How these IIT alumni built an AI-powered startup to help businesses optimise hiring

Bengaluru startup Skillate is a B2B SaaS platform that helps enterprises optimise their hiring process by leveraging the power of AI. The team recently raised $1 million pre-Series A funding.

Waiting for that one call or email from a company to let you know if you’ve been selected or not can be stressful. The entire process is long and tedious, and can be blamed on the fact that large corporates receive millions of applications every year and don’t have the time and bandwidth to respond to each candidate at every stage of the hiring process. But can’t the hiring process be more transparent?

This thought led IIT-Guwahati alumni Bipul Vaibhav and Kumar Sambhav, and ex-Tracxn member Anand Kumar to start Skillate in 2016. The Bengaluru-based startup provides a B2B SaaS application that helps enterprises optimise the hiring process with the power of artificial intelligence (AI).

Team Skillate


The Skillate platform helps enterprises in AI-powered job posting, job candidate matching, candidate screening conversations with the help of chatbot, automatic interview scheduling, and onboarding a candidate.

“Skillate application reduces the screening time by 95 percent, increasing the overall candidate conversion efficiency by 2X and reducing the hiring cost by 30 percent,” Bipul says.

The team, which began with the idea of building software that would give recruiters and companies a better hiring experience and make their recruitment process easy, fast, and transparent, has already processed 2.2 million resumes till now. This number is increasing by 10 percent every month.

The Skillate team claims to be working with 13 enterprise customers, including OYO Rooms, Yes Bank, RBL Banks, and L&T Construction. It works on a yearly subscription model for small, medium, and large accounts.

The funding

In October 2017, Skillate had raised a seed round of funding from Incubate Fund. The funding was utilised to build product and sales. The team has now raised $1 million from Mynavi Corporation, Whatfix founders, a few angels and existing investors Incubate Fund and others.

We now have a team size of 15 people, and are planning to increase it to 40 by next year,” Bipul says.

Speaking on the investment, Hidekazu Ito, Managing Director, Mynavi Corporation India, says: “Mynavi is a leading HR advertising and job portal company in Japan. We just started overseas expansion and entered the India market via investment. We found the Indian hiring process really tough as compared to Japan, and so wanted to invest in a good Indian HR tech startup. We met the Skillate team and found them passionate. They have very good developers and are solving hiring problems with strong AI capabilities, which gave me the confidence to invest in Skillate. I am looking forward to working closely with the Skillate team and building the best hiring solutions for the future.”

Model and working

For small businesses, the team charges, $10,000, for medium enterprises $25,000, and for large enterprises, custom pricing depends on the offers and package. The pricing depends on headcount, hirings made in a year, number of resumes the company processes in a year, database size of resumes, and the number of chatbox conversations triggered.

Skillate, which helps enterprises to optimise the overall recruitment process with AI, says its product can be used standalone or can be integrated with existing enterprise recruitment software like SuccessFactors (a SAP product) and Taleo (an Oracle product).

The overall working process is divided into five steps:

1.  Smart job posting: The platform provides AI-powered job writers, which help recruiters in posting a better job description that contains the right words and appeals to potential candidates.

2.  Powerful matching: After posting a job description, thousands of candidates apply and the powerful matching comes into play. The platform uses NLP and Deep Learning to deeply understand jobs and resumes, and provide matches. This provides a matching analytics layer on top, which gives further confidence to recruiters in shortlisting the candidates. 

3.  Phone screening: After powerful matching, an AI-based chatbot automatically reaches out to the top-ranked candidates and does the phone screening call to further qualify them.

“The combination of phone screening and powerful matching helps companies in reducing the candidate screening time by 95 percent. So, once recruiters land on the Skillate platform, they already know the best matching candidates, according to skills, experience, budget, and job activeness. This also helps the companies in reducing their hiring costs by 30 percent,” Bipul says.

4.  Updated database: Another use case of the chatbot is in keeping the internal database of the company fresh. This helps organisations to focus and depend more on their internal resume repositories and save significant cost and time.

5.  Self-learning: Once the candidate is shortlisted/rejected, the machine learns very fast with time, and starts recommending candidates according to a company’s hiring pattern.

6.  Interview scheduling and candidate onboarding: Companies can start engaging with the right candidates by scheduling interviews and giving feedback. They can also roll out the candidate offer letter smoothly through the platform.

How does it help?

“Skillate reduces the screening time by 95 percent, and brings in 2X increase in candidate’s conversion rate. The chatbot also helps keep internal databases updated; this, in turn, reduces cost. It can also make your existing ATS (SuccessFactors, Taleo, etc.) smarter by the smooth API integration without ATS replacement and hassles,” Bipul explains.

Speaking of their investment in Skillate, Nao Murakami, General Partner, Incubate Fund India says: “As one of the first believers of Skillate, we have been working closely with the founders. They have shown strong product development capability and created a great product. We believe the PMF stage is over for them since all their paying clients came as inbound leads and all of them are happy with the product.”

Market and the future

According to a 2015 KPMG report, the recruitment industry was at $1 billion. And yet, less than 10 percent of this has been captured by any structured organised player. There are several startups operating in the space, including Matrix Partners-backed Belong, Fosun RZ Capital-backed Kredily and others like nTalents, Worxogo, and Sequoia-backed Darwinbox.

Speaking of their future plans, Bipul says: “We are looking at expansion in the overseas market, starting with North America, with help of inside sales and reseller strategy. We want to invest in AI to make the existing model robust and strong. We are keen to add more features to the product with advanced analytics to help organisations in taking talent decisions.”

Skillate is also planning to expand the team in data science, product, and sales.

“We are looking to collaborate with other AI and ML tools with good synergy and provide better service to our customers,” Bipul says.

(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)


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