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A 22-month-old startup that helps millions of blue and gray collar workers in India learn new skills and find jobs has become the youngest company to achieve coveted unicorn status in the world’s second largest internet marketplace.

Apna announced Thursday that it had raised $ 100 million in a funding round led by Tiger Global. The new round – a Series C – valued Apna at $ 1.1 billion. TechCrunch reported last month that Tiger Global, an existing investor in Apna, was in talks to lead a $ 100 million fundraising round into the startup at the unicorn valuation.

Owl Ventures, Insight Partners, Sequoia Capital India, Maverick Ventures and GSV Ventures also participated in the new round, which is the third investment obtained by Apna this year. Apna was valued at $ 570 million during its Series B tour in June of this year.

Investor enthusiasm comes as Apna has demonstrated impressive growth in recent months. The startup has amassed more than 16 million users on its eponymous 15-month-old Android app, up from 10 million in June this year.

Indian cities are home to hundreds of millions of low-skilled workers who come from the villages in search of work. Many of them have lost their jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic which has slowed down several economic activities in the South Asian market.

Apna has built a platform that provides a community for these workers. In the community, they engage with each other, exchange notes to perform better in interviews, and share tips for negotiating better pay.

Image credits: Apna

In addition, Apna connects these workers with potential employers. In an interview with TechCrunch, Apna Founder and CEO Nirmit Parikh said that more than 150,000 employers – including Zomato, Bharti AXA, Urban Company, BYJU’S, PhonePe, Burger King, Delhivery, Teamlease and G4S Global – are on the platform, and more than 5 million jobs are active.

The startup, whose name is inspired by a happy Bollywood song from 2019, has facilitated more than 18 million job interviews in the past 30 days, he said. Apna is currently operational in 28 Indian cities.

Apna’s idea came up, Parikh said, after being puzzled to find that although there are hundreds of millions of blue and gray collar workers in India, locate them when you need help with a task. is often very difficult.

Before creating Apna, Parikh, who previously worked at Apple, met these workers and infiltrated as an electrician and floor manager to understand the issues they were facing. The problem, he found, was the disconnection. The workers had no way of finding who needed them for the jobs, nor were they tied to each other. The community aspect of Apna, which now has more than 70 of these groups, aims to meet this challenge.

The Apna app allows these workers to learn new skills to become eligible for more work opportunities. Apna has become one of the fastest growing development platforms – and that would explain why GSV Ventures and Owl Ventures, two leading companies known for supporting edtech startups, are investing in the Bangalore-based company.

“Apna’s viral adoption is driven by a new social and interactive approach to connecting employers with job seekers. We expect job seekers looking for meaningful relationships and verified opportunities to drive Apna’s continued explosive growth in India and globally, ”said Griffin Schroeder, Partner at Tiger Global, in a statement. .

Now the startup, which has started to monetize the platform, is ready to expand aggressively. Parikh said that Apna will continue to expand to more cities in India and that at the beginning of next year, Apna will begin its global expansion. Parikh said the startup is considering expansion to the United States, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

“We have already created a breach. Now we want to have an impact on the lives of 2.3 billion people, ”he said. “We’re going to need insane amounts of resources and a world-class team to deliver. It’s a Herculean task, and will take a village. But someone has to solve it.

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