We’re Looking To Expand Our Operations Outside Of India By mid-2020: Workruit’s Manikanth Challa

In an interview with BW Businessworld, Manikanth Challa, Founder and CEO, Workruit, talks about the company’s model and investment.

What is your business model like how did you get the idea to start?
In some ways, the leading dating app - Tinder inspired Workruit’s core idea. The app makes it so simple for individuals with similar interests to meet just by swiping. Finding jobs and talent should be that simple. Manikanth observed a lot of his friends applying for jobs from a perspective of mere getting a job rather paying attention to their personal strengths and where they belong. This is when the concept of an app was born. Workruit’s core idea is to help individuals (job seekers or applicants) find jobs relevant to their strengths and profile. In the process, Manikanth observed that the applicants are disappointed not hearing from the companies while being clueless about what went wrong. This is when he realised that something has to be done where finding opportunities is simple and straightforward. After working with several start-ups in New York City & San Francisco, Challa exposed himself to the extensive research and study of various algorithms and the workings of a mobile app interface. He associated with several reputed and happening start-ups like Dil Mil (recently acquired by, Interplay Ventures, Trusto, LotusFlare, RevSquare, Founder Shield, Nomad Financial and more. He was one of the initial few members to join these companies and now these companies have risen to multimillion-dollar valuation in the market. By associating with these start-ups in their nascent stages, he contributed to the growth of these companies and while guiding them to exponential growth through hard work and well-planned strategies. After extensive experience working with these dynamic start-ups, he moved back home to create a platform where young applicants and companies can come together. Manikanth spent some time pondering over the various technical issues and how it could improve the economic life of people. He felt they would have to have employment and was surprised to observe that there were mammoth disguised employment and talent accretion. He noticed the right employer and the right employee were never finding each other except in a few serendipitous cases and which basically pained him. He felt that this was a waste of talent and a story of opportunities lost. This led him to start Workruit, a platform where employers and jobseekers could connect with each other with ease and right at their fingertips. Workruit is an AI-based job search platform inspired by the trend of swipes. 

How are you different from the existing competitors?
Once the applicant enrols on the app, depending upon the applicants’ profile, qualifications and location to name a few, they will get relevant results that match the requirements. Along with relevant results, the applicants are also alerted about job fairs, government job openings, and recruitment drives, walk-in interviews happening in and around them. The app works similarly for employers. By sifting through thousands of applicants, Workruit will show only those applications that are relevant to the employers. This advanced screening not only saves time but ensures that the deserving applicants do not fall through the holes. In short, Workruit acts as the perfect matchmaker. On Workruit, the profiles are shown as cards that have information like the experience, skillset and company profile. The applicants or the employer can swipe right on the profiles that match their requirements to show apply/interest. Once the applicant and the employer are mutually connected, they can chat instantly using the app’s in-app messenger. Not only this, the employers can schedule interviews with just a click of the button. The objective is to connect and create a network between both employees and applicants. The USP of Workruit is definitely the design, simplicity and ease at fingertips with more importance towards relevancy.

What is the funding status and monetization model?
Workruit is an AI-based job search platform offering highly relevant results. With simple, efficient and discreet interface, Workruit sifts through countless profiles within a matter of seconds. After the initial few months, Workruit quickly became a saviour in disguise for many start-ups, MSMEs and MNCs, with constant matches happening between job seekers and job providers. Workruit was beyond just connecting employers and job seekers. Workruit is a platform specifically for the white-collar sector and has over 1 lakh users, 4000 companies, generating 45 – 50 matches a day. Another major challenge encountered was the unorganised sector and the market strategy adopted by Workruit was to collaborate with the Government. The state Governments identified the potential of Workruit and wanted to work with it to strengthen and digitize employment exchanges at a larger scale that is accessible for everyone from a painter to a software engineer. Powered by Workruit, Manikanth launched Digital Employment Exchange of Telangana (DEET), in collaboration with the Government of Telangana. Workruit was able to create a huge impact on the lives of thousands of people and enable Telangana to be the first state Government to start such an innovative initiative where individuals from the State of Telangana and across could access a platform empowered by them. DEET was able to successfully generate more than 1.50 lakh vacancies in the private sector in under 5 months. Currently, it has more than 1.20 lakh employers and 1 million job seekers. Taking a cue from DEET’s success, other State Governments like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal are also in talks with Workruit to create a similar platform to digitize employment exchanges and provide a marketplace for employment. Workruit’s association with the state Governments have garnered the attention of NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India), a Government of India body that was established to achieve sustainable development goals.
Currently, Workruit provides opportunities and is accessible for users across India and is looking to expand its production operations outside of India in mid-2020. Alongside, he’s been discussing with various State Governments on how employment exchanges and banks can be digitized to cater to everyone from an unskilled individual to an experienced professional.

What challenges are you facing in running your business?
Workruit has not raised any money yet. So far, it’s a bootstrapped company. Workruit is a free application for job seekers and employers. Workruit is associated with State Governments and operates the Digital Employment Exchange Platforms. The platform does not charge anything from the job seekers or employers. Workruit charges the State Governments it's associated with. Workruit is also launching an instant resume platform that will have a free and premium plan for users to create customized resume/CVs.

How has been the people`s response so far?
In the HR Industry, there are plenty of job portals catering to different target segments of the market. Being in the race, competing with all the platforms but standing apart for all the right reasons is pivotal for the success of the platform. When an applicant is seeking a new job opportunity, they tend to go to the traditional portals as they see hundreds of opportunities. But what they miss out on is finding out if that specific opportunity is relevant to them or not. Relevancy is a key element Wokruit focuses on and ensures even if a job seeker or an employer sees only a few jobs/profiles, they should be relevant. Educating individuals on the importance of understanding their profile and skillset (reality) vs. aspirations is a challenging factor as you don’t want anyone to feel they are not capable of getting an opportunity. Instead, they need to assess themselves on where they stand and what they should aim for in their career path.

How has been the people`s response so far?
People’s response so far to Workruit has been overwhelming. It’s the simplest and easiest way to get in touch with employers and start a conversation. Workruit’s primary target on B2B has been MSMEs and start-ups who are not really comfortable paying huge amount of fees to the agencies but rather like to take instant decisions on whether a specific candidate is the right fit or not. The general feedback received from jobseekers is that they are happy looking at different opportunities right at their fingertips. Not only this, but they are also able to initiate a conversation with employers/recruiters absolutely free of cost unlike most of the traditional portals available in the market.

What are the traction details (like users, app downloads & other achievements of the company)?
Workruit and DEET have over 1 million job seekers, 1.15 lakh companies on the platforms. So far, more than 2 lakh vacancies in the private sector have been generated. 

How do you look at expansion?
Workruit is available PAN India. It’s also launching an instant resume platform for job seekers to create their resume and share it with hiring managers in no time. Meanwhile, Workruit for Governments is expanding and already working with the Government of Telangana on Digital Employment Exchange of Telangana (DEET) platform. Workruit is also launching an exclusive employment exchange platform for Government of Andhra Pradesh and is in talks with few other state Governments on replicating the same in their respective states. Whereas, with respect to Workruit, the platform will be open for job seekers and employers to network and connect in South East Asian and UAE markets later this year.

What are your marketing plans?
Workruit is available PAN India, and DEET is available for people of Telangana. Workruit is also launching a new Instant Resume platform for job seekers to create their resume and share it with hiring managers in no time. Workruit is also looking to expand our operations to South East Asia and UAE market later this year.

What has been the biggest learning’s so far?
The overall journey for Workruit has been amazing. There have been quite a few important lessons that Manikanth experienced and learned individually and as a team. Patience is definitely that tops the list opines Challa. “As entrepreneurs or founders, we wish to see our imagination live within no time but there are a time and place for everything to happen. Along with this, another important lesson I’ve learned over the course of Workruit’s journey is, understanding different user persona. I want to cater to everyone - from a painter to a software engineer, office clerk to an administrative professional, catering and providing a seamless experience where everyone is satisfied with what they’re looking. We come across so many stories and lives of people experiencing different emotions and journey but at the end when it comes to employment or looking for opportunities it all draws down to one thing which is, am I qualified for this opportunity? Understanding this pivotal challenge and providing a platform for a larger spectrum has been the biggest learning so far”, says Manikanth gleaming with excitement on what lies ahead.

What is the market size and opportunity?
The market size is huge for job platforms. Market size would be 10 – 15 million job seekers who are unemployed and about a few million always looking out for alternative opportunities. Target segment will be higher if we consider unskilled, semi-skilled, skilled, employed and unemployed professionals. The opportunity for these individuals is definitely out there to have a tailored resume/CV and look for relevant jobs where job satisfaction would be beyond expectation. 

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