Tech Mahindra's jobs marketplace Saral Rozgar scouting for a strategic investor

10 Aug, 2016

Saral Rozgar, a mobile-based jobs marketplace incubated by Tech Mahindra Ltd, is scouting for a strategic investor that would partly or completely buy out its majority stakeholder Tech Mahindra Growth Factories Ltd (TMGF). The company has already mandated an investment banker to look for an investor, said a senior official of the company.

Meanwhile, the five-year-old marketplace for blue collar and entry level jobs, is moving out of TMGF umbrella and is in the process of registering itself as a standalone business entity. Saral Rozgar has also moved out of the Tech Mahindra office in Noida into a new premises in Delhi.

"We are already operating as an independent company," said Vivek Chandok, founder and CEO, Saral Rozgar, adding that Saral Rozgar will soon be incorporated as a standalone legal entity.

Chandok said the shareholding pattern will change when an external investors steps in. "If we get a good investor, Tech Mahindra might even look at selling off its entire stake," he added.

TMGF was spun off as an independent entity from Tech Mahindra, the country's fifth largest software services firm, in 2015 to push innovative technologies for both in-house use as well as for external partners. Tech Mahindra, reportedly, has set aside $150 million to invest in innovative startups, some of which may be incubated under TMGF.

Platform USP, traction

According to some estimates, the blue collar and entry-level jobs is currently a $1.2 billion opportunity in India. There are 51 million job providers in the country, 430 million workers in the unorganised sector, and total current workforce is about 117 million.

Launched in 2011, Saral Rozgar is a multi-lingual platform that allows candidates to explore job vacancies through mobile phones, text services and voice calls in over 10 Indian languages. Candidates can buy Saral Rozgar cards for Rs 100 from more than 1 lakh retail outlets across the country. The card allows a candidate to access vacancies advertised in around 150 categories on Saral Rozgar platform, reach out to an advertisers' call centre and create an online resume, among other things.

Similarly, job providers can also register on the platform through Saral Rozgar's call centre and reach out to candidates enrolled on the platform directly through automated calls or text messages in regional languages.

Offering its services in more than 300 cities across 23 states, Saral Rozgar claims to have about 6 million job seekers and over 15000 employers on its platform. "Saral Rozgar is generating approximately 1 lakh jobs every month, and has filled about 1.5 million cumulative vacancies till now. We are adding at a rate of 2000-3000 employers per month," Chandok said.

Flipkart, Ola, Whirlpool, Eureka Forbes, among others, are the largest job providers on Saral Rozgar platform.

The company has close to 400 employees, of which, 300 comprise the sales team. "So far, all our investment has gone into creating the product and technology, hiring, and marketing," Chandok said. Saral Rozgar is also building global linkages. So far, it has sourced about 8000 jobs to the Middle East.

In addition, the company has also signed memorandums of understanding with several ministries and departments, such as the labour ministry and Electronic Skill Council. "Government faces issues related to placements, and that's where we come in. We help government shortlist the employers for job seekers, and in return, we acquire skilled database."

Business Model

To avail of Saral Rozgar services, job seekers need to buy a card for Rs 100, which is valid for 90 days. Those who buy the card also get access to Saral Rozgar job fairs which are organised at regular intervals.

The employers on the platform may buy monthly packages ranging from Rs 5000 to Rs 1.5 lakh depending on their requirements. "Under our premium packages, we give Saral services like short listing of resumes on employers' behalf and create walk-in interviews for them."

Saral Rozgar also trains candidates as per employers' requirements, and for this, the company has got vocational training centres called Saral Shiksha.

"We give tools to employers to run campaigns on our API platform and other data monetization opportunities. Employers can run specific campaigns and reach out to probable job seekers," said Chandok.

Refusing to divulge its total turnover, Chandok said currently Saral Rozgar earns 60% of its revenues from job seekers, 20-30% from employers and the rest from data monetization. "Going forward, we expect employers to contribute 50% to the total revenue, raise 30-40% from advertisements and digital monetisation and the remaining to come from job seekers," he added.

The company has yet to make any profits but Chandok said: "We can either look at profits or scale," adding that "I think we are already in a leadership position, and we are looking at maintaining that level first, before we look at profitability."

Fund raising

Saral Rozgar has several competitors such as Babajobs, Aasaanjobs, and Zwayam, among others. The three companies have raised investments in the past, thus, proving the business potential and sustainability in the sector. Bangalore-based Babajob Services Pvt Ltd, for instance, has raised over $10 million in funding so far. In May, Zwayam Digital Pvt. Ltd raised $250,000 in seed investment from a bunch of unnamed angel investors. In January 2015, Mumbai-based Aasaanjobs raised $1.5 million in funding from Inventus Capital Partners and IDG Ventures.

Observers say that in the online job market the key to success will be consolidating the largely fragmented market. "Primarily, any online startup which is able to overcome the challenge of fragmentation and has the network and relationships will be the winner, and will definitely get investors' attention," said Sunil Goyal, CEO, YourNest Angel Fund, an early stage venture investor.

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