Searchie.ai Company’s Strategic Analysis

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Name and Origin of the Company

The selected startup, Searchie, is located in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The official website of the company is www.searchie.ai, and its platform is Sarah. It was set up on February 15, 2018 and has offices in Dubai, London, and Silicon Valley. The primary industry in which Searchie operates is the Human Capital Services industry.

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Founders and Story

The company was founded by Harvey Bennett and Sahiqa Benett after two years of research by its founders about the upcoming recruitment needs of companies. Both founders are from the United Kingdom (UK), and they owned a traditional recruitment agency, Searchie and Searchie, and had been managing it for four years before they set up the new startup (Pupic, 2019).

Moreover, they had also set up a partnership company, RBBI, two individuals ten years ago. This company aimed at developing new technologies for digital media marketing. However, the company did not succeed, and Bennetts faced a challenging time terminating the partnership with their partners. They did not have much experience of legal requirements of running a business, which caused many problems for them. However, Bennetts are capable and resilient and soon started another business that led to setting up Searchie. They chose the UAE to set up their company’s head office as they wanted to benefit from the investment drive initiated by its government.

The founders wanted to transform the talent industry by developing a smart solution for fulfilling human resource management needs of businesses which aimed to reduce their recruitment costs and also reduce employee turnover. Sahiqa Bennett describing her experiences, indicated that they always want to raise money from the Silicon Valley investors (Pupic, 2019). The company received seed funding of $2 million in the first round, held on April 29, 2019 (Crunchbase, 2020). The company also received an award from Fintech Venture Launchpad StartAD 2018 as it was selected among top 100 startups in the Middle East by World Economic Forum.

Mission and Vision

The mission of Searchie is “We get talent” (Searchie, 2018). The vision of the company’s management is “We want employers to have a more innovative, efficient way of recruiting talent and for candidates to have a better recruitment experience” (Almohammadi, 2018). Both mission and vision of Searchie are in line with the strategy planned and implemented by the two cofounders. The company aims to become the number one vendor for human resource capital with greater benefits, including low cost and remote hiring of skilled and talented staff.

Products and Added Value

Searchie is a privately-held company that has developed an AI-based proprietary platform for recruiters to carry out their hiring and appraisal activities. The intelligent platform of the company is named ‘Sarah’ that uses artificial intelligence to scan individuals’ faces and compare them with its huge database to assess where candidates meet their behavioral and organizational requirements. Searchie focuses on talent hunting, and its platform allows its clients to save up to 80% of the cost they incur on the recruitment process (Crunchbase, 2020). The system allows recruiters to determine whether applicants will be suitable for businesses they employ them or not. Thus, it helps in reducing the costs involved in the hiring process.

Moreover, it can process a large number of applications in a short time. This system adds value to the companies that use it as it reduces costs and time involved in the hiring process. It spares their financial and human resources that are else required for conducting interviews with a large number of applicants and filter them based on the outcomes of one-to-one interactions. Furthermore, companies could face problems when they experience high employment turnover.

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The company has developed a solution, MediScreen, for coronavirus screening of individuals within 14 days. This system collects information from individuals who have symptoms and evaluates their condition by using the smart system that the company has developed. The new application helps in reducing the burden on the medical community by performing pre-screening of potential COVID-19 patients and also assists in prioritizing their tests (de Leon, 2020). Furthermore, this system is used by health care organizations to hire employees and volunteers to support their overburdened structures.

Customer Segments

It is noted that Searchie has two AI-based systems, Sarah and MediScreen, which are evaluated separately to identify their respective customer segments. Sarah is a system that assists in the recruitment process. Therefore, its customers are recruiting agencies and employers who need to hire new employees. There are more than 100 companies that are using Sarah for conducting video interviews of applicants. MediScreen is a system that has been developed by the company to assist health care providers (Searchie, 2020b). It means that its customers include clinics, governments, hospitals, and non-profit organizations, which are engaged in managing COVID-19 and protecting humans the new disease. It is also noted that there is some overlap between customer segments identified for both systems as health care organizations are also using Sarah for hiring employees and volunteers for their growing human capital needs.

Competition

The Artificial Intelligence (AI) industry has experienced phenomenal growth in recent years, and new startups are sprouting in every part of the global market. The competition is intensifying as new ideas, and better technologies are setting a new standard for companies to beat. There are two key competitors of the company, including HireVue and Spark Hire. HireVue is located in South Jordan, UT and is a private equity-based firm (www.hirevue.com). Moreover, Spark Hire is an angel-backed firm located in Northbrook, IL (www.sparkhire.com). In addition to these companies, there are almost twenty other countries that are also offering similar online interviewing and hiring solutions for recruiters and employers. They all compete based on their proprietary technology solutions that help companies to hire the best people who meet their business and organizational needs and requirements.

The fierce competition in the human services capital industry is expected to intensify in the coming years as new technology firms are emerging. Searchie competes with other companies based on its unique internal framework by using AI and combining it with third-party solutions that have helped it to develop a system that is comparatively more intelligent and generates promising results for its clients. Furthermore, it is indicated that the IT industry experiences significant mergers and acquisitions each year, and huge companies such as Google, Microsoft, and others could acquire the company or its competitors that would create new challenges for the management.

Operating Markets

The company initiated its operations in the UAE and then expanded to other countries, including the UK and the US by opening its offices. Searchie currently offers its services in seven different international markets, including the UAE, the UK, and the US (Searchie, 2020b). The company is also planning to target 27 countries in the next two to three years, which will increase its customer base and will lead to its significant business growth.

Organization

Information technology companies usually have a flat organizational structure with not many hierarchical levels. However, the company has a vertical hierarchal organizational structure. Sahiqa Bennett, who is also the cofounder of Searchie, is the CEO. Harvey Bennett heads product development and marketing activities (Pupic, 2019). The anticipated organizational structure of Searchie is depicted in the following figure:

Organizational Structure 
Figure 2: Organizational Structure 

CFO President

The organizational structure indicates that the company has carefully planned its operations and assigned responsibilities to individuals with diverse backgrounds and skills. It is noted that the company has flourished in the last two years and has hired new talents to support different functions necessary for the growth of its business. The company also has a board of directors that contributes to making business decisions and also oversees its operations. A recent addition to the board of directors is Du CEO Osman Sultan, which will also add value to the company’s business (Staff Member, 2020).

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Key Financial Figures

The financial information of Searchie is not publicly available as it is a privately-held company. The CEO, Sahiqa Bennett, reported that the company had revenue of $300,000 per month till January 2020 and its margin was 50% (Pupic, 2019). Furthermore, it is reported that the company charges $25-$50 for each interview conducted by using its platform, and it has conducted more 83,420 (Searchie, 2020b), which implies that it has generated between $2 million and $4 million in revenue so far. If the company’s margin was 50%, then it could be deduced that its net income was between $1 million and $2 million, which is substantial for a company that has been in business for only two years. The company was awarded seed funding of $2 million in 2019, and it has received $0.5 million from the Silicon Venture Capitalist firm, Hackers and Trainers as part of the first funding round (Pupic, 2019). It could be safely estimated that the company was valued well above $6 million at the time based on the three-multiple rule.

Future Plans

The company’s cofounder, Harvey Bennett stated: “We are making sure jobs are created in local markets, especially those in poverty, to help abolish human trafficking and modern-day slavery” (Pupic, 2019). It implies that the company aims to grow internationally and expand its network of services to almost 27 countries in MENA, Asia, US, and Europe in the coming years. Furthermore, the company aims to increase its support service network in other markets. The company is also developing solutions that would facilitate communication between remote workers and change the way businesses are conducted at the time, when coronavirus is making it difficult for the people to work in physical offices. Furthermore, Searchie plans to expand its operations by developing solutions for different market segments, including the health sector, which also faces challenges and workforce shortages and does not have sufficient resources to carry out recruitment in the current tough time (Hamdan, 2020). The management also plans to launch its platform in different languages, including English, Mandarin, and Arabic. The company’s CEO has expressed her plans to empower and support 100,000 female entrepreneurs over the next five to ten years.

VRIN Analysis

The VRIN analysis is a strategic tool to evaluate whether the company’s internal resources and capabilities are valuable, rare, inimitable, and non-substitutable that give a competitive advantage to it or assist it in sustaining its competitive position in the short or long term. The VRIN analysis of Searchie is performed in this section of the report and summarized in the following figure:

Table 1. VRIN Analysis of Searchie

Resources Is valuable? Is rare? Is difficult to imitate? Is non-substitutable? Results in
Cofounders Yes Yes Yes Yes Competitive advantage
System framework Yes Yes Yes Yes Competitive advantage
Board members Yes No No No Competitive parity
Employees Yes Yes Yes No Unused competitive advantage
Core Competencies
Propensity for innovation Yes Yes Yes Yes Competitive advantage
Relationships with recruiters Yes Yes No No Temporary competitive advantage
Relationships with companies Yes No No No Unused competitive advantage
Relationships with funding organizations Yes No No No Unused competitive advantage

The cofounders of Searchie are vital human resources of the company, who are responsible for the development and growth of the business. Their contribution to the business adds value as they actively take part in the decision-making process and set the strategic direction for the business and its employees. They are rare, inimitable, and non-substitutable, which implies that the continuity and growth of the business depend on their commitment and vision.

The success of Sarah is dependent on the system framework that the cofounders have designed and developed. It adds value to the company’s business as it is difficult to imitate and substitute. Although many other companies are also using AI in the human services capital sector, Searchie system is by-far advanced and sophisticated due to the framework that it uses. Thus, it is rare and is not easy to copy or replicate by other companies.

The company’s board of directors comprises of key personnel who have diverse experience in different industries. Their advising and monitoring roles ensure that the company successfully expands its services in different markets. However, this resource is not rare, inimitable, and non-substitutable.

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Furthermore, it is indicated that the company’s system and ability to develop new technologies depend on its employees who are hired by conducting their interviews via Sarah. These employees are significant players in the growth of the business as the company expands its business by hiring people in different markets and rely on them to ensure that they can generate demand for the company’s system and its services. Therefore, it is stated that the human resource capital hired by the company is valuable, and it focuses on their retention to ensure that its competitors do not acquire their knowledge and skills. Although employees of the company are valuable, rare, and inimitable, they are not non-substitutable. The global labor market has a large pool of highly skilled IT workers who can be hired, and the existing team can be replaced. However, there is a high cost associated with this decision, and the company may not want to do this as it will hurt its reputation.

The core competency of Searchie is its propensity to innovate as it has successfully developed a solution for companies in a short time to interview candidates and assess their abilities to become part of their organizations. The company’s cofounders started the company with a different vision as they only aimed to develop an online system that integrates live video feature and allows employers and recruiters to conduct interviews of candidates from remote locations rather than calling them to their offices that involves significant costs and time. However, Bennetts decide to integrate artificial intelligence tools that read visual data and assess it against the information provided by recruiters. Thus, it is clear that the innovative and strategic thinking of the cofounders made a significant shift in the company’s approach and ability to generate organic growth in the last two years. This is a prime example of innovators at work as they learned and quickly adopted the latest trends in developing a system that is dynamic and intelligent and is growing with more data being processed by employers. Thus, it is indicated that the company’s propensity to innovate is valuable as it has generated significant profits in the last two years. It is also considered rare because both cofounders are leading and running the affairs of Searchie, and they have no plans of selling their business or slowing down the technology development process as the company has extended its existing system to develop a new one.

Although the company has been a success in the last two years, it is highly dependent on its relationship with funders who can provide it with the necessary funds for the extension of its app portfolio and also for the expansion of its operations in international markets. It is stated that access to capitalist markets is valuable to the company. However, it can be replaced by other sources of finance such as banks depending on the business situation. If the company can create valuable IT assets in the coming periods, then the owners can retain their equity holdings rather than giving shares to venture capitalist firms. Thus, it could be indicated that this relationship is substitutable as the company’s system gains popularity and the number of clients increases.

The company’s business, including the adaptability and growth of its system, depends on the increase in the number of recruiters and companies using its services in their recruitment process. It is highlighted that the company has reported a sharp increase in the number of entities using its system. This has also been due to the current coronavirus pandemic that is changing the way businesses operate. Companies are hiring remote employees and also requiring them to work from their homes to ensure social distancing and avoid the spread of the disease. Therefore, it is stated that the relationship of the company with recruiting agencies and companies is valuable. It is not possible to generate revenue without making sales, which implies that the company needs to maintain strong relationships with its customers. Although this resource is crucial for the company, the company can imitate and substitute the resource by getting other companies to sign up. Furthermore, competitors can also contract with the same recruiters and companies if their systems offer different features and technologies. Therefore, it is suggested that the company should focus on developing its systems and introduce new variations for clients and recruiters which can help to sustain its growth and expansion in international markets.

It is concluded that Searchie is one of the successful startups in recent years, which have successfully received funding from venture capitalists. The company’s system is AI-based, which helps companies to conduct interviews and evaluate candidates based on the predetermined characteristics that suit their organizational objectives and culture. Moreover, the company has also introduced a new system that assists in pre-screening and prioritizing COVID-19 patients. The development and use of new technologies by the company will ensure that its business expands rapidly in international markets.

References

Almohammadi, A. (2018). Searchie – Humans + AI = Smart talent acquisition platform. MIT. Web.

Crunchbase (2020). Searchie. Crunchbase. Web.

de Leon, P. (2020). Dubai-Based Searchie adapts its tech offering to help with COVID-19 testing. Entrepreneur. Web.

Hamdan, L. (2020). ‘The hiring is still happening’ AI recruiter Searchie sees 80% surge in business during Covid-19 crisis. Arabian Business. Web.

Pupic, T. (2019). Reclaiming your entrepreneurial dreams: Searchie’s Sahiqa and Harvey Bennett. Entrepreneur. Web.

Searchie. (2018). Searchie – About. [Status update]. Facebook. Web.

Searchie. (2020a). Searchie [Post]. LinkedIn.Web.

Searchie. (2020b). Video interview software for recruitment​. Searchie.

Staff Member. (2020). Du CEO Osman Sultan appointed to board of Dubai AI firm. Arabian Business. Web.

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