VAHAN: Helping blue-collar workers find jobs that match their skills
India has a huge blue-collar market comprising over 250 million workers, employed in delivery services, logistics, contact centers, etc. This number is increasing due to a decline in agricultural employment and the addition of 7-8 million new university graduates to the workforce each year, 60% of whom lack employability skills and end up joining the labor force.
“The blue-collar workforce, though in large numbers, is scattered across the country with no unifying point to sustain their employment,” says Madhav Krishna, Founder and CEO of Bengaluru-based tech startup Vahan. which helps companies such as Zomato, Swiggy, Flipkart, Uber and Shadowfax hire blue collar workers. “They (blue collar workers) are not comfortable with technology because of their training. This leads to both large corporations and burgeoning startups struggling to employ the right workforce and maintain a database of their frontline workers. According to him, one of the biggest challenges facing recruiters in the segment is a three-way matching problem, i.e. finding the right intersection between what a job seeker wants to do, can do and the type of jobs available in the market. .
Vahan solves this problem through a combination of deep user understanding, product design and data. It leverages machine learning to help blue-collar workers find jobs that match their skills. With a faster turnaround time, the company not only allowed employers to hire a large number of candidates, but also reduced their hiring costs by up to 30%. “We focus on creating products that are easy to use,” says Krishna. Vahan’s “Mitra” chatbot is based on WhatsApp, which is extremely popular in the SEC D&E segment. “As over 95% of Indian smartphone users are already using WhatsApp, this solution does not require job seekers to download a separate app and allows them to apply for jobs in multiple languages,” he says, adding, “Vahan also helps these workers to search for opportunities in the surrounding area through its geolocation feature. This saves them from being exploited by intermediaries.
Vahan came into being after Krishna, while handing out food to passers-by outside his house in Delhi, realized that many people were not winning the “ovarian lottery”, a term coined by Warren Buffett, which essentially implies that where one was born is a massive determinant of one’s success in life. These people often end up living a life of poverty. Krishna decided to change that by providing opportunities for people who might not be able to access them on their own.
Vahan has witnessed a rapid increase in adoption by job seekers and job providers looking to connect. It places 7,000 blue collar workers per month in over 200 cities in India and has clients such as Zomato, Uber, Flipkart, Swiggy, Rapido, Grofers, Dunzo and Shadowfax. Currently, it has over four million users from over 1,200 cities on its product and has already placed over 1,00,000 people across India. “The company’s deep belief is that everyone is born with the same potential. What many people lack is the opportunity to realize that potential. Our platform solves this problem,” he adds.
Vahan raised capital in three rounds (Angel, Seed and Series A). The $8 million company’s Series A closed in September 2021 with Khosla Ventures leading the round. Given its growth trajectory, Krishna says Vahan is poised to become India’s largest blue-collar recruitment platform in the next year. The startup is said to be building the largest and richest blue-collar digital profile database in the world and believes that the company’s data assets and deep understanding of the target audience will be used to unlock massive value downstream.
It also plans to help blue-collar workers get quick access to financial services and even their next upskilling opportunity so they can grow in their careers and lives, taking control of their economic destiny.