Apna, the professional network for grey and blue collar workers, has become a unicorn after raising fresh funds of about $100 million in series C funding led by Tiger Global.
The round also saw participation from Owl Ventures, Insight Partners, Sequoia Capital India, Maverick Ventures and GSV Ventures. With this round, Apna has attained a total valuation of $1.1 billion.
Apna has grown 125x over the past 15 months and is currently conducting 18 million interviews every month.
The company plans to use the funding to further strengthen its presence in existing 28 cities and expand pan-India by the end of 2021. The team plans to double down on their edtech platform for skilling and invest in hiring exceptional talent and building world class engineering and product capabilities. Apna plans to build a global enterprise by venturing into new markets such as the US, South East Asia, and Middle East and Africa starting early next year.
“Apna has a deep social purpose, and is committed to discovery and creation of opportunities to enhance a billion livelihoods, across geographies. With the continued support of our partners, we aim to accelerate our journey of ‘solving for the world’,” said Nirmit Parikh, Founder and CEO, Apna.
As an “undercover” blue collar worker, Parikh worked as a shop floor employee, electrician, foreman, cashier, and other gigs before setting up Apna to cater to this category. His thought process was that one cannot build a platform to cater to this section of the workforce sitting in relative luxury.
Apna’s job platform leverages a sophisticated algorithm that matches candidates with employers taking into account their skills, experience and preferences. The app also has over 70 communities for skilled professionals like carpenters, painters, telecallers, field sales agents, delivery personnel and others. Apna communities have enabled users to grow their professional networks, upskill through peer learning and find gig opportunities. Apna’s communities enabled 17 million peer to peer professional conversations in the past month.
Companies like Zomato, Bharti AXA, Urban Company, BYJU’S, PhonePe, Burger King, Delhivery, Teamlease and G4S Global are among Apna’s customers. Apna has facilitated about 100 million interviews through the app in less than two years.
“Apna’s viral adoption is driven by a novel social and interactive approach to connecting employers with job seekers. We expect job seekers in search of meaningful connections and vetted opportunities to drive Apna’s continued explosive growth across India – and the world,” said Griffin Schroeder, Partner, Tiger Global.
Most of the recognition and use of the app has happened through “strong word-of-mouth” recommendations, said Parikh. The firm has built the platform to reflect the language of a particular region along with English.
Parikh believes English is an aspirational language for the workforce logging in to Apna, and hence a mixed lexicon works better for its users.
Partnering with Owl Ventures, the largest venture capital firm focused on education technology, will help bolster Apna’s global ambitions in the skilling space.
“We believe that Apna has the potential to fundamentally shift how companies approach hiring skilled professionals and how these individuals approach networking and upskilling…By incorporating learning and upskilling offerings to drive strong outcomes for its user communities, Apna is building an end-to-end solution that has the potential to help individuals over the course of their career and not just in a single interaction. That repeated interaction and trust they are building on their platform can profoundly impact not just India but the global talent ecosystem,” said Amit Patel, Managing Director Owl Ventures.
Throughout the pandemic period, Apna has supported business continuity by helping employers connect with and hire interested candidates in their vicinity.
After taking concrete steps to accelerate India’s recovery, the company is committed to continue to solve employment and skills related problems for the world. Apna has partnered with organizations such as, National Skill Development Corporation, UNICEF Yuwaah, Truecaller, Akzonobel, and the Ministry of Minority Affairs of India to provide better skilling and job opportunities to candidates.