We recently caught up with Varun, one of the founders of an amazing startup called Jobspire. Before introducing them we would like to tell how they started. Varun and his friends we were still in the 7th semester of Manipal Institute of Technology when they started Jobspire. They used to attend college from 8am-5pm and work from 7pm-4am every night. They managed an average of 3-4 hours a night for 5 months.
Eventually the stress of not sleeping got to them and they started falling sick and felt really drained. They requested the college administration for special permission to work on Jobspire full-time and in the 8th semester they worked full-time out of an incubator in Delhi. It helped them focus on their energies and everything went much faster. Surprisingly, they still haven’t received their degrees but work with more than 70 companies already!
Please introduce your startup to our readers.
Jobspire started out as a visual job platform. We saw that startups were failing to differentiate their talent brand from each other. Really good candidates couldn’t decide which startup to work for because they had the same salaries for similar job roles. We built Jobspire as a platform where companies can showcase their work culture in pictures, people and team involved and interesting trivia.
Since then, we’ve identified the top 22 startup jobs in India that are super popular and built quick, 5 minute challenges with subjective results. For example, if you’re applying to a data scientist job, you will be presented with a graph of Flipkart vs. Amazon revenues and asked for your inferences. We’ve seen that this gives startup employers a mental snapshot of how the candidate thinks and how he would tackle day-to-day problems on the job as the CV is quite ineffective. From our data a recruiter spends less than 4 seconds on a CV.
What inspired the creation of Jobspire?
As students who were heavily involved in the startup space, we often used to talk about how the future of work is full of fragmented startups tackling micro problems. Over the last year, we’ve seen this happen a lot and many of the startups that use our platform fall into this category. Fragmented workspaces and teams of 20-50 people need to hire candidates that blend well into the DNA of the startup instead of just having the right skills.
With this in mind we built Jobspire, which helps employers do just that.
Who is your target audience and why?
We’re a 2-sided marketplace. Our target audience on the company side is funded startups with less than 50-100 employees although we do make exceptions. Recruitment is a vast industry and we wanted to tackle a segment that would benefit from building an employer brand.
On the candidate side of things, our target audience is anyone in the age range of 20-25 looking for a startup job although there are candidates who are 35+ using Jobspire right now. We understand this segment best hence we decided to tackle it.
What problem does your company solve ?
We solve the problem of DNA-matching a candidate to the company.
As a candidate, irrespective of where you find a job, we want Jobspire to be the place you do your research. Eventually you’re going to discover new companies and their workplaces and apply to the ones you think you’ll fit in. We once had a candidate who chose a 4lpa job at a company with a great office instead of a 7lpa job with the same title at another company.
On the recruiter side of things we want to provide them with a high-quality pipeline of talent ready for interviews from the tech, sales, operations and marketing fields.
Who are the founders and key team members ?
Mohak Dhingra is our head of Sales and marketing. He’s worked for several years in college at AIESEC and was an executive board member. While this is his first attempt at running a startup, he’s been a key player in getting companies on board and practically selling 24/7.
Kartik Luke Singh is our CTO and he’s one of the most experienced full-stack developers for his age. We worked together at a previous startup and he’s freelanced with big clients like Rss.com and Pikapay while still in college. One of the smartest people I’ve met and that’s coming from an entrepreneur who spends most of his time with talent.
Sandesh Kini is our head of Product. While Kartik determines HOW something is implemented, Sandesh handles the WHAT. He works closely with the sales and marketing team and fine tunes the product accordingly. Recently, he’s also taking on an operations role as the team is expanding rather quickly.
I (Varun Mayya) used to work with Kartik at a previous startup that we started in college called Sizr(www.sizr.net). I’ve been a full-stack developer since my first year and was practically living on my own earnings throughout college. I make sure positions are filled internally(we hire from our own platform) and keep the company funded. While I’ve coded and done some design earlier, I don’t have the time anymore.
Two of our early employees, Pragya (our head of Profiling) and Rushil (a full-stack developer who started from scratch) have been instrumental in our progress. Not a lot of founders mention their employees, but we wouldn’t be here without them.
What relevant domain experience do they have ?
In college, Kartik and I ran a student startup called Sizr. We did T-shirts in the beginning, made a couple of lakhs and then decided that the effort to revenue was high. Since we were both coders we decided to sell our development services online on oDesk and eventually moved off the platform and did bigger projects. We did over 30 lakhs in revenue in our 3rd year.
Being tech guys who’d never seen how recruitment works before, it was a challenge for us to quickly understand the industry. Our outsider perspective gave us a few advantages as well but over the last 8 months we’ve made an effort to understand the industry like the back of our hands.
How many hours a week do you spend on work?
Back when we didn’t have a product of initial traffic and momentum we used to work for about 15 hour a day. Now that we’re a 10 member team(and growing), things have become easier. I’ve personally been able to catch a game of DotA a few times a week, something that I used to miss when we were barely sleeping. When we moved to Delhi, we moved away from our families so there was no question of family time.
As a team, we used to play a lot of Badminton together, especially when the going got tough. We made it a point to put culture first and made an extra effort to make new employees gel in well. It pays off in the future.
Both me and Sandesh had to make a few sacrifices though – we both had to quit the gym because there simply wasn’t time and the context switch and the energy it drained us off were too much to bear.
Why do you think this company can beat the competition?
The market has changed and fragmented considerably. There are very few recruitment companies in India that cater specifically to our segment and we’ve been iterating the product really fast(it comes with working 14 hour a day) based on customer feedback. We have inbuilt virality in the product – people share company profiles on their social networks – something that no other recruitment portal can claim.
Very few hiring products in India track when someone has been hired, but we try our best to do that. Our traction has been incredible and we’re doing nearly 250% Month-on-month growth and it doesn’t look like it’s going to stop anytime soon.
Have you been in a failed start-up before? Why did it fail? What would you do differently?
I wouldn’t consider Sizr a failure, it made us a lot of money for college students – there came a point where we didn’t know what to do with the money. I was drawing nearly 7 lakhs in my third year and was spending on arbitrary things. I learned that the more I earned the more I spent.
However, building stuff for other people gets really boring when you know you can build something useful yourself and that’s why we started Jobspire.
Don’t think we’d have done anything differently. It’s all part of the learning curve 🙂
What outsiders have been most important to your business?
We met Anshumani Rudra (he heads Tiny Mogul Games) at a Startup Weekend event and he’s given us great advice all throughout. Able Joseph and Soiab Grewal are two our other mentors and they’re really awesome people. I don’t hesitate before calling any of them.
Apart from that, one of our early advisors(who will potentially also be our lead investor), Ravi Srivastava has been absolutely instrumental in our progress. Nikunj Jain(who runs Frankly.me) is another investor/advisor who has taught us to think really big and it’s paying off.
How has been your journey so far as an entrepreneur?
It’s been a roller coaster ride of course. We had really humble beginnings out of a dorm room. I’ve been stressed, anxious, ecstatic and it’s been one hell of a ride but you live life once and there’s no known reset button, so might as well take it all in.
We’ve survived earthquakes, constant travel between 4 cities, terrible internet, panic attacks, internal fights, college being a burden and everything under the sun. Earlier I used to take everything very seriously but today I’ve been desensitized and feel that to build a big business you need to take things with a pinch of salt.
It all pays off when someone gets hired though. We’re placing people 10 years older than us and making their lives for the next few years. What better gratification than that? The problem we’re solving is extremely hard but the reward is the ability to see someone’s life being made because of you. We could’ve made a fin-tech or food-tech app and solved people’s needs for a few minutes a day, but Jobspire is our opportunity to shape what a person does every single day.