“Bionic organs, assistants for disabled or elderly, self-driving cars… “
Every Monday morning we fire five questions at a C-suite tech industry interviewee. Today we’re pleased to be joined by Beamery CEO Abakar Saidov
Abakar, What’s the Biggest Challenge for your Clients
We have the privilege of working with some of the largest enterprises in the world, which are hiring tens of thousands of people every year. There are specific challenges to operating at that scale — especially when the talent acquisition departments are bigger than most companies — that are fascinating. However, most organisations, large or small, are facing a very similar set of problems: attracting, engaging and retaining talent is getting exponentially harder.
There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, the underlying fabric of how we can acquire skills, how they transfer to value creation, and the length of their validity, has changed. It is substantially shorter than in prior periods of our history. This means there is a constant race to find the newest ways of working and the latest skills, which is generating a perennial shortage.
Secondly, the way we work has changed. We can be digital nomads, busy parents, young students trying to make extra income, working from anywhere in the world. Time zones, distances, office buildings, commute times — all leveled by a laptop and a camera.
So our customers are in a position where making talent a core competency is what gives them a major strategic advantage. This means that at a base level you are treating your potential and current employees like you treat your customers. Bottom line: the talent organisation needs to transform to look like the customer organisation.
That’s what we do for our customers with our Talent Operating System — we help them attract, engage and retain talent. We provide the core systems like Talent CRM and Talent Marketing and the underlying data architecture that enable our customers to move from a reactive recruiting model to a proactive one.
Technology that Excites you Most?
There is so much going on right now. When I was younger, I wanted to be a doctor, and I followed — and continue to follow — the recent advances in genetics and synthetic biology. There are a lot of billionaires in the world today who don’t want to die, so the funding for “longevity” research has skyrocketed. The spillovers are advances that allow us to fight diseases, create sustainable agriculture, and even fake meat.
I’m also enamoured with robotics. Growing up reading H.G. Wells, Jules Verne and Isaac Asimov, the ideas of machines in our future has been a question of when, not if. That future seems just around the corner. I’m not talking AI necessarily, which is a whole separate topic, but machines as extensions of ourselves. Bionic organs, assistants for disabled or elderly, self-driving cars… it seems possible in the next decade or two. Maybe sooner even.
Building this company: we started in our parents’ garage with my brother Sultan and our friend Michael. No funding, no salary — just our savings.
We had never built software, nor did we know much about talent. We now help the world’s biggest employers solve their hardest talent challenges. We’ve raised over $40 million in funding, and we’re only just getting started. The vast majority of companies are using legacy tools, and have very rudimentary processes in place. We have a long way to go in transforming how companies acquire their greatest assets: their people.
As a talent technology company, our greatest achievement is, of course, our own people. It has been a privilege to see our own team grow and develop during this journey.
Before Beamery, our idea was to build a type of LinkedIn for students and recent graduates,where people without work experience could be found by employers. As I am sure many people who have tried building B2B products for the student audience have found, it’s really hard. Attention spans and interests just don’t line up and changing human behaviour is a herculean task. That initial idea cost us a lot of time, and wiped out the majority of our own savings we put into the business. That was the first time we almost ran out of money.
So we decided to pivot towards solving the enterprise problem instead, with no experience building such software. Of course we built it wrong. That cost a lot more time and money. That was the second time the business almost died.
Finding product market fit for us was incredibly hard. It took years. I think that during that time, we really learned how to do a lot with very little, and how to become very efficient at identifying where to spend your time. And we really bonded as a founding team.
In Another Life I’d Be…
A surgeon or a development economist. I’m really passionate about solving the “birth place lottery” which has the biggest impact on our earning potential and quality of life as humans. Outside of political differences and borders, the biggest obstacles are access to education, healthcare and work. I think I’d be trying to make an impact there. Hopefully I can do that in this life too.