When tech is not the answer


“We need to meet 800 people to shortlist 100. So we would need about 1,000 profiles to be able to supply 100 to a company,” says he. “And if a candidate doesn’t show up, it offers a replacement.”

Companies pay Quess for every successful hire. The company claims it has about 1.2 million people in its database and places about 7,000 people every month. And even though it spends close to Rs 1,500 to find a candidate, it earns close to Rs 3000 to Rs 5000 per candidate.

This model of guaranteed hires was something even Babajob tried, but it had to suspend it, as it was not scalable using a marketplace model.

And, problems never stop

That was not the only problem with technology. A second source says that the algorithms designed to match, say, a driver with an employer are not entirely reliable.

“There are numerous attributes that are needed to make a match,” he says. “What is one employer’s preference is not necessarily the other’s. So it is difficult to capture those exact attributes the employer is looking for to make that match,” says he.

And if the matchmaking is inaccurate, Babajob loses that employer as a repeat customer.

The company, in fact, launched two apps in 2016, one for job seekers and one for employers. But it had poor offtake. Less than 10% of the employers used the app, says the first source.

The founders were aware that tech was not the only solution. “If you see what models are working certainly the tech and human models are still the ones that are working at scale in India,” writes Kashyap. “Naukri still has a very large field sales force in order to achieve the revenue that it currently has. Many employers still prefer to deal with a consultant who will do most of the calling on their behalf,” he adds.

In the middle of all this, Babajob still had one hope. LinkedIn showed interest in acquiring it. It would have been a dream exit for Blagsvedt and Kashyap. “We were all hoping it would happen. But we believe LinkedIn felt it was too early to get into this market,” adds the second source.

With no funding coming it’s way, QuikrJobs was the only out for Babajob.

A new home

Quikr, for whom the jobs vertical brings about three-fourth of its revenue, became profitable at a vertical level earlier this year, writes a spokesperson on email. As Ken wrote previously, QuikrJobs focused on getting the white-collar job market, with its acquisition of Hiree. Now with Babajob, it has a consolidated position in both these businesses.

Ideally, a combination of the two is good to have because as Guruprasad of Quess says, white-collar jobs add to the bottom-line and blue-collar, to the top line.

With Babajob out of the way, QuikrJobs can now price its service the way it wants, boosting revenue. It was earlier pricing itself at one-fourth of what Babajob did. Moreover, 16 million job seekers is a nice vanity metric to have. Quikr and Babajob each claim to have a database of 8 million, each.

But it may not dissolve the Babajob brand immediately as it still is 10 times more popular than QuikrJobs.

However, the obvious problems around the blue-collar employment market are not something Quikr is in a unique position to solve now, just because it will have Babajob in its fold. If anything, this acquisition is more proof of Quikr’s predilection to buy overbuild.

To really have a shot at solving this problem, Gayatri Vasudevan, founder of LabourNet, a social enterprise that trains and employs blue-collared employees, says these companies need to have an extensive physical presence besides a portal. She also says that they need to collect richer information.



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