“Now, we have over 900 employees. I think the greatest challenge is attracting the right kind of people, retaining them and keeping them motivated. I think people remain the biggest challenge for us. If you have the right people, you can meet all the challenges.”
Sanjeev Bhikchandani, Co-Founder and CEO, InfoEdge ( India) [better known by its website naukri.com, the country's largest web-based employment site].
Competition does not really worry us: Sanjeev Bhikchandani
There is no arguing that Sanjeev Bhikchandani, Co-Founder and CEO, InfoEdge ( India) is an epitome of a successful person. After completing his PGDM from the IIM, Ahmedabad, and working in reputed organizations like Lintas India Ltd. and SmithKline Beecham, he launched a job portal naukri.com, which has gone on to become India’s largest web-based employment site. How has this been possible? Bhuwan Sharma and Himanshu Kumar Singh of Amity EduMedia make an attempt to decipher that.
Can you tell us how it was when naukri.com was launched some ten years ago?
We launched Nauri in 1997. Then, it was simply a job listing board and there were just 10 people in the company. There was me, one head of technology and one head of operations. The others were support staff. It took us six months to get our first payment.
Generally speaking, most IITians or IIM pass-outs like you go on to make a successful career for themselves. What do they have that others don’t or what makes them a cut above the rest?
Please bear in mind that there are lots and lots of successful people who are not from the IITs or the IIMs.
Yes, a higher proportion of them do go on to become successful in corporate life because certain doors open up easily because of their qualification. And once you get that start, it’s always easy. Also, a lot of people who make it to the IITs or the IIMs are also fairly bright. They are able to capitalize on it and do well. But there are lots and lots of people who are successful and are not from these premier institutions.
That naukri.com is a big money-spinner is a foregone conclusion now. But, how was it like receiving the first advertisement and when was that?
We got our first check in September 1997. We had launched the site in April of the same year. Until then, we had been putting on free listings. In the first year, we generated two and a half lakh revenue from Naukri. In the second year, the revenue increased to twenty lakhs. The second year growth was really good and that convinced us that the business had a tremendous future.
Now, it’s common knowledge that naukri.com is the country's largest web-based employment site. Can you tell us how many hits do you receive in a month and the number of people who have been able to finds jobs through this site?
We get between 8-10 thousand new resumes in a day. We have a database of about five million resumes. We get over 100 million page views in a month. We have over 20, 000 advertisers/ clients who are recruiting through us.
We really can’t estimate how many people have got jobs through Naukri because when someone applies for a job on Naukri, we don’t even know about it. We don’t know whether they got selected or not but from the feedback that we receive from clients, we estimate that every year around 7-10 lakhs people get jobs through Naukri.
When people talk about naukri.com, it’s basically about how successful the portal has been able to become. However, can you highlight us on the competition/ challenges that you have faced or are currently facing?
The competition is okay because the market is big enough to sustain two to three players. I know that companies too don’t just use one job site; lots of companies use more than one. Competition does not really worry us.
Now, we have over 900 employees. I think the greatest challenge is attracting the right kind of people, retaining them and keeping them motivated. I think people remain the biggest challenge for us. If you have the right people, you can meet all the challenges.
Naukri.com now mostly caters to the needs of the Indian market. Do you have any plans of going international?
We have launched a job site (www.mideast.naukri.com) in the Middle-East. It’s the Middle-East version of Naukri.
What is the concept of Quadrangle?
It is an executive search firm and works like any other placement company. That accounts for about five percent of our revenue. However, the biggest business for us is Naukri.
You also have Jeevansathi…
Jeevansathi is India’s number three matrimonial portal. It’s a company we acquired in September 2004. Now we are trying to grow it. It has done fairly well for us. The growth has been good. We are looking at growing it further in the next couple of years.
What about the other portal on real estate (portal 99acres.com)?
It is a recent portal. We launched it in September 2005. It’s done very well. We have lots of listings, lots of traffic. It’s getting to be a well-known brand name. We now intend to monetize it, which we are planning to do in the coming financial year.
Now, let’s move on to some general questions. Is India really experiencing the phenomena of “reverse brain drain”? Does this mean that facilities and perks in India are nearing that of the West?
Well, it’s two ways. It’s a global world and it’s not about whether the brains are going from here to there or coming from there to here. The point is India is growing and business is happening and in that scenario people will move from here to there to explore global opportunities and likewise people will come from there to here. So, it’s a two way process.
Though awareness has increased substantially regarding the importance of pursuing professional courses, thousands of students are still coming into the market in search of jobs with just plain graduation. What kind of change do you recommend in the education system of India to make it more in sync with the present times?
I think it is very important to provide people education that would enable them to get jobs—a meaningful, productive job that has work potential and gives them something for the future. Education needs to be re-oriented in India towards that end because right now we are producing an army of unemployable BA’s and B.Com’s. We need to reorient that completely and give people skills that get them jobs.
Any plans of expansion?
Not right now. We will first capitalize on the areas that we are in right now.
What is your mantra of success?
There is no mantra. But as a company we believe a lot in innovation. We believe in coming up with innovations that are relevant to our customers; innovations that would give job seekers and other visitors to our site a superior experience. Customer focus and people management, of course, goes without saying.