Tallinn-based Skillific, which was building an AI-powered hiring platform, has decided to call it a day, marking the first serious blow to equity crowdfunding boom ongoing in Northern Europe.

The news does not come as a surprise as already at end-September — just half a year after wrapping one of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns in Estonia — the firm halted business operations, leaving the founder looking for ways to continue the business.

“Unfortunately, I did not manage to attract enough financial resources to be able to continue Skillific’s activities. I’m forced to shut down the business. I’ve given my best, but did not reach the desired goal,” founder Rainer Aunpu said on Monday to shareholders and former employees in a letter seen by ArcticStartup.

Aunpu said he had a viable plan for finalising the development of the Minimum Viable Product and to validate it on the market. “I found a development partner who was ready to allocate a 4 member development team to the project. After negotiating with several investors I managed to raise half of the necessary amount. The other half is unfortunately missing and the plan is not feasible,” he wrote.

“The time is up for me and I’ve decided to move on to other challenges,” he said.

Aunpu said the exact bankruptcy proceedings were not clear yet. The firm has liabilities towards former employees, the tax board and service providers, but he will seek a buyer for the intellectual property of the company to cover the liabilities without bankruptcy.

Skillific story before the end

The team was developing a headhunting robot to help employers efficiently recruit the best talent: giving them a fully automated recruitment process with multi-source talent discovery and AI-managed pre-selection.

The proposition was unique, but the wider HR tools market has become a crowded marketplace. Data of Funderbeam shows Skillific having 20 rivals, and its funding probability – the likelihood of the company being able to raise the next round before it runs out of money – was at 33 percent.

The story of Skillific started from a personal problem – founders of the firm struggled with hiring and with getting hired for years before they met in late 2014 at a weekend hackathon and they started to work on the startup. In the summer of 2015 Skillific rolled out its first beta version in Estonia, targeting IT and healthcare professionals. It listed most top employers in the sector as its clients.

The team ran one of the most successful Estonian equity crowdfunding projects on Fundwise platform, raising a total of 88,500 euros in March.

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