There are millions in India seeking jobs but very few end up getting the job they’d have liked to have. Many are in search for an opening in their desired company but sometimes they never get the chance to prove their worth. RoundOne is one such venture that guarantees you an interview with the company of your choice; it takes you one step closer to your dream job.
To know more about how the whole thing works, Jubin Mehta for YourStory.in caught up with the founder Nishant Mathur. Edited Excerpts:
Tell us about the concept behind Round One.
Round One (www.roundone.in) lets job seekers buy 30 minute guaranteed phone interviews with employees in their dream company. During the interview, the employee evaluates the candidate and decides whether to refer them internally for a job, which would prioritize the application.
Companies save money as referral bonuses are cheaper than recruiter fees. They get better recruits because their own employees, who know the culture and work inside out, screen candidates. And they improve employee morale as more of their recruitment budget stays ‘in the family’.
Interviewers are incentivized to take interviews because they earn round one points for each interview conducted. They are incentivized to recommend good candidates because when their referral is hired they get referral bonuses from their company. And they are incentivized to only refer suitable candidates as their reputation in the firm is at stake with each referral. Any employee can sign up as an interviewer subject to our proprietary automated authentication process.
How did the idea come about and when did you start Round One?
After completing my MBA from INSEAD, I was working with a VC firm when I spoke to an ex-classmate that applied to Accenture but didn’t hear back. Accenture was my former employer, and I knew they needed people like her. But since the application was submitted through the website, it probably never even got noticed. I connected her with an ex-colleague, who spoke to her and then referred her based on his evaluation. She was subsequently called for an interview. This disturbed me. I realized there are many others like her who know they are clearly qualified, but just can’t find a relevant contact to prove it to. Round One was setup in January this year for that purpose – to allow job seekers a chance to prove themselves.
Tell us something about your background and the team at RoundOne.
I studied computer science and business at Johns Hopkins University (USA) and then moved to India with Accenture. I wanted to get my hands dirty and understand the Indian market because I was interested in entrepreneurship and believed this is where the next Facebooks, Googles, and Microsofts of the world will come from. I went to INSEAD (France) for my MBA in 2009 and started Round One soon after. Our board consists of my ex-colleagues from Accenture and classmates from INSEAD, who played a critical role in shaping the concept. They have experience in top companies in management consulting, finance, and technology, which helps us access companies and potential partners.
How exactly does the process work at Round One?
Anyone can buy a guaranteed interview. Unlike job portals or websites where any and everybody who has a small chance ends up applying because it is free, Round One’s monetary filter ensures only those that truly believe they are a good fit use the service. Apart from this self-filtration mechanism, the interview itself is a screening. Only applicants that are deemed suitable by the interviewers are passed on to the company, with a recommendation. In a sense, Round One empowers every employee to become a screener/recruiter. And if a company wants to hire the best people, it should ideally be the employees, not outsourced recruiters that screen candidates.
Who are your competitors?
I have not heard of any other company that offers this service in India or abroad, but I consider any service that helps people get a job to be competitors. This includes recruiters, job portals, and networking sites. Networking sites however, don’t allow you to meaningfully interact with anyone outside your existing network. You can’t just message a random manager in Accenture and ask them to take half an hour to speak to you because you are interested in their firm.
Job portals don’t allow you to earn a referral and just put your resume in a large pile, which is useless for most competitive jobs. Recruiters have a highly opaque system with respect to job seekers and their loyalties are towards their clients, and not in making sure jobs seekers are able to prove themselves. To really get a sense of how simple, transparent, and easy Round One is, you simply have to visit our website.
How has your ride as an entrepreneur been so far?
Exciting. We’ve added over 700 users in the last month itself, without any significant marketing efforts. Over 200 interviews are available per week on our system now and about 60% of the applicants that purchase interviews have earned referrals.
Share a few of your success stories at Round One.
Our confidentiality agreements do not allow us to name people or companies, but several customers have used our service to open doors towards their dream jobs which were otherwise shut. Round One has been most valuable to those that didn’t want to ask long lost friends for favors out of the blue, those changing industries or geographies, and those in fragmented industries with loose networks.
How do you make money?
We charge applicants for each phone-interview. We are launching a free corporate module which allows HR to monitor and control all activities on Round One related to their firm and there will be value added services for that. We are also launching a subscription for recruiters to tap our database of resumes and screening results for customers that opt to share the data.
What are the challenges you faced while starting up?
The greatest challenge is simultaneously balancing the big and small picture. I believe we are not just creating a company, but an industry which will be called something along the lines of unsocial or incentive based networking. Facebook pioneered social networking, allowing one to meaningfully connect with your peers, and their peers. I see Round One pioneering incentivized networking, which meaningfully allows one to connect with practically anyone by replacing social capital(the currency of favors) with a monetary incentive.
Share your expansion plans for Round One with us.
We plan to working more closely with HR departments and develop partnerships with job portals and other recruitment firms to scale Round One as a value added service for their clients and job seekers. As a system, Round One is extremely scalable and we are planning to launch it in the UK, Singapore, and US in 2012. We are working on the larger goal of using this model to create interactions where none are currently possible by expanding to industries outside of recruitment such as education and business. Stay tuned for updates on that!
Are you looking for investors?
Currently, we are financially sound but as we expand internationally we will seek investment from firms that can also provide non-financial benefits. We are also seeking partnerships with job portals.
Are you hiring?
Yes! We need VPs for marketing, corporate sales, technology, and operations.