Generation Start-up: How Qureos is helping to bridge the gap between talent and companies

The UAE EdTech platform’s AI recruitment tool Iris has the potential to reduce time-to-hire and slash recruitment costs by up to 43%, company says

The Qureos team. The UAE-based company helps students and recent graduates to learn the skills required by future employers through project-based experiences. Photo: Qureos
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Picture a platform that intuitively understands your business needs and provides you with the talent you require, on demand.

That is what UAE-based education technology platform Qureos is all about, says it co-founder and chief executive Alexander Epure.

Established in August 2021 amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Qureos helps students and recent graduates to learn the skills required by future employers through project-based experiences. The start-up became fully operational in January 2022.

“The pandemic environment inadvertently accelerated the adoption of our services. Many individuals seeking to enhance their skills for career progression, as well as employers looking to hire remote talent, found value in our platform,” says Mr Epure.

Qureos started out as a passion project for Mr Epure and co-founders Mehrad Yaghmai and Usama Nini to accelerate careers by making mentorship more accessible.

“My own career was profoundly shaped by the guidance of a few key mentors. Recognising the transformative power of mentorship, I began to mentor early-career professionals and soon found myself with a growing roster of mentees,” says Mr Epure, the 38-year-old Swedish citizen who has been in the UAE for nearly nine years.

“To streamline their access to mentorship, we developed a basic website to connect their questions with the expertise of mentors.”

However, the journey did not stop there.

“Based on market feedback, we soon realised there was a need for a more integrated approach to career development. This led to the evolution of Qureos,” he adds.

The company has a talent pool of over seven million candidates from countries, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, India, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Sri Lanka and Lebanon. They are guided by mentors from more than 100 other global businesses including Google, Microsoft, PayPal, Amazon and Cisco.

Qureos’s talent work on portfolio projects under the guidance of industry professionals.

The start-up has served more than 100 companies across the UAE and Saudi Arabia including DP World, RemotePass and Unilever.

It was selected by Dubai Future Accelerators to solve the skills gap of the unemployed as well as those entering the job market ­– transitioning from campus to the workplace.

The company also recently launched Iris – an artificial intelligence talent scout that enables recruiters and employers to automatically source, shortlist and reach out to candidates.

“We launched Iris looking at the market’s need and AI adoption across the talent and employer markets,” says Mr Epure.

The company has a freemium and a paid subscription for its AI recruitment platform. The subscription plans are based on the number of shortlisted candidates an employer wants to proceed with in the recruitment process, explains Mr Epure.

“We also have a membership for talent with a freemium model,” he says.

Qureos’s AI recruitment platform can help businesses with candidate sourcing, evaluation and matching the requirements by harnessing the benefits of advanced AI and machine learning algorithms, he adds.

This platform can present “an average of 47 relevant candidates per search in just 26 seconds” and holds the potential to “reduce time-to-hire and slash recruitment costs by up to 43 per cent”.

“Employers have realised cost and time reductions in their recruitment cost centre and we are committed to building a suite of products that will continue to making this process more efficient – decrease cost and time of hire even further,” Mr Epure says.

Asked how this differs from the traditional practice of hiring, Mr Epure says: “Under traditional circumstances, recruiters dedicate significant time to the meticulous task of crafting job descriptions, posting these roles on various job boards, and then waiting for at least a week to establish a review-worthy candidate pipeline.

“The subsequent task involves reviewing and shortlisting from potentially hundreds of applications. After all this, recruiters then proceed to initiate contact with the shortlisted candidates for preliminary screening.

“This exhaustive process typically spans a duration of one to two weeks before a viable candidate pipeline is established, delaying the actual screening process.”

With Iris, on the other hand, recruiters are equipped with an actionable pipeline in mere minutes, paving the way for immediate commencement of the screening process, says Mr Epure.

Abdulrahman Al Kooheji, partner at Gro Partners, an investments-focused consultancy and advisory company in the UAE that used Iris during its beta phase, says Iris emerged as a “timely and apt solution” for the entire recruitment industry.

“In an era where instant results are not only desired but expected … my personal experience with the beta version left me appreciative of their AI’s ability to quickly and accurately process results,” he says.

“With its rapid execution and potential for significant cost-saving, Iris is well-positioned to be a game-changer, serving businesses both at a regional and global level.”

The EdTech market is booming globally. The market is projected to grow to $452.4 billion by 2028, from $194.6 billion in 2022, according to market research firm Imarc Group.

The sector in the wider Middle East and North Africa is also forecast to grow to $5.5 billion by 2028, from $2.5 billion in 2022, estimated to register a compound annual growth rate of 14.2 per cent from 2023 to 2028, a June Report Linker study found.

Several regional EdTech companies received funding in 2021 and 2022, including UAE-based almentor.net, Saudi Arabia’s Jeel Platform and Jordan-based start-ups Edunation and Abwaab.

After securing a $3 million funding in pre-seed round early last year, Qureos is planning to raise $2 million to $3 million more in its seed-plus round to accelerate its expansion into Saudi Arabia, says Mr Epure.

But he did not say when the company plans to initiate the next funding round or who the investors would be.

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Qureos
Based: UAE
Launch year: 2021
Number of employees: 33
Sector: Software and technology
Funding: $3 million

Last year’s funding round was led by Cotu Ventures and Colle Capital, with participation from global and regional investors including Globivest, Plutus21 Capital, Dubai Angel Investors and AlZayani Venture Capital, as well as other angel investors.

“Saudi Arabia is a key country for us and we will be investing aggressively to further expand our operations in the kingdom. We have a strong talent user base across the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan region and are serving employers/recruiters in the UAE and Saudi Arabia,” he says.

In future, Mr Epure foresees other service providers becoming part of its platform, expanding its career advancement offerings. These would include course providers, boot camps, career coaching platforms and micro degree providers, he says.

An initial public offering is the main goal, says Mr Epure. “When the time comes, we will explore the best possible exit option for the company and all its stakeholders.”

Q&A with Alexander Epure, chief executive and co-founder of Qureos

What is your mantra for success?

Fail fast, learn faster, take risks and build based on user data. As an entrepreneur, you will find yourself in ambiguous situations – follow your gut.

Where do you see yourself and the company 10 years from now?

In a decade, I envision Qureos being a key driving force in talent cultivation and career progression, both regionally in the Mena area and on a global scale.

I believe each individual has a distinctive career path, shaped by personal choices and external circumstances. Qureos will evolve into a preferred platform where burgeoning talent can find the support required to fulfil their career aspirations, by being connected to opportunities tailored to their unique circumstances.

I am bullish and excited about Qureos's future and the positive ripple effects we're creating within the GCC region, and eventually, globally.

Are you a risk-taker or a cautious entrepreneur?

I consider myself a prudent risk-taker. I believe in acting swiftly, but not without conducting thorough due diligence first. I analyse the available data, assess the reversibility of a decision, and weigh the opportunity cost. By meticulously comparing all these aspects, I arrive at an informed decision, ensuring that even the risks I take are strategic.

What new skills have you learnt in the process of launching Qureos?

Managing a remote team and fostering a culture of belonging and inclusion.

If you could start all over again, is there anything you would do differently?

If given the opportunity to start anew, I would make a few strategic adjustments. My primary focus would be on boosting user engagement on our platform from the outset, delaying monetisation until much later. I would also prioritise our expansion into the Saudi market earlier in our growth trajectory.

Who is your role model?

My greatest role model is my mother. Her resilience and work ethic has been an incredible source of inspiration for me. Growing up, observing her diligence and dedication has fundamentally shaped my mindset and contributed significantly to the person I am today.

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Qureos

Based: UAE

Launch year: 2021

Number of employees: 33

Sector: Software and technology

Funding: $3 million

Updated: July 17, 2023, 8:34 AM
COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Qureos
Based: UAE
Launch year: 2021
Number of employees: 33
Sector: Software and technology
Funding: $3 million