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Workplace discussion platform Hush enables frank conversations, raises Rs 4.5 Cr from Accel, others

Debolina Biswas
29th Nov 2018
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Bengaluru-based Hush helps employees hold conversations on work culture, salaries and trends by enabling them to ask questions and provide answers anonymously.

Close on the heels of its August seed round, workplace discussion platform Hush has raised an additional round of Rs 4.5 crore from Accel and Shamik Sharma, former CTO of Myntra and current Business Head at Curefit.

The platform enables people to have anonymous discussions and post grievances and raise doubts related to workplace culture, rules, and opportunities.

‘How can I deal with a harsh boss or a surly coworker?’ ‘Will the marketing team be open to an idea from a tech guy like me?’ ‘Will company X pay me more than company Y?’ These are not questions you may want to ask your HR or your boss, even if your company promotes an open culture. Many employees fear being completely honest even on anonymous feedback forms.

This is why Ashutosh Dabral and Umesh Joshi set up Hush in late September 2017.

Hush no more

Hush, like its name suggests, is a platform for employees to "speak without fear," the founders add. They have been in similar situations themselves and decided that a platform where people can talk freely would be a great offering.

The platform, run by a 16-member team, enables employees of a company to anonymously discuss work-related issues, either with employees of the same company or with employees from other companies.

As the CEO, IIM-Calcutta alum Ashutosh focuses on the product, growth and communications in the company. He has over 16-years’ experience in product management roles, including stints at Yahoo, AOL, Dell and Target. Previously, Ashutosh had co-founded another startup - Plastr (formerly known as VoyageUp) - an app that helped people create and join local communities instantly.

IIT-Kanpur alumnus Umesh has worked in multiple technical roles in companies like Talisma, McAfee and Yahoo. He takes care of Hush's tech.

Hush
Ashutosh Dabral (left) and Umesh Joshi, Co-founders, Hush

With more than 300 Indian companies on their platform, the company wants to get at least a thousand more on board in the next few months. Currently, Hush caters to 40,000 employees from various firms. An average user spends 10 minutes every day on their platform.

"The new round of funds will be utilised to expand the Hush team, grow the platform's user base and launch new features on the app," Ashutosh says.

Platform-as-a-Service

Hush, available as an iOS and Android app and as a website, has two variations of communities, where users get to ask questions and interact -

  • Private and company-specific communities: New employees have to log in using the official email ID, following which a one-time password is emailed to the user to confirm that he is an employee of that organisation. Else, the account is verified using their LinkedIn account. Once the initial log-in is done, the user can post anonymously. The platform does not store any data of the user on its backend.

The employee then automatically becomes a part of the company's community and can ask questions, start polls, rate their leadership team or hold discussions with fellow colleagues, all anonymously.

For example, a Flipkart employee will only get access to the Flipkart community on Hush. If a company has no community on the platform, the moment an employee logs on to the platform, a community is created for that company.

  • Global community: Employees of all companies on the platform get access to the global community. This does not require the user to log in, and users can ask general questions on culture and remuneration trends here. The questions are answered by fellow users.

As it has noticed many users posing questions when they are looking to switch jobs, Hush is currently looking to get experts on board to experiment with an 'advice from experts' feature. This will go live in the next four to five weeks.

For the employee, not the employer

While there are other platforms like Glassdoor, where employees-- current and former-- review companies and their management anonymously, what sets Hush apart is their approach. Hush is a platform for the employees and not the employer, say the founders.

Hush also claims to provide robust data around salaries through various sources.

Additionally, the platform is refining its machine learning technology to predict a user’s market rate as well.

"On receiving data on your education and previous work experience, with the help of the salary information available with us, we can predict with a fair degree of certainty what salary would one receive and what the salary is across the industry," Ashutosh says.

It differs from a platform like Quora by determining that every user who is answering queries is a verified employee of the company, either by way of their LinkedIn profile, or through company email IDs.

Hush, however, does not store any personal information of the user. No data is saved in the platform's backend. "The only information we have is that a particular user is the employee of a particular company," says Ashutosh.

Journey so far

Hush started a year back with employees of five startups - Flipkart, Ola, Practo, Adobe and Quikr. The platform then saw employees from 30 companies coming on board within the first two months of starting up. Currently, employees of companies like Infosys, Wipro, TCS, IBM and Accenture are using Hush.

"In the last few weeks, we have seen a lot of employees from financial players coming in as well, including HDFC, ICICI and State Bank of India," says Ashutosh.

The founders point out that they are not content creators; rather, they provide a platform for conversations to take place. The startup has a moderation process in place to handle complaints from any organisation if employees have posted defamatory content.

So how does it make money? "We are building a consumer forum and not monetising anything right now," he adds. However, on getting a big chunk of employees onto the platform, the company plans to monetise the use. Getting experts to provide advice could be a possible avenue for monetisation. "We also want to prepare premium job listings in the future, for which we will charge, but that would take time," Ashutosh says.

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