- Jobs platform and professional network
apna.cohas witnessed robust growth since its inception in 2019. Today it has a consumer base of 20 million, a number it plans to double in the next 12-18 months.
- We speak to
Rahul Deorah, Head of Marketing, apna.co to understand his plans for achieving this target.
The platform brought Rahul Deorah, who was previously a part of
Deorah feels apna has embarked on a Herculean task, to solve the earth-scale problems of unemployment, poverty and upskilling. He plans to do it by strengthening the platform, giving both jobseekers and prospective employers a good experience. He walks us through his plans of ensuring apna is able to achieve the ambitious goals it has set for itself in the next few years to come.
Q) It’s been around 3 years since apna came into being. How has the journey been so far?
Let me walk you through our journey so far. We launched apna in 2019 and our job is to connect job seekers with recruiters, and vice versa. Fast forward to 2022, we have over 20 million users, with a presence in over 50 cities. We have about 2 lakh people who trust us. Last month, we facilitated close to 20 million interviews through the platform. We try to create and expose opportunities to the rising workforce of India. Everyday we hear people asking, where are the jobs? At the same time, if you speak to prospective employers, they say they’re not finding the right candidates. So this is an asymmetry of information in the market that apna is trying to bridge by firstly ensuring that people who are posting jobs are deeply verified and have the right intent. At the same time, the candidates who are applying to jobs are well-filtered so that when they are connected to the employers, both sides get a relevant lead, ensuring higher chances of conversion. That's what we do today. In the future, we are working towards building a strong professional social network for the rising workforce of India, just like
Q) The pandemic brought about a seismic change in the world around us. How did it affect apna’s business?
During the pandemic, especially the second wave, we felt that we had a huge responsibility, to ensure that all with the reverse migration, people could find enough opportunities to help set up their lives all over again. And during those 4-5 months of the second wave, we grew by almost 70% because we were working overtime to ensure that everything is at the right place for the candidates to find the right opportunities and the employers to post the right kind of jobs.
Q) How have you been communicating with your audience? How have you been able to grow your reach?
Apna is a network effects product. More employers will bring more candidates and vice versa. And the second network effect is a professional network that you create for these candidates, where people from similar vocation can speak to each other, just like we do on LinkedIn. So the power of the product has helped us grow over the last couple of years. Secondly, we have put together some innovative marketing campaigns. We’ve worked a lot to ensure that our value propositions which we swear by and execute are communicated to the candidate. There is a lot of asymmetry of information in the market and a lot of job postings on the internet are fake. That's something we’re extremely mindful of. When a candidate comes to apna, he or she knows that the jobs on our platform won’t be fake. And that helps us. Once they find the job, they refer us to multiple of their friends and family. So walking the talk is our second critical piece. Marketing can only take you so far. If you're selling something that is not right for me, I won’t care about how beautiful your ads are.
Q) Word-of-mouth has worked well for you then?
Absolutely. And word-of-mouth is a function of good execution.
Q) You spoke about some innovative marketing. Can you give me a few examples?
Marketing has two parts. The first is what you say and the second is how and where say it. The ‘where you say it’ part has been democratized over the last 5-6 years because people are spending more and more time on their phones. So when about 30-35% of their attention span in a day ends up being on the mobile phone, that becomes a conduit for us to reach our audience. What we say becomes extremely critical because we primarily focus on our value propositions. The reality is that this is a market that is plagued by mistrust. So if you walk the talk, your audiences and consumers will absolutely love you. We ensure that we only talk about things that we can actually execute and pull off and I call that innovative because you're doing the regular things but you're doing it well. We don't discount any mediums. We use anything that helps us reach out to our audiences.
Q) Where does the majority of your target audience reside? Is it metros or smaller cities?
We don't really segregate it that way. We try to understand where are the right opportunities for the right candidates. Our internal data says that over 50% of people in say a city like Agra are looking for jobs in Delhi. So while we target them in Agra, we tell them about jobs in different cities.
Q) Can you talk us about your growth? Where are you currently and where do you want to go?
Today, there are over 20 million consumers who trust us. Our aim is to at least double this number in the next 12-18 months because you can't do enough for the country. We want to ensure that we keep working hard and delivering on what our aim and ambition is, and hopefully add to the growth of the country.
Q) There are already many players in the segment who have been around longer and already have a wide consumer base. What gives apna an edge?
Internally, we don't really worry about or discuss competition because if we know what the right thing to do is, we just execute on that. So what gives us the edge is, over the last couple of years, we have very deeply focused on ensuring that the experience of the candidates as well as the employers is absolutely fantastic because that would make people come back to our platform. We make sure every call is genuine. Of course, if today we’re good, in the future we want to be exceptional. So we have a long way to go. If we keep doing the right things consistently, we only have the size of our ambition to worry about.
Q) Is there a community communication side to apna as well, similar to what we have on LinkedIn?
Absolutely! That’s one of our core focus areas. We launched a community product or groups for Indian professionals where they can send each other connection requests and connect with each other. Some of our groups like government job preparation or beautician groups are buzzing. We have included this in our Android app. We see people sharing helpful tips to each other, they try to help each other find jobs. And it's a very safe and professional place to communicate with each other and build a professional network for the rising workforce in India.
Q) How big is the team currently? How are you expanding it further?
We have about 500 people across India. We need to at least double this number over the next 18-24 months if we want to hit our ambitious goals because there's a lot we want to do.
Q) Going ahead, what are a key focus areas for you going to be?
A key focus area for us for this year as well as for the next 4-5 years is to keep improving the platform, the candidate and employee experience and our community. We already have over 70 communities and groups for different kinds of vocations, our task is to keep improving on those so that people look forward to coming online, sharing and exploring better opportunities for themselves at all times. As a company, we believe that for the rising workforce of India, there's a glass ceiling that people around them have created for them. They are told they can’t go beyond that and they themselves start believing that. We want to break that glass ceiling. Secondly, our aim would be to take our brand story to the world. Today, how much we can help people is not very well-known within our target audience. So our job would be to take that message to the right people in the right way which will help catapult growth.