In the Spotlight: Greek startup Owiwi lets your candidates play games to measure their soft skills

Every month, a promising recruitment tech vendor will tell its story in In the Spotlight. Greek startup Owiwi produced a pre-employment assessment tool that combines gaming technology and validated psychological methodology to help you find the best talent. Ilias Vartholomaios, CEO & Co-Founder of the Athens-based tech vendor, tells how you can easily reduce the risk of a ‘bad hire’ using such a game-based assessment.

For the people who don’t know Owiwi, can you tell us what it is?

Athina Polina Dova and Ilias Vartholomaios (Owiwi)
Athina Polina Dova and Ilias Vartholomaios, were only 24 and 23 years old when they started the company in 2014.

“Owiwi is a talent assessment platform that helps companies to attract, identify and select the best available talent for a job position. We have created a game-based assessment tool that measures Soft Skills in prospective or existing employees. Candidates are put in an immersive game environment where every interaction made, helps to shape a comprehensive soft skills profile in the form of a report. With this report in hand, managers can make faster and more informed hiring decisions whilst also providing an enhanced recruitment experience to candidates. The objective is to ‘unlock’ talents (or find existing ‘hidden gems’ already in the company); before they are hired – to avoid the risk of a bad hire which can have significant hidden costs behind it that go beyond the companies ‘bottom line’.”

“At the same time, we understand that candidates are more than a piece of paper (CV/Resume) – and that sometimes as applicants, we don’t manage to make the best first impression due to stress or pressure. Our tool alleviates some of that burden through its gamified nature, by enabling candidates to showcase their strengths and talents and by offering recruiters interview questions they can ask to probe deeper into the candidates’ profile.”

In your logo you can see an owl, what does this stand for?

“A great question and usually a very effective ice-breaker for us! Owiwi means ‘Owl’ in the Nigerian dialect of the Yoruba tribe. The premise is that, much in the same way that an owl sees things in the dark that others cannot; so can we see your hidden skills and strengths through our tool. It is meant to convey that we know that people are more than just a piece of paper (think CV/Resume) and that we all have talents – you just need to know where to look!”

“Owiwi has grown from a self-funded startup that began during the peak of the Greek economic crisis to an internationally recognized brand with over a 100 large multinational clients and over 120k candidates”

“Moreover, the owl logo also pays homage to our Greek roots and the Greek goddess of wisdom, Athena. One of our co-founders has the same name – but that’s just coincidence! Moreover, the Yoruba tribe is actually very well known for its playful culture and many of the games we play today can have their roots traced back to this tribe. In the same way, we are trying to bring the aspect of gamification and serious games into the culture of organisations. As our kinsfolk Plato once said, you can learn more about a person in an hour of play, than a whole year of conversation – and that is the exact value proposition we bring to the table.”

How does your tool work for organisations that would like to use it?

Owiwi is a really easy and intuitive solution to incorporate in your HR processes. As a self-service and cloud-based solution, interested parties can sign up for a Free Trial on our website from any device or browser. The Free Trial offers 14 Assessments over a period of 10 days and we can easily extend the duration of the trial in order to give ample time for an internal pilot or review.”

“With that being said, in just a few quick and easy steps you can have your Owiwi account up and running in no time. Once you log in, all you need to do is create a Position/Campaign, assign the skills you want to assess and a deadline to be completed by, send the invitations (CSV supported) and voila! You’re done!”

The Recruiter Dashboard of Owiwi
The Recruiter Dashboard.

“All you need to do next is wait for the invitees to complete their assessment. Once they do, you will be notified of their status and you will be able to view our automated dynamic reports – complete with interview questions to help you probe deeper into the candidate profile. Moreover, through the provision of our industry and market norms, you can carry out multi-layered and objective comparisons between candidates to identify the high-potentials in your applicant pool.”

“Owiwi can be applied at any stage of the recruitment process, depending on what the desired outcome of the organisation is. For example, companies looking to enhance their employer brand and/or recruitment experience would be wise to use it early on in the process so that more candidates are exposed to this unique solution. Doing so would also make it easy to filter the large volumes of CVs that recruiters receive; helping to expedite the process through automation – as our tool can also create recommended shortlists for managers. Finally, the tool can also be used on existing employees to create internal norms that can act as benchmarks for external hires – as well as to identify organisational areas of improvement so that training and development plans can be tailored to each employee.”

What makes Owiwi unique?

“What makes Owiwi unique and a leader in the field of game-based assessment tools is none other than the scientific methodology on which we have relied to develop our tool. The integrity behind our scientific process was of the utmost importance to us in order to ensure valid, credible and reliable results. It is the reason why our clients trust and prefer us over the competition and what has differentiated us on a global level; so much so that the EU Commission has selected us as a partner for their Erasmus+ project titled ‘Big Data in Psychological Assessment’ – along with other very prestigious universities and assessment vendors. What’s more, we are the only game-based assessment provider to have published two scientifically peer-reviewed journals showcasing our psychometric prowess and innovation.”

“In addition to the scientific process, another unique differentiation point for Owiwi is the game-design of our solution, as we feel we have found the golden balance between what constitutes as a game and a psychometric tool. Specifically, it provides fair and equal opportunities to all players, even those who are non-gamers; thanks to the intuitive interface and simple response mechanism we have designed – meaning that no person will be left at a disadvantage. The ease-of-use and accessibility mean that it provides unprecedented convenience when being used in the hiring process. It also eliminates any potential bias as we do not rely on machine learning algorithms to process the results; which in many cases are flawed by design and end up discriminating against particular groups/demographics – unknowingly. This is an important aspect to consider because unlike other alternative solutions out there, we have a transparent scientific process and documentation to support our claims.”

What is your roadmap for 2020?

“2020 is expected to be our biggest and best year with Q1 already looking like a record period for us – as we look to continue the momentum we generated in 2019; having entered 6 new markets and onboarding 81k candidates on our platform. Thus our main area of focus will be to roll out our new subscription-based business model which will transform the way that businesses purchase and distribute psychometric assessments in what is a traditionally very rigid and bespoke market. Another important element of our roadmap and new business model is to also deploy several integrations with other HR platforms (mostly ATS) as we understand the need and convenience they provide to our shared client base. We are really excited about these developments so stay tuned for further updates in mid-January!”

“2020 is expected to be our biggest and best year with Q1 already looking like a record period for us”

“Aside from that, it is within our plan to establish a more international presence by participating in more conferences and exhibitions around the world; following our success at the UNLEASH conference which took place in London – where we discovered the importance of having a physical presence in key markets. Just from our participation, we were able to onboard 10+ international clients as well as create a network of partners with whom we are collaborating to create complementary services relative to recruitment experience, employer branding, talent acquisition as well as training and development.”

Where will Owiwi be in 5 years?

“Owiwi has grown from a self-funded startup that began during the peak of the Greek economic crisis to an internationally recognized brand with over a 100 large multinational clients and over 120k candidates having undergone our assessment in the last year alone. Our journey is far from over and we continue to grow year after year.”

The Owiwi team
The Owiwi team

“The goal is and always was, to help companies change the way they see and find talents. Money was never a driver but helping others see the value, where others do not, has always been the goal from the start. It is our desire to empower both organisations as well as candidates/applicants to ‘unlock’ talents and change the status quo of recruitment around the world.”

“I used to find it strange that there was such a ‘heavy’ focus on HR-related services, but if you take a step back and look at the Greek economy over the course of the last decade – it makes complete sense”

“Even with the latest breakthroughs in AI, people remain the backbone of any organisation. The Alpha and the Omega…. So on that note, the goal for the next 5 years is to continue educating our audience on the benefits of game-based assessments in order to penetrate new markets and secondly to democratize and proliferate the use of psychometric assessments across all levels of business through our disruptive business model. For large corporates that means making their lives a little easier in order to focus on other critical HR matters. And for smaller business owners it means having an in-house HR department in the form of Owiwi, to help them during the first critical stages of their growth where every new hire can make or break the company.”

Can you tell us something about the Greek recruitment market?

“The Greek recruitment market has gone through an unprecedented wave of growth over the last few years, with many HR-related startups entering the market. These startups range anywhere from chatbots to applicant tracking systems or even video interviewing tools. I used to find it strange that there was such a ‘heavy’ focus on HR-related services, but if you take a step back and look at the Greek economy over the course of the last decade, it makes complete sense.”

Ilias Vartholomaios, Owiwi, Recruitment Tech
Ilias Vartholomaios: “Our main area of focus will be to roll-out our new subscription-based business model which will transform the way that businesses purchase and distribute psychometric assessments”

“Due to the economic crisis, people and organisations had to make some radical changes in order to survive. Many people were displaced or let go, and many others left the country to find employment elsewhere. This gave way to the so-called ‘Brain Drain’ where many of our best talents were forced to relocate – leaving companies struggling to replace them. The remedy in most cases was to try and replace multiple vacancies with just one person, thus the need for generalists or ‘Swiss Army Knife’ type employees who were highly sought out to mitigate against the diminished budgets of companies.”

“However, as noted above, many individuals opted to go the entrepreneurial route; rather than working under less-than-optimal conditions provided by employers – they decided to try and create something of their own. Where many people saw ‘problems’ these individuals saw ‘opportunities’; areas of improvement where technology could play an integral role toward addressing the pains that the Greek recruitment market faced with the intention to reduce costs and add value to an already ‘archaic’ process that was innovation-starved for a long time. The resource-constraint environment created by the crisis helped to foster a more innovative way of addressing these problems. Doing more with less became a mantra that many entrepreneurs had to follow – whether they liked it or not. But in doing so, it helped to make for more resourceful and resilient individuals that could develop a thriving business in a market and sector that could grow beyond the national borders.”

About ‘In the Spotlight

Recruitment tech talent is present all over the world: vendors that stand out and help you find the ideal candidates. Every month, a promising recruitment tech vendor will tell its story in the In the Spotlight column on recruitmenttech.com. The kick-off was for the Greek Owiwi and their pre-employment assessment tool that combines gaming technology and validated psychological methodology to help you find the best talent.

Do you know a vendor that’s not to be missed in ‘In the Spotlight’? Or are you working for a recruitment tech vendor with a special story, advanced technology or a great mission? Feel free to send an email to Erwin Hokken, editor at Recruitment Tech.

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