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This robot is entering the US market after automating recruitment in 220 Russian companies

Stafory claims that, thanks to Vera, recruiters can find candidates “ten times faster than a human.”

Oct 04, 2017
Artificial intelligence tends to find applications in virtually every field today, and HR is no exception. A Russian startup called Stafory, launched two years ago with less than $10,000 in capital, has created a recruiting robot called ‘Vera’ (‘faith’ in Russian).

Stafory initially developed an online platform intended for companies to interact more efficiently with recruitment agencies.

Setting for itself the goal of "automating mass recruiting," the startup was not short of ambition. "We aimed to offer an alternative to recruitment in the old-fashioned way, seeking to reduce the cost of hiring new staff, remove monotonous and routine tasks in HR departments, and speed up the whole selection process," Stafory’s Chief Business Development Officer and co-owner Alex Kostarev explained to East-West Digital News.

Step-by-step, Stafory enhanced its platform towards more automation. The initial version, which Kostarev calls a marketplace, involved recruitment agencies to fill the vacancies manually.

Then Stafory set up a call center, replacing recruitment agencies with its own operators. Afterwards, resume download and search were automated.

The ultimate stage came in late 2016 with the introduction of artificial intelligence in the process. Automatic dialing was added with video interviewing conducted by Robot Vera.

1,000 recruitment calls every 5 minutes

"Hello! My name is Vera and I’m a robot". Nearly one thousand applicants from all across Russia hear this sentence from Vera every five minutes; and hundreds of them are invited to an interview every day.

Vera goes along the recruitment chain, from search and selection of potential employees across the largest recruitment sites, to calls and invitation of suitable applicants, to a video or face-to-face interview.

Thus, Vera has learned to recognize emotions during video interviews. "This capacity will help HR managers analyze applicants’ emotional state, for example when they react to the mention of the company’s brand," says Kostarev.

Stafory claims that, thanks to Vera, recruiters can find candidates "ten times faster than a human."

Vera is not the only AI-powered recruitment solution, concedes Kostarev, who cites Arya, Call-em-all, Mya, Skillaz and VCV as examples in the global market.

"But the distinctive advantage of Robot Vera is that it participation in virtually all stages of the recruitment process, including the final interview."

First steps in the USA

Last month the Internet Initiatives Development Fund (IIDF, or FRII in Russian, the country’s biggest startup fund) pledged to invest 50 million rubles (some $800,000) in the startup. The fund, which had already invested in Stafory twice last year, will increase its stake in the company to 32%.

The startup will use this money for R&D purposes and commercial development in Russia and beyond.

This funding is not enough for Starfory, which aims to raise the equivalent of $2.5 million in an ICO next month. Investors will be able to use ‘VERA Tokens’ to buy the robot’s services, with the price of each token, $2, equalling the current price of the service. Since Stafory expects to raise its prices to "around 10 times by the end of the year," today’s investors may see the value of their tokens increase correspondingly — at least if they need a recruiting robot.

For the moment, the startup operates essentially in Russia, where it claims to serve some 220 customers. Among them is Pepsico, on behalf of which Vera made over 40,000 calls, sent 37,000 emails, and conducted more than 100 video interviews.

This past spring Vera debuted in the US market under the Wendy brand.

"We have conducted two pilot projects: one with a big taxi service-aggregators, Fasten, and another with the American subsidiary of the Japanese corporation NTT," says Kosterev.

All user scenarios were translated into English. Vera’s performance is similar in the US and Russia.

Vera plans to land in China in 2018.