Apna, a 21-month-old startup that is helping millions of blue and gray-collar workers in India upskill themselves, find communities and land jobs, is inching closer to becoming the fastest tech firm in the world’s second largest internet market to become a unicorn.
Tiger Global is in advanced stages of talks to lead a $100 million round in Apna, according to four sources familiar with the matter. The proposed terms value the startup at over $1 billion, the sources said.
The round hasn’t closed yet so terms of the deal may change, some of the sources cautioned.
If the round materializes, Apna will become the youngest Indian startup to attain the much coveted unicorn status. The startup, which launched its app in December 2019, was valued at $570 million in its Series B financing round in June this year. It will also be the third financing round Apna would have secured in a span of less than seven months.
Tiger Global, an existing investor in Apna, didn’t respond to a request for comment earlier this month. Apna founder and chief executive Nirmit Parikh, an Apple alum, declined to comment on Tuesday.
Indian cities are home to hundreds of millions of low-skilled workers who hail from villages in search of work. Many of them have lost their jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic that has slowed several economic activities in the world’s second-largest internet market.
Apna, whose name is inspired from a 2019 Bollywood song, is building a scalable networking infrastructure so that these workers can connect to the right employers and secure jobs. On its eponymous Android app, users also upskill themselves, review their interview skills, and become eligible for more jobs.
As of June this year, Apna had amassed over 10 million users and was facilitating more than 15 million job interviews each month. All jobs listed on the Apna platform are verified by the startup and free of cost for the candidates.
The startup has also partnered with some of India’s leading public and private organizations and is providing support to the Ministry of Minority Affairs of India, National Skill Development Corporation and UNICEF YuWaah to provide better skilling and job opportunities to candidates.
The investment talks further illustrate Tiger Global’s growing interest in India. The New York-headquartered firm has made several high-profile investments in India this year including in BharatPe, Gupshup, DealShare, Classplus, Urban Company, Coinswitch Kuber, and Groww.
More than two dozen Indian startups have become a unicorn this year, up from 11 last year, as several high-profile investors including Tiger Global, SoftBank, and Falcon Edge have increased the pace of their investments in the world’s second most populous nation.
Apna also counts Insight Partners, Lightspeed, and Sequoia Capital among its existing investors.