Apna's playbook to solve for the complete employment lifecycle of blue and grey collar workforce

Yatti Soni Bengaluru | Updated on October 08, 2021

Building trust in the platform is crucial for us, says Manas Singh, cofounder

Newly-minted unicorn Apna is working on adding skilling and upskilling courses to its existing job and professional network platform, in order to support the complete employment lifecycle of its users.

Apna is a jobs platform and professional network of blue and gray collar workforce. The platform has over 70 communities for skilled professionals like carpenters, painters, telecallers, field sales agents, delivery personnel and others. The platform leverages a sophisticated algorithm to match candidates with employers taking into account their skills, experience and preferences.

There are certain organic skilling opportunities like webinars and coaching sessions by companies like Urban Company already being conducted on Apna’s professional network, but the company is working on building a more robust product for skilling and upskilling of customers.

“There are certain influencer accounts on Apna, who are now conducting master classes for English speaking, How to start a business, etc — so such organic activity has started. What we are in the process of building right now is building out a more robust product for skilling and upskilling and that is where most of our investment will go into,” Manas Singh, cofounder of Apna told BusinessLine.

Funding rounds

Apna has raised two back-to-back funding rounds this year skyrocketing the valuation of this 15-month-old company to $1.1 billion. Its latest $100 million Series C round was raised from Tiger Global along with the participation of Owl Ventures, Insight Partners, and Sequoia Capital, Maverick Ventures, and GSV Ventures. Before this, in June 2021, Apna had raised $70 million from Insight Partners and Tiger Global.

While solving for the skilling and upskilling of the blue and grey collar workforce, building trust in the platform and being able to understand the nuances of users’ training needs is crucial for any company to succeed.

“In our target market, trust is limited and any company or brand which is able to establish trust is going to overcome a huge barrier. To achieve this, we have an immense focus on making sure that jobs on our platform are real and are active. We have set up processes to ensure that every single job on the platform is reviewed for documents, potential fraud before they are even allowed to the platform. And because of these aspects, we've already started developing a huge trust with our users and that shows in the way our organic growth is happening,” said Singh.

In the past six months, Apna’s organic users have grown from about 30-35 per cent to 65 per cent. Singh sees this as an indication of trust that they have built-in the platform without investing in any big media marketing campaigns and hopes to grow this number further when the company starts investing in large scale marketing campaigns.

In terms of understanding the nuances of what skills should the users be trained on and how should that training experience be designed, Singh noted that Apna has a huge database on the skill sets that each of its 16 million users lacks. This database has been created because Apna requires candidates to take an online skill assessment before applying for any job.

“The user either passes or fails this test and when that incident happens, our platform learns more about the user's skillset and skill levels. Also over time, as the user applies for multiple jobs over a lifetime, the platform is updated on how their skillsets are changing. Now, all of this information can help us to be very smart about the upskilling and skilling courses that we design or offer them,” Singh added.

Further, he noted that Apna does not necessarily need to create the upskilling and skilling courses themselves. The company’s strength today is having jobs and a network of high intent users who are looking for jobs. In other words, Apna has a strong distribution and it is easier to put a utility on a strong distribution than to do it the other way round.

“There is a very strong case to be made of actually partnering with companies like Josh skills who offer upskilling and skilling courses. We actually have run a number of experiments with them as well. This is similar to an Amazon model, once you have a platform, you can get many vendors to create the product itself. And tomorrow, when some of these products are selling really well, one could become a private label provider of that product or service. Product in the case of Amazon and coaching in the case of Apna. That's how we see the skilling piece,” said Singh.

Published on October 08, 2021

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