A 22-month-old startup that is helping millions of blue- and gray-collar workers in India learn new skills and find jobs, becomes the youngest firm to hold the coveted unicorn status in the world’s second-largest internet market Is.
Apna announced Thursday that it has raised $100 million in a round led by Tiger Global. The new round – a Series C – valued itself at a valuation of $1.1 billion. Nerdshala reported last month that Tiger, an existing investor in Apna, was in talks to lead a $100 million financing round in the startup at a global unicorn valuation.
Ullu Ventures, Insight Partners, Sequoia Capital India, Maverick Ventures and GSV Ventures also participated in the fresh round, the third investment secured by Apna this year. Apna was valued at $570 million in the Series B round in June this year.
Investors’ enthusiasm comes as Apna has shown impressive growth in recent months. The startup has amassed over 16 million users on its Android app of the same name, up from 10 million in June this year.
There are millions of low-skilled workers in Indian cities who come from villages in search of work. Many of them have lost their jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic that has slowed economic activity in the South Asian market.
Apna has created a platform that provides a community to these workers. In the community, they connect with each other, exchange notes on how to perform better in interviews, and share tips for negotiating better compensation.
On top of this, Apna connects these workers with potential employers. In an interview with Nerdshala, Apna’s founder and chief executive Nirman Parikh said that more than 150,000 employers – including Zomato, Bharti AXA, Urban Company, BYJU’S, PhonePe, Burger King, Delhivery, TeamLease and G4S Global – are on the platform. and more than 5 million. Jobs are active.
The startup, whose name is inspired by a cheerful Bollywood song from 2019, has facilitated over 18 million job interviews in the last 30 days, he said. Apna is currently operational in 28 Indian cities.
The idea came up for Apna, Parikh said, after being surprised to learn that there are hundreds of millions of blue and brown collars in India that often prove very difficult to find when you need help with a task. .
Before starting his career, Parikh, who had previously worked at Apple, met with these employees and went undercover to understand the problems they were facing as an electrician and floor manager. The problem, they found, was the disconnect. The workers had no means of finding out which jobs they needed, and they were not even connected to each other. The community aspect of Apna, which now has over 70 such groups, aims to address this challenge.
Apna App allows these workers to learn new skills to become eligible for more work opportunities. It has emerged as one of the fastest growing upskilling platforms – and it would explain why GSV Ventures and Ullu Ventures, two high-profile firms known for backing edtech startups, are investing in a Bangalore-based firm. have been.
“Apna Ka Viral Adoption is inspired by a novel social and interactive approach to connect employers with job seekers. “We expect job seekers to look for meaningful connections and investigate opportunities to drive Apna’s continued explosive growth in India and around the world,” said Griffin Schroeder, Partner, Tiger Global, in a statement.
Now the startup, which has started monetizing the platform, is set to expand aggressively. Parikh said it will continue to expand to more cities in India and will start its global expansion by early next year. Parikh said the startup is eyeing expansion in the United States, Southeast Asia and the Middle East and Africa.
“We have already made a dent. Now we want to impact the lives of 2.3 billion people.” “We would need an insane amount of resources to deliver a world-class team. It’s a tough task, and one is going to take over the village. But someone has to solve it. “