01 Jun 2019


Case Study: Mind the Gap


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The facts of the ever-widening skills gap are increasingly difficult to ignore: As many as 9 million tech jobs sit vacant across the US, Europe, and China, says Przemyslaw Berendt (PLDA 18, 2014). And judging by the $1 trillion spent on IT services in 2018 and the direction of global tech trends, the shortage of skills isn’t going away quickly. Berendt cofounded Talent Alpha in 2018 to fill that gap. The Kraków-based startup is building a marketplace to link Central and Eastern Europe’s software houses with global enterprises in search of talent—connections that are further refined by an AI engine that ensures an optimal fit down to the level of soft skills.

Berendt came to Talent Alpha after 18 years in the tech industry, most recently at the global IT service provider Luxoft. There he observed that the 25,000 small IT companies in Central and Eastern Europe, each employing 5 to 500 software engineers, are often locked out of larger enterprise deals. What’s more, their target clients and projects are relatively small, which means valuable resources are left on the table. “That’s 700,000 software engineers, and anywhere between 20 and 30 percent of the headcount is not optimized for utilization,” Berendt says. “About 200,000 people are sitting idle. We want to take this wealth of talent and connect it to Fortune 5000 companies.”

These “talent as a service” offerings will allow global companies to build a virtual team of pre-qualified engineers on demand, “in the same way that you would hail an Uber ride,” Berendt says. Software houses across Europe meanwhile will be able to grow their sales pipeline, access new markets, and create economic opportunities locally.

The Question:

With $5 million in seed funding announced in May, Talent Alpha is actively building the platform, signing partnerships with software houses (70 and counting), and creating a digital fingerprint for each engineer—incorporating a mix of professional competencies and a person’s psychometric profile. Meanwhile the founders are facing the chicken-and-egg conundrum of growth: whether to build the supply of talent to attract clients first, or vice versa. Building the supply side has been straightforward, but convincing enterprise clients to leverage talent as a service as part of their strategy has been more challenging, Berendt says. What can Talent Alpha do to catalyze this process and convince companies to consider the human cloud?

What Would You Do?

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