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Startup Story

How HR tech startup Gupy makes better hires

Posing for Gupy

The Brazilian startup that raised $93 million & filled 480,000 jobs in 2021 alone

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“Every company needs to hire people,” says Mariana Dias, CEO and cofounder of Gupy. “Hiring is the single most important business process, and we know the pain points of companies in Brazil.” In a country with a 14% unemployment rate and an often hidebound hiring process, HR startup Gupy has digitally streamlined recruitment, using a suite of advanced AI tools to bundle hiring and onboarding into a seamless, end-to-end digital HR platform that has won over Renner, the country’s largest department store; Itaú, its largest bank; and Ambev, one of South America’s largest beverage companies.

Gupy filled 480,000 job openings in 2021, thanks to artificial intelligence. “Our algorithm allows companies to go through millions of CVs and respond to every applicant,” says Dias. “This allows us to match, rank, and recommend candidates to openings, cutting down hiring time up to 80%. We can easily prove the ROI of hiring through Gupy.”

The pandemic-driven pivot to remote work reinvigorated the prospects of the nearly 400 HR tech startups in Brazil. But few have sparked investor confidence in the way Gupy has. In January, Gupy announced a new round of $93M in funding (BRL 500 million), the largest investment in an HR platform in Latin American history and the largest investment in a Brazilian startup founded by women.

With 600 full-time employees and 100% year-over-year growth, Gupy now has 22.5 million users at 2,300 client companies operating in nine other Latin American countries, who use the platform in Spanish and English, in addition to its native Portuguese iteration.

Leveraging tech to identify, rank, and recommend candidates

When Dias was working in HR, she realized there was an opportunity to leverage technology to make the recruiting process more inclusive and efficient. She envisioned implementing artificial intelligence (AI) to filter through CVs and recommend the best candidates to open roles to create a transparent, diverse, and data-driven hiring process that saved the time of both applicants and companies.

A platform that could help streamline hiring wouldn’t only help companies scale quickly; it had the potential to contribute to Brazilian economic recovery—a big opportunity for a country where unemployment hovers around 14% .

She brought her colleague Bruna Guimarães, now Gupy’s COO, and her brother Guilherme Dias, Gupy’s CMO, in on the idea. Gupy’s first product, Gupy Recrutamento e Seleção (Hiring), incorporates artificial intelligence to understand CV information and job descriptions. The algorithm matches candidates to companies’ job openings, then ranks and recommends them to hiring teams, removing hours of application review from the hiring process. The product consistently updates its ranking process; the AI considers all new subjective and objective information it receives about candidates, like their performance on assessments and in interviews, and it learns over time how to refine its ability to select, rank, and recommend candidates.

“From 2017 to 2019, 2020, VCs finally realized that there was a gigantic universe inside human resources and that HR is a relevant part of the cost structure in every company,” says Dias. “And it wasn’t automated; it didn’t have a lot of technology, so HR tech companies started to grow faster. Many companies popped up, and although the economy was not growing throughout those years, the HR tech ecosystem made several advancements.”

In 2015, the three cofounders left their day jobs, rented an apartment together to reduce costs, sold their cars, and put all their savings into their startup. Within a year, they landed their first clients and brought on their fourth co-founder, Gupy CTO Robson Ventura. They built their second product, Gupy Admissão (Admission), an online onboarding tool that streamlines the paperwork and benefits selection process and brings it fully online. The most valuable feature of Gupy Admissão is document validation: All of a new employee’s documents can be sent online to the company, and Gupy’s AI automatically validates them. The HR team doesn’t need to verify their accuracy. Gupy Admissão also alerts new employees when they need to complete onboarding paperwork and if any documentation is missing or incomplete.

Next, Gupy acquired the corporate education startup Niduu to expand its reach from hiring and onboarding to professional development. Dias said the acquisition will help companies develop their employees’ skills faster, and it also has the potential to train a diverse new generation of employees, who are particularly needed in the technology sector. Niduu creates customized employee training courses with text, video, and gamified activities. Most recently, Gupy acquired its biggest competitor on the recruiting side, Kenoby, to bolster its offerings.

In July 2021, Gupy launched a free diversity solution that aims to help Brazilian companies hire diverse employees. Applicants can self-identify as underrepresented, and recruiters can select members of diverse groups and also determine from which channels applicants are coming.

“We believe that having a job is a fundamental right for everyone, and we want it to be a reality,” says Dias. “From the over 500 companies that have started using Gupy's Diversity Solution, in the first month we saw a 55% increase in hiring from underrepresented groups. After four months, that percentage rose to 72%.”

During the pandemic, when companies moved to 100% digital hiring, automated human resources services in Brazil expanded.

“It accelerated a bunch of things for us,” says Dias. “In the midst of the pandemic, we raised BRL 40 million [almost 8 million USD] in funding, which we applied towards accelerating the launch of a product that would allow the onboarding process to also be 100% online. An entrepreneur needs to be looking into the market and the economy but also be aware that there are opportunities in these moments of strange tides and scarcity.”

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Google mentorship and products improve efficiency and make inroads into new areas

In 2017, the five-member Gupy team joined the second class of Google for Startups Residency at Campus São Paulo, a program of workshops, tailored mentoring, and dedicated workspace at Google for Startups Campuses. Selected startups connect with peers and get help and support from Googlers to build their businesses. Dias found the experience so valuable that Gupy ended up staying for the third class, too—although their team quickly outgrew the building, going from six people to 60 in just a few months.

“When we joined the Google for Startups Residency program, we had around 10-15 clients,” says Dias. “We left the program with over 50, including large clients such as Ambev, Embraer, and Renner. We grew so much with Google. It was like a stamp of approval.”

Google mentors and longtime Google for Startups partner organization Communitech helped arrange for Dias and Ventura to visit a Google AI development center in Canada to meet startup founders from around the world, learn how Google operates globally, and receive Google mentoring on tools like the Google Cloud, and artificial intelligence. This one-on-one support helped Dias and Ventura reorganize some product processes.

“It was incredible and helped us to restructure many things in our product,” says Dias. “When we came back, we changed our platform significantly.”

In 2021, Gupy took part in Google for Startups Accelerator: Brazil as part of a cohort of women-led startups. During the program, they built an MVP for document validation to boost the traction of their Gupy Admissão product. The idea was to have the AI extract text and validate information in the admissional form fields, as well as validate the documents according to their type (for example, verifying that a document that was uploaded as a tax ID is actually a tax ID). Google mentors suggested new tech tools to achieve specific goals for Gupy’s product, including AutoML, a Google tool to help build models faster and more easily. By building their own model to substitute existing off-the-shelf document validation solutions, Gupy was able to save 98.7% on their overall image processing costs. They also taught the Gupy team techniques to improve accuracy by identifying which parts of documents had the necessary information and gave Gupy tips on distributing models to clients faster using Google Cloud. Gupy is already a national reference in processing and understanding text with AI, and Google mentors also helped the team master image processing.

As a result of incorporating these new tech tools, Gupy gained development speed, particularly when using machine learning with images. Gupy’s in-house validation tool became 99% more cost-efficient, training time decreased 60%, image processing decreased 98.7%, and the number of datapoints used increased from 3,533 images to 15,000. New product delivery was two months earlier, from September to July.

“We have an incredibly capable machine learning team specialized in text, but we’re opening up a new front in image,” reflected Bianca Ximenes, Gupy’s Head of AI, after the program wrapped. “We were able to develop new expertise and get results much faster, thanks to the Google for Startups Accelerator mentoring sessions…Google putting us in contact with these kinds of leaders made a gigantic difference.”

At that point, with Google support and solid products, Gupy was able to reach out to large enterprise companies, like Hapvida, BMW, Grendene, and Cimed to secure them as clients.

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What’s next for Gupy and online recruiting

Dias’ vision of the future of work is that it will center applicants and employees and be data-focused.

“Recruiting processes will be much more focused on the applicant’s experience, not the recruiters’,” she says. “What matters is the applicant’s journey. The future of work, in my opinion, is also data-focused. There is a lot to be seen in salary progression and promotions that have to do with data and performance.”

Dias says people are working for more companies in their careers, and job descriptions and responsibilities are evolving quickly. More than ever, HR departments need resources like Gupy in order to keep up and continue hiring people with the right skills for each available role.

Creating a more diverse (and data-driven) workforce

With an eye on continued innovation in her industry, Dias is also focused on sustaining her company’s healthy culture and strong team in a high-growth environment. Just as Gupy’s diversity solution aims to help more companies in Brazil hire more diverse teams, the company is focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion internally. Women make up 50% of the company at every level, and the company has launched a Diversity Manifesto that spells out Gupy’s commitment to diversity internally and externally.

Guilherme Dias cites research by Deloitte and McKinsey that demonstrates how diversity benefits companies. “More diverse environments impact innovation, product development, services, and processes,” he says.

Diversity has always been important to Dias, and a mentoring session with Mariana Macário, who was leading DEI initiatives for Google Brazil at the time, inspired her to be more intentional about diversity at Gupy.

“She said, ‘You think of yourselves as very inclusive, and yet you don’t talk about it. If you don’t intentionally communicate about this, there is no conversation, there is no evolution. It is not just acceptance; it is promoting an environment that is truly inclusive,’” says Dias. “From that conversation, we changed things, from the way we hire, to fostering groups inside the company, to actively act on diversity, equity, and inclusion. We have a lot of room for improvement, but I’m proud of where we are. Gupy is 50% women. Every company needs to be diverse because people come from different backgrounds and bring different perspectives, which help us be more productive, more efficient, and more inclusive. Google really opened our eyes to it.”

Learn more about Gupy