Past life (www.talview.com)

Three of the four founders of TalView share the same last name, but even before you can pop the question, comes the clarification. They aren’t related. Sanjoe Tom Jose, Tom Jose, Subramanian ‘Mani’ K. and Jobin Jose are aged 27-29 and have engineering backgrounds. Sanjoe and Mani were batchmates in the MBA programme at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay, from where they graduated in 2011. Jobin and Sanjoe were in school together in Kothamangalam, around 50km from Kochi, while Tom and Sanjoe’s families were friends.

Before launching Interview Master, TalView’s earlier avatar (the name was changed for search engine optimization) in May 2012, Sanjoe worked as a territory manager with the technology solutions company, National Instruments, in Bangalore, while Jobin was employed with Vinjey Software, a start-up in the audio-video coding space. Mani was co-founder and operating partner with CreatiVT, a Chennai-based start-up, and Tom was a senior consultant at KPMG.

Eureka moment

(From left) Jobin Jose, Tom Jose, Subramaniam K. and Sanjoe Tom Jose in Bangalore. Photo: Aniruddha Chowdhury
(From left) Jobin Jose, Tom Jose, Subramaniam K. and Sanjoe Tom Jose in Bangalore. Photo: Aniruddha Chowdhury

Genesis

“We began looking to see if there were similar technologies elsewhere and found a couple of companies in this space in the US. Then we went back to the alumni who had been enthusiastic about our project; they put us in touch with HR and recruitment professionals across various companies," says Sanjoe.

“By this time, Mani and I had graduated. Over the next year, which we spent working in different companies, we were constantly thinking about the interview tool and tinkering with it; we realized there was a lot of technology out there that we could leverage for our product to make recruitment more efficient. We roped in Jobin, who had experience in the audio-video space, as well as Tom, and formed the company a month after we had all quit our jobs," says Sanjoe. TalView got 60 lakh from VentureNursery, an investors’ group, in early 2013.

Reality check

On launch, they had only one idea: to make an impact with their tool in one sector before moving into new areas. “But 2012 wasn’t a great year for recruitments. After some research, we decided to focus on banking. What we hadn’t realized is that banking is a conservative sector: Decision making is slow. We lost six months trying to gain traction in that market," says Sanjoe.

The bruised entrepreneurs had no option but to go back to the drawing board and create a fresh profile of their ideal client. “MNCs and what we call pseudo-MNCs—companies that work with MNCs and therefore understand that culture—adopt new technologies faster, value efficiency and are focused on improvement. We remodelled our outlook to target them. Now, we work with IT, engineering and pharma companies and, yes, a little with the banking sector," says Sanjoe.

Though they had anticipated it—and their designs were always mobile-friendly—the speed surprised them. “Now we have mobile apps and always plan for desktop and mobile versions for any new tools that we build," he says.

Secret sauce

As the first company in Asia to provide video technology in the traditionally low-tech area of recruitment, TalView has come up the hard way. Each of their learnings, the four believe, gives them a huge advantage in their space, especially so far as the technology is concerned. For instance, for HDFC Bank, one of their early clients, they had to ensure good-quality video connectivity for candidates in places as far-flung as Daman and Agartala. “It was a very stiff challenge, but it stands us in good stead today when Unicef chooses us for interviews across 100 emerging countries," says Sanjoe.

Plan B

“We were very clear at the outset that this was not a single-idea company. We have always had multiple plans—B, C, D and more—from the point of view of solutions," says Sanjoe.

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