If you are a professional recruiter, you would have agonised over hiring decisions at some stage in your career. Questions on the right candidature, skill sets, cost-to-company, and more would have plagued you and your organisation. Good talent is hard to come by. Increasingly so, as numbers suggest.
The State of Talent Acquisition in India 2018 report by HR tech firm Mettl reveals that over 85 percent of business organisations in India list ‘acquiring good talent’ as one of its top three challenges. The problem is particularly pressing in metros and Tier 1 cities, where close to 90 percent of businesses admit to facing “a massive shortage of high-skilled, mid-level talent”.
Enter, HyreFox, an online HR marketplace that connects employers with professional recruitment consultants and headhunters from across India.
HyreFox was co-founded by Prateek Jain, Navaldeep Singh, who has 16 years of combined experience in HR and recruitment, and Aditya Kedia, who brings 15+ years of experience in IT and artificial intelligence (AI) last year.
The startup launched operations in May 2018, and has already aggregated over 150 recruitment vendors, and closed 900+ positions for over 70 organisations across India.
The Ola for recruiters
The Jaipur-based startup follows the Ola model of aggregation. It brings together recruitment service providers and headhunters under a single web-based platform that serves as a one-stop-shop for employers/businesses.
The platform a) fulfils multi-level (freshers, mid-management, leadership group) hiring needs, b) reduces talent acquisition costs for headhunters, c) improves transparency in the entire recruitment process, and d) helps organisations close vacancies much faster.
HyreFox claims a “monthly revenue opportunity” of $6.5 million, with its biggest clients coming from India’s IT-BPO and ecommerce sectors. Companies include Infosys, TCS, Genpact, OYO, Swiggy, Zomato, Haptik, UrbanClap, CarDekho, Dineout, and others. It pockets 30 percent of the platform fee these businesses pay. The rest goes to the headhunters.
“It all started when we struggled with hiring in our own organisations. Nobody understood what we were looking for and that frustration led us to Naukri.com and other job portals. But, we realised that there was a huge demand-supply gap,” Prateek Jain, Co-founder & CEO, HyreFox tells YourStory.
“Campus hiring is only for freshers, and organisations are heavily dependent on recruitment consultants for mid-level or top-level hiring. These employers work with only 4-5 vendors, and that limits their access to talent. They get either quantity or quality, not both.”
And, that is the core problem HyreFox set out to fix.
We are working towards the democratisation of the recruitment industry, the founders say. By aggregating consultants and headhunters from across locations, Hyrefox plans to become the “face of recruitment” for employers.
Their platform makes the HR paperwork more streamlined, and delivers candidates at a much faster rate. “We are removing bottlenecks from the system. From sourcing to shortlisting, our turnaround time is only about 20 percent of what it was earlier,” Prateek reveals. “Plus, being an aggregator, we can manage bulk demand much better that individual vendors.”
The unique use of AI
One of the key aspects of HyreFox’s offering is the use of AI, which is increasingly gaining acceptance in the HR industry. A recent Deloitte survey found that about 40 percent of companies are using AI in HR, or are contemplating using it.
Aditya Kedia, Hyrefox Co-Founder & CTO, explains, “HR is a collaborative and human-centric process. Whenever that is the case, it is very disorganised. So, AI can help you organise the data.”
HyreFox has built an Integrated Applicant Tracking System that comes with AI-enabled video interview apps and recruitment chatbots for employers. The software tracks and manages every conversation that happens between the candidate and the recruiter. All communication - phone calls, emails, messages, video interviews, social media interactions - is centralised.
“Recruiters end up talking to 40-50 candidates on a daily basis. It's impossible for them to recollect every conversation minutely. Plus, there are multiple people talking to the same candidate at different stages of the hiring process. Hence, our tech plays a major role in improving the recall value, and in turn, increases candidate satisfaction.”
HyreFox says the AI-enabled platform helps “uplift the role of employers”: they are not left with just clerical operations — a lot of HR is just that — but can engage themselves in actual areas of expertise, have better conversations with candidates, and, basically, hire more efficiently.
However, despite all the wonders of AI, the founders insist that HR will continue to be defined by human intervention. AI can, at best, reduce human errors and organise processes. “AI will only assist you. But, you will always be in charge. The hiring process will not happen through an algorithm. It is the human being who has to take the right decision,” explains Prateek.
Funding and the HR tech landscape
Last October, HyreFox won a grant of Rs 15 lakh from the Rajasthan government under its iStart programme. It also raised Rs 50 lakh from an undisclosed angel investor, and is gearing up for a pre-Series A round of $2.5 million. The founders reveal that they are in conversations with HNI investors from Silicon Valley as well as with the India Angel Network, and TiE Delhi.
With fresh capital, HyreFox will increase its team size from around 50 to 200 in a year, and will widen its vendor network to 1,000. There are also plans to set up offices in Delhi, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad to drive sales and marketing.
While opportunities abound in HR tech, which is estimated to be a $34 billion global industry by 2021, HyreFox is not the only player in the market.
It competes with AasaanJobs (even though it is an online aggregator for only blue-collar staffing), QuezX (recently acquired by ABC Consulting), and Recruiting Hub (primarily focused on hiring in the IT industry).
But the founders are confident that HR tech is not a winner-takes-all market, and there is enough space for 2-3 players to establish themselves. “By 2025, India is poised to become the sixth largest HR tech market in the world. We are looking at that," says Aditya.