A great startup involves a great idea, hard work and lot of passion towards work. In our series ‘Superhero of Startup’ we appreciate the effort a team does to make it’s company reach the heights. And Today Superhero of Startup badge goes to Barkha for the tremendous efforts by her and her team to set up Bash.ai
Tell us something about you and your startup.
We launched Bash.ai in March 2017 in New Delhi-NCR. Bash.ai uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to improve HR processes and, in turn, employee experiences. Our focus is on increasing productivity in the workplace by automating routine tasks of the HR function. Bash uses artificial intelligence and big data to power a virtual assistant to drive HR for businesses and 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.
Looking back, I would’ve left my job much earlier on in order to start up. However, my corporate experience taught me a lot about HR, its functions and how technology impacts and can impact this space. I graduated in Bachelors in Computers and then went on to do my MBA. My educational qualifications taught me the required technical know-how along with values of persistence which are essential in running a startup. My family has been in business for decades and I think my business acumen comes from there. Some of my biggest motivators have been the people I have worked with. I think a lot of who I am today is because of what I’ve learnt from them.
Having started Bash only a year ago, it has been overwhelming to see the fantastic response we’ve got from industry leaders and organizations in India, Silicon Valley and the Middle East. 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 in HR. We’re extremely focused on fixing the problem at hand and filling the technological gap.
These are our four modules:
- Welcome Aboard: aimed at employees who have accepted the offer but are yet to join.
- Post Hire Orientation: a virtual buddy to bring the new joiner in-tune with the company and its policies.
- HR Helpdesk: the core engine answering all the queries an employee might have for the HR.
- Employee Engagement: to get the pulse of the employees. More of an emotional and aspirational barometer.
What was your motivation behind venturing into this?
Having been on both sides of the table over the past 7 years I’ve experienced all facets of the HR function; from an employee’s feeling of uncertainty to the distress of the Human Resource Team, working with enterprises with processes in place to consulting startups and building their processes from scratch, and having endless conversations with people who felt that HR is the backbone of the company to people who felt that the appendix is more useful than its function.
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.
Right from predicting patterns and providing solutions based on them, identifying which employees to retain to increase efficiency and managing workflow to optimize processes using automation to reducing errors and biased decisions, AI has the ability to learn and improve from its own errors making the HR function a lot more agile and effective.
The biggest technological breakthrough to have hit HR and recruiting in order to make jobs faster and easier has been ATS (Applicant Tracking System). In HR, there has been relatively higher friction with technology as compared to any other function. In a world with driverless cars, the function of HR felt a tad bit outdated. Today, however, the dominant theme in HR technology is artificial intelligence. We are betting big on automation in routine tasks of the HR function. A rule-based bot can help immensely in terms of employees getting information faster with a conversational interface, leaving the HR team to focus on more meaningful tasks rather than getting caught up with repetitive tasks and generic queries. Our belief in AI to bolster efficiency in HR has been our biggest motivator.
Give us a brief background about the founders and the core team members?
Tanay Dixit and I have been friends for a while now. When we’d meet over endless cups of tea and coffee, we’d pick each others brains about machine learning, artificial intelligence and automation in our everyday lives. It was through the course of these multiple discussions about workplace HR processes that the idea of Bash developed.
Who do you see as competition and how is your startup different?
In terms of competition, there are a lot of startups out there in India and abroad who have developed some cutting-edge deep learning technologies for the function of HR. Competition isn’t irrelevant to us. They are the ones who keep us on our toes (in addition, to customer feedback). What is Batman without Joker? Just a crazy rich guy wearing a weird costume in a hideous looking car.
We believe in keeping our customers happy by providing them meaningful insights. Also, our focus on productivity in the HR function has helped us in building a roadmap for the future where we can define a clear ROI for the company choosing our solution. I believe that if you have a product that focuses on reshaping HR as we know it you’ll stick around and continue to make an impact. We recently raised a round of funding and are excited that the investors trusted us and our vision.
What are your future plans?
Over the next year, we plan to add recruitment and training to our product portfolio – making screening resumes time effective and efficient. We also intend to expand to newer geographies by then. Although a 10-year plan seems slightly far-fetched due the fast changing technological landscape, we see Bash having developed into a full fledged HR bot trained to understand modules across the board.
Any advice you want to give budding entrepreneurs.
First and foremost, it is important to stay focused on the goals that you have in place. Believe in yourself and the problems you set out to solve. It’ll go a long way. Be patient and don’t be afraid to take the plunge into the deep end. To give you a small example, since we started in 2017, we have invested zero money in the marketing and sales team. All our leads have been incoming; and never has this been the case for us, we’d been hustling the entrepreneur hat previously.