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'Artificial Intelligence and analytics are the driving factors in HR Technology world'- Arjun Pratap, Founder and CEO, EdGE Networks

"Today, there is a shift in focus from a system of automation and record to system of engagement. This has resulted in the genesis of People Management systems which are employee-centric with focus on empowerment, learning, retention, outcome. Hence HR is looking for solutions that build engagement and not just those that are easy to integrate, as it was a few years ago. HR Technology industry has evolved to cater to this need. It has experienced growth and consolidation every time there is wave of innovation. Today, Artificial Intelligence and analytics are the driving factors in HR Technology world with cloud and social becoming a hygiene factor." Arjun Pratap, Founder and CEO, EdGE Networks.


Arjun Pratap-Founder & CEO, EdGE Networks
EdGE Networks was founded in 2012. We are a next-gen HR technology solutions provider, offering solutions to large organizations for their most pressing HR challenges. Our strength is in harnessing Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Data Science to solve the toughest talent acquisition and workforce optimization challenges faced by organizations.

In an exclusive interview with Startup Terminal; Arjun Pratap, Founder and CEO, EdGE Networks shares more insights about his venture and future goals.

Excerpts

ST: What inspired you to make your mark in the field of entrepreneurship? 

Arjun Pratap: A huge portion of my career has been associated with startups and entrepreneurs. In fact, my first stint as an employee was with a startup in Australia, to which I owe my DNA in entrepreneurship.

I’ve always wanted to start something on my own and the issue of skilling youth was what stirred me the most. I started my entrepreneurial journey with a digital learning platform, aimed at creating a more industry-ready youth population, that would enable our country to leverage the demographic dividend. However, challenges along the way made me change direction and look at the problem statement differently. 

It was during my first venture that I realized the scope and need for next gen HR technology solutions – and how it would help organizations build future ready workforces.  And this led to the start of my next venture.

This venture was built on the premise of a powerful search and match and how that could alleviate search friction for people and jobs using technology. We started with resumes and job descriptions being the start point and our ability to build technology to read and match the two like a fantastic hiring manager. This led to building an HR technology platform, backed by Artificial Intelligence, Data Science, Analytics and Machine Learning that would enable workforce transformation.


ST: When did you start your venture? Please tell us more about your venture.

Arjun Pratap: EdGE Networks was founded in 2012. We are a next-gen HR technology solutions provider, offering solutions to large organizations for their most pressing HR challenges. Our strength is in harnessing Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Data Science to solve the toughest talent acquisition and workforce optimization challenges faced by organizations.

Our unique value proposition to clients is that we use Natural Language Processing (NLP) Algorithms with a Data Science and AI based approach to analyze job descriptions and profiles/resumes, and provide a scored and stack ranked set of people for the job in question. This is further bolstered with our ability to do this for an internal workforce and to acquire talent from portals. Done using advanced technology with minimum human intervention - the disruption we create is the value of time and accuracy, delivered consistently.

While our product and solutions are based on some of the most cutting-edge technologies, we have also worked towards creating a responsible and agile organization that is ready to partner with customers to build game changing HR tech solutions.

Our key distinctive offerings include the following:

HIREalchemy is our innovative Talent Acquisition Product that enables the search, rank and recruitment of talent with amazing ease and accuracy.

Our Talent Analytics Suite helps in predicting attrition, forecasting resource demand and more – enabling fact-based decision making across the HR value chain.

Our Workforce Optimization Solution forms the intelligence layer on top of HR systems and helps effective organization building.

ST: What business opportunities do you see particularly in your sector?

Arjun Pratap: HR Technology market, the one we operate in, is worth USD 15 billion. The industry is undergoing a disruptive change owing to digital technologies and the millennial workforce. The industry comprises of multiple segments: Talent Management Tools, Recruitment Platforms, Application Tracking Systems, Learning Management Systems, Engagement Platforms, etc.

Today, there is a shift in focus from a system of automation and record to system of engagement. This has resulted in the genesis of People Management systems which are employee-centric with focus on empowerment, learning, retention, outcome. Hence HR is looking for solutions that build engagement and not just those that are easy to integrate, as it was a few years ago. HR Technology industry has evolved to cater to this need. It has experienced growth and consolidation every time there is wave of innovation. Today, Artificial Intelligence and analytics are the driving factors in HR Technology world with cloud and social becoming a hygiene factor.

AI is a force that will drive the new employment economy. From talent acquisition and workforce optimization to workforce transformation, AI will act as a strategic enabler to HR and get them a seat at the strategy table. Attached is an infographic that depicts the transformation in a CHRO’s role and in turn the HR function.


ST: How has been your entrepreneurship journey so far? 

Arjun Pratap: This has been a great journey so far – full of great learning, people, and experiences.

From the start, our strength is in harnessing data science and AI to solve HR’s toughest Talent Acquisition and Workforce Optimization challenges. Our GPU-accelerated machine learning based platform provides outstanding speed and accuracy benefits. What attracts large HR related firms to collaborate with us is our ability to act as an intelligence layer on top of their existing solution/service. The intelligence for the search & match comes from EdGE Graph - a repository of 800K connected nodes built from 4 MN JDs and 20 MN profiles.

We have grown steadily since our inception in 2012. Having established a strong base in the Indian market with 2 of the Top 5 Indian IT firms and Top 10 global IT firm as our clients, we have forayed into NA and UK market. We have stationed sales representatives in each of these markets. As part of our GTM strategy, we have built an ecosystem of partners that complements our solution.

We believe in ‘Design Thinking’ principle of innovation where we have ‘People’ at the heart of everything we do. We espouse a human-centered, creative, iterative, and practical approach to finding the best ideas and ultimate solutions to most pressing of business problems. All this, with the goal of impacting the balance sheet of our customers – an impact at a strategic level. While there is uniqueness in every feature of our product and solution, be it in the underlying technology, process, UI/UX or the feature itself, here are some examples of innovative product features that we have implemented and received global recognition for.

All of this has culminated in some prestigious and notable market validations through award wins. We recently won the UK’s India Emerging Twenty (IE20) Awards 2017 created by London & Partners and launched by the Mayor of London. IE20 has identified EdGE as one the top 20 high-growth companies in India with huge potential to scale globally.

In the past few months, we have also received awards and including the Technology Fast 50 India 2016 awards by Deloitte and MIDAS 2016, NASSCOM Emerge 2016 Awards in its list of top 50 emerging startups in India (featured among the “League of 10”), Best Show Award at NVDIA GTCx – India 2016.

ST: As an entrepreneur, what challenges do you face in your day to day professional life, if any?

Arjun Pratap: Scaling a business is an area of challenge for most startups founders. With scale comes product decisions, team size, quality and timing decisions and more. Fortunately for me, I have a talented and professional team who I include in my decision making and working through problems.

ST: How big is your team? Are you planning to hire more?

Arjun Pratap: Currently, we are a team of 67 and counting. At EdGE, we have Product Management, UI/UX, Devops, Sales and Marketing, Customer Success Management, Analytics and Testing functions as distinct contributors - with finance and HR to power us. We are also fortunate to have a stellar team of data scientists, full stack engineers and super sales representatives to engage with product and customers to build that dream team.

We also have EdGE Labs where we unlock data science secrets – make sense of emerging patterns and trends – in order to innovate and help our customers make strategic and informed decisions.

ST: What are your future plans? 

Arjun Pratap: The next few years will be very exciting in our journey as we plan to enter different domains, geographies and partnerships. We believe we have a terrific opportunity to build the intelligence layer across legacy HR systems that can’t be replaced. Also, to replace systems that have workflows that are soon being built with a better experience across our platform; these could be the HCMs and the ATS’ of the world. We are also working on a stream of super innovations that will strengthen our offerings to clients and impact customers’ business outcomes. We have recently won the Deloitte-MIDAS award 2016 and the India Emerging Twenty (IE20) Awards 2017 by London & Partners. This will facilitate our entry into the UK in the next 6 months. Also, we have been selected into the Google Launchpad Accelerator (batch 4) program and via this prestigious program we are expecting to make a mark in the USA too.

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