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How I made my 1st million: naukri.com CEO
Sangeeta Singh |
July 23, 2005
With a bachelors in Economics from St Stephen's, Delhi and a diploma in management from IIM (A) and a stint with advertising and GlaxoSmithkline (then HMM), Sanjeev Bikhchandani, co-founder and CEO, InfoEdge (India), better known by its Web site naukri.com, is today sitting over a business worth Rs 45 crore (Rs 450 million) with 600 employees and 35 offices all over the country.
The GlaxoSmithkline days
It was during my stint with Glaxosmithkline (then HMM) that I realised that employees love talking about jobs and career movement. I realised jobs are an extremely high interest information category for almost all people and headhunting had tremendous potential.
First taste of entrepreneurship
I started out as a partnership firm in 1989, where I was a sleeping partner. By 1990 I had concluded that there was probably a large, highly fragmented database of jobs out there with HR managers and headhunters which, if someone were to aggregate and keep current, would be a very valuable resource.
We set up office in the servant's quarter above the garage in my father's house, paying my father a rent of Rs 800. For the first few years we did salary surveys and built and marketed a database of pharmaceutical trademarks.
Though the company was kept afloat, I was unable to draw a salary and we ran the house on my wife's salary. To meet my personal expenses, I would teach at business schools as visiting faculty on weekends.
It was in response to a Department of Telecom's (DoT) advertisement to launch a videotex service in Delhi that I prepared a database of jobs. It was a pay-to-view model, where initially the employer would be allowed to host his job free and we would earn from the revenue share the DoT would give us. But the project never took off.
It was on my visit to IT Asia in 1996 that I came to know of the World Wide Web. To register my website and get a domain name, I had to take help from my brother, who lived in the US and has a stake in the company. The naukri.com site was set up in March 1997 as a division of InfoEdge.
What was interesting was that I could not get any domain name I wanted (all such names which had the word job were already registered) and had to settle down with the Hindi term "naukri", which actually makes it different from other jobsites today. At this point I was joined by Anil Lall, the chief technical officer and V N Saroja, chief operating officer.
With the recession, I had to take up a part-time job, but in the same domain area. Between 1996 and 2000, I also worked at The Pioneer. Initially, the consulting editor of Avenues -- the careers supplement of The Pioneer -- I was instrumental in working out an investment package with a consortium of four financial institutions -- ICICI, IDBI, IFCI and UTI.
In the morning, I used to work for naukri.com, go to The Pioneer during the day and then get back to naukri.com in the evening.
Reaping fruits of success
Naukri.com became profitable from the second year. Today, we have a profit after tax of Rs 8.5 crore (Rs 85 million). It was now time for expansion. InfoEdge aquired Jeevansathi in September 2004. Besides, we have an offline recruitment business through our venture Quadrangle.
Today, naukri.com gets over 100 million page views a month and has over 3.5 million registered users. It is estimated that over 700,000 people have found jobs through naukri.com. Over 15,000 organisations have used the site for recruitment. In August-September we intend to launch a real estate portal.
The site had a revenue of just over Rs 200,000 in the first year of operations. In the second year, however, revenue quickly climbed to Rs 1.2 million.
I made do with my own finances till 2000, when I got funding from ICICI Venture Capital. So far, we have taken only one round of venture capital of Rs 7.3 crore (Rs 73 million).