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New online start-ups bring employers, jobseekers closer

A host of entities addressing the issue of time and specialised qualifications have cropped up. While they have received funding, scaling up to distinguish themselves from the rest is key to staying in the business

M Saraswathy & Sohini Das 

Image via shutterstock.com
Image via shutterstock.com

Quickly finding an appropriate job had been a prospective jobseeker's area of concern. Now, a host of websites catering to the needs of large candidate pool has sprung up. There has been no dearth of funding opportunities for such ventures.

Take Hiree. Founders Manjunath Talwar and Abhijit Khasnis wanted to not only expedite the hiring process but also to help job-seekers find better offers fast. They thought the current hiring processes were too slow to meet aspirants' requirements.

"Other hiring solutions have very large candidate pools, mostly passive. The standard time to close positions is three-five months. Hiree aims to solve this problem by providing only active candidates in the fastest way possible," the founder said.

The platform, set up in January 2014, uses big data analytics to rank active job-seekers. It brings them together to reduce the hiring lead time. Using the platform, employers can hire in a matter of hours/days. Within two years, the venture has received angel as well as Series-A funding.

So, too, with ZenRadius, launched in July 2015. The hiring platform, which has received an angel round of funding, is looking at developing a premium version of the portal.

Nitesh Mishra, along with Arpit Kumar and Alok Yadav, aimed to build a referral platform that was more automated and transparent.

Through ZenRadius, clients cannot only screen their own networks for potential matches but they can also send personalised e-mails, review CVs, and cross-check multiple sources on one unified system.

Before starting ZenRadius, Kumar and Yadav were running a data analytic services firm which helped clients like Ola Cabs and Practo Technologies set up their analytics infrastructure.

"While doing services, we realised hiring good talent is a very challenging problem for small companies like ours. The only thing that made sense for us was hiring through a network which helped us identify reliable candidates based on recommendations of close contacts," says Nitesh Mishra, co-founder of the company.

Apart from speed and efficiency, the niche area recruitment is also in high demand. Firms like Cajobportal, set up in August 2013, as India's first recruitment website for chartered accountants, company secretaries, cost & works accountants and MBAs (finance), is catering to a specific pool of candidates.

Babajob.com, one of the largest firms for entry-level and informal employment, was set up in 2007.

Business model

ZenRadius addresses the particular problem of referrals. Mishra says they started working on ZenRadius to remove all manual work to ask for recommendations, increase job opening penetration in a network and tracking all the matrices through analytics. The platform is free so far, though they are working on launching the premium version.

Other portals like Hiree are looking to expediting the hiring process by providing only active database of jobseekers. Job searches are made less time-intensive through a smart matching algorithm, which focuses on jobseeker activity signals to provide the quickest match for recruiters.

On Hiree, the jobseeker does not have to look through thousands of jobs posted by recruiters. Instead, the recruiters search for profiles and skill set to match their requirement.

Babajob, at present, is completely free for jobseekers. It offers paid services to employers, including a set of tools that help them, get connected faster to relevant candidates. CAjobportal's services are an amalgam of online recruitment platform and offline executive search services. Here, employers pay them a 'success fee' for CAs and MBAs.

New online start-ups bring employers, jobseekers closer
Funding

With more than a million individuals entering the employment space every year, the demand-supply mismatch is a reality. Hence, ventures that show potential have no shortage of funds. Hiree, for instance, got its angel seed of Rs 2 crore in September last year. In February 2015, it received funding of Rs 18 crore as Series-A from IDG Ventures India.

ZenRadius received its angel round from Tracxn Labs and Deepak Singh of Anzy Careers. The fund is being utilised for developing the product and expanding our team, said Mishra.

Similarly, Babajob secured $10-million minority investment from SEEK Ltd this year. SEEK and its affiliate companies are the largest global online employment marketplace, available to approximately 2.6 billion people across Australia, New Zealand, and Southeast Asia, among others.

"The funding was raised to grow our team and brand, further develop our mobile apps and improve our telephony services such as 'missed call for jobs' and 'RapidHire', in order to fulfil our mission of connecting all Indians to better jobs," said Sean Blagsvedt, chief executive of Babajob.com.

Investors say this is a space that needs more players. A senior official from a large private equity firm that has invested in hiring firms in the past, says, "Several generic 'job portals' operate in the country, but for someone who is looking for a particular role or position, it might not be an effective platform. New-age start-ups are striving to fill this gap and investors are ready to support them," he said.

CAjobportal is currently boot-strapping. Sonia Singal, co-founder, says they are engaging with prospective investors.

She explained that in the past quarter, they got their model evaluated by the likes of India Angels Network, Helion Ventures and Matrix Partners. Some caution is also being exercised.

A senior partner with a venture capital firm that looks into hiring start-ups said several 'me-too' firms had also cropped up in this space.

"It is required to be seen if several firms with the same business model will survive. Hence, we as an industry are looking for the particular 'service' or 'niche' that a venture is able to offer," he added.

Future growth

Getting additional funding is on the top of mind for some. This would not only be utilised to build and scale-up the existing business, but to enter into newer segments as well.

CAjobportal's Sonia Singal said last month they crossed the Rs 1-million mark. "This has reaffirmed our faith in our business model. Now, we are open to Angel/VC funding for the tech and marketing spend in order to move to the net orbit of growth and also incubate mbajobportal.com and graduatejobportal.com," she said. Here, they are expanding just beyond chartered accountants to other qualifications like an MBA.

Meanwhile, Hiree is looking to strengthen its product. "We are seeing great traction and adoption of the product in market. We would build a lot more capabilities in the product to enable faster hiring and expand across other business verticals and regions," the founders Talwar and Khasnis said.

ZenRadius too will be releasing a new version in the next couple of weeks. Mishra added they were working on some major features to overhaul the platform and some of these features would be premium.

He also said one of the interesting additions would be career pages. Here, they will be providing tools to create beautiful career pages to showcase all their digital footprint at one place which will consist of sections like work environment, their team, funding, media coverage, benefits provided by the company. But, he said focus would continue to be on referrals.

A rise in aspirational labour would also mean a better business. Blagsvedt of Babajob.com said they were seeing huge demand in sectors like transportation, delivery, retail and e-commerce.

"With over a billion people, India is a huge market and we hope to touch the lives of 40-50 million blue collared workers in the next two years," he added. They have more than 3.5 million job seekers on the platform and have placed more than 500,000 job-seekers since inception.

With "Skill India" creating more professional labour and more individuals going online to look for that right job, the market is only beginning to boom. And, it is portals like these that will be the game-changer, say HR experts. The key, as they say, will be able to create the right match in the right time, while they also build their revenues.

EXPERT TAKE

The new recruitment business is leveraging the power of your social networks and big data, which give them a major advantage over traditional counterparts. Focusing on specific niches such as finance professionals or even blue-collar workers, new sites are solving the problem of specialist jobs. Also from a job-seeker perspective, the new sites make job-hunting easier and faster.

At the same time, validation is a problem a few have been able to take head-on. The problem is that status of candidates in the job market is dynamic and skills and qualifications are difficult to verify on the internet. These gaps continue to make recruitment almost as time consuming and expensive as it used to be with earlier modes.

Looking ahead, the presence of information asymmetry in the labour market has provided these start-ups the chance to add a technological layer for automating the rather difficult process of matching skills. India has a huge population of youth who are technologically aware and connected. With a growing economy and high attrition rates, the job market will continue to remain strong. Companies which are able to provide end-to-end solutions for different segments of the market would pose a huge threat to old businesses.

Rajeev Ranka is Manager of Lead Angels Network

First Published: Mon, October 05 2015. 00:37 IST
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