Last week our CEO Robin Salimans pitched Kibo on the Dutch podcast “Investeer een keer”. Because we have a large number of English speakers in our network and the podcast is only available in Dutch, we’ve decided to translate the episode for you. During the episode, Scott and Abel (the two co-hosts of "Investeer een keer", asked Robin a series of questions to test the validity of Kibo. We think Robin held his ground pretty well, and you? Happy reading!
Guys, question for you: do you know those people that can give you career advice? They’re called career counsellors.
Robin: Well, that’s what Kibo does. The difference: we made an algorithm that can give you career advice. So Kibo is the first digital career coach – on an app, on your phone.
The reason for starting Kibo came from a personal experience: during our time at Uni, we ourselves and the majority of the students around us felt lost. Most students don’t know what career path they want to follow, what their next step after graduating is, or why they are studying in the first place. You can especially see this problem among students who study broader subjects (e.g. business, arts, engineering, etc.).\
In fact, two out of three co-founders visited a career counsellor during their first year at uni. Question to you again: how much do you think this costs?
Robin: You’re quite close actually! Approximately 1000 euros. And if you go to a career counsellor for a day, you need to fill in super boring, lengthy tests, get some general advice, and then you get sent home. Universities, on the other hand, often don’t have the capacity to provide career coaching on a personal level to their students.
Moreover, we’ve learned that students generally don’t feel like going to someone else’s office for an entire day or making an appointment in the first place – our generation is used to get everything on our phones, readily available. That’s exactly what Kibo provides: on-demand career advice, based on an algorithm, on your phone.
Finally, we know that humans are generally not the best at making decisions when there are a lot of options. This tends to paralyze us. Nowadays (in the age of the internet), there is an unprecedented number of career options people can choose from. Do you want to be a software developer? Follow some Udemy courses and you can write your first software. This lies in sharp contrast to our grandparents back in the days, for example: for them, the choice was much simpler.
And you know what is better at decision making than humans? Algorithms! So we are the first generation that feels this problem so strongly, and the technology that can help us navigate in our careers is now available.
Kibo’s potential is enormous: the market is very large ($15bn in the US alone) and although we start with students, this technology can be expanded to many other use cases in the future. For example, government unemployment agencies like the Dutch UWV will also be able to use this to allow people to reinvent themselves and find a new job faster. Right now, they are trying to coach people themselves, but they don’t have the capacity to coach over 400.000 unemployed people back to a new job. Kibo can do that for them, on everyone’s phones.
We are looking for a SAFE or convertible note with the value of 100 000 Euros to make Kibo a success.
Robin: First you’ll be greeted by Kibo with a little introduction and then you’ll dive right into it. Kibo will gather information about you by asking you specific questions, and by getting you to complete short games and exercises. This information is then fed into our algorithm and based on that you’ll get some first career suggestions. The more you use Kibo, the better the advice will be, and the more accurate the career matches will be. We then enable the user to ask Kibo any career-related questions and also to apply to jobs straight away through our App.
Robin: [laughs] Well actually, it never stops. Once we help you find the first career step, that’s when career coaching really begins. At that point our users will be faced with a whole new set of challenges and questions such as “I’m having some conflicts with my boss, how do I handle that?” or “how do I re-negotiate my salary?”
Robin: We also use existing datasets on jobs, collect data from conversations with Kibo (as Kibo also possesses a chatbot functionality) and from experts in the career coaching industry.
Robin: The algorithm will present you with four choices and a match score. The more you talk to Kibo, the clearer the matches will become. In that sense, yes you still need to make a decision, but you can make a much more informed decision. But of course, the algorithm will also be wrong at times and it has to be, so that it can learn. That’s why we give people the four suggestions, but still enable them to choose from any path.
Robin: Anyone can download the app. The individual customer gets charged a monthly subscription fee, but our focus at the moment is on Universities. Universities can unlock Kibo in bulk for their students with a steep discount and Kibo can also integrate with their career development department. In that sense it’s a similar model as Microsoft office.
Robin: It certainly is a big opportunity. But at the moment we are focusing on the career coaching aspect. This means giving students the right coaching and using third-party integrations to supply jobs for now. But as I mentioned in the pitch, this app has the potential to develop into all kinds of directions. That’s why in 10 years, we want to be the go-to place for anything related to your career, that of course also includes recruitment.
Robin: Precisely, we give value to Universities for a certain fee, and then they are doing the marketing for us because they want students to use the service they pay for. A double-win in that sense.
Robin: We are currently in talks with 20 Universities and are edging closer to closing deals. Some are still in the beginning phases of negotiation, for others formal offers are being prepared. We will allocate two spots for a large discount 70-80% off the list price (10 Euros per student, per month), because we are first looking for a partner to further develop certain features and tools, rather than just a paying customer. This way, we will be able to focus and be in constant contact with our customers and our users.
Robin: Basically everything. Of course, you have to subtract our salaries, server costs, and other overhead costs, but these are minimal in comparison to revenue scale that we’ll be operating on.
Robin: Yes indeed. The big difference is that we are building it for the user and not just the outcome. Many online career tests try to use clean looking interfaces that make personality tests and the likes more bearable, but in the end the user still has to answer 120 questions in a row about themselves. Kibo does this with a focus on usability and takes into account the short attention spans of our generation.
Robin: We want to use the 100k to get to our first 5 paying clients and to perfect the product, so that it is ready to scale. At that point we’ll consider raising another round.
Robin: First of all, the problem is huge. Not just because of the pandemic, but even before, students have felt more lost than ever. There’s an abundance of career options and too little support to make informed decisions. The second reason is the team. We have three dynamic and motivated guys, who have all the skillsets in-house, each have a minimum of three years of entrepreneurial experience and have already worked together for 1,5 years. On top of that we have 4 extremely qualified advisors in the fields of AI, career coaching, strategy, management and marketing, whom we are in contact with daily. Last but not least, the product has immense upside potential. There are so many people who need career advice and so many possible ways for us to give it to them, yet currently it is not accessible enough. We are here to change that.
Listen to the full podcast episode in Dutch by clicking here.