[The Turning Point] Youngest unicorn Apna was started by serial entrepreneur Nirmit Parikh to help blue-collar workers secure jobs

The Turning Point is a series of short articles that focuses on the moment an entrepreneur hit upon their winning idea. Today, we look at jobs platform Apna, which is the youngest startup to reach the unicorn status.

Bengaluru-based blue-collar jobs platform Apna, the youngest startup to enter the unicorn club after it raised $100 million in Series C funding at a valuation of $.1.1 billion led by Tiger Global, was started by Nirmit Parikh in 2019.

A serial entrepreneur, Nirmit, who liked to solve problems using technology, wanted to uplift the unorganised workforce across the world.

His startup Apna follows a tech-driven approach to use the power of communities and enable access to better jobs for millions of its users. It comprises 60+ communities for skilled professionals like carpenters, painters, field sales agents, and many others.

Many of India’s leading companies such as Zomato, Burger King, Bharti-AXA, Delhivery, TeamLease, G4S Global, Shadowfax, and 1MG rely on Apna to address their most urgent and critical hiring needs. The platform has also partnered with some of India’s leading public and private organisations.

Apna is supporting National Skill DevelopmentCorporation, UNICEF Yuwaah, the Ministry of Minority Affairs of India, in their endeavour to provide better skilling and job opportunities to candidates.

A 12-year journey

While Apna hit the sweet spot of becoming a unicorn in just two years of starting up, Nirmit’s journey as an entrepreneur goes back to 2009, when he was just 21, when he started Incone. It specialised in dam automation to control floods and eliminate the devastation of flash floods in Gujarat. His work in this area led him to become a World Economic Forum Global Shaper.

Nirmit Parikh

Later, he founded Cruxbox, a web page summarisation platform that was acquired by Kno and later Intel. As a result, he moved to the Silicon Valley to work as Intel’s director of data analytics. Nirmit then joined Apple, where he worked in product and strategy at iPhone Ops.

But he always had an itch to solve a major problem – to uplift the unorganised workforce -- the blue-collar workers.

Nirmit felt there is a huge challenge of unemployment in the country. He realised he can leverage technology to help frontline workers find work fast and near to their homes. That led him to quit Apple and come back to India in 2019 to launch professional networking and upskilling platform -- Apna.

Apna’s journey started in 2019 with a mobile app, which was designed to uplift the family incomes and to raise the standard of living of the unorganised workforce. It was even recognised by Google as one of the best apps of 2020.

“My vision is to bring a radical cultural and social change in the Indian society with ubiquitous technology,” says Nirmit.

But the turning point for his idea was when the first user of Apna got his interview fixed within a minute. That worked like a kickstart for the company, and Apna grew only onwards and upwards.

“We (Apna) reflect India's transformation journey. We are a unique company operating in a niche market with a promising future. It is predicated on the notion of accomplishing a social goal and generating social value. Employment and upskilling are the most pressing issues of any country. The Apna platform is solving both in India with remarkable speed and impact,” says Nirmit.

With over 16 million users from India’s emerging working class, Apna has grown into a highly active professional social network, recruitment marketplace, and upskilling platform.

In just two years, the startup claims to have seen 125X growth. Apna said it has supported over 150,000 Indian firms, has expanded its workforce, and has also conducted over 100 million job interviews.

It aims to touch over 2.3 billion people across the world in the next two years.

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Edited by Megha Reddy


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