AI is hot,but lonely

Despite being one of the hottest job sectors, AI startups find it hard to retain talent

Published: 16th September 2017 02:36 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th September 2017 07:24 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

BENGALURU: Although Artificial Intelligence or AI may be one of the emerging fields and hottest sectors to work at in the field of technology, startups in the sector find it quite difficult to retain good talent.

Sachin Jaiswal, CEO, Niki.ai who himself is an alumnus of IIT-Kharagpur says that while talent can be found in any institutions, be it a IIT or an engineering college in a second tier city, many prefer to go the conventional way. “More than anything else we look at a potential employee from perspective of whether he or she can be trained. The usual tendency is to go after money and it is understandable that candidates would prefer to go to companies that are well funded and already have a name in the industry.”
He and other startup founders in the AI space were part of a panel discussion at the ‘automationshift’ TWB conference that took place on Friday.

Taking his own example of how he tried to persuade people to work for him, Sanjay Singh,CEO, Qorqi, says that the only way to tilt the balance of a huge paycheck is to offer a problem that is very hard to crack. “There are many people who would stay just because they are presented with such an opportunity,” he says.

Haptik CEO, Aakrit Vaish who is also the chief recruiter at his startup says, “As many as 35 of our 40 engineers had to shift base from Bengaluru to Mumbai. Of these there were many who still chose to stay with us despite being offered lucrative jobs from various other more established companies.”    

Aakrit also says that hiring new recruits was more like giving a good sales pitch. “So we present the options to our potential employees. It’s either an opportunity to solve a problem that comes once in a decade or going to work in any ‘wallet’ company, without any offence to such companies,” he says.
The panel members also highlighted the fairly new nature of the AI sector and saw the potential is huge. “The automobile industry 100 years old, the IT industry is a few decades old and AI is just around five years old. We are yet to see many things unfold,” he says.

Niche startups go big

The panel members also highlighted how the way forward was for startups that usually cater to niche problems. Tech giants such as Google and Apple have been acquiring a number of startups that cater to specific problems. A case in example is Google acquiring a four-month-old Bengaluru startup in the area
of machine learning and AI.

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