community platform, a career destination, a guide in all spheres of life, SHEROES aims to be a one-stop shop for women for all their personal and professional needs. It currently has a one million strong community of women, who come together to share experiences, use resources for self-development, and find opportunities to improve their work and life prospects.
Run by Applied Life Pvt Ltd, the platform raised $1.8 million from private equity firm Lumis Partners; country’s first human resource-focused investment platform HR Fund; entrepreneurs Rajul Garg and Raghav Bahl in August and followed it up with two acquisitions.
In an exclusive conversation with Techcircle, SHEROES’ founder Sairee Chahal says she is looking for more acquisition opportunities especially in content and career development segments. In the short-term, she is open to acqui-hiring, too. Maintaining that SHEROES is well-funded for the next six months, Chahal says a consumer-centric company that is in scale-up mode will need consistent funding.
How do you see SHEROES shaping up in future? Any new segments you aim to enter in the near future?
We see SHEROES as an ecosystem of women and their career and aspirations. Within this ecosystem, we are lining up elements such as opportunities, support, network, content, learning and growth. Within these elements, wherever we find relevance, we will acquire.
The challenge in our category is that there aren’t many people. The women and career space is a new one. We hope to find some new synergies. Acqui-hires are always welcome, but not as a long-term strategy. We are looking for acquisition in content and career development.
SHEROES has recently made two acquisitions – LoveDoctor and Gharkamai. What led you to the decision?
In the case of LoveDoctor, we run a career helpline and mentorship network, but we weren’t equipped to handle emotional or non-career related queries. We needed competence in that. Its trained counsellors are now integrated with us.
Gharkamai had a lot of women looking for work from home, a common use case with SHEROES, and a lot of companies we were working for were looking for work from home candidates, so it made sense to match them.
What is SHEROES’ target market?
We are targeting urban educated women. All women who can read/write and can use a phone are our target market. Careers are not linear, and an average woman makes four to five transitions throughout her career. SHEROES is your partner through all those phases, so we are not just a job site. We have jobs as one of the enabling function to the community. A Naukri or Monster would monetise job listings, SHEROES runs them for free. We work with about 300 companies for our paid product.
Women get various things from SHEROES, such as support, advice, information or resources, and not just jobs. Somebody who took a career break uses SHEROES differently from somebody who is just starting out.
What is your revenue model?
We are like any other community platform, like Facebook or LinkedIn. They build a user-base and engagement, and then monetise. We also have two B2B service lines. We help companies manage remote work force, and the other is hiring on demand service. Our monetisation is from companies only, we don’t charge the users.
We have long-term relationships with companies, but we have an on-demand model, where companies can give us a call with their requirements and they will get the person in the next 24-48 hours. So, we help them from spotting people to managing people.
How much traction does the community see?
SHEROES has almost a million women using it, and 15,000-18,000 companies use it actively at any given point of time. The way it works is that some companies use our services while others use the do-it-yourself platform. Our estimate is that there are a lakh women who have found value here, whether it is job, startup help, fellowships or being a part of managed workforce.
Moreover, tier 2 is about 40% of our user-base. Bangalore, Bombay, Delhi top the list in terms of absolute usage. We are also the largest database of remote and work from home jobs anywhere in Asia. The average profile is 29 years of age, with seven years of work experience.
Would you be looking to add skill-building resources to the community as well?
Currently, we do share career resources and advice on the platform. At some point of time, we will do more experiments in this space and add more use cases.
How gender-oriented is the hiring process in India?
There are two kinds of companies. A lot of these companies come to us because they find good hires here and authentic users. It’s not that they hire women, it is just that women get hired. They also find value in the manage remote work process, they are doing it for their business. There is a small diversity in the hiring process, which we do end up catering to. Hiring is not a gendered process, but most companies realise they don’t have enough women, and they realise they can’t ignore this workforce.
I don’t think it is about gender, it is about serving underserved markets. You don’t serve saturated markets. Women of India haven’t got representation in the professional network. LinkedIn, for instance, is 75% men; Naukri is 80% men.
For women, it’s hard to make a comeback, especially in India. There are hardly any opportunities. Jobs, as a category, is shrinking. In that scenario, we help women manage their transitions, when coming back from a break. The companies are not there yet when it comes to gender parity consciousness.
Would you be looking at another fund raise?
I think when you are a consumer-centric company, you have to raise funds. As the platform scales, we would need more funds. I would give it at least another six months. We have adequate support from Lumis, and strategic support from HR fund and Raghav Bahl. So, we are not worried about funds right now.