Verifying credentials and work references are two of the biggest challenges for a recruiter and who would know it better than Kartik Mandaville, founder and CEO of hiring firm SpringRole.
Founded in 2014, SpringRole has been operating a profitable staffing and hiring service across India and US for clients such as Flipkart and IBM and clocking annual revenues of over $1.5 million (more than Rs 10.5 crore).
Much of its processes, like other tech-friendly recruiter companies, have been automated but one problem has always stood out like a sore thumb: profile verifications. No matter how sophisticated its machine learning algorithms or parsers were, the output was only as good as the input.
“The input was not in a clean state and not even verified and that was a problem,” says Mandaville recollecting instances where hiring large batches required sorting through hundreds of resumes and ranking them for a particular job profile. “The results were not good as the input data was not good to begin with, a lot of the credentials and skills were not verified, and that caused a problem.”
SpringRole wants to fix this problem. Mandaville and his team began working on a blockchain-based attestation protocol last year. The idea behind the protocol is to improve the verification process and then to back it up on a blockchain making it immutable and easily accessible.
“What we are trying to solve is a verified professional network where you can also monetise the value of your network via referrals, helping some with hiring, consultation, freelancing etc,” says Mandaville. “Once the idea came about for developing a verified professional network, blockchain seemed to be the perfect technology to build this on.”
How the SpringRole blockchain works
The SpringRole blockchain system can be thought of as a LinkedIn on blockchain, sans the social media features. Users can come and create profiles with their credentials and skills which will then be verified and written onto the blockchain. On the other hand, companies on the network can use it to verify the credentials and details of potential candidates using the system or search the network for potential hires.
According to Mandaville, the process of employee verification usually starts with a request from a company along with the details of the prospective candidate. This step is followed by SpringRole reaching out to the candidate via the platform to get his or her profile created on it.
Every user signing up on the platform begins by creating a profile and adding credentials such as educational qualification, work experience and skill sets. These credentials go through one or more of the three levels of verification, namely L1, L2 and L3 before they are confirmed and written onto the blockchain. L1 process is more or less of an automated process which involves reaching out to peers and references provided by the candidate.
The L2 verification process involves a verification done by a third party service provider. SpringRole is building up a marketplace of these service providers and has already tied up with companies like IDfy for the same. It also permits clients to integrate their existing verification service providers to integrate with SpringRole’s platform. The third layer of verification, L3, involves direct verification from the candidates’ employers and educational institutions for which SpringRole is building a network of companies, educational institutions, and other certification partners to be integrated on to its own platform.
The companies can choose the level of verification they require. The L1 verification is offered free by the platform.
Earning with your profiles
The journey of a user on SpringRole does not end with the creation of a profile, the network has gamified the whole process through which a user grows his profile and expands his network in the form of token earnings.
Once you have created a profile you can start building your network and endorsing others while also requesting for endorsement for others. This is when the incentive tokens come into play.
Much like LinkedIn, users on the SpringRole network can endorse someone’s proficiency in a skill. Whenever someone you have endorsed is hired on the network based on the endorsement, you will be rewarded with Spring tokens. “Suppose you have endorsed me for my programming skills and tomorrow I get a freelancing gig for programming and my profile is verified. Since my reputation is because of your endorsement, you get a part of the benefit,” says Mandaville.
Every user who signs up on the platform is alloted 100 tokens by default which he or she can utilise for endorsement or monetise. “Users can withdraw the token and if they want to withdraw and monetise outside the system, they are free to do that,” says Mandaville.
But, companies on the SpringRole network have to pay in fiat or real-world currency for employee verification and other related processes. They will, in turn, be issued tokens for the same. “The companies will pay us in fiat, both in US and India, and we will credit them with tokens internally for the processes. The tokens credited to them, they will have to only use it here,” explains the CEO. Companies, like individual users, too, can earn tokens by verification of candidates and can withdraw these tokens (though not the ones they purchase via fiat).
There are other blockchain-based networks, like Appii, which uses a blockchain-backed system for users to share profiles with verified skills and credentials, and Indorse that is a blockchain-based skill endorsement platform.
30,000 and growing
According to Pankaj Bansal, co-founder and CEO of HR solutions firm PeopleStrong, the most common problems in employee profiles are inaccuracies rather than falsified data and this is one of the parts where verification plays a crucial role.
“Generally what we see nowadays in employee profile data is more of inaccuracies than falsified information and verification is important to fix these inaccuracies. There are companies using blockchain and leveraging the technology for verification solutions in the industry but it is taking place in small silos,” says Bansal who feels that a larger group implementing the technology together will benefit the industry rather than individual companies working on solutions. “Unless and until it is a group effort or consortium or an industry standard sort of implementations, individual companies working on their own solutions will not work.”
Currently, 19 companies have already signed up for SpringRole’s blockchain solution including hotel group Shilton Hospitality, blockchain service company WandX, and Splyt, an urban mobility company. There are 30 others who are in the process of signing up for the system, says Mandaville . The network has over 30,000 individual users signed up mainly from India and the US.
Revenues are expected to kick in from use of the blockchain platform from October. “Towards the end of October, the company will start getting revenue once the verification process starts to kick off. Once we have more features like skills and other endorsements up and ready we will do the public release,” says Mandaville.
Earlier this year, SpringRole conducted an ICO, a process in which a company raises money by selling its crypto token in exchange for cryptocurrency, and raised 2700 ETH from it.
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