A Russian startup has introduced an AI robot to help companies find the perfect employees from all of the applications they receive. Robot Vera, a software designed specifically to perform tasks normally done by those in human resources, can sort through applicants, contact and interview them, then send the best choices to the hiring staff. So far, the creators of Vera have around 300 clients, including PepsiCo, L’Oréal, and Ikea.
Vladimir Sveshnikov and Alexander Uraksin, the founders of Stafory, a 50-person startup in St. Petersburg, both have backgrounds in HR and understood that the jobs they did could easily be automated. The two found themselves making hundreds of calls and running in circles with their daily tasks. “We felt like robots ourselves, so we figured it was better to automate the task,” says Uraksin.
Robot Vera’s Development
Vera is named after Uraksin’s own mother (Vera also means “faith” in Russian). To make her as human as possible, Sveshnikov and Uraksin used speech recognition technologies from Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Yandex. Syntax and speech examples from TV, job postings, and Wikipedia – around 13 billion – were also uploaded to expand the robot’s vocabulary. This allows Vera to speak as close to human as possible in everyday interactions and conversations.
The Work Done So Far
In December 2016, Stafory put Vera to work in Russia. She helped a few small test companies with their HR duties, and then her clientele started to grow. Stafory has since added clients in the Middle East as well as pilot projects in Europe and the U.S. It’s even expected to reach $1M in revenue for 2018. Robot Vera and the team seem to leave very good impressions on their clients, and it’s no surprise why. She’s saving time and money by cutting out the middle man of a very important – and time-consuming – task.
She works at such a fast pace that it’s a wonder anyone would even want to put an actual human through the torment of working so hard. Every five minutes around 1,000 applicants for the jobs under Vera hear the following words: “Hello! My name is Vera and I’m a robot.” Out of those applicants, a few hundred are then hand-picked for an interview.
Vera has also learned to recognize emotions in her interviews. “This capacity will help HR managers analyze applicants’ emotional state, for example when they react to the mention of the company’s brand,” said a Stafory spokesman.
In working with PepsiCo, Vera goes through 5,000 applicants per month. So far she’s made over 40,000 calls, sent 37,000 emails, and chosen around 100 “perfect” candidates after interviewing them one-on-one herself.
After taking on Russia, the Middle East, and the U.S., Stafory plans to land in China at some point this year to continue Vera’s success. The Internet Initiatives Development Fund, Russia’s biggest startup fund invested 50 million rubles (around $800,000) into Stafory, following the 17.1 million rubles (roughly $296,000) it had already invested in 2016.