The gold rush continues for Indian startups. Apna, a professional networking platform started in 2019 for blue-collar workers, is the newest entrant to the coveted unicorn, or the $1-billion valuation club, post its latest funding round. Apna—which is India’s 27th unicorn this year—on Thursday said that it has raised approximately $100 million in a Series C funding round at a $1.1 billion valuation, led by American investment firm Tiger Global Management.
The round also saw participation from Owl Ventures, Insight Partners, Sequoia Capital India, Maverick Ventures and GSV Ventures. Apna has raised $190 million in total funding till date. Apna, which has a presence in 28 cities claims to have grown 125x over the past 15 months and is currently conducting 18 million interviews every month.
The startup’s customers include companies such as Zomato, Bharti AXA, Urban Company, Byju’s, PhonePe, Burger King, Delhivery, Teamlease and G4S Global. Apna points out that it has facilitated about 100 million interviews through its app in less than two years.
It has served over 16 million users and more than 150,000 employers.
“Apna has a deep social purpose and is committed to discovery and creation of opportunities to enhance a billion livelihoods, across geographies. With the continued support of our partners, we aim to accelerate our journey of solving for the world,” Nirmit Parikh, founder and CEO, Apna, said in a statement.
The company plans to utilise the funds to further strengthen its presence in the existing 28 cities and expand pan-India by the end of 2021. The team also plans to double down on their edtech platform for skilling and invest in hiring talent and building engineering and product capabilities.
The startup’s job platform leverages an algorithm that matches candidates with employers taking into account their skills, experience and preferences. The app also comprises over 70 communities for skilled professionals such as carpenters, painters, telecallers, field sales agents, delivery personnel and others. The platform’s communities have enabled users to grow their professional networks, upskill through peer learning and find gig opportunities. Apna’s communities enabled 17 million peer to peer professional conversations in the past month.
“Apna’s viral adoption is driven by a novel social and interactive approach to connecting employers with job seekers. We expect job seekers in search of meaningful connections and vetted opportunities to drive Apna’s continued explosive growth across India – and the world,” said Griffin Schroeder, partner, Tiger Global in a note.
Apna plans to be a global enterprise by venturing into new markets such as the U.S., South East Asia, and Middle East & Africa starting in 2022.
“We believe that Apna has the potential to fundamentally shift how companies approach hiring skilled professionals and how these individuals approach networking and upskilling,” said Amit Patel, managing director, Owl Ventures.
The company has also partnered with organisations such as National Skill Development Corporation, UNICEF Yuwaah, Truecaller, Akzonobel, and the Ministry of Minority Affairs of India, in their endeavour to provide better skilling and job opportunities to candidates.