Internshala is a dot com business with the heart of dot org.
At the core of the idea is the belief that internships, if managed well, can make a positive difference to the student, to the employer, and to the society at large. Hence, the ad-hoc culture surrounding internships in India should and would change. Internshala aims to be the driver of this change.
Internshala is a friend, a mentor, an affectionate senior, and a boon.
TEAM BWDISRUPT MET WITH SARVESH AGARWAL, FOUNDER AND CEO OF INTERNSHALA AND SPOKE TO HIM
How did the entrepreneurial bug bite you?
I come from a business family in Nawalgarh (a town in Rajasthan) and desire to do something of my own was always there. While working in Corporate also, I used to bounce ideas off with friends and came very close to starting up couple of times. Finally, it was in 2010 that an idea (of an internship platform) stayed with me long enough that I decided to do something about it. I started Internshala as a blog that I used to write in my spare time along with a day job; after 6 months of encouraging initial response, I decided to quit my Corporate job and dedicate full time to Internshala.
What is your Product or Service / Offerings to Customer?
Internshala is a platform that helps students discover their true passion and prepares them for a career in it. On one side is the internship platform (world’s largest) connecting students and companies with each other for internships which has ~25,000 businesses and ~750,000 students registered on the platform. On the other is an online training platform (Internshala Virtual Training Centre) helping students acquire new age skills (Web/App development, Analytics, Digital Marketing etc.) and constantly upgrade themselves
What were the challenges before you while setting up this startup?
The biggest challenge in the journey has been building a team, especially on the technology front. I think the limited engineering talent (the really good ones) that we have in the country is either recruited by tech giant or head over to pursue MBA leaving startups struggling for building world class engineering teams. Fortunately as a business, we are deeply connected with the student community and with their help (first as interns and later as freshers) and a bit of perseverance we were able to overcome this challenge.
What are the challenges for startup companies setting up shop in India?
One is difficulty in building a technology team that I have mentioned earlier. Other than that I don’t foresee any other major challenge (at least while starting up). The societal acceptance of entrepreneurship as a career option has increased plus there are no major hurdles from a process perspective also (not atleast till you reach a sizable scale). The sheer diversity of country (making it difficult for a solution to scale) and in general people’s hesitation to pay for an online product/service could be some of the other challenges but those I was well aware of before starting up also.
How is your business model different from the existing ones?
Unlike other recruitment/internship portals, Internshala is absolutely free both for students and companies. We monetise the student traffic by ads and up-selling them our online training offering.
Who are your clients? How do you look at expanding?
Internshala is used by 25,000 businesses to recruit interns. Some of the notable names include Reliance, HDFC Bank, Ibibo group, Make My Trip, Kolkata Knight Riders and many Members of Parliament (MPs) etc. On student side, Internshala is used by 750,000 students across 5,000 colleges in India.
So far our growth has come from Word of Mouth from happy customers (~50% of new business is referrals) and we intend to stay laser focused on that. In addition, we have also started advertising on relevant business & HR forums to get more corporate client onboard.
The best and worst memories while setting up
Everytime a student writes to us mentioning how Internshala helped her career is a moment of pride and redemption for entire team. Similarly, whenever we get an email from a student on how she could not get an internship through Internshala or if a client is not able to fill the position – it aches. Thankfully, we have had lot many more positive memories than negative ones.
Your Marketing Plans so that the world knows you
We are very strong in digital space (SEO, Social Media, Email marketing) and are now regularly present in campuses via fests and our Internshala Student Partner Program ( Internshala’s student representatives in 500 campuses).