Dina Bayasanova of PitchMe tells us about a London-based skills-based talent marketplace for career development and job search.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Dina Bayasanova: Thank you for asking. My family members are spread across different countries, so, unfortunately, we have not seen each other for the past year. However, we try to remain positive and connect with each other via Zoom regularly.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded PitchMe.
Dina Bayasanova: I am Co-founder and CEO of PitchMe, a London-based skills-based talent marketplace for career development and job search.
Prior to co-founding PitchMe, I had spent 12 years working for oil & gas multinationals. I founded PitchMe following my observations in the corporate world, where I continually saw the right employees not making it into the right jobs. I frequently observed skilled candidates try and fail to get hired via the traditional CV-driven process, while employers floundered when seeking the talent they needed.
I knew there needed to be a better solution to hiring. My vision was to enable a more efficient and unbiased hiring process that could exist without CVs, where candidates are screened anonymously and matched to jobs based on skills and just about nothing else.
PitchMe uses AI and machine learning technology to remove the bias in hiring, which enables greater diversity and inclusion in the workplace. It also helps candidates upskill through analysis of their career profile and identifying areas where they can improve their skills.
I co-founded PitchMe in 2017, and in 2020, the company received $1.5M in seed funding.
How does PitchMe innovate?
Dina Bayasanova: Our core product offering at PitchMe is our SmartMe profile, a unique digital profiling system that overcomes the limitations of the traditional CV by providing a 360-degree view of each candidate.
SmartMe takes a data-driven approach to candidate profiling by using AI and machine learning to build the most complete, real-time, dynamic profile of each candidate’s skills. It does this by combining traditional sources, such as a CV, with a candidate’s digital data — this can include personal or business websites, social profiles, blogs, online games, and more (it’s up to the candidate to choose which digital data to include.
A candidate’s SmartMe profile helps employers and HR professionals go beyond the CV by providing them with a more comprehensive insight into each candidate. It helps employers see the candidate’s full potential and makes the hiring process more intelligent and efficient.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Dina Bayasanova: Despite the impact that the pandemic has had on upending many sectors, we are fortunate in that our business has experienced some positive impact as a result of the changes to work during the pandemic. For example, the pandemic has impacted the job market, changing the interview process and the types of roles that are currently in demand.
Many of the trends we predicted would happen within the next 3-5 years have actually been accelerated by the pandemic, such as the shift to remote working. As hiring has digitized, our services are in demand from small and medium-sized businesses in the digital sector and continue to rise. Therefore, we have experienced a rise in SMEs using our platform.
In addition, as larger companies have had to adjust to the new reality of remote hiring, our technology has been able to facilitate their needs as well. As a result of this need, PitchMe launched a new business model, licensing our technology to larger companies and recruitment agencies.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Dina Bayasanova: Every business facing any sort of crisis has the main choice to make: whether to decrease its budget and reconsider its business strategy. We made a choice to grow our team despite the uncertainty and pursue a more ambitious growth strategy. We realized that the crisis had the potential to open up new market opportunities, and we did not want to miss them.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Dina Bayasanova: Just like many businesses operating remotely during this time, our team has been using tools such as Zoom, Slack, and Miro to help us stay productive — all useful tools related to remote working and communication.
The management skills we’ve used to navigate the crisis include:
● Prioritizing tasks effectively for myself and the team.
● Considering multiple factors in our decision-making, making space for the possibility of many uncertainties.
● Bringing people together remotely so that our team continues to stay connected and feel a sense of camaraderie.
● Understanding the needs of different stakeholders and communicating with them appropriately.
● Using emotional intelligence to nurture relationships — both within the organization as well as externally with clients and partners.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Dina Bayasanova: Our competitors include digital recruitment platforms such as Hired, Talent.io, and Hackajob. However, unlike many other recruitment platforms, PitchMe does not rely on information from the CV. Instead, we are able to extract candidate information from more than 30 obvious and non-obvious sources and crosscheck to verify obtained information.
Our unique methodology of skills evaluation was designed exclusively for PitchMe by leading academics based on thorough theoretical research in psychology and behavioral studies.
We are able to evaluate soft skills without long questionnaires and without time-consuming tests for candidates. Our technology and methodology are designed to extract and assess data from various sources and substitute subjective and often disputable results of psychometric testing.
We are also one of the first movers to target online MOOCS and bridge online education and employment. We believe that this unique selling proposition is what will propel us forward, allowing our company to grow and remain competitive in a market where no one does exactly what we do.
Your final thoughts?
Dina Bayasanova: 2020 was a tumultuous year for many companies and employees around the world. However, in 2021 as the world gradually begins to open back up after lockdown, we are seeing lots of opportunities arise —
and that’s exciting not only for us but for the multitude of employers and candidates that use our platform to fill and find their next role with skills-based, unbiased profiles that generate the perfect match.
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