1 November 2018
Tell us about your entrepreneurial journey and how MeVitae began?
The idea behind MeVitae was a pure act of serendipity. I didn’t want to be an entrepreneur; I didn’t understand it. The journey began with my Co-Founder Vivek, decided he would like to work for Microsoft. He was also looking to find a better way of grabbing their attention, rather than via the traditional recruitment process. We spent 2 days building Vivek’s CV onto a Window’s Store App. It wasn’t a great start as it initially got rejected. However, when we opened the app for others to add CVs, within a few weeks we had 50k+ downloads, climbing ~100 a day, and all of a sudden we became the number 1 Windows Store App. It was only then that we realised we had something special. After researching the HR world and realising how fragmented it was, MeVitae was born!
What do you aim to achieve with MeVitae?
There are 2 aims for MeVitae. The first to be the most sophisticated HR technology company, solving the biggest challenges companies face today. In particular, increasing the diversity of the workforce and shortlisting top extraordinary talent.
The second aim which is the real vision of the company and a passion of mine, is to use our technology to unleash human potential. We want to help unlock human potential by using augmented intelligence, and at the same time enhance people’s decision-making to compensate for the limitations of our brain e.g. unconscious bias.
What makes you stand out from the crowd/your competitors?
Our deep tech is our biggest USP. We are currently based at Harwell and were part of European Space Agency incubator, and consequently our deep tech has a combination of space technology, neuroscience technology, machine learning and more. Our technology is our biggest driver and we’ve spent 4 years building it from the ground up. Spending this amount of time has allowed us to really focus and build robust tech.
The solution we currently offer is the ability to shop list top diverse talent. In the HR world a recruiter may take 6 seconds to look at a CV, our aim at MeVitae is to do 600 CVs in 6 seconds and at the same time increase diversity. Our system adapts and tailors itself to the companies we are working with, which sets us apart from the competition.
What is your view of the Tech landscape, especially in London?
It’s a very complicated convoluted landscape, there are some very interesting dynamics in Tech, and it’s an exciting time of change. There are lots of co-working spaces e.g. WeWorks and its here where top tech talent and exciting tech start-ups are merging.
In the HR world, there is currently a huge war on talent between corporates and start-ups.
Previously corporates were the winners, now however, there is a shift in dynamics, and people want to work for start-ups. There has always been strong synergies between corporates and start-ups by collaborating on work and accelerating innovation. But this now changing, which will rock the world of how we solve challenges. For example the surge in new accelerators will allow start-ups to be more agile. It really is a very exciting time to be starting and growing your Tech Company.
What are some of the most exciting innovations you have come across in your space?
Within the recruitment landscape there are bubbles of technologies and sectors. Everything from job boards to application tracking systems, and all have specific niches of technology and innovation. What I’ve seen in the HR world are waves of trends, for example, using social media to find and source talent on Facebook and LinkedIn. The latest wave is focussing on how we can increase diversity in the workplace. Other waves, are in augmented intelligence using algorithms to shortlist talent. The most sophisticated I’ve seen so far, use keyword matching. Another HR development is in the form of setting and removing biases from the recruitment process, video interviewing and more.
With all these new innovative techniques emerging there is a big pivotal change in HRTech. What will be the real game changer, is that HR has only just woken up to the power of technology in optimising the hiring process. Previously it really was machine v humans and now the question is ‘how can we use technology to augment the decision making’.
What are the biggest challenges tech start-ups and early stage businesses should prepare themselves for, post Brexit?
It’s the talent crisis which is the biggest worry, not just in the tech space but also the broader STEM sector. There is a huge need for nurses, doctors and we clearly have a short supply of developers. With Brexit on the horizon, there’s going to be a real challenge in terms of, how do we keep talent and attract new talent from abroad. That’s a huge potential talent pool being missed out.
There are lots of discussions on how to upskill talent, and it really is about changing a number of key areas. For example, relooking at the education system and teaching people to code from an early age. At the moment there is a real gap between education and employment, for example, we need more data scientist yet there are very few data science courses. Industry is clearly moving much quicker than education and so there isn’t much we can do, other that upskill or bring skilled people from abroad. It’s essentially about how we prepare ourselves, buy allowing movement of talent and the policies and regulations around that. If this doesn’t happen we’ll lose a lot of gifted people who are desperately needed by tech start-ups.
How easy/difficult is it to raise finance in London in 2018?
If you are prepared and if you know what you’re doing it’s easy. However, that’s a big cliché which is very hard to fulfil. For MeVitae, honestly, it was the first time we had raised investment and it was much harder than we thought it would be. There are lots of areas that as a first time fundraiser you simply are not aware, such as, how much shall I raise, where do I go for the investment ( angel, seed rounds, VC’s/PE or institutions etc.). It’s also about finding investors who fit your profile, who care about your business and will help when needed. You don’t only want only money you want vital support such as mentoring, finding the right fit from both ends, is key to your future growth. One of our mistakes was to raise investment at the wrong time, I.e. summer time is when everyone is on holiday and it was October when the ball rolling. There are times to raise and times not too, for example completing before the SEIS/EIS April deadline. It also takes a huge amount of time to get the pitch deck right and to actually pitch it right. So the question is, do I use that time raising investment, or getting clients so I don’t have to raise.
So in answer to the question, it is easy but it’s also difficult too. It all depends on timing, how much to raise, your track record and knowing what you’re doing. If you have a network of investors already then it’s so much easier. Fundraising was my biggest growth, I learned a lot about myself and learned new skills such as pitching. There is a beautiful quote which says ‘failing isn’t failing, it is your first attempt at learning’….that is exactly how it was for me.
What advice would you give to new start-ups about to raise investment?
Put together a list of all the VC firms and key people you can reach out to for potential investment. Then narrow it down to those who match the amount you want to raise, ignoring those who offer a different amount. Next find people who can introduce you to the VC Funds/angel investors.
Always have multiple versions of your deck, and tailor it to the people you are pitching too, so they hear what is relevant to them and not what you want to say. Also the Due Diligence process is not straight forward and there are lots of documents which need to be produced. This saves a huge amount of time and looks impressive when you are asked and can send immediately. At the end of the day it’s all about confidence. Know what you are doing and where you want to go.
How do you see the AI landscape developing over the next 5 years?
The AI landscape is developing fast and will continue to do so over the next 5 yrs. Currently AI influences various sectors from Medtech, Fintech and HRTech. For some there is a huge worry AI is going to take over, dominate and replace humans. However, over the next 5 years I really don’t see this happening. I think it’s about AI helping with tasks, allowing us humans to spend more time on important issues. For example, having AI do general tasks allows a company to spend more time on areas such as, interviewing instead of looking at 100s of CVs. Therefore, I see AI more as a form of collaboration for the next couple of years which will optimise the choices we make.
How did you find the start-up clinic, was it useful?
I think it’s phenomenal. It really is important to get outside perspective, as many of us spend so much time in our own little world. It is beneficial to take a step back and look at the bigger picture, which is not easy to do as a start-up. Having someone to actually guide you and ask the questions is priceless. The contacts the mentors have are invaluable and they have introduced me to so many people I would never have be able to reach out too.
The one hour start-up clinic is the start of a lifetime, it changes how you think and how you structure your company. That’s how fantastic it is! Anyone who is considering attending, 100% should! You will never lose anything, only gain a huge amount in the start-up clinic session.