Read this article in Dutch (where it first appeared) here.
Startup of the week Neurolytics wants to make job applications more objective by analyzing videos using behavioral models and computer vision. The start-up works together with PwC and the Ministry of Defense, among others.
What is Neurolytics
An HR service with which companies can screen applicants based on video images for aspects such as motivation, resistance to stress, and how they fit within the corporate culture. The start-up of Felix Hermsen and Belen Hein has translated scientific knowledge in the field of neuropsychology and behavioral science into an AI video solution that provides the most objective assessment possible. ‘We believe that everyone should have a fair chance to land a dream job, regardless of your age, gender or ethnicity,’ says Hermsen (photo second from left).
Candidates are presented with assignments via the Neurolytics system, in which their face is observed with computer vision, or the automated (using machine learning) analysis of images. The information that this yields can be directly linked to activation of the central nervous system so that the system can estimate whether someone is calm or stressed. For example, if a candidate finds it difficult to deal with numbers, the system literally reads that (frustrated) state of mind from their face.
Neurolytics promises employers a few more coveted outcomes: a more efficient application process and fewer employees who drop out early because they don’t fit the job well. In order to be able to properly estimate what type of employee is best, the Utrecht startup usually first maps out the characteristics of existing employees.
Who is behind it?
Felix Hermsen was confronted at a young age in his own environment with people who were struggling with burnouts and depression, after which he decided that he wanted to better understand and map out these social issues. The idea for Neurolytics arose during a study in cognitive neuroscience (Maastricht University).
Hermsen: ‘I spoke to an investor who said: “Great idea, but you don’t know anything about building a company yet”. That’s how I ended up at Holland Startup, a venture builder that helps entrepreneurs start a business. There I met a co-founder (and born Argentinian, ed.) Belen Hein, who had a business background and a lot of experience with international business. ‘
Marnix Naber was third employee. He is leading the research at Neurolytics and is also assistant professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at Utrecht University. The Neurolytics team now numbers eight people.
Who is waiting for it?
Hermsen: ‘All organizations that consider people important and where people are, as it were, the product or service. Think of professional service providers such as consultants, lawyers, IT companies, and agencies.
Neurolytics still has to allay some cold feet with its innovative approach, the entrepreneur notes. ‘The recruitment world has always been fairly conservative. There was some change from long questionnaires to more gaming and psychometric testing. We are now adding a completely new form of behavioral information to this. ‘
‘Our approach is to show very transparently how it works so that candidates and organizations understand it and the fear disappears. It helps that you can, for example, demonstrate which people fit in a team and that you can prevent dropout. If we can see what kind of department you have, and which people fit into it, then you can hire people who stay longer, perform better, and are happier. ‘
How far is Neurolytics?
After the necessary amount of scientific research and a start-up period to explore the market, Neurolytics won grants from the European Union and the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). The startup received 250,000 euros from the latter organization last month, in the form of a favorable loan for startups that bring scientific knowledge to the market. For this, Neurolytics was measured in terms of the team, scientific knowledge, and market potential.
Recently, collaborations were started with, among others, PwC and the Ministry of Defense. The Ministry of Defense uses the service to distinguish ‘specific behavioral characteristics’ that are extra important for military personnel. Neurolytics’ has added three more corporations as customers (those names are not yet shared).
What is the revenue model?
A SaaS subscription, where the exact amount is based on the number of people an organization wants to test. The onboarding of a new customer has slightly more basis in reality than the seemingly simple business model seems to suggest. Neurolytics first takes a number of weeks to design the tests for candidates. After that, the service can be used for internal testing of employees and teams, or directly for hiring new people.
Hermsen: ‘We are growing well, but we don’t want to throw a product over the fence and say’ good luck with it ‘. ‘We notice that the longer we work together, the better we can see changes and can help an organization. This is how we really want to add value with data-driven recruitment. ‘
Still need money?
Neurolytics can move forward in the coming months thanks to the recent NWO grant . ‘But we are growing so fast that we need more growth money’, says Hermsen. ‘We are now working with early adopters , and more and more parties are joining.’
For example, to be able to forge a sales team, Neurolytics wants to collect a new round in the first half of next year (the exact amount has not yet been determined). ‘The vision is and has been proven, but we want to expand the product further. In terms of investors, the most important thing is that they add to the knowledge we still lack and that they can help us through the next phase. For example, we can improve in the area of marketing, we do a lot of cool things, but we hardly tell the outside world. ‘