From asshole filter to GenZ savant. The story behind Zortify

Our story - Zortify

The story behind zortify is closely linked to the professional rise of a woman. Let’s call her “Lena”. It is 2023. Lena has been Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at a listed public company for two years. Back in 2021 she almost didn’t get the job. What happened? 

Chapter 1: ChatGPT from Luxembourg (almost) 🧠

2018. Florian Feltes is sitting with his good friend Marcus Heidbrink over a glass of wine. The two are connected by their work in psychology, leadership and organizational development as well as their interest in new technology. Florian talks about his unsuccessful application to a Danish innovation consultancy. He had used Natural Language Processing (NLP) to analyze similarities and differences between himself and the consultancy’s managing directors. NLP is the technology that was to conquer the world five years later in the form of ChatGPT. Florian thinks it is a great idea! The bosses at the company he applied to thought it was stupid and turned him down.

Florian and Marcus can’t let the topic go. They ask themselves: How much information about a person can be analyzed from written text? The two intensify their research and recognize the potential of AI-based text analysis for HR and companies. In the same year, they found zortify and share the CEO position. This is followed by years of intensive work at the intersection of artificial intelligence, leadership and psychology and the opportunities that a smart combination of the three fields offers for modern HR work.

CHAPTER 2: Finally: An “asshole” filter for companies. 🀭

2021. Florian and Marcus are working on one of the world’s largest studies on the topic of “Narcissism in management”. The study attracts a lot of media attention. The Harvard Business Manager puts it on its cover. From there, zortify is primarily associated with the ability to filter out candidates with toxic traits before they get into leadership positions.

CHAPTER 3: AI sees what you don’t see. 🧐

However, the technology that the growing zortify team of experts in NLP, AI, UX, data science, psychology and neuroscience is constantly developing from Luxembourg can do more than expose narcissists. In addition to counterproductive behaviors, it can also identify character traits that contribute to a company’s success, such as the presence of an entrepreneurial personality, resilience, empathy and agility. The possible areas of application are also becoming more diverse. In addition to the AI-based selection of suitable candidates in recruiting (zortifySELECT), new, exciting fields of application are emerging at the cutting edge of current HR challenges:

  • zortifyGROW – to select and develop talent and managers for positions
  • zortifyTEAM – to build high-performance teams and improve collaboration
  • zortifyLEADER – to build new leadership and feedback structures
  • zortifyCULTURE – to measure and improve corporate cultural factors.

Behind all applications is a highly disruptive AI technology. It uses text-based answers to identify psychological dimensions that the human eye cannot see even on second glance. “If you build this tool, you will build a rocket,” is the feedback from the Luxembourg start-up competition. And the rocket is gaining considerable momentum. Florian and Marcus’ team doubles in size within a year and continues to grow.

CHAPTER 4: Growing sometimes hurts. πŸ€•

With a growing team come new challenges. A larger office, new management responsibilities, not just preaching hybrid leadership, but actually managing it, a smaller office (because it’s better for the team spirit), team members who work all around the globe. The learning curve is extremely steep. Onboarding at one of the “Big 4” is then something of a baptism of fire on the product side. After that, it’s clear that zortify meets all the quality criteria and standards to take HR work at the really big companies, but also at “classic” SMEs, to a new level. For Andrea Resch-Krenn, Head of HR at Thalia, a LinkedIn message from Florian is enough to convince her of the AI technology made in Luxembourg. She is an early adopter, testing zortify’s tools while they are still in the early development phase, giving valuable feedback to the zortify team and always keeping the needs of her employees and customers in mind. Today Resch-Krenn still conducts all onboarding of team leaders and store managers with the help of zortifyGROW and the coaching sessions offered by zortify in parallel.

CHAPTER 5: Practice + research = ❀️

As zortify becomes increasingly well-known, politicians are also taking notice of the start-up. Both the Prime Minister of Luxembourg and the then Minister of Finance visit the team at the House of Start-ups in Luxembourg, where zortify is still based. The mix of innovative start-up and accredited research institute, as zortify is now allowed to call itself, offers the best conditions for ensuring that the HR rocket takes off in a technically clean and ethically responsible manner.

CHAPTER 6: In technology we trust. πŸŽ›

And sometimes, it seems, the company itself is still a little surprised by its own success. When looking for new team members, Florian and Marcus decide twice against the recommendation of their AI, firmly convinced that they will be able to integrate the applicants into the team well despite the contrary analysis values. A mistake, as it turns out – both employees are let go. The most important learning: Trust the technology because we developed it for this very purpose.

CHAPTER 7: Lena climbs up. πŸ‘©β€πŸŽ€

And what happened to Lena? – In 2021, Lena is one of two remaining candidates for the top position of Chief Financial Officer. Initially, the majority of the decision-making committee votes in favor of her male competitor. Then zortify comes into play. Their AI-based diagnostics tool quickly puts the positive impression of the competitor into perspective and identifies exactly the personality traits in Lena that the decision-makers want to see for the position. Later, the Chairman of the Supervisory Board personally thanked the zortify team for averting a very likely miscast that would have cost the company a seven-figure sum.

Lena is still successful in her role as CFO today.

To be continued.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Are you ready to shape the future of work and transform your HR strategies? – In our newsletter, we write about relevant topics between AI and HR and the fantastic new possibilities that artificial intelligence brings to modern People Management.