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Interview with Shail Niazi, The Talent Games

Tell us a bit about how your business began.

If you would have been there, you would have chuckled at the crazy notion of using video games for assessing and recruiting talent, you might have even though of it as a fancy gimmick and you might have been justified to think that way but then you would have been missing the point and the truth is that ever since me and my co-founder Paul Keijzer first started offering gamified assessment solutions, we have transformed many organizations in the way that they engage with, assess and recruit talent and for hundreds of thousands of candidates, recruitment has never been so fun before. The Talent Games started as a small passion project in Pakistan in 2016 and has grown tremendously ever since. Our business today is Head Quartered in Fredericton, New Brunswick with offices in Pakistan, Singapore, Australia, Nigeria, South Africa, Indonesia,Bangladesh and Colombia and has is servicing clients in over 50 countries. We have to date assessed 500,000 candidates helping them find their dream jobs while playing our games.

Paul Keijzer, co-founder

So how does it work?

The Talent Games is a gamified recruitment platform offering interactive games to organizations which they in turn use to assess candidates for hiring and development purposes. More than just a video game, our gamified candidate assessments are scientifically proven to accurately evaluate each candidate’s personality, cognitive ability, aptitude and behaviour, all while they play the game.

Our cutting-edge assessment technology combines artificial intelligence with the latest breakthroughs in neuroscience to allow companies to engage top millennial and Gen-z talent at scale, resulting in better matches and improved employee performance.

Tell us about your clientele

For a bootstrapped company, we are always excited to see our solutions being adopted by a wide variety of clients and every time we sign a new client, the feeling is just a exciting as it was with our first client. From start-ups to multinational enterprises we have an exciting rooster of clients. Nestle, FIFA, Bain Consulting, Pfizer, Coca Cola are some of the more notable clients that we serve across the globe. We also have many startups and SMEs that use our services to help them with their recruitment needs. Our games are being used by clients from many geographies and in many different languages.

Shail Niazi, co-founder

How many staff do you employ?

We have recently moved our Global HQ to Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada and are busy building a stellar team locally, in addition to this, we have diverse team of more than 30 awesome people coming from different backgrounds working across the globe.

Can you tell us about one of the most rewarding experiences you’ve had while working for the business? 

Every moment in a start-ups journey is simultaneously challenging and rewarding and every client is precious. I remember the excitement when we signed our first client, who decided to take a bet on us, when we didn’t even have a name for our product and the product itself was just a wire diagram, I remember the excitement of delivering that assignment with success and I also remember how I felt when were contacted by one of the largest soccer federation in the world to help them assess candidates for the upcoming of a global soccer cup. It’s like watching your child grow, you can never have only one memorable experience and where each experience is the reward itself.

What are you most proud of in your business?

What stands out every time, and I am not just saying this, is that everyday there are candidates around the world discussing their career aspirations with friends and loved ones and somewhere in those conversations is a mention of our game and how they are excited to play these, this is truly priceless and what drives us to grow more everyday so we can enable even more candidates to showcase their best potential.

What kind of challenges have you experienced in your business and how were you able to overcome them?

I think the entrepreneurial journey itself is inherently full of challenges and entrepreneurs are at the sharp end of the blade when it comes to dealing with uncertainties and challenges of nurturing a nascent organization to success and we have not been any different and the fact that we are a boot strapped organization has only served to add more excitement to our already exhilarating journey. Many times we have found ourselves in tight corners, from retaining talent, to juggling cash flows to threats to our IP from past employees and everything in between, we have seen quiet a bit of action in these past few years. One thing that I see that has worked tremendously in our favour was the chemistry and alignment between the founders and our ability to stand united in face of adversity. I think, this is one aspect that has been the main ingredient behind everything we have achieved so far. If founders are united and in synch with where they want the company to go, most challenges becomes easily maneuverable. I would like to use this as an opportunity to thank my co-founder Paul Keijzer, whose been a phenomenal partner, an awesome friends and a great mentor.

What is next for your business? Any exciting projects you want to tell jus about?

We have recently consolidated our global under our Canadian HQ, based out of Fredericton,NB and will using this as a launch pad for our North American penetration and product innovation. We are very excited about the prospects as we navigate these new waters and scale up our business. We are also in the process of launching our SaaS platform geared to serve SMEs and Startups alongside our existing enterprise clients and we are very excited about it as we feel this will serve as a catalyst for enabling even more organizations to bring science and fund to the art of recruitment.

How do you feel about the economy and opportunities in NB?

As a solution provider with a global focus, we see NB as a great place to anchor our business in. The ecosystem is growing fast and that brings with it a certain surge of energy which is reflected in the array of govt. programs and funds and support networks that exist for entrepreneurs and startups, in fact this is the reason why we chose NB as opposed to other more mature ecosystems. We feel that the appetite that NB has for growth is a complimenting force for startups like ours who want to grow aggressively.

What is one thing you wish more people knew about your business?

As a new way to recruit talent, we see that the market is still in its infancy in terms of awareness and that brings with it both opportunities and inherent challenges that we have to maneuver in term of awareness and adoption.

What is the best advice you ever received as a business owner?

I’m someone whose easily distracted, so it took me a while to comprehend the importance of this simple mantra that “focus is key”. In-fact it was Paul to whom I attribute this epiphany to and I am glad that I saw the wisdom in this. By doing a few things again and again and with focus has taken us a long way and I am sure had I succumbed to the lure of doing everything that excites me, the business would not have matured the way it has and that for me has been instrumental towards our growth.

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