Indian cities are home to hundreds of millions of low-skilled workers who come from the villages in search of work. Many of them have lost their jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic that has slowed down several economic activities in the world’s second-largest internet market.
Apna, a startup created by an Apple alumnus, is helping millions of these blue and gray collars upgrade their skills, find communities and find jobs. On Wednesday, he announced that his market acceptance has helped him raise $ 70 million in a new round of funding as the startup prepares to scale the 16-month app across India.
Insight Partners and Tiger Global co-led Apna’s $ 70 million funding round, 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 increase to date to over $ 90 million.
The startup, whose name is inspired by a Bollywood song from 2019, at its heart solves the problem of network gaps for workers. âSomeone born into a privileged family goes to the best school, the best university, and meets influential people. Many people born a few miles away face a whole different kind of 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, something that currently does not exist on the market, so these workers can connect to the right employers and get jobs. “Apna’s focus on digitizing the process of job discovery, application and interaction between employers and candidates has the potential to revolutionize the hiring process,” said Griffin Schroeder, Partner at Tiger Global , in a press release.
The startup’s eponymous Android app, available in multiple languages, now offers more than 70 communities for skilled professionals such as carpenters, painters, field sales agents and many more.
On the app, users connect with each other, help with prospects, and share tips to improve their jobs. The app also gives people the chance to hone their skills, train with their maintenance performance, and become eligible for even more jobs. The startup said it was building masterclass-like skill modules, outcome-based or job-based skills, and also enabled peer-to-peer learning through its vertical communities. It plans to launch a career guidance and CV creation function.
And this bet works. The startup has amassed over 10 million users and last month facilitated more than 15 million job interviews, Parikh said. All jobs listed on the Apna platform are verified by the startup and free for applicants.
Apna has partnered with some of India’s leading public and private organizations and is supporting India’s Ministry of Minority Affairs, National Skill Development Corporation and UNICEF YuWaah to provide better skills and employment opportunities for applicants. .
Over 100,000 recruiters – including Byju’s, Unacademy, Flipkart, Zomato, Licious, Burger King, Dunzo, Bharti-AXA, Delhivery, Teamlease, G4S Global and Shadowfax – across the country today use Apna’s platform, where they have to spend less than five minutes posting jobs and connecting to hyperlocal candidates with relevant skills within two days.
Apna has built the “market leading platform for Indian workforce to establish digital professional identity, network, access vocational training and find high quality jobs”, said Nikhil Sachdev, Chief Executive Officer of Insight Partners, in a press release.
âEmployers are engaging with Apna at a rapid pace to help find high quality talent with low friction, which leads to higher customer satisfaction scores. We believe our investment will allow Apna to continue its rapid growth trajectory, scale up operations and improve access to opportunities for the Indian workforce.
The start-up plans to roll out the new capital India-wide and eventually bring the app to international markets, Parikh said. Apna, which has recently seen leading figures from companies such as Uber, BCG and Swiggy join the company, is also actively recruiting for several tech roles in the South Asian market.
Apna has built the infrastructure and brand awareness in the market that it can launch in a new city in two days and conduct over 10,000 interviews there in under two days, he said.
“Our first goal is to restart the Indian economy in the coming months and do everything possible to help,” said Parikh, who was part of the iPhone product operations team at Apple.