Hundreds of millions of low-skilled workers live in Indian cities and come from villages in search of work. Many of them have lost their jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic that has curbed several economic activities in the world’s second largest internet market.
Apna, an Apple alum startup, is helping millions of such workers and employees educate themselves, find communities, and land jobs. On Wednesday, it announced that its market acceptance has helped it raise $ 70 million in a new round of funding as the startup prepares to scale the 16-month-old app across India.
Insight Partners and Tiger Global jointly led Apna’s $ 70 million Round B, which valued the startup at $ 570 million. Existing investors Lightspeed India, Sequoia Capital India, Greenoaks Capital and Rocketship VC also participated in the round, bringing Apna’s previous capital increase to over $ 90 million.
The startup, whose name is inspired by a Bollywood song from 2019, essentially solves the problem of the network gap for employees. âSomeone born into a privileged family goes to the best school and college and meets influential people. Many who were born just a few kilometers away are faced with a completely different life and never see such opportunities, âsaid Nirmit Parikh, founder and CEO of Apna, in an interview with TechCrunch.
Apna is building a scalable network infrastructure that does not currently exist on the market so that these employees can connect with the right employers and secure jobs. “Apna’s focus on digitizing the process of job search, application and engagement with employers has the potential to revolutionize the hiring process,” said Griffin Schroeder, partner at Tiger Global, in a statement.
The startup’s Android app of the same name, which is available in several languages, now offers more than 70 communities for professionals such as carpenters, painters, sales representatives and many others.
In the app, users connect with each other and help with leads and give tips on how to improve their jobs. The app also offers people the opportunity to continue their education, practice with their interview performance and qualify for even more jobs. The startup said it is building masterclass-like qualification modules, outcome- or job-based skills, and also enabling peer-to-peer learning through its vertical communities. It plans to introduce career advice and a function for building rÃ©sumÃ©s.
And this bet works. The startup has garnered over 10 million users and opened more than 15 million job interviews just last month, Parikh said. All jobs listed on the Apna platform are verified by the startup and are free for the candidates.
Apna has partnered with some of India’s leading public and private organizations and supports the Ministry of Minority Affairs of India, National Skill Development Corporation and UNICEF YuWaah to provide better qualification and employment opportunities for candidates.
More than 100,000 recruiters – including Byju’s, Unacademy, Flipkart, Zomato, Licious, Burger King, Dunzo, Bharti-AXA, Delhivery, Teamlease, G4S Global and Shadowfax – use Apna’s platform in the country today, where they have to spend less than five Minutes to post job postings and be connected to hyperlocal candidates with relevant skills within two days.
Apna has built “the market-leading platform for India’s workforce to build a digital professional identity, network, access skills training courses and find quality jobs,” said Nikhil Sachdev, Managing Director of Insight Partners, in a statement.
âEmployers are rapidly liaising with Apna to find high quality, low friction talent, resulting in the best customer satisfaction scores in its class. We believe our investment will enable Apna to continue its rapid growth, expand its operations and improve access to opportunities for India’s workforce. “
The startup plans to use the fresh capital to grow across India and eventually bring the app to international markets, Parikh said. Apna, recently joined by high profile figures from companies such as Uber, BCG and Swiggy, is also actively seeking multiple tech positions in the South Asian market.
Apna has built the infrastructure and brand awareness in the marketplace that it can roll out in a new city in two days and conduct over 10,000 interviews in less than two days, it said.
“Our first goal is to revitalize India’s economy over the next few months and do whatever we can to help,” said Parikh, who was part of the iPhone product operations team at Apple.