Transform Spotlight Series: Co-Founders Kaushik Narasimhan and Yaniv Shimoni of Take2 AI

Transform Founder Spotlight Series: Tigran Sloyan

Welcome to Transform’s Founder Spotlight Series, an exciting journey into the minds of innovative leaders who are disrupting the now and next of work.

In each Q&A-style article, we’ll introduce you to co-founders like Kaushik Narasimhan and Yaniv Shimoni, who are redefining the boundaries of their industries with forward-thinking ideas and transformative approaches.

About Yaniv

Yaniv is a Co-Founder at Take2 AI. Prior to starting Take2 AI, Yaniv founded Kolbogas, an energy (LPG) company, and led it as CEO for 5 years until it was acquired by Alon Blue Square, a public energy conglomerate. Yaniv graduated with an MBA from Stanford Business School.

About Kaushik

Kaushik is a Co-Founder at Take2 AI. Kaushik started Take2 AI alongside Yaniv, based on insights from an IRB-sponsored research on skill-based hiring they led at Stanford Business School. Prior to Take2 AI, Kaushik spent a decade in renewable energy and was the GM for Flex, a Fortune 500 company. Kaushik graduated with a dual degree from Stanford University (GSB, Public Policy) as a Robert Joss Scholar.

About Take2 AI

Take2 AI is an AI-powered job simulation platform for sales recruiting and training. We are on a mission to reinvent how companies recruit and train talent for high-volume sales roles.

Take2 AI helps companies generate tailor-made simulations of real-world sales scenarios that help vet job applicants for skills, behavioral attributes, and culture fit. By leveraging generative AI, Take2 AI recreates company and role-specific sales scenarios that not only provide high-signal performance data to employers but also immerse job applicants in the role, leading to fewer mis-hires and reduced attrition.

We are a team of Stanford GSB and engineering alums backed by SemperVirens and Reach Capital. Our advisory board consists of HR Leaders from Visa, Disney, and Google.

Let’s dive into their founder story, and learn firsthand about their inspirations, challenges, and breakthroughs that marked their path to success.

The Startup Journey

Q: What gave you the idea to start Take2 AI?


We have always been extremely passionate about using technology to unlock opportunities for talent. At Stanford University, we spent two years leading IRB-sponsored research on skill-based hiring. Insights from that research uncovered that skills data alone isn’t enough for matching talent to jobs, especially high-volume, entry-level jobs where “soft” skills are more crucial to assess talent-job fit and where the job descriptions and resumes don’t accurately represent the required skills to excel in the role.

With the emergence of LLMs and Gen AI, we discovered a unique opportunity to make job simulations affordable and scalable, providing a high-signal alternative to traditional job descriptions and resumes.

Q: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced in the early stages?

A: The companies we work with have historically primarily used interviews for hiring, so transitioning to job simulations to vet talent was a significant change for them. As we were creating a change in their process, there were concerns around how quickly they would adapt to that change, how do we address bias when using AI to evaluate talent, and how it would affect their job applicants’ experience.

Since we anticipated these challenges from the very formation of our company, we formed an advisory board of HR leaders from Fortune 500 companies such as Visa, Disney, and Google, as well as collaborated with Stanford professors to actively minimize bias in our solution, as well as make our product as low friction to adopt as possible. These things really helped us with early customers, but it wasn’t until we observed remarkable outcomes data (reducing employee attrition by more than 50%) that it became easier to alleviate prospective clients’ concerns.

Product Development:

Q: Who benefits from Take2 AI?

A: Take2 AI benefits both sales leaders and talent acquisition teams. 

  • We help sales leaders hire highly engaged, well-informed, and job-ready talent that is retained longer in their role.
  • We help talent acquisition teams save time by only interviewing candidates who are a proven strong fit for their roles. Take2 AI creates a streamlined hiring process that eliminates the need to review countless resumes and provides additional skill dimensions for each candidate, resulting in better selection decisions and reduced time-to-hire.

Q: Why is this so important?

A: The U.S. has approximately 1.4 Million open sales positions monthly, primarily in high-volume, repeatable roles such as call center sales, field sales, inside sales, and in-store sales. 

These positions are challenging to fill due to 3 main reasons:

  1. Difficulty assessing skills and fit from resumes leads to a heavy reliance on interviews and gut feeling. 
  2. Hundreds of job applicants per open role means countless hours are spent reviewing and interviewing talent.
  3. Strong misalignment of job expectations results in mis-hires that churn shortly after being hired. 

The consequences are severe, costing companies billions of dollars annually – 1 in 3 salespeople churn each year (3x more than any other occupation), and every bad sales hire costs companies an average of  $100,000 and 4 months to fill.

Q: What are some examples of companies leveraging Take2 AI?

A: Fenice Energy, a solar company, used Take2 AI to hire ~50 field sales reps. Within 4 months of adoption, Take2 AI helped Fenice significantly decrease its 3-month attrition rates from 58% to 15% while also improving the quota attainment of new hires within the first two months.

Take2 AI is also working with clients in other industries, such as healthcare, retail, and hospitality, to assist them with their high-volume hiring efforts.

Q: What have you learned from your users and customers so far?

A: We have learned that Generative AI unlocks a new opportunity to reinvent how companies vet talent for high-volume sales roles. Employers can better evaluate skills that are impossible to assess using interviews by having job applicants go through a tailor-made, immersive simulation of the actual job as part of the recruiting process.

The simulation also enhances the job applicants’ experience by providing a realistic job preview, allowing them to engage in the role and gain confidence in their desire to pursue it. The self-selection process leads to higher completion rates and more engaged employees once they join the company, resulting in improved retention rates and on-the-job performance.

Scaling & Growth

Q: How do you build a strong company culture while scaling the business?

A: Defining our culture in the early days was at the top of our minds. We decided that when hiring for talent, it is equally important for us to hire exceptionally talented team members as it is to bring people who stand behind our vision of scaling skill-based hiring with innovative technology.

We believe that when there is a strong mission behind our team, nothing will stop us from working hard to accomplish our goal.


Q: How do you maintain strong relationships with your investors and optimize their contributions?

A: We view our investors as partners and as an integral part of our team. We strive for transparency, frequent communication, and close collaboration.

We were fortunate to partner with world-class investors who are experts in their domains. To optimize their contributions, we established a regular cadence of sharing broad updates to keep them close to our progress and strategy. Beyond that, we maintain an open, informal line of communication to solicit tactical feedback and insights whenever needed. Their feedback and support is invaluable to us.

Our investors are also actively involved in supporting our sales efforts. We engage them in the deal-making process, leveraging their networks for lead generation and bringing them into key meetings where their presence and expertise can help get important deals across the finish line.

Q: What advice do you have to similarly situated founders as they begin fundraising? 

A: An important piece of advice we were given by a mentor that founders often overlook–be laser-focused, don’t try to boil the ocean—find your niche. 

Even if sometimes it feels counterintuitive to focus on a very narrow niche, that is what will give investors the confidence that you and your team know where to focus your resources, whether it is lead generation, marketing, etc, and ultimately, give them the confidence to invest in you and in your journey.

Team Building & Leadership

Q: What are your strategies for attracting and retaining talent at Take2 AI?

A: At Take2 AI, we practice what we preach. When assembling our team, we prioritize demonstrated skills over credentials. 

This approach is reflected in our hiring process – from shortlisting job applicants to the simulations they undergo and, ultimately, in our hiring decisions. By focusing on practical abilities, we have successfully built a diverse and extremely talented team that is truly passionate about our mission.

Marketing & Branding

Q: How do you differentiate your Take2 AI brand from competitors?

A: Recruiters often view traditional job assessments as a necessary high-friction step in the hiring process to filter out poor-fit candidates, and job applicants often view them the same way, leading to very high drop-off rates.

At Take2 AI, we take a fundamentally different approach. We provide an immersive, realistic job preview that provides employers with high-signal data on candidates’ skills that goes beyond what is possible from a glance at a resume and allows candidates to “test drive” the role. This engaging and immersive experience provides talent with a clear understanding of what the job truly entails, leading to talent that is more engaged, more successful, and retained for longer.

The result is a win-win: job applicants enjoy the experience, which leads to high completion rates, and companies gain rich insights, which leads to better hiring decisions.

Challenges & Lessons Learned

Q: Can you share any specific lessons or mistakes you made during the startup journey and how you overcame them?

A: Selling to large enterprises was a new challenge for us, even with our sales experience. We didn’t fully grasp the complexities at first. To solve that, we decided to bring some amazing CRO advisors who helped us navigate the sales process. They showed us the ropes of understanding the buying journey and how to work with all the different stakeholders involved in the decision-making process.

It was a learning curve, but with their guidance and learning from our mistakes, we’ve made some serious strides and partnered with some amazing companies.

Industry and Market Insights

Q: What is one significant trend or prediction that you believe will drive the transformation of work?

A: According to a recent Burning Glass Data report, in 2023, only 1 in 700 incremental jobs was filled using a skills vs. pedigree approach. 

Many companies have been talking about skill-based hiring, but in reality, not much has changed. We predict that Gen AI will be the tipping point that will make skill-based hiring approaches scalable and, therefore, more widely adopted in the coming years.

Company Vision

Q: What’s next for you and Take2 AI?

A: Sales recruiting is just our starting point. Our vision is to become an end-to-end sales talent management solution.

While Gong has built a massive business by uncovering insights from real customer sales calls, Take2 AI will do everything leading up to those calls – simulating real-world sales scenarios to support sales leaders with recruiting, training, and coaching so their sales teams can make the most of each real customer sales call. 

Q: What would you like to say to People leaders who are thinking of using Take2 AI? 

A: We know Generative AI is at the top of HR leaders’ minds right now—it is both exciting and intimidating. 

For People leaders who are intrigued by how AI can help their organizations, please watch the following keynote on Gen AI for HR Leaders at the 2024 I4CP conference, presented by Prasad Setty, ex-VP People Ops at Google, who also provides an overview of Take2 AI and our impact on our customers.

On a Personal Note

Q: Describe your perfect day when you aren’t working.

A: Yaniv: I am a passionate drummer and snowboarder. I also love to travel the world – I visited over 45 countries to date! I really enjoy hanging out with my friends and spending time with my nephews & niece. 

Kaushik: Watching a football game with my close friends, going for a long hike with my wife in the mountains, and reading a good biography with a glass of wine.

Q: What is your personal mantra?

A: Yaniv: You don’t get what you don’t ask for

Kaushik: Be the change you want to see in the world.

Check out other inspiring Founder Spotlights on the Transform blog.

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