HR Tech Platform Bloovo Offers An AI-Driven Way To Better Connect Employers And Employees

As AI-driven ventures rise up on the entrepreneurial scene, Bloovo is riding the wave to make its mark in the online recruitment sector.

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As AI-driven ventures rise up on the entrepreneurial scene, Bloovo is riding the wave to make its mark in the online recruitment sector. Leveraging data science and AI algorithms, the startup aims to solve the job mismatch problem, and make recruitment led by science and analytics, with minimal human intervention. CEO and co-founder Ahmad Khamis explains Bloovo's key USP is its infrastructure that is built on data science principles using matching algorithms to do the automatic matching, helping recruits in shortlisting candidates. The platform's algorithms indicate "real-time measures such as probabilities of success, and advanced applicant benchmarking analysis," which means applicants can know their real chances of getting a job. Bloovo also has its own virtual interview channel, plus offers brand employer profiles to showcase their company culture and other such analytics about themslves.

Bloovo CEO and co-founder Ahmad Khamis and co-founder and board member Iyad Abu Hweij

For a startup with a product that scientifically ensures each person and company is an appropriate fit, its start was quite simple. During a phone call between Khamis and co-founder Iyad Abu Hweij, the duo discussed the hurdles that comes with recruiting the right candidates for some of their portfolio companies. As private equity professionals who have helped MENA companies in their strategic direction, the co-founders know firsthand about the challenge. "We wanted to solve this problem in a more scientific way, as a means of getting rid of the classical way of uploading CVs by candidates, and having recruiters and HR people go through a journey of suffering to be able to find the right candidates."

And the co-founders did so by using its proprietary matching algorithms and AI. Formally launching in January 2016, Bloovo is currently in its growth stage, with its employer base growing from 260 in 2016 to over 2,000 employers as of writing in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. Khamis notes they have a "very high client retention rate," with sales growing over the past two years, as well as growth on traffic, user registrations, and employers using the platform.

Initially bootstrapped by its co-founders, Bloovo has since closed a US$3 million funding round led by GCC private equity firm Noble Partners, along with Kuwait-based ProCapita, Oman's Mohamad Moosa Abdulrahman Investment office, and the Al Shafar and Al Serkal family offices from the UAE. In November 2018, the online recruitment platform also concluded a strategic partnership with Saudi-based Maharah Human Resources Company to further solidify Bloovo's expansion in the KSA. The partnership involves Maharah acquiring a stake and joining on board as a strategic stakeholder to the startup. According to Khamis, initial discussions with Maharah started in October 2017, with the process ending after 13 months.

"The process is not easy, and is sophisticated, especially when an institutional partner is involved, as the investment has to make a lot of sense from all perspectives, and this is where Bloovo was the perfect strategic fit for Maharah and vice versa." As a renowned company in the human resources KSA industry, Maharah CEO Yousef Alghafari commented in a release that the acquisition marks as a new era for Maharah as it enters the HR tech industry, while giving Bloovo access to a larger clientele and network. Khamis calls it an idealistic scenario, as the partnership "combines both the offline staffing with the online recruitment innovation, creating a recruitment powerhouse."

While some may be wary or unsure about collaborations with larger entities, Khamis advises entrepreneurs to "build a working model that is attractive enough to bring attention to it." Also, he points out that the "synergies must be crystal clear, so that such strategic partnerships can work and make sense," which is why Khamis suggests that startups should have a proven business concept first, and then look for strategic partners who can complement their business and have "either horizontal or vertical integration potential."

The partnership signals the startup's intent to solidify its growth in the KSA market, and with operations in three GCC cities, how does it cater to different market needs? Khamis says that will all their ideas, it's all about selecting the best. "We take it through our internal team first, and we discuss, select, design, and develop," he says. "We are always after innovative ideas that are of great value-add." Khamis believes that Saudi Arabia's online recruitment solutions are still underserved- which means that Bloovo, together with its new partnership with Maharah, has the potential to make a great impact.

The Maharah and Bloovo team

As a startup, Khamis also notes the fair share of challenges Bloovo has faced, one of which was, perhaps unsurprisingly, fundraising, which, the co-founder and CEO describes as a "hectic and lengthy exercise," due to lengthy processes that can take up to weeks, and sometimes even months, as the probability of investors investing in you is low. Another hurdle that Khamis points out is managing people, as it not only involves putting the right team in place, but also managing various cultural differences, which, as Khamis says, is "an art that must be mastered," or else risk a high employee turnover.

Looking back, Khamis says he and his team have used the frustration they felt as a reason to keep going. He also commends the significance of a team focused on the same long-term vision that they -the founders- had: "Your team is your fighting muscles." He adds they've learnt that knowing your vision and trusting your own capabilities goes hand in hand: "You just have to be committed to your vision, and [do] whatever it takes to make it a reality- in an ethical way, of course."

In the long run, Khamis asserts that Bloovo's vision is to "create a unique and scientifically-driven online recruitment platform that would make a difference in the lives of both job seekers and employers with great innovations." So, for the next coming months, Khamis says it's all about growth and impact creation at Bloovo. Just like how the startup supports enterprises to find the best talent, cultivating them and finding the best is its prime focus too at the moment, as that's their main asset to accelerate Bloovo's mission to be at the forefront of online recruitment in Asia and Europe.

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Bloovo co-founder and CEO Ahmed Khamis' tips for entrepreneurs launching a business

1. Dream big You need to have a big vision, and you need to sincerely believe in that vision.

2. Get the (right) people to support you Get the right team with you from day one. Otherwise, failure will be waiting for you.

3. The road ain't easy Fundraising is extremely difficult- you will be doing this every day.

4. Be prepared to hustle Familiarize yourself to live with frustrations, and forget about work-life balance!

5. It's a long haul game You will be working 24/7, and will be doing everything yourself- so be prepared.

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