Ayush Jain was a third year engineering student at IIT Delhi when he developed a real-time feedback system where students could provide their assessment of a course or professor. However, he had to stop its operations after facing resistance from the college authorities. But Jain was not ready to give up; instead, he continued working on it after graduating in May 2017 — this time trying to create a business model out of it. He tried to introduce it to the management of several private colleges, but that wasn’t working out.
That was when a few relatives suggested that the concept would have a better application in the corporate world. Although a couple of HR heads agreed, they were unwilling to add another platform to their existing list due to adoption challenges. This prompted Jain to think of a solution that can be integrated into the existing system of companies. He turned to chatbots and artificial intelligence for the same. Following an initial investment of 3 lakh, Jain launched Xane.ai in October 2017, an AI-powered chatbot for employee engagement and retention.
The bot interacts with employees on a regular basis on behalf of the administration. Specific targeted questions are sent to each employee based on their profile, department, duration of association with the company and so on. This feedback is collected in a conversational manner instead of a survey. “Say a person joins a company today. Fifteen days later, the bot will reach out and ask about his first-day experience. If the experience was bad, the bot will build a conversation to find out what went wrong,” explains Jain. A sentiment analysis is done using the collected data and insights are then provided to the organisation. “It helps in conveying the employees' issues directly to the top and therefore gives some sort of assurance to the employees,” he adds. Xane also provides an automated 360-degree performance appraisal service wherein the bot would approach the manager, peer and junior of an employee to collect feedback. Sentiment analysis charges are $1 per employee per month; the appraisal service charges are $2 per employee per cycle.
In addition to this, the start-up offers separate services such as helping project managers track the progress of their teams as well as employees getting feedback on their performance. Xane currently has three clients, catering to around 800 employees and has clocked 1.2 lakh.
Xane plans to cater to around 20,000 employees by the end of this year and is in talks with more companies, including a few in the US, Canada and Dubai. Its ideal market is small IT companies with an employee-base of around 2,000. Currently comprising a team of five people, Xane plans to hire around 15 people in tech and five more in sales this year. It is in the process of raising a round of funding, to be closed by mid-February. With most of the demand coming in from Bengaluru, Jain also plans to start a team in the IT city in another six months. Although companies such as Amber, Dino, and Bash also provide chatbots for employees, Jain believes the differentiating factor about Xane is the product placement. “Xane won't simply be about HR tech. The core idea is to collect qualitative data through bots and build analytics. It can cut across industries and can be used for market research, interviews and much more,” he says.