Featuring in our fourth instalment of our Founder Feature series is the HR tech extraordinaire, Nina Alag Suri, founder of X0PA AI.
We were impressed by X0PA AI’s innovative AI driven objective hiring platform and their mission to champion talent acquisition, abolishing any conscious or subconscious bias in recruitment.
Nina tells Top Business Tech more about her journey as an multi award winning entrepreneur, as well as her journey in developing the HR Tech solution.
Q: Could you tell us about your company and what you’re striving to achieve?
A: X0PA AI is a cloud based platform for companies, universities and government to enable accurate and efficient hiring and selection activities with power of AI, data science and automation.
Q: What made you decide to take on the challenge of founding your business?
A: This is my second venture. The last company I founded was an executive search firm that operated out of five continents. Having run that for over 20 years I wanted to take all the pain points of hiring both from employer and employee point of views and solve those with technology. The biggest pain point being the subjectivity in hiring, so we use AI to make hiring an objective and scientific process.
Q: Who are you and what is your story?
A: I am an electronics engineer by qualification. I was born in India and I have lived and worked in over seven countries. Prior to my own entrepreneurship I was working for a couple of very large tech companies including ICL.
I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur and I finally decided to take the plunge in 1997, when I set up my first start up In India. I started with $1,000 investment and built the company from there with no external funding, growing it to serve across five continents.
People and people issues always intrigued me especially when it comes to equal opportunities. My mission is to make selections, be it hiring or any other selections like scholarships allocation or internship allocation etc to make it fair and unbiased.
Q: Tell us about some of the biggest obstacles you’ve had to overcome?
A: The biggest obstacle has been about external funding. I’m fortunate to be in a country like Singapore where you get a lot of support from the government and this has also helped us expand further to other countries including UK and India. VC funding is still a challenge for us as we don’t proactively go out to approach investors due to lack of time and our focus is more on client acquisition for the present.
Q: What’s most exciting about your traction to date?
A: The quality of clients that we have at the moment is outstanding. There are certain universities who are deploying our platform, government bodies, and it’s great to see the impact it’s creating for these clients. The other big exciting traction is our partnership with Microsoft which really goes beyond just a partnership and extends to technology transfers, joint innovation, go to market etc.
Q: How are you measuring your success? What are your metrics?
A: The most important metrics that we’re tracking are revenue and client churn, which is fortunately very low at the moment and we intend to focus quite heavily on maintaining that. Innovation is the next big focus, and we have measured it in such a way that we will keep at least 12 to 18 months ahead of the competition.
Q: What are your biggest threats?
A: I guess the biggest threat would be not getting the funding on time which can impact the business scale. We are mitigating this by focusing heavily on our revenues and ensuring we meet all the standards of running a business successfully, including our value proposition to clients and company culture etc.
Q: What is your plan to adapt if your industry is completely disrupted?
A: Ability to pivot in time is one of the most essential ingredients a startup needs to have to stay ahead of the game. Things change constantly and everything is dynamic. We are vigilant and we are not hesitant about accepting something that is not working or has been deemed a failure. Our time to fail is minimised and our hunger for pivoting and changing course dynamically is pretty strong.
Q: How many hours of sleep do you get and what is your morning/evening routine?
A: I am big on sleep. I don’t compromise on my sleep because I know I need it to stay completely alert and cognizant the next morning and be able to work to my fullest capacity. I typically wake up at 7:30 AM have breakfast with my husband before I jump into my day. 60% of it is focused externally talking to clients, having sales and marketing meetings and working on revenue generating activities. I make sure to save time so I can speak with my team and make sure that we are on top of all internal issues and planning.
Q: How do you manage the duality between driving new business and overseeing daily operations?
A: That’s an important balance to keep, you want to build a company that survives for the future so you cannot afford to lose track of the future vision, staying ahead 18 to 24 months of the competition. However you also have to make sure that you survive today and the short term future. You need a very, very strong operational excellence to reach that future. So I’m conscious of this balance And I make sure that I divide my time equally between them.
Q: Can you tell us who your mentors and heroes are, and what impact they’ve had on you?
A: I’ve had a lot of well wishers who have helped me along the way, not just from the advice or guidance but also in terms of business introductions. There are too many to be named, but I’m really grateful to all of them. That said, my biggest mentor and supporter is most definitely my husband Rajeev Suri who is my sparring partner.
Q: What advice would you give to budding innovators taking the same journey?
A: The biggest ingredient an entrepreneur needs is courage. They need to be fearless and need to be prepared for the worst but also hope for the best. Belief is crucially important along with a strong will to survive
Learn more by visiting X0PA AI’s website.