Alyss wins $120K pitch competition, brings A.I. to HR departments

Last month’s Inside/Outside Innovation Summit in Lincoln encouraged collisions, collaborations, and discussions between startups, corporations and communities. It was also a chance for one startup to win $120,000 from Nelnet, Allo Communications, Spreetail, Assurity, and Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development in the Startup Investment Pitch Competition. Taylor Stevenson’s winning pitch for Wichita-based Alyss Analytics took…

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Alyss wins at Inside/Outside Summit

Last month’s Inside/Outside Innovation Summit in Lincoln encouraged collisions, collaborations, and discussions between startups, corporations and communities.

It was also a chance for one startup to win $120,000 from Nelnet, Allo Communications, Spreetail, Assurity, and Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development in the Startup Investment Pitch Competition.

Taylor Stevenson’s winning pitch for Wichita-based Alyss Analytics took home the grand prize.

“My goal personally, was to get into the pitch competition as a wild card,” said Stevenson, Strategic Partnerships Executive of Alyss. “To be able to accomplish that and then further win the pitch competition was a huge, humbling experience for us and serves as market validation as we continue to roll this product out.”

Alyss is a custom A.I. built to be a companion for finding candidates who stand out based off of their soft skills and “intangible” traits.

“We take 60 seconds of candidate video and quantify how positive, articulate, confident and energetic an individual is,” said Stevenson. “We place that in HR departments in order to give them an assessment of a candidate pool’s soft skills prior to candidate interaction. Our data empowers HR executives to make better, faster decisions on who to move forward in their international processes.”

Mike Mathia, founder and CEO of Alyss, previously founded a career consulting firm but found that it was impossible to scale the business since there was only one of him. Over his time spent in consulting, he heard one sentiment being repeated by candidates that inspired him to pivot his business.

“He kept hearing from candidates, ‘If I could just get two minutes in front of the hiring manager, I wholeheartedly believe in my ability to land a job,’” said Stevenson. “He was seeing this disillusion from the candidates in terms of not being able to have their voice heard.”

The first iteration of his business was Knoxx, a platform that allowed candidates to upload videos to resume profiles. Knoxx was accepted into Wichita’s E2E Accelerator which challenged him to go deeper with his business.

“That’s how he conceptualized the idea of Alyss, which watches the candidate videos for you and then analyzes the soft skills that are being presented by that individual candidate,” said Stevenson.

Alyss scans candidates for four soft skills: positivity, articulation, competency and energy.

“We believe [those four soft skills] give you a good general synopsis of a candidate’s soft skills across a variety of categories,” said Stevenson. “We ultimately want to increase the number of attributes that we can quantify, but first we wanted to release it to the market, and then understand what the market wants.”

Stevenson said that Alyss’ immediate HR benefit is an analysis of an entire candidate pool’s soft skills prior to candidate interaction.

“You’re saving time in that process,” said Stevenson. “We’ll also guarantee or assure that you’re not missing out on opportunities. Because you’re the right candidate in a hard-skill resume, doesn’t mean you’re the right candidate with soft-skills, and vise versa.”

The long-term benefit is that HR departments become data-driven through using the system.

“The long-term data play is that we can partner with employers to help them understand the perfect soft-skills within those four categories––positivity, articulation, competency, energy––for every position within their organization,” said Stevenson.

Alyss is currently being used primarily within Wichita but with product launch less eight weeks away, Stevenson said the team is planning on expanding to other Midwest markets in Kansas City, Omaha/Lincoln, Denver, Dallas/Austin, Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

“Specifically, we’re targeting companies with 500 employees or more within the verticals of retail, hospitality, healthcare, financial and insurance services, and customer service,” said Stevenson. “Ultimately, we’re looking for HR professionals, [but] there’s a lot of potential for Alyss’s core technology to be used in lots of different scenarios.”

Stevenson explained that the core technology isn’t only useful to HR departments.

“One of the things we’ve been exploring is a possible Department of Defense proposal where we help to identify early signs of PTSD after traumatic incidents,” said Stevenson. “As we continue to go to market, we’re constantly evaluating different revenue streams. If there’s anyone who thinks of our technology and can conceptualize how to use it, we’re all ears.”

The team at Alyss envisions a future where HR departments are data-driven, but they have no intention of replacing human-to-human connection.

“Technology should be leveraged to do the heavy lifting without taking away the decision-making power of human beings,” said Stevenson. “We truly believe that’s what life is all about and ultimately, hiring decisions are based on those connections. […] But if we can remove some of the gut instincts and the bias, and have a science-based, data-driven approach to HR, we ultimately believe that everyone is going to see better results.”

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Christine McGuigan is the Managing Editor of Silicon Prairie News.

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