XOR, the Moldovan Startup that's transforming HR forever
The 21st century has caught up with a lot of things. HR is not yet one of them. At the end of 2018, the typical Human Resources staff is still busy with setting up interviews, processing and applicants’ data. Because of the slow processes and time consuming procedures, there is a high risk of losing valuable candidates. XOR, a chatbot aimed to revolutionize the recruitment process, brings the long-waited Artificial Intelligence solution to the table.
XOR’s chatbot finds right candidates, pre-selects them for a certain job, responds to frequently asked questions about the job and the company, recommends vacancies and schedules interviews for the recruiter, collects necessary data about the candidates: CVs, information about track salary, stocks the video-interview records — all automatically. XOR has a staggeringly better conversion rate than the usual web-forms used by HR departments today. The forms are old and complicated, and they lose 95 percent of potential applicants.
Launched a little over two years ago by Nikolay Manolov (tech developer) and Aida Fazylova (HR expert), XOR managed to land partnerships with regional giants such X5 Retail Group and Headhunter.ru — the biggest Russian job board. They’re not stopping here, however. XOR is now in full process of expansion beyond the Russian and East-European markets, and is conquering the Western World and Asia. XOR is now trusted by companies such as Heineken, Ikea, and McDonalds just to name a few. So where did this ambition come from?
In November 2017, XOR attended Chisinau Startup Week which was hosted and co-organized by Tekwill (the largest ICT Center of Excellence in Southeastern Europe), with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Government of Sweden, where they presented their startup initiative. During that week, the team benefitted of mentoring, coaching, matching and networking sessions, one-on-one meetings with experts and founders from Germany, Norway, Greece, Romania, France, USA, the Netherlands, India and other countries. That’s where they met Dave Perry, CEO & Managing Partner at OneGlobal Partners, and that’s when XOR’s life changed, and horizons suddenly broadened.
I traveled to Moldova in November 2017 to speak during the Chisinau Startup Week to hopefully encourage, motivate and inspire the companies there — with no expectation that it would be me who was inspired! I met many great entrepreneurs who will surely be successful in their ventures, but it was XOR who captured my attention completely.
Dave eventually joined the team by becoming COO and making an initial investment of $250 000 at a $10 mln valuation. We asked him why:
I’ve learned that when opportunity knocks, answer the door! First, they solve a real business problem many companies experience when recruiting employees. Their value proposition of using Artificial Intelligence & automation to lower the costs of attracting, screening and scheduling interviews for employment applicants is very simple and easy to understand. The fact that XOR has developed paying customers already is very validating of the problem, the solution and the business model — a huge plus for an early-stage company. Finally, XOR had taken the time to prove their business value in the local Eastern European markets first — but had designed the product from the beginning to address the global markets (with 100+ languages as an example) which showed me that the management team was both smart and strategic. So, I’m now working with XOR to rapidly scale their business into the US and other western and Asian markets. Time waits for nobody, so we must move quickly!
Today, the startup has over 30 team members which grew from the first 8 people working from Tekwill’s coworking space. We asked Dave whether XOR plans on continuing their collaboration with Tekwill and whether they’ll be expanding their team in Moldova:
We plan to leverage our great development team in Moldova and to grow the team as we open new markets and create great new products. I look forward to returning to Moldova in the near future and continuing to contribute to that amazing place known as Tekwill!
A few weeks back, we were visited by Nikolay Manolov, XOR’s co-founder and CTO. In his charming and friendly manner, Nikolay shared his thoughts on the Moldovan startup ecosystem and its potential.
Hiring is somehow challenging in Moldova due to tough competition, everything else is really easy and smooth, though. The freshly launched IT Parks program which provides exceptional tax incentives to IT companies and startups, and facilities such as Tekwill and its programs make Moldova a great place to launch a startup. Nothing is holding you back. Just go for it!
However, Nikolay has some words of wisdom for the youngsters who are eager to jump headfirst into the startup pool:
Join a good team first. Work a few years in a startup or project to understand how it all works from the inside, and only after that, start building you own thing. It will help you build relationships with people, starting with the founders of your company, then people from other startups, investors etc. This industry is very much based on expanding your network of people. A good example is our introduction with Dave, whom we met in Moldova, at Tekwill.
On December the 12th, Tekwill is hosting another Startup Fair and we expect more XOR-like success stories to emerge from this event.