BANGALORE, India, June 15, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Apna, the market-leading professional networking and jobs platform for India’s rising working class, has raised a $70 million Series B round led by Insight Partners and Tiger Global. Existing investors, Sequoia Capital India, Lightspeed India, Greenoaks Capital and Rocketship VC have also participated in the round. The investment amounts to an endorsement of Apna’s undisputed market leadership and stellar business growth. With this investment Apna has now raised over $90 million and is now valued at $570 million, within 16 months of product launch.
Apna will use the proceeds to strengthen its presence in existing cities and expand pan-India over the next 6 months to help restart India’s economy as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. The team plans to double down on their edtech platform for skilling by continuing to invest in hiring exceptional talent and building world class engineering and product capabilities. Additionally, Apna plans to expand to high potential international markets such as Southeast Asia and the United States in the coming year.
“At Apna we are determined to take a fresh approach towards solving employment and skilling challenges for billions. Over the last month itself Apna has facilitated more than 15 million job interviews and work related conversations where users have helped each other to start a business, find a gig or learn a new skill. We are still in the early stages of solving the problem and are excited to continue on this journey with the backing of our new partners.” Nirmit Parikh, Founder & CEO, Apna
Founded in 2019, Apna is on a mission to connect people to opportunities. It’s tech-driven approach to harness the power of communities has enabled access to better jobs and entrepreneurship for millions of Apna’s users. This has been especially crucial in a pandemic year which has seen severe disruption to the labour markets due to intermittent lockdowns. Networking on Apna changed the life trajectory of Shivam Singh, an aspiring graphic designer from a small Indian town who lost his job during the pandemic. He found expert guidance and customers on the Apna app to build a successful business. Today he serves as an inspiration to countless aspiring entrepreneurs and designers. Millions of such lives are transformed every month by Apna, as it focuses on delivering a double bottom line.
Today, the app comprises 60+ communities for skilled professionals like carpenters, painters, field sales agents and many others. The app allows users to access local job opportunities, network with peers, practice for interviews, share their accomplishments, and gain new skills.
In the short span of a year, Apna has become the app of choice for Indian professionals. Apna has witnessed exceptional growth since its launch – with 10 million+ users and 100,000+ employers, relying on Apna to find appropriate job opportunities and talent respectively. Over the past three months Apna has doubled the number of Indian cities in which it is present to 14. This growth has enabled Apna to catapult from a challenger to the market leader in its category. It has also attracted top global and local talent from firms like Uber, BCG & Swiggy.
“We have been incredibly impressed with Apna’s stellar growth over the last year. They have built the market leading platform for India’s workforce to establish digital professional identity, network, access skills training, and find high quality jobs. Employers are engaging with Apna at a rapid pace to help find high quality talent with low friction which is leading to best in class customer satisfaction scores. We believe that our investment will enable Apna to continue their steep growth trajectory, scale up their operations, and improve access to opportunities for India’s workforce.” Nikhil Sachdev, Managing Director, Insight Partners
Apna’s product-led approach to a globally relevant problem makes it infinitely scalable. Griffin Schroeder, Partner, Tiger Global said “Apna’s focus on digitizing the process of job discovery, application and employer candidate interaction has the potential to revolutionize the hiring process. The Apna app also helps workers form professional networks and upskill themselves. We are excited to partner with the team as they expand to new markets in India and abroad.“
Apna’s sophisticated data-science led algorithm matches candidates with employers taking into account their skills and experience. This has enabled employers and recruiters to solve for trust, relevancy and candidate volume. Several of India’s leading companies, such as Zomato, Burger King, Bharti-AXA, Delhivery, Teamlease, G4S Global, Shadowfax and 1MG rely on Apna to address their most urgent and critical hiring needs. In addition, Apna has partnered with some of India’s leading public and private organizations. Apna is supporting National Skill Development Corporation, UNICEF Yuwaah, the Ministry of Minority Affairs of India, in their endeavor to provide better skilling and job opportunities to candidates.
Founded in 2019, the Apna.co is India’s largest professional networking platform dedicated to helping India’s burgeoning working class to unlock unique professional networking, and skilling opportunities. The app is currently live in 14 cities – Mumbai, Delhi-NCR, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Ranchi, Kolkata, Surat, Lucknow, Kanpur, Ludhiana, and Chandigarh.
Having raised $90+ million from marquee investors like Insight Partners, Tiger Global, Lightspeed India, Sequoia Capital India, Rocketship.vc and Greenoaks Capital, Apna is on a mission to enable livelihoods for billions in India. With over 10 million users, present in 14 cities and counting, and over 100,000 employers that trust the platform – India has a new destination to discover relevant opportunities.
About Insight Partners
Insight Partners is a leading global venture capital and private equity firm investing in high-growth technology and software ScaleUp companies that are driving transformative change in their industries. Founded in 1995, Insight Partners has invested in more than 400 companies worldwide and has raised through a series of funds more than $30 billion in capital commitments. Insight’s mission is to find, fund, and work successfully with visionary executives, providing them with practical, hands-on software expertise to foster long-term success. Across its people and its portfolio, Insight encourages a culture around a belief that ScaleUp companies and growth create opportunity for all. For more information on Insight and all its investments, visit insightpartners.com or follow us on Twitter @insightpartners.
About Tiger Global Management:
Tiger Global Management, LLC is an investment firm that deploys capital globally. The firm’s fundamentally oriented investments focus primarily on the global internet, software, financial technology, consumer and industrial sectors. The private equity strategy has a ten-year investment horizon and targets growth-oriented private companies. Such investments have included Spotify, Harry’s, Warby Parker, Peloton, JD.com, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yandex, Mail.ru Group, Despegar, Ola and Flipkart. The public equity efforts emphasize deep due diligence on individual companies and long-term secular themes. Tiger Global was founded in 2001 and is based in New York with affiliate offices in Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangalore and Melbourne.
Relevant images and graphics HERE
Nirmit Parikh is the Founder and CEO for Apna – the leading hiring and vertical professional network for India’s working class. Previously, Nirmit founded Cruxbot (acquired by Kno, Intel Corporation) & was part of the iPhone product-operations team at Apple . He also holds an MBA from Stanford University.
About Apna and Backstory
The idea for Apna originated in 2019, when Nirmit realized the challenges faced by SMBs in hiring for workers. Nirmit spent time going undercover as a worker to understand the problems faced by India’s workforce, of which a large part is unorganized. He realized that our workers face issues related to skill and network gaps and not having access to relevant opportunities in their vicinity. Often their sources for opportunity identification are restricted to their friends and family which naturally cannot scale in a physical world. This led to Nirmit building a product that created an online professional community, similar to what linkedin has done for white collared professionals, and bring networking, learning and jobs under one umbrella. His product also intended to solve for employers and workers to connect and find the right matching hires and opportunities respectively. The name Apna, which means “ours” in Hindi, was inspired by a bollywood song “Apna Time Aayega”, which chronicled the rise of an aspiring hip-hop artist from an underprivileged background, fueled by the network and the platform he received to showcase his music skills.
Market leadership/ growth
Apna has grown tremendously over the last 12 months and has established itself as the leading inclusive professional networking and opportunities platform for India’s workforce. The company played a significant role in bridging the gap between employers and candidates during Covid by using it’s tech platform as an enabler to facilitate > 45 million candidate – recruiter interactions since the advent of Covid-19 in 2020. The platform has grown ~50X over the past year, overtaking several incumbent market players in terms of scale and product functionality. The platform currently has ~1.4 million job openings across more than 70 different job categories and 14 cities in India.
Supporting India during Covid
- Apna stepped up to help Indian businesses hire at no cost during Covid-19 to help mitigate the financial impact of Covid. The team specifically focused on improving the in-app discovery of frontline jobs in segments like delivery and healthcare to help essential service businesses hire faster to help these services continue uninterrupted operations
- Apna contributed to the medical and healthcare industry to keep afloat India’s fight against Covid 19. Since Mar’21, Apna has catered to over 2500 healthcare organizations by listing over 50,000 openings for roles like Nurses, Ward Boys, Lab-technicians, Pharmacists, among others. Apna has facilitated 2,50,000 interviews in these categories over 14 cities across India over the last 3 months
- Today the services of Apna remain free to support the challenged businesses and candidates.
The Apna Edge
- On the Apna app, hiring takes place in less than 48 hours. Candidates can connect directly with the recruiter via calls/ whatsapp messages enabled by the app. This eliminates the need for physical interviews and emails, simplifying the employer – candidate interaction
- The Apna app is available in English and a fusion of Hindi or the regional language with english, coined as “Thoda English” on the Apna app. This medium of communication is commonly used by people across text based communication channels like SMS and Whatsapp.
- All jobs listed on the Apna platform are verified and free of cost for the candidates. The platform has invested in multiple tech interventional and robust ops processes to ensure this is sacrosanct, as it plays a key role in maintaining user trust in the platform.
- Apna is focused on helping platform users upskill in order to be able to qualify for better job opportunities and continue to progress on their desired professional path. This solves a burning need among the bottom of the pyramid workforce that have historically not had the right avenues to learn and the access to jobs for newly acquired skills.
- Apna is currently building out masterclass like skilling modules, outcome or job based skilling, enabling peer to peer learning via its vertical communities like “Learn English” or “Govt. Test Prep” and is also planning to launch career counselling and resume building services for its users.
Apna’s employer website is built for ease of use, so that SMBs and enterprises are able to post their job requirements in < 5 mins and get connected to hyperlocal candidates with relevant skills in < 48 hours. Apna has helped >100,000 Indian companies hire the right talent for >70 job categories over the last year, solving a critical problem at scale. Apna’s excellence in providing high volume, relevancy and speed of hiring has resulted in Apna receiving high customer satisfaction scores from employers that particularly appreciated the platform’s decision to remain free of cost during Covid.
- “We are elated to be working with Apna which is on a national mission to mitigate the impact that Covid 19 has had on the job market and help India come back to work. We are closely working with Apna for talent discovery across job families. We commend the intent and drive of Team Apna to help the present-day employers onboard the right resources in the shortest time.” – Dr. Varun Gupta, SVP- Medical Affairs, 1MG
- “Team apna has provided us with great support. During the lockdown, 75% of our job fulfillment for delivery personnel has been through the apna portal. I am a huge fan of the skill/asset tag feature as we don’t have to manually type out basic requirements and the candidates we receive are already thoroughly screened. Highly recommended, and no complaints!” – Neeraj Gupta, Supply Lead, Shadowfax
- “We had a great experience working with Apna. It is a great platform for finding employees, especially freshers. We are a young company and require freshers and we got a lot of applications through the platform.” Subrata Das, MD – Leon Exports, an SMB
Apna has played a part in transforming the lives of several members of India’s workforce that historically did not have access to professional networks and job opportunities. The bottom of the pyramid workforce would traditionally rely on their immediate family and friends or a limited set of known opportunities for employment, thereby limiting their potential to progress professionally and chart out a long term career path. The Apna platform solves for this issue by giving people access to relevant hyperlocal jobs and the ability to network with like minded professionals and pick up new skills on their vertical communities, all of this at a scale that hasn’t been done before.
- Jyoti Shukla, a nurse by profession, found a job as a Covid nurse at a government hospital within a few hours of downloading the Apna app. This was a huge source of pride for her, as she got a chance to play her part in helping India recover from the pandemic. She then found her business partner on Apna’s community for “Start your business” and started her own placement agency to help other people find opportunities. She then connected with suppliers via the Apna app to purchase medical supplies on extremely short notice, a proof of the power of Apna’s professional network.
- Hadis Munis Khan is an MIS executive who is extremely passionate about developing his excel skills. He spends a lot of time on the “Backoffice” community on the Apna app exchanging learnings and sharing self learnt tips and tricks with other members of the community. He has now become one of the go to members of the community for help, as many people are not able to interface with their office colleagues for help related to excel problems.
- Shivam Singh was an aspiring graphic designer from the city of Gorakhpur who migrated to Bangalore in search of better job opportunities. After a few months of working at a design studio, he lost his job due to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. He downloaded the Apna app to search for opportunities and started engaging with the design community with a personal goal of posting one design every day. Over time, people started following Shivam and he built a repository of best practices and designs, becoming a leading influencer. Today Shivam operates his own freelance business and earns more than he did in his prior jobs, a true example of the power of perseverance and communities. He has even featured as a speaker in Josh Talks, India’s ‘Ted-talks’ garnering more than a million views in 2months.
- Mayur Chandrakant Sonje was a machine operator from Pune working in the automotive sector with experience across Mercedes, Tata Motors and Fiat India. He began searching for a superior job upon getting married to better support his family’s needs. He discovered the Apna app through a Youtube video and proceeded to apply for Sales and Marketing jobs. He landed an interview at Paytm and got selected within a day after clearing his on-site interviews. His new job got him the pay hike that he was looking for and also gave him an opportunity to build skills in a new domain. Now he feels deeply satisfied and is able to provide a better life for his family.
- Pooja Rajawat is a resident of Gwalior who had completed her nursing course and was looking for job opportunities. Prior to discovering the Apna app she relied on speaking to people in her network to search for opportunities without much success. Upon completing her profile on the Apna app, she started applying to jobs in Delhi, connecting with multiple HRs and going through the interview processes. While she initially experienced some difficulties due to a lack of prior work experience, she got a job in Attico Global as a sales representative. This is a testament to the power of Apna’s platform, helping people find jobs that are aligned with their interests and professional development aspirations.
Key Enablers of Apna – Product growth and the talent engine
- Apna is adopting a product & tech first approach towards building a world class product for the next billion users, making it easy to scale to new geographies and launch new products that address the core needs of the end users, both employers and candidates.
- Today Apna can launch a new city in less than 2 days, and drive 10k+ interviews in 48hours of launch.
- The team launched work from home jobs while India was experiencing the second wave of Covid. This resulted in a steep growth in the number of users applying for roles like telesales, marketing, support, content writing, etc. that allow users to work remotely.
- Apna has given a large part of India’s workforce access to a digital professional identity by creating virtual business cards and their own website based on the information provided by users as part of the signup process within the app. Users often share their visiting cards or link to their site with friends, family and colleagues, which in turn further awareness about Apna.
- The Apna team is a set of mission driven professionals that have joined from several top companies in the consulting and consumer tech domain like BCG, Mckinsey, Uber, Myntra, Lightspeed India Partners, Swiggy and Flipkart to solve a burning issue for the next billion users. The team has members from some of the top elite schools from around the world like Stanford GSB, Chicago Booth, IITs, IIMs. The team has grown to over 200 members across product, engineering and business roles, a 2X growth over the last 6 months, as the company builds new capabilities to scale the business for the long term.