Can’t wait to go to work. That feeling fades for many engineers the longer they work, says Clemens van den Berghe, one of Tasker’s founders. “They get bored, but they stay where they are.” Together with partner Anand Ramachandran, Van den Berghe wants to give engineers the freedom to work on the kinds of tasks they are passionate about.
For this purpose, the men are developing an online matching platform for technical assignments and projects. Van den Berghe has an in-built antennae that allows him to sense whether there is a click between a potential candidate and a client. In turn, Ramanchandran has the knowledge to translate Van den Berghe’s judgment into an algorithm.
They founded Tasker a year ago, a platform that uses Artificial Intelligence to match the right person with an assignment for a high-tech company. The system matches based on more criteria than just experience, skills and motivation of the candidate. The personal click between two people is also important. For this, Van den Berghe and Ramanchandran look at what someone is good at and gains energy from. “Also important to consider is when and under what circumstances you work best. And with whom you work best. That last point is often forgotten and is also fairly complex. We have cracked the code that can predict how well people will work together.”
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About ten years ago, Van den Berghe started a consultancy firm in the high-tech sector. “I helped come up with solutions for technical problems” He pairs companies with experts to solve those problems. In doing so, Van den Berghe mainly looked for a click. “That’s what good collaboration calls for.”
Recognizing that click is mainly a matter of intuition, says Van den Berghe. Partly because of his technical background – he studied physics at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) and has worked for Philips and the European Space Agency, among others – he is able to gauge what technical knowledge is needed and to sense which individual is the right fit. “How do people react to each other? Or what does a profile picture on LinkedIn, for example, say about someone?”
His work prospered, but his consulting firm did not grow. Two years ago, a meeting with his associate Ramanchandran changed all that. Ramanchandran was then working as head of robotics at IKEA. “A mutual acquaintance said to me, ‘You look just like Van den Berghe before he started out on his own,'” he says. Since then he has been ‘as happy as a butterfly.’ Go talk to him’.”
“I was actively working, but I didn’t dare to fully pursue my dream,” says Van den Berge. “I was standing in the way of my dream myself.” Van den Berghe’s dream is to create a kind of digital guild for people working in technology. “In the Middle Ages, people joined a guild and the work was divided according to who could do what very well. That’s how a real community was created.” In his view, jobs as we know them are outdated nowadays. “We invented them once because we didn’t know how to organize the work. It has taken away our freedom to keep choosing work that we enjoy.”
Things also clicked between Van den Berghe and Ramanchandran. They brainstormed together and Ramanchandran came up with the idea of automating Van den Berghe’s personal antenna. He becomes passionate when he talks about it. “I want to give engineers the freedom to make their daily lives more enjoyable. By doing the kinds of jobs that they are good at and that make them happy.” They set up Tasker together in 2020.
“Everyone probably remembers that one project you wanted to get started on as soon as possible because you loved it so much. That’s actually a very basic feeling, but we often lose it,” Van den Berghe goes on to say. So the two came up with a solution in order to recapture or sustain that feeling.
“When a company approaches us with a technical challenge, we divide it into a number of set tasks with clear agreements on the intended result. An algorithm searches for the person who can perform this task perfectly and is also available,” Van den Berghe explains.
Each candidate is given a skills passport, which states what the engineer can do and what knowledge and experience that person has. With a brief online exercise, based on techniques also used in the military to form teams, the platform knows whether the candidate in question will click with the client.
Tasker does not ask for information that could potentially lead to “bias” in the matching process. For example, gender or age remains unknown. “Which ensures that everyone gets equal opportunities for the jobs that are on offer. And gets paid the same amount for a job,” says Ramanchandran. The complexity, availability and urgency of a job determine the price. “If something needs to be done this week, the price is higher than if it’s three months in the future.”
“Often, with the first query, a manager will still call with an explanation of what they are seeking from us,” says Ramanchandran. “The second time they call, is only to say that a job is available. And the third time, they don’t tell us anything. They know that a good candidate is on the way.”
Tasker is for any kind of “hardware” engineer. From freshly graduated to highly experienced, in paid employment or fully self-employed, says Van den Berghe. “In this industry, it is not so common yet to work remotely, but a lot of tasks are ideally suited for that. So, any engineer anywhere in the world can sign up.”
Since its launch a few months ago, the digital ‘task matching’ platform has over 7,000 members from 114 different countries. By doing a lot of matching, the system is getting smarter, says Ramanchandran. “Once we have perfected it for the technology market, we will expand. Perhaps even to the online gaming market. To match the perfect team there too.”
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