Darren Nicol

New AI technology could help you find your next job

Darren Nicol at graduation Off the coast of the rugged North Sea, Darren Nicol (MSE ’17) was looking for opportunities beyond his oil and gas sector. Feeling pigeon-holed in his career, he decided to take a year off to travel and further his education. The Master of Science in Entrepreneurship (MSE) program fit both of Nicol’s objectives, so he packed up and moved from Scotland to sunny Florida.

While in the MSE program, Nicol joined Warrington’s Entrepreneurship Empowerment South Africa (EESA) program which, to his delight, offered him even more opportunities to travel. From San Francisco to South Africa, Nicol met with entrepreneurs and began to conceive his own entrepreneurial idea.

“The entrepreneurs in South Africa, Florida and San Francisco were so inspiring, so I started to think I could start my own venture, I just didn’t know what,” he said. “While in South Africa, I met so many talented individuals, but they were constrained by the boundaries and stigma of being from the townships. I thought, wouldn’t it be great to create a platform that could give people an opportunity based on their ability and not on any other defining factor?

“The idea for Nudge was born.”

Darren Nicol and team members. Nudge is a software that uses artificial intelligence to find the most appropriate candidate for a job. Once the applicant is selected, they are assessed in a virtual reality environment. This software ensures that the focus of the assessment is on what skills are key for the role, rather than relying on traditional recruitment methods. In a traditional assessment, many applicants can be unfairly disadvantaged based on how they perform in an interview, their background or other factors outside of the applicant’s control, but Nudge can help companies bypass bias and find the right person for the job.

Nudge Talent Lab won a place on the Net Zero Technology Centre’s coveted TechX program, which allowed the business to engage and develop their software in conjunction with their target market – renewable energy workers. Motivated by his background in oil and gas, Nicol designed his software to prioritize applicants seeking to transition into renewable energy careers, although Nicol says the technology is limitless and could assess candidates anywhere.

“The change in the world Nudge seeks is to transition from the old, oil and gas, to the new – renewable energy,” he said. “I also knew, whatever I did, I’d aim to achieve the highest social and environmental standards. This led [our company] to become a B Corp accredited business, all of which meant the TechX program was a match made in heaven.

“It all ties back to those Monday nights at Warrington!”

Darren Nicol and classmates at graduation. Nicol credits Warrington for getting him started on this journey and anticipates seeing his company grow to make a worldwide impact.

“Nudge’s mission is to break down barriers and connect everyone with their dream role, be that in the North Sea or the Gulf of Mexico,” he said. “We aim to grow State-side, and wouldn’t it be great if that was back in Gainesville, where it all started!”