeted marketing to article recommendations.

But there aren't many examples of those toolsets being used to understand and engage talent pools, former Angie's List CEO Bill Oesterle says. So he's launched a startup to do just that.

The company is called TMap LLC, and its name stems from its objective—to map and score talent. The business is in its very early stages, without even a beta product to demonstrate. But Oesterle does have a framework, two employees and a grand vision for making an impact on talent recruitment in the state.

OesterleBill Oesterle

Oesterle, 51, said he's long been interested in workforce development issues in Indiana, but the idea for TMap crystallized after he penned a column in May about attracting talented native Hoosiers back to Indiana. The idea soon led to TMap, he said, which aims to identify and rank talent so Indiana employers and other stakeholders can better recruit, retain and improve the skill of their workers.

"I think we've reached a point where the technology allows us to not speak of these things in generalities anymore," Oesterle said about finding talent, "but actually identify who it is we're talking about down to the individual and being able to tailor our messaging to them."

He added: "We want to micro target at macro scale."

Oesterle said TMap will work by tapping into public and private data sets to assess the state's potential labor pool. This includes existing Indiana residents and people outside of the state that have ties here, familial or otherwise.

Then, the software would score people based on their skills and their predicted willingness to work in Indiana. That "willingness" quotient could be influenced by familial or school ties to the state. 

"I want to apply a scoring system to them that maps them on a graph of willing and able to be employed in Indiana," Oesterle said. "And I want to basically see what that looks like—Who are these people? Where are they? And how might we begin to target them for recruitment, retention and improvement?"

The data compiled by TMap could also be used to help measure which workforce development initiatives are working well and not so well, among other applications.

Oesterle said he's looking to build an initial database of about 500,000 people, and expects to have a beta product ready for show in January. Starting in October, he said, the company will be headquartered at 1011 E. 38th Street, not far from the Indiana State Fairgrounds. 

Oesterle is bankrolling the company, but declined to say how much he's invested so far. He said the fine details of the business model are still being worked out. Likely customers would include employers, recruiting firms and other entities interested in such data.

Oesterle stepped down from Angie's List in spring 2015, then did a stint as chairman of Indianapolis OurHealth, helping it raise $37 million in financing earlier this year.

He officially founded TMap in May, but the idea has roots in a conversation with former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels about 30 years ago. At the time, Daniels was leading the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank that was then based in Indianapolis. Oesterle, the institute's marketing director, was getting ready to head to Harvard Business School. Daniels challenged Oesterle to eventually bring his talents back home.

"He said, 'You need to go out and get that education and you need to bring it back. You owe it to the state to do that,'" Oesterle said recalling the conversation. "And I just don't think, at scale, we do a very good job of saying that to people who have some association with the state."

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