CEO INTERVIEW: Adaface - Identify top candidates for your tech roles fast
New Success Stories - Adaface
SIDDHARTHA GUNTI - CEO and Co-Founder
Please share with us briefly what you do.
I am a cofounder at Adaface. We help companies identify best engineers by automating first-round tech interviews with a conversational AI, Ada. As with any early-stage startup, my role keeps changing. For the most part, I focus on the technical side of things. Apart from that, I'm currently working on our content marketing strategy to build the Adaface brand online.
What were you doing before this?
Just before starting Adaface, I was the first engineer turned product manager at Headout, an on-demand mobile marketplace that helps travelers discover & book tours, activities and events. I built the V1 of the product and hired the tech team to scale the product to 1M users, taking the company from seed to series A.
Luckily I got exposure to research along with my academics as a part of the NLP lab during my undergrad at IIT Bombay and Networks Lab at the University of Alberta. Post that I was working on developing equity swap quantitative models as Senior Quant Analyst at Goldman Sachs.
Describe your product. How does it work?
We're building a way for companies and candidates to find out if they're a mutual fit.
Our conversational AI, Ada helps companies automate the first-round tech interview. Ada can engage candidates and screen them for the tech skills required for the role. This enables companies to hire more effectively by reducing screening time by 80% and spending more time engaging the shortlisted candidates. Top candidates prefer Adaface because our bot, Ada engages with a friendly chat involving relevant code challenges as opposed to asking trick questions on a test.
When a candidate completes the chat assessment, Ada generates a detailed report and notifies the recruiter to help them stay on top of their candidate pipeline.
What are the key benefits?
Here’s how Adaface is different from status quo assessment solutions:
- Our customers see a very strong correlation between assessment performance and interview/ on-the-job performance: Our AI, Ada focuses on testing for on-the-job skills with practical questions – not textbook-based fill-in-the-blanks or niche algorithms no-one uses on the job.
- Our customers see a test-taking rate of 86% compared to an industry standard of ~50%: Ada provides for a friendly candidate experience by answering questions they have about the company, giving hints when they're stuck, and using encouraging language.
- We offer customizable technical screening for multiple technologies, skills, and levels: We cover 700+ skills within tech (Software Engineering, Data Science, DevOps, Analytics, QA, Cybersecurity, Aptitude, etc)
Who are your closest competitors?
We compete with the likes of Codility and HackerRank.
Who is your first customer and how did that happen? What were they using before this, and why did they switch?
Our first customer was an e-commerce fashion brand in Singapore. While we were validating the problem, we reached out to them (cold) over LinkedIn and set up an in-person demo. The team hadn’t used a skills assessment tool previously, and we're finding it difficult to scale up the tech team given their manual hiring process.
Even though this was a part of our customer discovery process as opposed to being a polished sales pitch, they liked the value proposition of being able to screen candidates for on-the-job skills. We also integrated with their ATS system of choice, to make it seamless for them to invite candidates to take assessments and review the scores. They have been a happy Adaface customer since!
What motivated you to start this business?
Interestingly, when I thought of startup ideas, I never thought about HRTech. During my 2 year stint at Headout, I had the task to build the product team. Since we were a glamorous startup hiring engineers in Bangalore, we received a ton of applications. I used the status quo solutions for hiring, failed miserably and started interviewing every single candidate myself. Over the process of interviewing 500+ engineers, I gradually learned what makes for a 10x engineer and what are the signs to look for. I also learned how to structure the interview process and what questions to ask, to gain maximum insights on the engineer’s suitability for the role while making it a fun process for them. We’ve built Adaface keeping in mind that ideal candidate experience.
My personal experience of the problem, the size of the market, the opportunity to build a differentiated product and finding a brilliant co-founder who was keen on working on this problem convinced me to start Adaface.
What is your biggest sacrifice to make this work?
Financially, it was an important decision for me and my family since it meant we would have to postpone my sibling’s wedding plans by a couple of years.
Being selectively extroverted, I am very close to people that I choose to be around. Working on Adaface meant that I had to move countries for 2 years, away from family and friends.
How did you get funded?
We raised a pre-seed round from Entrepreneur First, which is the world’s leading talent investor. Post that round, we’ve been a profitable bootstrapped company, which is something we’re very proud of.
What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Organic marketing is the biggest driver for us.
Describe a typical workday
My workday starts with a daily standup call where we all come together for a quick 10-minute update where each member of the team shares what they did the previous day, what they plan on doing today and if they have any blockers from someone else on the team.
Most mornings are spent on potential client engagements and other ad hoc tasks. We do team lunches every day- a good time to discuss work and non-work life. I leave a huge continuous block of time in the afternoon/ evening for technical tasks because that’s when I’ve noticed myself being the most productive.
What has been your proudest moment in the history of your business and why?
We set out to build a conversational AI to interview candidates for tech roles at a time when most consumer-facing bots are boring, and often unable to answer simple questions. We've built a product that we would want to interview with as candidates- a consistent, friendly interviewing experience that gives candidates a fair chance to showcase their strengths.
Each assessment ends with taking feedback from the candidate. Our first candidate left a 5/5 rating and a review along the lines of " it felt like chatting with a senior engineer". Reading those initial reviews was extremely rewarding.
We’ve set up a Slack channel to publish all candidate reviews as they come in. It is impossible to read all of those reviews, but whenever I go over those it reinstates faith that we’re onto something big. Sharing one such review:
"⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Intuitive UI. This didn't feel like a test. It was quite interesting to have a conversation and learn at the same time.”
What is your favourite business failure (and what did you learn from it)?
One of the biggest failures personally would be the initial sales calls. Being an introvert and coming from a tech background, it was completely unintuitive to me in the beginning. My co-founder, Deepti who handles most of the sales conversations has helped me pick up the basics. We’ve also reorganized our business strategies, roadmap and roles to play to our strengths better.
What’s one productivity hack you can’t live without?
Taking fortnightly time-off to read, internalize and iterate over my plans, both for Adaface and for myself.
More about Siddhartha:
- First job - My first startup during undergrad - we set out to build a mobile gaming company to develop games for the growing mobile population in India. It was a bittersweet failure that taught me the basics of starting up.
- Favorite book - Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari.
- Favorite Film - Many movies come to mind, “Pursuit of Happyness" is one of them.
- Favorite author - George R R Martin
- Favorite Gadget - Samsung Galaxy Watch
- Last holiday - Krabi, Thailand
- When you are not at work, where can we most likely find you? At home, reading books.
For more information on ADAFACE, please visit :
Siddhartha Gunti https://www.linkedin.com/in/siddharthagunti/