Founder Feature: Nemo D’Qrill, Founder of Sigma Polaris

Featuring in our third instalment of our Founder Feature series is the multi-talented Nemo D’Qrill, founder of Sigma Polaris.

Encountering Nemo D’Qrill at a renowned tech startup event in Shoreditch, they enlightened us about their journey to champion diversity through meritocracy, and how Sigma Polaris will be the HR Tech tool that promises to disrupt the hiring process.

Nemo speaks to us below, offering insight into the story of their innovative new HR game changing software.

Q: Could you tell us about your company and what you’re striving to achieve?

A: At Sigma Polaris we are helping companies put meritocracy front and centre to drive diversity and inclusion whilst improving the quality of their processes. Our tech currently focuses on staffing and recruitment. It uses online assessments to profile candidates and rank them relative to how well they fit a vacancy based only on Soft and Hard skills, no CVs, algorithmic- or human (un)conscious bias, only meritocracy.

We strive to both directly solve an array of problems, and simultaneously prove that data-driven meritocracy makes for the best possible approach and further cement that diversity and diversity of thought provides direct ROI for enterprises, not only ethical capital.

Q: Who are you and what is your story? 

A: I love learning and have a passion for challenging new and difficult problems. As such, I have worn many hats over my time. The realm and puzzles of pure Mathematics has always been personally gratifying but it failed to present me with problems where the solutions seemed to carry significant real-world impact. This was also how I felt about my former work as a full-time flautist for the Danish Queen. Hence, following my maths degree I decided to tackle more worthwhile goals which lead me to eventually become a Research Associate at CIBS researching financial crashes and Game Theory, followed by pursuing a PhD in Rationality Theory.

I enjoyed this academic accumulation and expansion of our collective knowledge and took great pleasure in presenting my academic work and tech-insights across the globe as an invited panellist on AI at New York University, as a speaker on Rationality Theory at the World Congress of Philosophy in Beijing, and in fields spanning Logic/ Economics/ Finance/ Philosophy, and Maths across Europe.

Read More: Founder Feature: Dr. John Bates, CEO of Eggplant

I became a Goodwill Ambassador of Denmark presenting world leading Danish brands like Maerks and Vestas, but at some point, I decided it was time to champion my own cause and start something new building upon all the accumulation I had gathered. It needed to be a cause worth championing, and where I, if everything went as planned, could make a global lasting impact. Hence, Sigma Polaris was born and I’m excited about seeing how we can disrupt the archaic, inefficient (which I as a mathematician consider a minor sin haha), and biased recruitment and human capital management processes.

Nemo of Sigma Polaris with Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes
Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes Discussing the usage and legal implications of pre-employment assessments and screenings of non-UK nationals post-Brexit with Sigma Polaris CEO Nemo D’Qrill

Q: What made you decide to take on the challenge of founding your business?

A: Three years ago, I learned just how archaic current recruitment practices are. HR staff are expected to consistently and fairly find ideal candidates armed with finger-in-the-air methods and 7.2s in average per CV: An impossible task, and the fastest way of training an unconscious bias.

I realised that with my academic background and network spanning mathematics, behavioural economics, logic, and PhD in rationality theory, I could create a piece of technology to make these processes much more efficient, accurate, and simultaneously remove their inherent bias.. So I did. Now, three years and much R&D later, I have a product that surpasses my initial expectation, it not only finds higher quality people than hands-on approaches and drives down cost&time, it also removes in average 29 cases of discrimination per hire.

The global HR landscape is changing for the better, and I’m proud to be part of that movement.

Q: What’s most exciting about your traction to date?

A: As an academic by heart and trade I would say the success metrics of our technology is the most exciting. When the research resulted in us only needing 3 months to refine the MVP following initial testing, I was thrilled, and the tech has since performed beyond even my most optimistic estimates. The fact that our technology has been so well received by everyone is also a great joy. I would never have imagined being able to gather such an awesome team around me, who joined because of the shared vision and passion about our technology.

Q: Do you see yourself as an underdog?

A: Certainly. The Human Capital Management tech landscape is exploding and estimated to double in the next 6 years. Many of our competitors are riding this wave with more early money behind them. This includes many products proven to be biased and/or relying on quite dubious research assumptions. However, when these products are wrapped up well enough with large marketing budgets behind them, they can take advantage of the current demand even with their somewhat dubious products.

However, over time our technology has a much sturdier foundation and various market-first components, so I am confident we will overtake these companies and eventually lead the evolution. As a matter of fact we are currently going for investment so as to speed up our growth and establish ourselves amongst the market leaders.

Q: How many hours of sleep do you get and what is your morning/evening routine?

A: Sleep and exercise are paramount for performance and things one should never compromise on. Even short term the impact of good physical and mental health is massive. I either get seven and a half hours of sleep or six hours with a 30 minute nap. This is based of my sleep cycle which is just over one and a half hours long. You may feel like you get more time by cutting out 1-2 hours of sleep, but you become less efficient. I have been known to do tasks taking others 2-3 weeks in a couple of days (a fact my schoolmates always hated me for), this is down to me actively using body-hacks to increase my focus and cognitive performance.

In the morning I eat porridge with cinnamon, ginger, and honey. The evenings of a founder and business owner are always full of events and when not, I exercise. I also change my focus of exercise at least biannually to continually challenge my brain and body with new tasks. I have done everything from judo to rowing to hot-yoga to partner acrobatics. My little time is too precious to waste doing the ‘same old’ routines in the gym.

Q: How are you measuring your success? What are your metrics?

A: One of our primary metrics if offer-ratios. That is, how many candidates called to interview are deemed qualified for an offer. Our initial metrics show us beating hands-on methods by multiple folds, whilst simultaneously (through meritocracy) presenting much more diverse sets of interviewees. Another is time savings where we are estimated to save 90% of pre-screening and 50% of interview time.

Q: Do you have a plan B if your venture isn’t successful?

A: The core of our technology is proven, but as a prudent person I have multiple plan B’s and C’s. All of them around pivoting the use and focus of our technology, because accurate profiling and ranking technology is valuable in so many different sectors and industry verticals. I think a smart business owner truly confident in their product arrange their plan B’s around pivots, not around new enterprises or careers. At least a third of the great tech exits every year have pivoted, there is no shame in that if the core technology is strong.

Q: Do you see this as UK centric or will you conquer the world by going global?

A: Conquer the world. I didn’t set out to make a small-impact company with great profit and valuation. I would much rather have it the other way around. My vision, and the company’s vision, is grand and will help shape the world for the better. When you put your mind to it, and keep moving towards it, it is fantastic what you can achieve. When a group of great people do it together, you can move the world and put a person on the moon.

‘If they don’t laugh at your dreams you are not being ambitious enough’

I beat a black belt within 3 months of starting judo and am close to my splits as a 6”8 giant male who got extra PE lessons due to extreme inflexibility, and my team is way cooler than me! Someone once said, ‘if they don’t laugh at your dreams you are not being ambitious enough’. This is true.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to budding innovators taking the same journey?

A: It is lonely. Find the right team, which includes mentors and advisors. Cherish them and keep them close. And if your dream doesn’t make them laugh, dream bigger. You are the author of your own autobiography, make it worth the read!

Learn more by visiting Sigma Polaris’s website.

Bekki Barnes

With 5 years’ experience in marketing, Bekki has knowledge in both B2B and B2C marketing. Bekki has worked with a wide range of brands, including local and national organisations.