Apna, a jobs marketplace for blue-collar workers, has been valued at $1.1 billion in less than two years since it started, with $100 million from Tiger Global Management. It is the fastest Indian startup to become a unicorn.
Founded by former Apple executive Nirmit Parikh, Apna- which does not make any money yet- has 16 million users and 1.5 lakh recruiters on its platform. Apna’s valuation in this round doubled from $500 million in June when it had raised $70 million. Its investors include Sequoia India, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Insight Partners, Owl Ventures, Maverick Ventures and GSV Ventures.
“We are going to build the biggest skill-tech platform the world has ever seen. We have grown like crazy and there are 2.3 billion people in the world who need this,” Parikh told Moneycontrol over Zoom from San Francisco.
Apna helps workers get jobs ranging from an AC technician to a graphic designer to a welder. Companies hiring from Apna include Byju’s, Delhivery and Burger King.
While it is present in 28 Indian cities so far, Apna plans to use the money raised to establish presence pan-India and set up operations in the US, Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia early in 2022, Parikh said.
“We are like a reverse LinkedIn. We have started with solving for jobs and are building a community on top of it, and skilling on top of it. India is a country where outcomes matter, and we are solving exactly the problem the user is going through,” he added.
When a candidate applies for a job listed on Apna, the platform puts him/her through a basic test, after which a recruiter snaps up the candidate in a few hours. If a candidate fails the interview, Apna upskills the person in 24 hours and then makes them reapply for the job.
Apna doesn’t have any revenue yet, but has experimented with making money from recruitment, skilling and distribution. For example, when a specific plywood brand wants to reach out to carpenters, or a scooter brand wants to reach out to delivery personnel, Apna can charge these companies to make the connection.
Parikh, a Stanford University graduate, says he worked for short periods on shop floors, as an electrician, foreman and cashier, to understand the challenges of these sectors, before he started Apna. “Building a product is like making music. You can’t make good music unless you go through the emotions and feel them,” he said.The deal makes Apna India’s 27th unicorn of 2021- startups valued at over a billion dollars, in a record-breaking year for venture funding. Internet companies, buoyed by greater usage during the pandemic have raised multiple large funding rounds at unprecedented speeds and valuations.