Unitus Ventures partners with Michael & Susan Dell Foundation to launch 'Jobtech 2.0'

Shortlisted startups addressing skills mismatch, upskilling, freelancing, and job matching will be receiving $1 million funding and guidance from top-notch investors and advisors.

Seattle- and Bengaluru-based early-stage investor Unitus Ventures (formerly known as Unitus Seed Fund), in partnership with Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, announced the launch the first edition of 'Jobtech 2.0', a nationwide competition to invest in startups addressing the future of India's jobs and employment opportunities. Shortlisted startups will be receiving $1 million funding and guidance from top-notch investors and advisors.

The competition is open for entries until November 26, 2019. Startups will be assessed for product-market fit, product differentiation, and growth potential. The specific focus of this competition is startups addressing skills mismatch, upskilling, freelancing and job matching, gig platforms, mentoring, and coaching platforms.

Rahil Rangwala, Director of Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, said:

"We see immense market potential and impact opportunity in the verticals Unitus Ventures' Jobtech 2.0 plans to address. Startups have potential to turn around the complex problem of unemployment by shaping tomorrow's job opportunities as well as making India's youth ready for the future."

The Indian economy is currently facing the heat of a slowdown with both unemployment and underemployment bearing the brunt, thus presenting an opportunity for the investing and startup ecosystem to provide innovative solutions.

As employers tighten their hiring spends, startups focused on upskilling for changing careers, bridging skill mismatch gap, and the gig economy's favourite produce - freelancing, will provide enough elbow room for tackling unemployment as well as aiding tomorrow's population to become job-fit for employment. Unitus’ Jobtech 2.0 is aimed to find and enable rapid growth for startups, to help solve this critical problem. 

"Our investment in Unitus Ventures backed Awign, a crowdsourcing platform that enables companies to outsource their tasks, confirms jobtech is the way forward for impact-led growth," Rahil added.

According to an opinion piece, 37 million workers left agriculture as primary occupation in the last six years and either moved to other professions or are jobless. The sort of skilling and employment opportunities available for these workers remain an area of uncertainty, however with vast possibilities. Tech-enabled job matching platforms for youth or staffing agencies enabling blue-collar workers' integration into mainstream economy are areas with budding prospects.

Earlier in May, this year, Unitus Ventures announced that its 23 portfolio companies have impacted more than 4.7 million low-income lives in India in 2018 - 160 percent higher than in the previous year. Unitus Ventures also said in its 2018 Impact report that the companies had generated $69 million (Rs 479 crore) in cumulative revenue, up 112 percent over the previous year.

In April, last year, Unitus Ventures had raised Rs 100 crore towards the first close of its Rs 300-crore ($46 million) second fund. The round saw participation from investors like Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, Bill Gates, investment banker Hemendra Kothari, Ajay Parekh, Pradeep Singh, Pramod Saxena, Padma Chandrasekaran and Ravi Venkatesan among others.

(Edited by Evelyn Ratnakumar)


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