8 talent startup ideas which are not killing it in India but should!

In my previous avtaar as an entrepreneur in the talent space, I often used to think of adjacent ideas which should be breaking banks and VC funds in India. TechCrunch, HackerNews and startup blogs become regular reading so I came across some really good ideas.

I used to shelve them since I was working on my Gig platform for experts, but till now, have not found a reason why none of them have taken off in India. Talent has always been in large supply in India (even though a small percentage is good quality, the absolute numbers are still large) and massive shortfall on the demand side (check with any HR you know about the average time to find a decent hire at any level in a white-collar profession). The market just seems ripe for such interventions, however it’s not happening.

Anyway here are the following ideas. Would love to get any feedback on why they are stuck or any companies you know are doing a great job in these fields but still under the radar or if I am wrong completely

1.High quality software engineers pre-vetted (Triplebyte for India) startup which creates a pool of qualified candidates through a coding test, multiple rounds of interviews (including whiteboards and design thinking). Due to difficulty of locating good engineers in the vast landscape of mediocrity, startups willing to pay top dollars are forced to restrict hiring from the top schools and based on resume.

For the candidates, they get access to companies which are open only to a select group of institutions or employers while companies can directly select from a pre-vetted pool of candidates and skip a few costly interview rounds

Triplebyte — A YCombinator startup is following this model and has a very good client list.

2. Pre-vetted quality software and design freelancers (Toptal for India)— A startup which tests and interviews the hard skills of freelancers. There is a large supply of freelancers in India and it’s very difficult to judge their quality based on their previous work and ratings (often managed) on freelancer platforms. To avoid the risk, companies go for high cost agencies or avoid outsourcing altogether

The cost per hour for Toptal (USD 65–100/hr) makes it prohibitive for India. Am sure there will be good freelancers willing to work at USD 30–40/hr range if assured for a decent client base

3. Interviewers on demand — A startup which provides qualified interviewers to help with interview process at companies. Usually companies have 4–5 rounds of interview — a drain on the time of regular employees. The process can be cut short by on-demand interviewers who are paid per interview they take

I didn’t find any decent startup or company doing this in India or elsewhere. Happy to be corrected.

4. HackerRank for Business — Coding competitions and tests have almost completely taken over the fresher hiring at software companies. However business hiring (like sales, category management) is still being done through group discussion and face-to-face interviews. Given that analytics is becoming critical in all business fields, Can business competitions be designed on the lines of coding competition and companies can shortlist based on those scores

The complication here is building the right set of tests and questions which genuinely evaluate functional capability

5. Business Consultant marketplace (Catalant for India )— Well, I tried solving this and failed, however will still put it out here. If you think the software freelancing market is bad, you haven’t seen business freelancing yet . On the one hand, perfectly well qualified ex-employees from good companies are ready to sell their expertise, on the other other hand, companies would really benefit from them and can save hiring costs. However there are complications in matching them, given the multiplicity of variables, also the willingness to pay for expert help.

There’s still a thriving market for this as we estimated more than a million business freelancers who are working on contract. However the matching mechanism is ad-hoc agency driven or mostly driven by repeat business by the same client

6. Marketplace for recruiters — A startup which matches companies and their requirements with recruiters who specialise in that space. Currently most companies have a few on-boarded recruitment agencies who help them with their requirements often as varied as machine learning to offline sales executives. Clearly not something that a few agencies can do and hence you can hear HR lament all the time on the quality of resumes sent to them

Companies can simply put out positions on the marketplace, and good agencies on the platform can send the resumes directly to the companies. There are some obvious issues —

However I feel good behaviour can be incentivised as this will really be a boon for HRs and recruitment managers

7. Coding bootcamps — Three month intensive and gruelling finishing bootcamp which make software engineering graduates job ready and worthy.

On the one hand, we have graduates from top colleges who cost a bomb (if they are not doing a Masters or an MBA that is) or others who have very feeble understanding of basic web/android development. Mom-and-pop tutorial shops are everywhere but their input is quite pathetic.

Coding bootcamps are quite popular in US, unable to see why it hasn’t taken off in India given the massive demand and supply.

8. Barter for skills — Ok I have kept the most controversial for the last. All startups (esp early stage) face talent shortfalls in some critical area. For instance, initially we faced shortfall in UX and coding while we were good in enterprise sales. Lack of money is almost always a global shortfall. I hoped to find some startup which can lend me their coders while I do sales for them.

A marketplace for startups which matches up the skill shortfall and lets you hire for some skills in lieu of lending other skills might be quite useful

Interested in startups and technology| New categories at Xiaomi India | Ex-consultant and entrepreneur | @adigan29