When Atif Haider (32) was experimenting with his in-house project management tool ‘Delight’ in mid-2015, he discovered that it is not project management but actually finding qualified candidates that slows development down. He then emailed organisations saying he could help screen candidates within a quick turnaround time.
A few organisations expressed interest in Atif’s idea and were ready to pay him. Atif then collected all the feedback and taking it into account, launched Aircto in Bengaluru in December 2015.
“Within a month, we had our first customer and in the following week we started doing paid interviews for more new customers. As of July 10, 2016, we have onboarded 21 companies, 30 experts, and have done 74 interviews,” says Atif, a graduate in computer science and engineering from D. Y. Patil College of Engineering and Technology, Kolhapur. He has worked with companies like Cleartrip and a few Y Combinator-backed companies.
Although his previous preoccupation, Delight, did not do well in the market, it taught Atif important lessons on what to do and not to do while building products.
Identifying technical skills
While doing research, Atif and his team found that companies usually interview between six and eight candidates, most of whom don’t possess the required skills, for just a single engineering position. Aircto helps companies identify candidates’ technical skills and saves them the hassle of interviewing unqualified candidates.
Aircto helps companies in four major ways. First, organisations can describe their ideal candidate by entering the job title, description, areas of expertise and years of experience for the position they are hiring for. Second, customers can share the résumés of the candidates they want to interview, from which relevant data about each candidate will be extracted. Third, Aircto’s technical expert interviewer will get on one-on-one calls to vet the candidates’ technical skills based on the job description provided by the organisation. Fourth, post interview, the expert interviewer will share comprehensive interview reports on the candidate’s knowledge, experience and passion for the job position.
Aircto is a bootstrapped product by LaunchYard, a software development company which helps companies build APIs and web products, founded in 2013. It was primarily their rigorous customer research that simplified the procedure of gaining initial traction.
However, understanding and scaling marketing efforts to acquire new customers was certainly a major challenge for them because the core members of the team were engineers who lacked digital marketing experience. Moreover, considering customer feedback and tweaking the product offering based on their inputs was also challenging.
We hired a few full-time marketing professionals, and together we went through various experimentations/iterations on email, content, and social media marketing. But the learning on how to promote Aircto through Twitter, LinkedIn, SEO and Google ad campaigns has been tremendous,” says Atif.
Getting the first customer
Aircto’s first customer, Ithaka ( ithaka.travel), was one they acquired through email marketing. Aircto’s experts interviewed four candidates who applied for the post of Ithaka’s lead frontend engineer and hired one of them based on feedback.
At present, Aircto has 21 customers which include Citrix, Haptik, Innoplexus, YallaSpree, bon happetee and Bang the Table. The pricing varies based on the job positions — entry level (Rs 899), mid-level (Rs 1,399) and senior level (Rs 2,499). The startup also has a bulk subscription plan where one can book six interviews (irrespective of type) in advance and avail a 10 percent discount on the total cost.
Slow and steady growth
Operational in Bengaluru, Aircto has an in-house team of eight which consists of API engineers, frontend engineers, digital marketers and content writers. In terms of revenue, the company is growing at a rate of 15–20 percent. In the coming 6–12 months, the startup plans to strengthen the engineering and business teams, and grow customer base and product acceptability by 60–70 percent.
Hiring today is not only about sourcing, interviewing candidates, and filling vacancies; it is about making the right match of the required job role to a candidate’s capability and vice versa. Organisations increasingly look for a quality talent pool for their open positions.
By leveraging social media, digital media, data analytics, and big data, a few startups are changing business intelligence in the domain of recruitment. Hiree, an Android app, enables recruiters to connect with candidates via calls, WhatsApp, SMS, email and scheduled meetings. It managed to raise Rs 18 crore from IDG Ventures as follow up series-A funding. Bengaluru-based Venturesity allows companies to post challenges, as opposed to just job descriptions, to job seekers. The company raised $ 2,50,000 in angel funding. HackerEarth helps startups find the right technical talent. Talview provides digital interviewing software to its clients.