Tell us a bit about you and your venture! What was your inspiration for creating Karen.ai?
My background isn’t in business, it’s in music. Being formally trained in composition has provided transferable skills of creativity and problem solving that I apply to my venture. I still play music professionally with the iconic Canadian band, Skydiggers, and session drum for artists both live and in the studio.
I found myself in the world of technology about 18 years ago while I was running a recording studio. At the time, one of the bands we had was comprised of advertising executives. They asked me if I’d be interested in coming to their firm to give a talk about audio and technology. It was at that point that my career as a technological entrepreneur really started.
Years later, I launched a Bitcoin and Blockchain company called QuikMint, and that was when Jeff Berardine and I began talking about an innovation division of his company. Before I knew it, I was a partner and Director of Innovation of Innosphere. This is where I met my co-founder David Vradenburg. Innosphere was growing fast, and we experienced firsthand the difficulties in finding top talent.
Driven by the frustration of watching the talent recruitment process in action, David and I began work on Karen to solve some of the systemic issues within the talent acquisition process. The realization that recruiters don’t have the time to review 250 resumes on average and spend up to 75% of their day on administrative tasks, such as assessing resumes and coordinating pre-screens, was astounding given the highly competitive nature for talent acquisition. There was the subsequent realization and understanding that 75% of the candidates that apply to enterprise jobs don’t hear back from the company that they applied to.
Karen solves the Time-to-Fill problem and the Candidate engagement problem as a comprehensive service set. Karen reviews all jobs and candidates immediately by leveraging machine intelligence. Karen engages candidates in conversation, via text chat or SMS, to follow up with pre-screening, providing answers to frequently asked questions and to keep candidates informed on the status of their applications. Karen promptly reveals the top candidates, saving recruiters valuable time and allowing them to focus on screening only the best. Once a position is closed, Karen can follow up with each candidate on the status of the application and provide alternative positions as appropriate.
How do you think AI will impact your industry over the next decade?
Machine Intelligence has the capacity to fully automate the talent acquisition process. The technology will allow the development of a platform that is able to assess inbound candidates, review the internal talent pool, find passive candidates, and engage the talent pipeline all the way to their start date and beyond.
Imagine a recruiter posts a job and start date. Then imagine the perfect candidate showing up to work on that start day without human intervention. This is just a small example of how we envision AI impacting our industry. Recruiters can then be re-tasked to engage employees and nurture employee development as part of human resource teams.
How has your background as a musician influenced your role as an entrepreneur?
It has certainly influenced the way I problem solve and apply the creative process to business challenges. When you study music, you learn a lot about “form”, adaptability, improvisation and interpretation. This is in addition to the adrenaline rush (and stress!) of performing in front of an audience. All of those skills are transferable to entrepreneurship.
What is an unpopular opinion you have on the future of AI?
If the future of work and education is not taken seriously now, AI has the capacity to have a detrimental outcome on our global economy. That is to say if we aren’t prepared to be creative and understand how different jobs in the future will be, then we will not be able to further generate new work that provides value to our communities.
What are 3 books, blogs or newsletters you recommend for aspiring entrepreneurs? I would recommend reading:
The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz, The E-myth by Michael Gerber, and The Harvard Business Review… and the MIT Technology Review (Yes, that is 4 recommendations and not 3… I’m a rule breaker).
Who would you most like to have dinner with?
My mother and father.
Other than deciding to work for yourself, what has been the single most important decision you made to contribute to your success?
Certainly, it has to be the mutual decision to go down the path of building Karen AI with my Co-founder, David Vradenburg. David is such an incredible person and I am grateful to work with him. He is not only a great engineer, but he has a unique ability to deal with my high levels of energy and entrepreneurial neuroses.