Resolve critical talent problems through passion, not copying
To explore the forces that are shaping investment decisions into HR services and what more can be expected, this interview feature will bring an outside view of HR tech startups and trends in the people and work landscape. In the first of the HR Tech Startup Mentor Series, we spoke to Hidekazu Ito, MD, Mynavi Solutions India Pvt. Ltd. on the changes he has observed and his advice to young and upcoming HR tech startups that hope to solve pressing talent challenges.
Hidekazu Ito, MD, Mynavi Solutions India Pvt. Ltd today is at the helm leading change in HR and education through strategic investments and partnerships. As a strong arm of the Japanese giant Mynavi, Hide’s work in investing and partnering with companies in India has been guided by the mission of "Encourage India's growth, create shared value".
This has taken him through a diverse and enriching journey of supporting different stakeholders across India’s people and work landscape. His work has been pivotal in unlocking the potential of the Indian jobs and skills market and today has overseen investments across a range of HR and education solutions. With People Matters being the latest among such acquisitions, we sat with Hide and explored more about his guiding philosophy and how he hopes to translate his vision into reality.
Here are some excerpts from the interview:
What has been the vision and principle behind your advent into investing and supporting startups and young entrepreneurs finding their way to success?
Hide: Mynavi has been supporting people across different touchpoints. We did this by finding the right educational institute (high schools and universities) and job matching through our platform. Up until five years ago we focused mainly on the Japanese markets.
When I entered the Indian markets with Mynavi, I saw huge social problems in the HR and education space. Challenges like mismatching skills or lack of resources for higher education. These issue areas soon became my core area of focus expanding further in India.
Through my journey, I have realised that we cannot get people's trust or create a Mynavi brand in India if we only pursue the financial return through investing in start-ups as a foreign company. So that's why I made a clear and concrete vision and mission statement where it was important to contribute to India’s growth story. This helped me channel my efforts and investment to resolve social issues and contribute to India's growth.
In addition to having the right idea, business model and timing to address social issues, startups and companies need to have the right leaders. To be able to grow and scale, the leadership skills (motivation, enthusiasm, belief and execution ability) of the founder or promoter are most important.
What are some critical economic and behavioural factors you think HR tech startups prioritise today to serve the community better and enable business success?
Hide: It's hard to give a specific answer as we know that success doesn’t depend on a single factor that also depends on a whole set of parameters like markets, geographies, and issues.
However, one of the important factors for HR start-ups is clearly to support the digital transformation trend and movement. I feel the current HR space needs more visibility and credibility of people's capabilities. There is also a need to improve matching accuracy and deploy the right talent to the right roles to improve productivity and efficiency. HR tech startups need to innovate and provide these impactful solutions.
What do you see as the growing HR tech startup landscape and how do you see it evolving in the coming years?
Hide: Humans are more important than technology or Artificial Intelligence. It is we who create newer technologies and contextualise their usage. But we live in a VUCA era and change is constant. It’s important to have the right HR technologies that enable and facilitate business change.
The changes in the business ecosystem mean Human Capital Management is getting more and more important to help companies deal with the current VUCA era. HR tech startups that are further strengthening talent management will be important. The landscape will grow and become better at supporting the needs of an emerging business scene.
What is your advice to entrepreneurs and CEOs today to find newer ways to balance employee expectations and business needs to grow and scale?
Hide: The access to convenient solutions has risen and widespread tech solutions have already saturated the market. This poses a major challenge in front of startups hoping to scale and grow.
My advice to entrepreneurs and CEOs in these times is to try and identify the critical social problem and resolve it through your passion, motivation and what you love. You must find your way to solve the problem rather than copying booming services, products and ideas. This is what will help you stand apart from the rest and ensure you can channel your passion into solving that problem.
Entrepreneurs and CEOs play a huge role in scaling their startups successfully. By leading their companies in a way that finds new, original ways to solve social problems they can make a difference to others to create a valuable organisation.
With his zeal to channel his efforts and investment to resolve social issues and contribute to India's growth, Hidekazu Ito will be one of the mentors at Asia’s largest confluence of startups, VCs, investors and work tech enthusiasts, People Matters Startup Program. So, get ready to pitch your innovation, receive first-hand feedback from investors and even find potential customers.