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Bash uses artificial intelligence and big data to power a virtual assistant to drive HR for businesses

"Currently, a majority of softwares/ technologies used in the HR function facilitate only non- employee facing activities i.e. back-end functions. There are limited technologies in place that facilitate or assist interactions between the HR function and employees, and all interactions are manually managed, e.g. HR queries, notifications to employees on HR updates etc. We believe that employee experiences shouldn't be compromised. Bash ensures that it improves overall HR processes and employee experiences, in turn making employees more productive." Barkha Sharma, Founder & CEO, Bash



Barkha Sharma, Founder & CEO, Bash 
Bash was launched in March 2017 in New Delhi-NCR. It uses artificial intelligence and big data to power a virtual assistant to drive HR for businesses. Bash mimics cognitive functions related to the HR function using a rule based AI powered bot. With Bash’s user-friendly front-end chat interface built specifically for HR, it gives organizations a highly accurate and real-time way to automate conversations with employees within an organization's intranet. It can also be accessed using instant messenger platforms such as Facebook Messenger, Slack, Telegram, Kik, Google and Microsoft’s Skype.

In an exclusive interview with Startup Terminal; Barkha Sharma, Founder & CEO, Bash shares more insights about her startup and future plans.



Excerpts:

ST: What inspired you to make your mark in the field of entrepreneurship?
Barkha Sharma: It was the coming together of a few instances that resulted in the founding of Bash. However, a particular incident which took place at one of my previous workplaces got me thinking about the need for technological advancement in HR. 

It was only during my notice period did I find out about the option of leaving office early by raising a simple request. Upon finding out about this HR policy, I approached the HR department to understand how I'd missed this. The HR department informed me that this was a policy that “everyone knew about”. I, then, realized that had it been a bot in question, I would have heard about the policy during on-boarding. This got me thinking about the need for advanced technologies in the field of HR and how it could change the way HR functions. That's how Bash was conceptualized.

ST: When did you start your venture? Please tell us more about your venture.
Barkha Sharma: Currently, a majority of softwares/ technologies used in the HR function facilitate only non- employee facing activities i.e. back-end functions. There are limited technologies in place that facilitate or assist interactions between the HR function and employees, and all interactions are manually managed, e.g. HR queries, notifications to employees on HR updates etc. We believe that employee experiences shouldn't be compromised. Bash ensures that it improves overall HR processes and employee experiences, in turn making employees more productive.

Bash was launched in March 2017 in New Delhi-NCR. It uses artificial intelligence and big data to power a virtual assistant to drive HR for businesses. Bash mimics cognitive functions related to the HR function using a rule based AI powered bot. With Bash’s user-friendly front-end chat interface built specifically for HR, it gives organizations a highly accurate and real-time way to automate conversations with employees within an organization's intranet. It can also be accessed using instant messenger platforms such as Facebook Messenger, Slack, Telegram, Kik, Google and Microsoft’s Skype.

It helps employees organize their HR activities, answers questions related to pay slips, company leave policies and perks, among a host of other functions. For the HR team, Bash assists in processing all essential HR functions and helps elevate current efforts throughout an organization. Bash processes general inquiries and assists with real-time grievances management by providing insights and reports leading to increased workplace productivity.

ST: What business opportunities do you see particularly in your sector?
Barkha Sharma: We've currently partnered with over 8 companies and their HR functions across India. Over the course of the year, we aim to become the preferred choice for HR across companies for chat based modules and leveraging advanced artificial intelligence (AI). As AI and IMs (instant messaging) continue to grow in India across sectors, there is immense room for growth for AI in HR.

Additionally, the HR function is the backbone of any organization and an effective HR translates into an effective organization which builds workforces equipped to maximize workplace productivity. We believe that the future of the workplace will be overwhelmingly powered by artificial intelligence and we're focused on making Bash the leader in this space.

ST: How has your entrepreneurship journey been so far?
Barkha Sharma: Having started Bash only a couple of months ago, it has been overwhelming to see the fantastic initial response we've got from industry leaders and organizations. It keeps me going and firms up my belief in always staying focused on the product and the goals that we have in place. Our team comes with an insider experience on what is missing. We're extremely focused on fixing the problem at hand and filling the technological gap. I think its important to believe in yourself and also have a longer term vision. After all, Rome wasn't built in a day.

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

Barkha Sharma: While there is no average day at Bash, a typical day involves working very closely with the tech and product development team and ensuring our marketing and operations efforts are in-line with our long term goals. One of the biggest challenges has been finding the right talent to bring on board. Although, there is an increasing need for a skilled workforce in the area of AI and machine learning, it is always a challenge finding the right talent for AI based roles in India. Having said that, we ensure that we find brilliant people to join our team.

ST: How big is your team? Are you planning to hire more?
Barkha Sharma: Currently, our team is 14 people strong, mostly comprised of product developers, account managers and marketing folks spread out across Delhi-NCR and Ahmedabad. Over the course of the next few months, we plan to bring on board a few more developers. We are currently hiring fresh graduates for our operations team.

ST: What are your future plans?
Barkha Sharma: For the next few months, we're laying a lot of emphasis on adding 2 more modules along with introducing improvements to the existing modules. We see the potential in our product making inroads into smaller teams/ organizations - going beyond big enterprises. Small and medium sized businesses don’t invest heavily in HR mainly due to lack of funds and Bash offers immense return on investment for them.


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