Fast-growing job startup Apna raises $70 million for India and overseas expansion
SINGAPORE, NNA - Apna, India's largest and fast-growing homegrown professional networking and jobs platform for the working class, has raised $70 million in Series B funding, pushing its valuation up to $570 million.
The startup will use the money to build new products, hire tech talent and expand its app locally first and then to overseas markets such as Southeast Asia and the United States next year.
Launched in 2019, the jobs app attracted 50 times more users in the last 12 months, with more than 10 million job seekers and 100,000 employers registered with it, said Apna in a press release on Tuesday (June 15).
The Series B round was led by global investor firms Insight Partners and Tiger Global. Existing investors like Sequoia Capital India, Lightspeed India, Greenoaks Capital and Rocketship VC also participated in the round.
"The investment amounts to an endorsement of Apna's undisputed market leadership and stellar business growth. With this investment, Apna has now raised over $90 million and is now valued at $570 million, within 16 months of product launch," said Apna, which designed its app to serve India's burgeoning working class.
Apna will use the proceeds to strengthen its current presence in 14 cities and expand pan-India over the next six months to do its part to help restart the Indian economy as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The app is currently available in Mumbai, Delhi-NCR, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Ranchi, Kolkata, Surat, Lucknow, Kanpur, Ludhiana, and Chandigarh.
Delighted with the rapid growth of his app users, Nirmit Parikh, Apna founder and CEO, said, "At Apna we are determined to take a fresh approach towards solving employment and skilling challenges for billions. Over the last month itself, Apna has facilitated more than 15 million job interviews and work-related conversations where users have helped each other to start a business, find a gig or learn a new skill."
The startup will enhance its tech-driven approach to harness the power of communities to help people seek better jobs and entrepreneurships.
This has been especially critical in a pandemic year which has seen severe disruptions to labor markets due to intermittent lockdowns.
Networking on Apna has helped Shivam Singh, an aspiring graphic designer from a small Indian town who lost his job during the pandemic. He found not only expert guidance, but also enough customers on the app to kickstart a business.
His success today serves as an inspiration to countless aspiring entrepreneurs and designers, said Apna.
The app has built more than 60 thriving communities for skilled professionals like carpenters, painters and field sales agents. It allows them to access local job opportunities, network with peers, practice for interviews, share their accomplishments, and gain new skills.
On backing the growth of the platform, Nikhil Sachdev, managing director of Insight Partners, said, "We have been incredibly impressed with Apna's stellar growth over the last year. They have built the market leading platform for India's workforce to establish digital professional identity, network, access skills training, and find high quality jobs."
He noted that employers have been engaging with Apna at a rapid pace to help find high-quality talent "with low friction which is leading to best-in-class customer satisfaction scores."
"We believe that our investment will enable Apna to continue their steep growth trajectory, scale up their operations, and improve access to opportunities for India's workforce," added Sachdev.
The story behind the creation of Apna is also interesting.
Before starting Apna, Nirmit previously founded tech startup Cruxbot which was acquired by Kno Inc and Intel Corporation. He was also part of the iPhone product-operations team at Apple.
The idea for Apna originated in 2019 when Nirmit realized small and medium-sized businesses faced challenges in hiring workers.
He then spent time going undercover as a worker to understand the problems faced by India's workforce, which is largely unorganized.
He found that workers sorely needed training and wider networking to find the right job.
This led to Nirmit building the platform to host an online professional community, similar to what Linkedin has done so successfully for white-collar professionals.
He chose the name "Apna", which means "ours" in Hindi, after he was inspired by a Bollywood song "Apna Time Aayega", which chronicled the rise of an aspiring hip-hop artist from an underprivileged background who received networking support and a platform to showcase his music talent.