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Akshay Sharma, Alok Kumar and Karunjit Kumar Dhir, the founders of SCIKEY had to go through the painful experience of dealing with multiple vendors and service providers for sourcing the required talent or even the right technology solutions & providers. Thereby leading them to start SCIKEY.
SCIKEY is a marketplace network for talent & technology solutions. On SCIKEY's platform, the entire transaction - right from talent & technology sourcing to delivery happens online. The Asia HR Management industry is anticipated to be USD 40 Billion by 2027 growing @ CAGR of 11.7% (Grand View Research, Feb 2020).
SCIKEY.ai - Company Highlights
- Startup Name-SCIKEY.ai
- Co-founders-Akshay Sharma, Alok Kumar, Karunjit Kumar Dhir
- Founding Year-2016
- Sector-HR Tech
SCIKEY - About
SCIKEY is a marketplace network for talent & technology solutions. It is essentially, how one may look up to it like the Amazon for talent & technology solutions with a touch of LinkedIn. SCIKEY is a digital platform for jobs, work & business solutions, supported by a Professional Network and an integrated Services Ecosystem. It aims to organize the talent & technology solutions marketplace online.
SCIKEY - Vision, Mission and Core Belief
SCIKEY's Vision is to be the world’s most trusted company for providing customer-centric solutions by inspiring people, collabration & performance.
SCIKEY's Mission is to improve the lives of the people and enable businesses across the world by offering them best quality, value, insights & experience; through its marketplace network for talent & technology solutions. SCIKEY continues to invest in research & technology to fuel innovation and making people as well as businesses more productive, thereby becoming their trusted partner in this hyper-connected world.
Core belief: SCIKEY's core values of Trust, Transparency & Excellence are the foundation of all the relationships, making those delightful and sustainable.
SCIKEY - Market/Industry Details
The global talent management software market size was valued at USD 6.26 billion in 2015 and is expected to witness a significant growth owing to its growing application scope in almost all the human capital-centric industries. The industry is undergoing a facelift with many new technologies disrupting the workforce management in organizations, of which cloud and data analytics are the most prominent ones.
A recent report published by McKinsey indicates that the digital talent marketplaces driving the so called “gig economy” could play a significant role in increasing global GDP by $2.7 Trillion by 2025.
- Total addressable market: $100 bn +
- Serviceable Available Market: $1 bn +
- Serviceable Obtainable Market: $100 mn +
The geographical split of SCIKEY's market is as follow:
- India – 10%
- North America – 30%
- Europe – 20%
- Asia (minus India) – 40%
HR Tech industry:
Asia HR Management industry is anticipated to be USD 40 Billion by 2027 growing @ CAGR – 11.7% (Grand View Research, Feb 2020)
Global HR Tech Marketplace - USD 400 Billion (Deloitte Reports)
HR Tech Market Size In Asia - USD 9 Billion (Grand View Research, Feb 2020)
Robotics / AI Based HR Tech Market - USD 6 Billion (People Matters)
India Staffing Market Size - USD 3.5 Billion (Indian Staffing Federation)
Estimated Savings for Indian Firms by using HR Tech - USD 600 Million Annually (People Matters)
SCIKEY - Founders and Team
Alok Kumar is the founder of SCIKEY. Akshay Sharma and Karunjit Kumar Dhir are the Co-founders of SCIKEY.
SCIKEY is the brain child of Alok Kumar. Shriram & Akshay had met & worked with Alok as a part of his team, before Alok moved out to build SCIKEY. Interestingly, Karunjit had first met Alok in 2007, when he was helping Alok as his customer to setup their offshore captive in India.
Since then, they built a great chemistry & mutual respect but Karun moved out of India in 2014 and so little did they know that they will again get to work some amazing stuff together until that dinner invitation in 2018. Karun had moved out from his last corporate stint in Malaysia and was taking a short break to visit India to spend some time with his family. It was during this trip back home where Alok invited Karun for catchup over a dinner where he shared his vision of SCIKEY to Karun. Alok was inspired by some of Karun's critical inputs & prior experience of building multiple technology businesses ground up in multiple global markets, thereby invited him to be a part of the Co-Founding team at SCIKEY; and the rest is history.
SCIKEY's core team's tasks -
Alok Kumar – Founder
Akshay Sharma– the owner of R&D & works closely with Alok & Karun on key business boosters like research, automation, growth hacking etc.,
Karunjit Kumar Dhir – owner for the branding, business development, revenue growth & global expansion, investors & fundraising, Finance
Shriram Viswanathan– owner for SCIKEY’s talent enablement, assessments, awards, ranking etc.,
SCIKEY - Work Culture and Hiring Funda
SCIKEY's work culture is built around the core values of trust, transparency & excellence leading to mutual respect, happiness & sustainability.
SCIKEY's hiring funda has an interesting framework, named 'DISCO Framework'
D - Dependability (can I just talk to you once & be assured the job is done without any follow-ups or even better can you pro-actively get the job done?)
I - Integrity & Ethics (how much can I trust you & be assured that you will always do the right thing even when no one is watching you?)
S - Solution Mindset & an attitude of sharing (every business will have many problems to solve & so are you the one who will provide solutions or just restate the problems back to us? And, even when you solve problems, will you share the credit with your team or always fly solo?)
C - Curiosity (Can you challenge the Status Quo & imagine better? Are you good with 'Why' and 'Why not'?)
O - Openness (Are you humble, open to feedback, correction, change, to Learn, Unlearn & Relearn?)
SCIKEY - Ideation and How it Started
The Founders & Team section of the post already covered the part on how the Core team of SCIKEY was formed. Let's see what else it took to start SCIKEY.
SCIKEY's founding team have lead multiple companies in different roles (including CXO) as well as geographies and were mostly involved in building products, teams, delivery centers ground up etc., Therefore, quite often they found themselves in a situation where they had to go through the painful experience of dealing with multiple vendors and service providers for sourcing the required talent or even the right technology solutions & providers.
"It used to be a very time consuming & inefficient exercise with a direct negative impact on business and ROI" Says Akshay Sharma (Co-founder, SCIKEY)
Another big related parallel problem that they always encountered was the productivity issues of the teams or people who were sourced by their talent partners and the resulting losses for the company as an outcome of that. These prevalent issues motivated the team to seriously think of a solution that later took the shape of SCIKEY.
Even, other peers from the industry acknowledged the problem, but no one was trying to solve it with an effective workable solution. So most of the ideation happened internally. They collected feedback from the CXOs or top leaders in the industries who were directly responsible for building and running profitable companies of different shapes & sizes (right from funded start-ups to global fortune MNCs). This helped the SCIKEY team to learn the root-cause of the problem and by connecting the dots from personal experience + Inputs from leaders, they decided to build SCIKEY! A robust platform and a business model that can be scaled to service the needs of a global audience.
SCIKEY - Products/Services and USP
The way this world moved from offline to online banking, offline retail to e-commerce, offline taxis to e-hailing and more. SCIKEY also started with taking the entire experience of sourcing talent & technology solutions online.
On SCIKEY's platform, the entire transaction - right from talent & technology sourcing to delivery happens online. It aims to organize the talent & technology solutions marketplace online.
SCIKEY is primarily automating most of the mechanical things but going big on the human touch. It’s about helping the generally overloaded talent & technology sourcing teams, with a solution that eases their life and helps them add real value to the business by being a “business partner” in its true sense. It is about streamlining the process end-to-end (that is otherwise largely fragmented) not only to achieve exceptional business outcomes, but also offering a great user experience, that is missing generally.
And then came Covid19, which further disrupted & redefined the future of work and how the businesses look at getting their talent and technology solutions right. The Future of Work & Workforce is very different from what it has been all these years. We now live in a post-COVID world. The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital, virtual as well as remote solutions but the large part of talent & technology solutions market is still serviced manually (via a handful of the tools that do not offer a complete end-to-end solution or assured outcomes).
Customers now expect a great Experience (Personalized), Convenience (Anywhere & Real-time access), Value (Ongoing), Choices (Faster Fulfilment) & Insights (that impact Business Outcomes). And this is where SCIKEY helps!
SCIKEY offers a digital, connected & intuitive experience over a secure cloud-based platform for best outcomes & productivity, leveraging technology, Crowdsourcing (Onsite, Offshore, Remote), Community & Automation to deliver best of the solution and insights that impact business outcomes.
Research & IP Focus – Patent filed for the SCIKEY MindMatch algorithm & research presented at the United Nations(Geneva) twice. Unique “Managed Marketplace” business model that leverages advanced tech enabled crowd-sourcing of talent & technology solutions in a single online platform making it highly elastic, scalable & cost-efficient.
Solid founding team with decades of proven industry leadership experience selling large solutions & building high-growth business in multiple global markets from scratch; and prior experience of working together.
Deep domain as well as technical expertise.
Astute focus on unit economics and hence a cash-positive business already.
SCIKEY - Name, Tagline and Logo
SCIKEY emerged from the combination of two important words that form the generis of the team's approach behind building this platform –
Scientific (backed by research & data) + Key (of crucial importance) = SCIKEY
"We have always seen SCIKEY as a solution to some of the ‘key’ problems of our potential customers and we genuinely believe in the power of scientific input(data) in this hyper-connected world that we live in. and, that is how we decided to go with Sci + Key = SCIKEY" Says the team.
It's not only the SCIKEY name that has deep meaning and relevance but the colors represented in the SCIKEY logo also has notions behind it.
Colors convey emotions & evoke thoughts. The 6 colors in the SCIKEY's logo convey the emotions of the brand. It represents the possibility of looking at a problem in 6 different ways to evaluate multiple potential solutions as well as personalities coming together to solve the problem.
Blue - A color of the sky and sea. It is often associated with depth and stability. It symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth, and heaven.
Green - Resembling nature. It symbolizes growth, harmony, freshness, and fertility. Green has strong emotional correspondence with safety. Dark green is also commonly associated with money.
Yellow - The most luminous of all the colors of the spectrum. It's the color of happiness, and optimism, of enlightenment and creativity, sunshine and spring.
Orange - It combines the energy of red and the happiness of yellow. It is associated with joy, sunshine, and the tropics. Orange represents enthusiasm, fascination, happiness, creativity, determination, attraction, success, encouragement, and stimulation.
Red - A color of passion and adventure.
Grey - In color psychology, grey represents neutrality and balance.
SCIKEY - Business Model and Revenue Model
SCIKEY operates mainly on a SaaS model. SCIKEY's revenue model is based on -
Transaction Fee – 15-30% of the sale value from the marketplace network
Micro-payments - $10 - $200 for various features, add-ons, reports, assessments monetized from its network
Subscription – for some of the ‘ABC-as-a-Service’ components & certain Premium Features for buyers as well as sellers on the platform
Managed Services & Consulting – especially for the Offshore & Remote Work solutions plus other premium offerings
SCIKEY - Startup Launch and Customer Acquisition
Since beginning, SCIKEY was a research focused company. The team was already working with various professionals, businesses, institutions as well as universities/colleges on multiple research projects as well as pilots for some of the components of the platform. At start, it was not the same full-fledged platform like what one can see today, it was more of independent pieces or modules; largely to gather research data as well as user feedback.
For acquiring the first 100 customers , the team relied heavily upon customer referrals and LinkedIn. SCIKEY hasn't been spending huge money on growth hacking as yet.
"We are a team that firmly believes in achieving an organic growth (even if it is slower initially) fueled by the thought leadership & brand authority as against burning big bucks to get quick hype. A quick hype is directly proportional to the burn-rate and tapers down as soon as the money fades away" added Akshay.
SCIKEY majorly focused on customer retention and repeat users. All they did was -
Listening to customers feedback, to incorporate it back in improving the product
Keeping its paid user acquisition burn to a minimum or zero
Continuously working towards improving the quality of experience & outcomes the customers/ users get from SCIKEY; as that makes us cash positive as well as sustainable.
SCIKEY founders are a big fan of frugal innovation & Zero cost marketing.
SCIKEY - Startup Challenges Faced
Whoever SCIKEY reached out to said this - "Hey, you guys have built such a great product. What progressive thinking, but how come we never heard of SCIKEY before? do you have any customer references? "
The major challenged faced by the team was that nobody knew SCIKEY in the market. It took a lot of effort and time to get even a demo booked (As per the sales team)
SCIKEY does not have a significant marketing budget & hence there is not much one can do. (As per all the Marketing Managers, Digital Marketing folks who applied for a role with SCIKEY but never joined)
This was one of our biggest challenges in the early days – Everyone we meet likes us (Team & product both) but as they have never heard of the brand before, they did not have much confidence to take the plunge & come on board as a paid customer - Said Akshay (Co-founder, SCIKEY)
This is what inspired SCIKEY's team to get a lot more active on LinkedIn to create awareness and build engagement around the brand SCIKEY. Therefore, after 100s of posts, garnering 1,000s of cumulative views with an average of 2K+ and the highest of 10K+ views with many trending posts in multiple hashtags, a series of blogs and authored articles published; finally making it to the deal table and signing paid customers is what makes SCIKEY proud.
SCIKEY - Marketing Campaign/Strategies Adopted
SCIKEY's 2 trending Marketing campaign -
Women’s day Campaign - #SheTakesTheLead
The idea was to promote women hiring for executive positions and challenge the status quo. Globally only 1 in 5 C -level Executives is a woman. This is because of displaced cultural norms. SCIKEY, with this campaign wanted to promote, from this women’s day that a woman will take the lead and the ecosystem should come together to support them.
To promote this idea. SCIKEY did a short ad film.
SCIKEY also acknowledged women leaders who broke the metaphorical glass ceiling, the society odds and has taken the lead in their own way. SCIKEY interviewed various women leaders to share their personal stories, how they overcame the gender challenges & despite of so many odds, how they succeeded to become what they are today.
SCIKEY Leader Speak Series
Under this initiative, SCIKEY interviewed Thought Leaders from the Business and HR space where they shared their perspective about the future of workforce, future of work, best strategies to lead the change & business. SCIKEY promoted these interviews on all of their social media channels, website & newsletters. Each leader further shared the interview in their own network. This has given SCIKEY a greater organic reach, trust, and credibility in decision makers fraternity
SCIKEY - Growth and Current Status
Till date, more than 200 & counting active clients on the SCIKEY platform
World’s most iconic brands as SCIKEY's paying clients.
There are about 1.8 million members (largely professionals, job seekers, gig workers) and more than 2000 plus partners associated with SCIKEY.
SCIKEY's current ARR is upwards of a US$6 million.
SCIKEY is already a cash positive company with paying clients from the US, UK, India & Malaysia.
The government of Finland approved research funding for SCIKEY and the team have also filed their first patent.
SCIKEY - Recognition and Achievements
SCIKEY was awarded the "Top 20 Most promising HR-Tech startups – 2020” by the CIOReview
AI powered platform with Research & IP focus – patent filed for the SCIKEY MindMatch algorithm that was presented at the United Nations(Geneva) also twice
Deloitte Technology fast 50 winner for 2020
SCIKEY - Competitors
Remote.com, Upwork and LinkedIn are the top competitors of SCIKEY.
Remote helps companies of all sizes hire top talent all over the world, in full compliance with local laws. It is a global platform for distributed teams. Remote makes it easy to onboard, pay, and delight remote employees and contractors.
Upwork connects businesses of all sizes to freelancers, independent professionals, and agencies for all their hiring needs.
LinkedIn platform is mainly used for professional networking, and allows job seekers to post their CVs and employers to post jobs.
SCIKEY - Future Plans
Over the next 1-2 years, SCIKEY aims to grow the customer base by at least a 5x and the revenue by 2-3x. While growing its partners by 5x and member users to at least a few million. SCIKEY is also planning to venture into new markets like Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines and Australia.
SCIKEY - FAQs
What is SCIKEY.ai?
SCIKEY is a marketplace network for talent & technology solutions
What does the word 'SCIKEY' mean?
SCIKEY has emerged from the combination of two important words that form the generis of the team's approach behind building this platform – Scientific (backed by research & data) + Key (of crucial importance) = SCIKEY
Who are the founders of SCIKEY?
Alok Kumar is the founder of SCIKEY. Akshay Sharma and Karunjit Kumar Dhir are the Co-founders of SCIKEY.
How much funding has SCIKEY raised?
SCIKEY had funding of USD 3.5 Million in 2016.
Who are the competitors of SCIKEY?
Remote.com, Upwork and LinkedIn are the top competitors of SCIKEY.
When was SCIKEY founded?
SCIKEY was founded in the year 2016 by Alok Kumar.