Vahan, a recruitment platform for blue-collar workers, has raised $8 million in its Series A round, led by existing investor Khosla Ventures. Airtel, Shakti VC, Pioneer Fund (Y Combinator alumni fund), Spike Ventures (Stanford University alumni fund), Vijay Shekhar Sharma (CEO, Paytm), Guru Gowrappan (Group CEO, Verizon Media and former Global MD, Alibaba), Kevin Shannon (former CFO, Harvard Management Company) and others also participated in the round.
“These funds will allow Vahan to further scale its recruitment business and build new product offerings for its fast-growing customer base which comprises leading gig-economy companies and blue-collar workers,” Vahan said in the statement.
Founded in 2016 by Madhav Krishna, Vahan is a technology-driven platform that helps blue-collar workers find jobs and employers, the right candidate. The startup has built tools, including an AI-driven bot on instant messaging platform WhatsApp, that are used to recruit workers at large scale and save blue-collar workers from exploitation at the hands of middlemen.
“We have grown 10x during the pandemic, from placing 600-700 people each month to around 7,000 now. Through our machine learning-based technology, we are able to reduce worker attrition — a problem that plagues most employers that hire blue-collar workers — and increase overall worker productivity,” Krishna told ET.
Vahan’s customers include leading gig-economy companies such as Zomato, Uber, Flipkart, Swiggy, Rapido, Grofers, Dunzo and Shadowfax.
India has over 250 million blue-collar workers. Due to the strong tailwind from the Covid-19 pandemic, the highest demand for blue-collar workers is expected from the logistics and e-commerce sectors as building efficient delivery channels is important for internet businesses. Employers in this segment hire blue-collar workers under a flexi-work or “gig” model.
According to a report by industry association Assocham, India’s gig sector is expected to grow at a Compounded Annual Growth Rate of 17% to $455 billion by 2024 and has the potential to grow at least 2x compared to pre-pandemic estimates.