Having worked in the field of HR for many years, Barkha Sharma founded Bash.ai that uses artificial intelligence and big data to power a virtual assistant to drive HR for businesses. Bash mimics cognitive functions related to the HR function using a rule based AI powered bot.
She graduated in Bachelors in Computers and then went on to do her MBA from Amity University. Her educational qualifications taught her the required technical know-how which is essential in running a startup.
After graduating with an MBA, she deep dived into the field of human resources. She worked for 7 years in HR and over the course of the years ended up working across all facets of HR; right from human resource development, talent acquisition, organization development, process & performance improvement to team learning. It was her passion for HR and love for technology that pushed her to create Bash.ai. Her hobbies include reading fantasy and sci-fi novels.
In an exclusive interaction with Motiverge, Barkha Sharma, CEO & Founder, Bash.ai shares more insights about his venture, journey so far, future plans and motivation.
Below are the excerpts from the interview:
Tell us more about your entrepreneurial venture. When was it established?
Bash.ai was launched in March 2017 in New Delhi-NCR. It uses artificial intelligence and big data to power a virtual assistant to drive HR for businesses. Bash mimics cognitive functions related to the HR function using a rule based AI powered bot. With Bash’s user-friendly front-end chat interface built specifically for HR, it gives organizations a highly accurate and real-time way to automate conversations with employees within an organization’s intranet. It can also be accessed using instant messenger platforms such as Facebook Messenger, Slack, Telegram, Kik, Google and Microsoft’s Skype.
It helps employees organize their HR activities, answers questions related to pay slips, company leave policies and perks, among a host of other functions. For the HR team, Bash assists in processing all essential HR functions and helps elevate current efforts throughout an organization. Bash processes general inquiries and assists with real-time grievance management by providing insights and reports resulting in increased workplace productivity.
What was the biggest turning point in your life that changed your mind to become an entrepreneur?
In a world with driverless cars, the function of HR felt a tad bit outdated. Having worked in the field of HR for many years and seeing the relatively higher friction that HR has with technology as compared to any other function, pushed me to imagine a world where businesses would use AI and deep learning to improve efficiency of HR. That is how I decided to take the leap into AI and deep learning.
How big is your team?
Currently, we’re a 15 person strong team based in Gurgaon. Our team comes with an insider experience on what is missing in HR. Over the course of the year, we plan to add more strength to our team.
How do you leverage big data and AI to transform businesses in the era of digitally-driven HR? What are the business opportunities in your sector?
A rule-based bot, such as ours, can help in terms of employees getting information faster with a conversational interface, enabling the HR team to focus on more meaningful tasks rather than getting caught up with repetitive tasks and generic queries. It mimics cognitive functions related to the HR function using a rule based AI powered bot resulting in increased productivity in the workplace. With Bash’s user-friendly front-end chat interface, it gives organizations a highly accurate and real-time way to automate conversations with employees within an organization’s intranet. It can also be accessed using instant messenger platforms such as Facebook Messenger, Slack, Telegram, Kik, Google and Microsoft’s Skype.
The business opportunities are immense in this sector. There is noticeable emphasis in automation in non core activities of companies. The buzz around AI has reached almost to bubble levels. But the more serious use cases are showing encouraging results. We are in the right industry at the right time.
How has the journey been so far?
Having started Bash.ai only a year ago, it has been to see the fantastic response we’ve got from industry leaders and organizations in India, the Silicon Valley and Middle East. It is our belief in AI to bolster efficiency in HR which has been our biggest growth driver.
What are the challenges faced in your journey as an entrepreneur?
I guess one never really stops thinking about their work once they start up; your business, product and team are constantly on your mind. I do, however, try to maintain a balance between work and my personal life; it is important to take time off and spend time with family and friends.
What are your future plans?
Product wise, we currently have 4 modules:
- Welcome Aboard: aimed at employees who have accepted the offer but are yet to join.
- Post Hire Orientation: a virtual buddy to bring the new joiner in-tune with the company and its policies.
- HR Helpdesk: the core engine answering all the queries an employee might have for the HR.
- Employee Engagement: to get the pulse of the employees. More of an emotional and aspirational barometer.
Over the course of the next few months we plan to add more modules and in turn increasing the playing field for HR executives to experiment a tad bit more with AI and ML. We raised our first round of funding in October 2017. The process of fundraising has given us immense clarity on our product and sales roadmap. We are now focused on building the product further by adding more modules and adding our customer base across the globe. Our focus on productivity in the HR function has helped us in building a roadmap for the future where we can define a clear ROI for the company choosing our solution.
What keeps you going?
When I look at the team and see their immense drive to build something meaningful which has a deep impact on the HR function, it drives me even further.
What are your messages for budding entrepreneurs/ young generation?
Stay focused on what you set out to do. Be persistent, after all, Rome wasn’t built in a day.