Many companies are trying to solve the jobs conundrum. While India produces over 2.5 million graduates and diploma holders every year, only 45 per cent are employable. Meanwhile, there are jobs not getting filled up as companies cannot find the right fit. And unemployment continues to mount.

A host of assessment firms, recruitment companies, skilling start-ups and edtech players have been attempting to find solutions to this problem. In this melange comes Unstop, a community engagement and hiring platform set up by a former Deloitte executive Ankit Aggarwal, that is trying a different tack. “Every year over 5,000 companies go to campuses to hire students. But they are not able to hire the right students. We are trying to solve this problem,” says Aggarwal.

According to him, there are three things happening in this space — assessments, discovery and engagement. The first two are cluttered. What Unstop is offering to companies is engagement with talent, even as it provides a chance for students to learn, upskill, search opportunities, showcase their skills and get hired. In sum, Unstop is trying to be a one-spot place for everything related to fresher hiring and student engagement.

Talent discovery

Companies can post challenges, competitions and case studies on Unstop’s platform to discover talent. For instance, if you go to the site right now there is a global innovation challenge from L’Oreal, asking students to reinvent the future of beauty using tech. There are also hackathons posted by colleges and companies and notices for college fests. Aggarwal describes how when Walmart wanted to hire 100 women coders, it approached Unstop. A coding challenge was posted on the site. “In a matter of 12 days, 51,000 female coders applied for that challenge,” he says. Over 5,000 cleared the challenge and Walmart hired 100 coders from Unstop alone.

But the story does not end there. Aggarwal started thinking why only 5,000 out of 51,000 were able to clear the challenge. And thus it started skill development — a bunch of courses to help candidates up their performances in such challenges. “We are not replacing edtech. What we have done is unlock excellence through practice. Some of it is paid, some courses are free,” he says. There is also an option to opt for a ‘Pro’ programme at ₹3,000 for a year, which unlocks more courses.

Another avenue for students to gear up to do well at job settings is through mentorships. “We have done 2 lakh minutes of mentorships since we started Unstop,” says Aggarwal. Many in the corporate sector are registered on Unstop as mentors. Some offer mentorship free. Others charge. When the students pay for the mentorship, Unstop gets a small commission.

Over 8 million users are registered on Unstop. “We have monthly active user numbers of 3.5 million. The traffic is 45 million page views,” says Aggarwal. He says that in B-schools such as ISB, IIM Ahmedabad, Unstop has 100 per cent penetration. But these are institutes that have great placement records, so why would the MBA students come to the Unstop site? The use cases for Unstop are varied, he explains. Several MBA students, for instance, are unsure which field to specialise in. But when they get to solve the case studies posted on the site or do some other challenges, they get to figure out their interests and strengths. “It provides them a way to find out which field to take, for others it is an information resource,” says Aggarwal.

Unstop actually started life as an information resource for students, when Aggarwal, during his own student days (he is a BTech from Jaypee University, an MBA from IMT Ghaziabad and has done a leadership course from Harvard) was frustrated when he could not find even basic things like where and when a college festival was being held. He started a blog, which he converted into a website, where anyone could feed in salient information. In 2017, Reliance and Aditya Birla approached him asking him to conceptualise some engagements with students.

In May 2021, he decided to take it big and scale in multiple directions.He describes how companies see efficiency in the platform. For instance, Walmart, which had a hiring interview ratio of 8:1 — that is 8 hours spent on interviewing one candidate, has pared it down to 2.5.

With $5 million funding from Coursera and Mynavi, a Japanese HR tech firm (its first round), and putting in motion some aggressive branding and marketing — for instance, at the annual SHRM conference for HR professionals, Unstop was a key sponsor — the company is on an unstoppable course.