From a small room with a rented computer to building a Rs 4 crore bootstrapped placement empire - the story of Bharat Bylappa


"If you fail, never give up because F.A.I.L. means "First Attempt in Learning,” said the late Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam.

Bharat Bylappa’s failed attempts at multiple ventures have been the laying the foundation for his entrepreneurial goals. There was even a time when he had to choose ‘a day job’, but his passion for entrepreneurship was always alive. His journey took a fortuitous turn in in April 2007 when he started Setuve Staffing Solutions that creates a pool of professionals for corporates placements.

                              Bharat Bylappa on the inception of Setuve Staffing Solutions from home in 2007

In 2012, Setuve Staffing Solutions was rechristened Bharat Head Hunters. It offers in-house recruitment training courses and consultancy services to both external and internal recruiters. Once they receive the requirement from clients, they list out all possible target companies, shortlist the names of the candidates, conduct meeting with them and match companies and clients based on the requirement. It creates 50 job offers every month. Currently, Bharat Head Hunters has more than 100 employees.

Getting the first cheque from the client

Is money really an important element to starting a business? Bharat started up from a small room with just one computer on rent. His first cheque from a client worth Rs 2, 90, 000 became his passport to fund the business to growth further. He bought two PCs, two tablets and hired two people.

His client base started growing rapidly from the very first year and became the stepping stone to bringing Bharat closer to his goal. Soon, he and his team moved to a rented premises that had space for 10 employees.

The initial spurt of success subsided and Bharat Head Hunters soon had a cash crunch owing to payment delays from clients. Despite the positive balance sheet, not a single bank or investor has offered help due to the assumption that the recruitment business in India is high-risk.

Finally, my wife’s savings and gold came to our rescue when we needed funds,” says Bharat.

Education Journey: The upside down

Bharat Bylappa, Founder, Bharat Headhunters

Bharat was an average student. He has completed his schooling from Padmavathi Primary and High School, Bengaluru and pre-university course from V.V. Puram College of Science. He then wanted to pursue Bachelor of Science in Agriculture at the Gandhi Krishi Vigyan Kendra (GKVK) College but failed twice in the exam.

My interest was to go back to our village and engage in agriculture, but my parents did not allow me to do that since they were worried about my career,” says Bharat.

Bharat then enrolled in the Al-Ameen College of Business Studies, Bengaluru. He also started an LPG distribution business and was therefore denied a hall ticket to write his final exam due to lack of attendance.

A college dropout, Bharat did not give up on his passion and started a sanitary wear business with two friends. The lack of funds and the casual attitude of his co-founders forced Bharat to shut down the business.

Lesson Learnt: Before starting any business, understand the market dynamics, which varies from business to business.

The show must go on! Taking risks and failing is the path to success. Bharat then started a venture in interior design, the idea of which came from his past experiences in an interior designing company where he had excelled in design planning, trouble shooting and more.

Unfortunately, this business also did not take off due to lack of basic qualification in the field.

Lesson Learnt: Domain Expertise is very important if one doesn’t have investment strength.

Given the sudden boom in the software business in India, Bharat completed courses in Oracle and Visual Basics. He and a few friends took a franchise from Tata Infotech Education where he was holding minimum stake. The moment the company started making profits, he was cornered by the majority stakeholders, which made him decide to quit.

Lesson Learnt: One should make sure the legal documentation is done. Every assurance and terms from the partners should be put on paper and signed off.

Finally, the Business of Recruitment

Bharat started a recruitment company named Safe Hands Consultants, but was unhappy with the progress of the company and shut it down. Changes on the personal front forced him to quit the business and take up job in a Delhi-based recruitment company.

Team of Bharat Headhunters

Started with only three clients, Bharat Head Hunters now has 66 clients. Bharat Head Hunters does not work on fixed fees, but charges based on the scope of the assignment. The company is now planning to expand to the US, the UK, Singapore and Germany through joint ventures.

In FY 2007-08, Bharat Head Hunters achieved a turnover of Rs 18 lakh, and in 2015-16, the turnover grew to Rs. 4 crore. For 2016-17, the target is Rs. 10 crore.

As a part of his expansion plans, Bharat is designing a software tool that will identify the right candidate for the available opportunity. He is also developing a software called JobFairGuru, which will identify the right candidate, train them and place them based on both their talents and education, and not just on their education.

His dream project on which he is currently working is creating a Global Recruitment Village, a job delivery center. The company also has plans to have big sales team to identify school or college dropout youths and train them under Global Recruitment Village. Later these trained resources will be placed with their clients.

Market opportunities

Hiring today is not only about sourcing, interviewing candidates, and getting the vacancy filled; it is about matching the required job with a candidate’s capability and vice versa.

Startups like Hiree, Venturesity, Grown Out, Belong, and MyRefers are dramatically changing business intelligence in the domain of recruitment by leveraging social media, digital media, data analytics, and Big Data.

Tarun Davda, Director, Matrix Partners, says, “India’s search and recruitment market is worth $1 billion and is growing at 20 per cent CAGR. The key opportunities in online hiring are sourcing and matching of high-quality candidates to companies.”

Bharat Headhunters


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