Navigating AI Talent Acquisition Challenges: Insights for AI Startups in 2023

In the ever-evolving landscape of AI in 2023, the quest for top talent is a dynamic journey that demands precise candidate selection, adaptable expectations, and a relentless commitment to innovation. 

We're excited to impart the profound wisdom we've garnered through an enlightening presentation delivered by our expert, Yuliia Demchenko, at iForum 2023 in the AI/startups track, providing essential guidance for AI startup founders in their pursuit of top talent.

Key Insights:

Ukraine's AI Startup Landscape: According to, Ukraine boasts 114 Artificial Intelligence startups, signifying a thriving ecosystem.

Changing Demand: Our experience indicates a shift in talent demand. In 2022, 41% of our clients sought AI talent for their products, but in 2023, this percentage decreased to 30%, marking an 11% decline in demand.

Focus on ML/AI and Data Science: Notably, 19% of specialists hired from 2022 to 2023 specialized in ML/AI and Data Science, forming a substantial portion of our clientele.

Market Trends:

Reduced Demand: The AI and ML job market experiences decreased demand for candidates. data reveals a 12% decrease in ML/AI and Data Science job vacancies in July 2023 compared to the same period in 2022, with outsourcing companies being the primary job posters.

Challenges in AI Talent Acquisition:

Brain Drain Dilemma: A pronounced trend is migrating AI specialists with scientific degrees and robust mathematical backgrounds to foreign shores, where their skills are highly prized.

Outsourcing Quandary: AI specialists in Ukraine are primarily flourishing within outsourcing companies rather than product-focused ones. This trend is due to the ample opportunities to acquire machine learning skills through outsourcing-related work. However, collaborating extensively with outsourcing companies can raise concerns or be seen as a red flag by these product-oriented companies.

Shifted Focus: Candidates often prioritize a project's "social significance" and academic pursuits, potentially diverting attention from a company's commercial priorities. 

Tech Stack Reluctance: In our experience of hiring AI specialists, you may be surprised to encounter their reluctance to delve into new and unfamiliar tech stacks, particularly at the architect level.

Yearning for Socially Significant Work: AI specialists display an increasing inclination towards projects with innovative or societal value, indicative of their desire to contribute meaningfully.

Navigating the AI talent landscape in 2023 demands a nuanced approach. The challenges, from brain drain to shifting priorities, underscore the importance of adaptability and a clear articulation of your startup's mission and goals. As you venture into the competitive AI talent market, consider these insights to craft a strategy that attracts top AI and ML talent and aligns them with your startup's vision for innovation and societal impact.