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Highlights

 

In today’s episode of Category Visionaries, we speak with Raghu Gollamudi, CEO and Co-Founder of Included, a people analytics platform that’s raised $5.4 Million in funding.

Topics Discussed:

  • Raghu’s journey from India to the US, starting as a software developer before moving into leadership roles at Microsoft and several startups, and the impact of the murder of George Floyd in sparking his passion for DEI.
  • The problem Included AI solves for HR and analytics teams, providing out-of-the-box insights and actionable recommendations to replace the endless cycle of report generation and data requests.
  • How Included AI’s platform uses machine learning and generative AI to surface hotspots in performance calibration, predict attrition risk, and audit AI-driven recruitment processes for bias.
  • The company’s evolution from a DEI-focused recruitment tool to a broader people analytics platform, driven by customer needs and the realization that DEI must be embedded into HR tech rather than siloed.
  • Raghu’s perspective on the importance of explainable AI, complementing rather than replacing human decision-making, and using AI to dramatically improve the efficiency of analyzing complex, high-dimensional HR data.
  • Included AI’s traction with early adopters like Remitly, achieving 150% quarter-over-quarter growth since crystallizing its MVP, and the surprising effectiveness of cold calling in a noisy market.

Actionable
Takeaways

Identify Trends in Organizational Structures to Spot Opportunities:

Raghu drew a parallel between the rapid emergence of Chief Diversity Officers post-George Floyd and the rise of Chief Privacy Officers after GDPR. By recognizing patterns in how companies react to social and regulatory shifts, founders can anticipate where new roles and responsibilities will create demand for innovative solutions. Stay attuned to the zeitgeist and adapt your offering to the evolving needs of key stakeholders.

Leverage Warm Intros and Tactful Cold Outreach to Cut Through Noise:

Despite churning out content and email campaigns, Included AI found that busy HR leaders simply didn't have the bandwidth to engage with marketing materials. Instead, two channels proved most effective for booking meetings: warm introductions from happy customers and well-timed cold calls from SDRs. Founders should thoughtfully combine network leverage with persistent, segmented cold outreach to get on prospects' radar.

Prioritize Explainability in AI-Driven Decision Support:

Raghu emphasizes Included AI's commitment to making its ML models transparent and auditable, empowering users to understand the reasoning behind recommendations. By positioning AI as a complement to human judgment rather than a replacement for it, the company builds trust and adoption. Founders implementing AI should prioritize explainability, giving users the context to confidently act on insights.

Relentlessly Validate Product-Market Fit Before Scaling:

Having experienced the pain of premature scaling, Raghu cautions founders against getting overexcited by early signs of PMF. His advice is to rigorously validate customer resonance through founder-led sales, watching for patterns of consistent traction before investing in growth. Staying close to customers and iterating based on their feedback is essential to avoiding false starts and wasted cash.

Design People Analytics to Drive Equitable Experiences:

Included AI's long-term vision is to enable organizations to provide uniquely tailored support to each employee, recognizing that individuals have diverse needs and potential. By using data to personalize the employee experience, companies can boost morale, productivity, and ultimately profitability. Founders building people analytics tools should ground their roadmaps in the goal of fostering equitable outcomes for all.

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