When a large private sector bank found that there were glaring gaps in the perceived performance of prospective employees at the interview stage, and their actual on-ground performance after hiring, they decided to take another look at how to optimise the talent acquisition process, since it was impacting their bottom line.
With the help of a customised assessments and talent analytics solution from Mumbai-based AssessHub, the bank identified the fitment of talent across six different roles in its branch banking business. As a result, in six months, the accuracy with which they could predict a candidate’s performance at the hiring stage went up to 72 percent. What’s more, even their sourcing cost came down by 30 percent as a single candidate was offered multiple roles based on their assessment scores and predictive analytics.
“There is a method to our madness. Our secret sauce is made from a mix of content, technology and deep analytics,” says Twinkle Shah, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), AssessHub. A B2B SaaS platform that uses assessment science and predictive analytics to help companies hire, train and retain the right talent, AssessHub was founded in 2013 by Amit Desai (Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer (CRO), a husband and wife team which believes it has found the Holy Grail to help companies make better talent decisions.
Gut-based decisions instead of data-based choices lead to talent gaps
In their previous ventures, where the duo was involved with startups, they had seen how challenging it was to identify the right talent for the right job. “Based on our interactions with over 500 customers, it was very clear that the model used to recruit, train and develop people was broken and highly subjective. Even after spending millions on training and development, companies were not able to ascertain how people could perform to their potential. We understood that this was largely due to a completely non-standardised approach where decisions were gut-based and not data-based, ad hoc and not correlated with on the ground performance,” says Amit.
Confident about their ability to fix this setup, Amit and Twinkle turned to progressive technology in the form of big data analytics, machine learning, and business intelligence coupled with assessment science to plug these gaps. They founded AssessHub ‘to help organisations find better talent and help individuals find the right careers using newer technology and with minimal human intervention’.
“Customers are troubled with bad hires, lack of productivity and lower retention rates. We step in and use our secret sauce to help them reduce bad hires by 90 percent,” says Amit
Explaining their approach, he says, “AssessHub helps them by assessing role-relevant skills and using machine learning and deep analytics to predict a candidate’s success in the role, thereby improving revenue per person and productivity per person.” It also helps companies retain talent and reduces the turnover rate.
The customised assessments include areas such as psychometric profiling (aptitude, reasoning and personality profiling), technical tests (coding simulator and coding fundamentals), proficiency tests for written and spoken English, functional tests across sales, customer service, marketing, accounts, operations, among others, campus recruitment tests for new hires and virtual assessment centres and 360-degree performance feedback for employee development.
How machine learning and AI can help companies derive bottom line value
Their proprietary solution consists of three parts: assessment science, data intelligence and technology. For company-specific data intelligence, they create success profiles using a score v/s performance model, gathering insights based on company-specific talent data and creating an organisation-specific talent pool.
“As more people take the assessment, the system gets better at predicting, in turn enriching company-specific data. The assessment is designed on globally-proven scientific theories and is statistically validated. The technology platform delivers assessments without any human intervention and uses machine learning and a deep analytics-driven methodology to predict performance,” says Twinkle.
Their data analysis algorithm layer helps capture and process information more efficiently, which enables the engine to pick the right assessment for each candidate, and after the assessment the analytics platform works towards correlating employee progress and performance across the employee life-cycle.
Twinkle believes that the assessment landscape in India is a fragmented space even today. “Earlier, it was custom assessment, then came benchmarked talent, and now there are solutions that use machine learning and artificial intelligence. Tomorrow, it might be robotics or teleportation. All these can only be useful if companies have data. In the Indian context there are not many companies that have a ‘data first’ or a deep analytics-driven mindset. Culturally, we are more a gut-based society than a data-based society. These companies need to find a meaningful way to use machine learning and artificial intelligence to derive real bottom line value,” says the CEO.
Going all in with their passion and convictions
And AssessHub, according to Amit, has found a way to successfully do this. Their passion and conviction about changing the landscape saw them bootstrapping till they had a minimum viable product. “It was an all-in game, which included us using up all our liquid and semi-liquid assets consisting of flats, equity shares and mutual funds to the tune of Rs 2 crore,” he says. Following that, they raised Rs 2.5 crore in angel investment in 2016.
Today, they help over 100 companies in 14 countries make more informed hiring decisions through well-rounded assessments that cover the functional, technical, cognitive and behavioural aspects and effectively assess a candidate’s role relevant skills and competencies.
The numbers speak for themselves. Since the last three years, their revenue has been growing at a rate of 3x YoY and the company targets reaching the Rs 5 crore mark this financial year. The number of customers has doubled and the number of assessments they perform has grown five times.
The programme that changed the course of their lives
According to the duo, NASSCOM 10,000 Startups has played a significant role in helping them reach where they are today. “Within two months of being chosen for NASSCOM 10,000 Startups, we had four offers from traditional VCs. In the third month, we were connected to prominent angels, and raised our seed round.” Apart from this, the free office space (they were incubated at the Bangalore warehouse for NASSCOM 10,000 Startups), the free IT infrastructure credits worth lakhs from Google and AWS, and access to industry experts and mentors all facilitated their growth, says Amit.
They were also part of Innotrek 2018, an invitation-only programme, where a delegation of Indian startups get a chance to visit Silicon Valley. The programme gave them access to strong mentoring sessions from industry stalwarts, learning opportunities with company visits to Google, Nvidia, and Unity, exposure to investment firms, angels and accelerators and legal support for making a transition in the right manner. “Innotrek 2018 was a life-altering experience, and is probably the best programme around for a startup that has strong customer base and decent revenue and is planning to make a cross-border switch. We were able to figure out the answer to one of the most important questions for us, namely, "Should we only focus on India at the moment or make inroads into the US market?" says Amit
The adventurers set their sights on the world
With an 18-member strong team, AssessHub now has offices in India, US, and Dubai, and customers across 14 countries. Their future growth roadmap sees them moving towards creating an organisation- specific pre-assessed talent pool that uses gamified assessment to measure role relevant skills delivered in a mobile-first environment and operating on a strong ML and AI backbone.
Both Amit and Twinkle have over 14 years of experience in the technology industry. Twinkle, who holds a Masters in Technology from Indian Institute of Management and Technical Studies, Chennai, was involved with managing large scale technology operations and conceptualising and developing technology-enabled HR platforms. Amit, who holds an MBA from University of Technology, Sydney, was in charge of HR solutions for a global technology company for five years.
The duo are avid travellers and adventure sports enthusiasts, who’ve been to over 20 countries and done everything, from bungee jumping, deep sea diving, surfing, mountain biking, skiing and sky diving. They also bring this passion to take on newer challenges to their work as well.
“At AssessHub, we firmly believe in executing for today, and building for tomorrow. This thought has helped us build a DNA of constantly striving for newer and better ways of arriving at the same result. We are passionate about creating an India-based product company, which is loved by the world,” says Twinkle.