Vahan, a Bangalore-based jobs and livelihood platform for blue-collar workers, has raised US$8 million in its series A round of funding led by pre-eminent Silicon Valley investor Khosla Ventures. The round also saw participation from Airtel, SHAKTI VC (led by former Google exec Keval Desai with Eric Schmidt and Michael Dell as LPs), 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. 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 has been previously backed by marquee names such as Y Combinator, Khosla Ventures, Founders Fund, Airtel and many former and current Google and Flipkart executives. In the long run, the company aims to enable better livelihoods for the next billion internet users.
Today, Vahan is a technology-driven platform that helps blue-collar workers find jobs while helping employers find the right candidate at the right price, at the right place and at the right time. The startup has built tools, including an AI-driven bot on WhatsApp, that are used to recruit workers at large scale and at high velocity and in turn save blue-collar workers from exploitation at the hands of middlemen.
On the successful fundraise, Madhav Krishna, Founder and CEO, Vahan said, “We are excited to deepen our partnership with Khosla Ventures. Their decision to double-down on our business further validates the multi-billion dollar opportunity we have in front of us. We will continue to leverage our deep expertise in building large businesses using technology to take the company to the next orbit of growth. Our goal is to ensure that previously underserved blue-collar workers get access to opportunities across jobs, financial services and upskilling and our ambition is to make 1 billion placements over the next 10 years.”
On their continued investment in Vahan, Vinod Khosla, Founder, Khosla Ventures said, “We are excited to continue backing the strong, mission-driven team at Vahan. The blue-collar worker recruitment opportunity in India is large and growing, and Vahan’s ability to leverage technology in building value for both workers and employers at scale is exciting. Vahan is well positioned to win this opportunity in India and beyond.”
India has over 250 million blue-collar workers. Now, with strong tailwinds coming off the pandemic, the highest demand for the blue-collar workforce 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 ASSOCHAM, India’s gig sector is expected to grow to USD 455 billion at a CAGR of 17% by 2024 and has the potential to grow at least 2x as compared to pre-pandemic estimates. Vahan’s customers include leading gig-economy companies such as Zomato, Uber, Flipkart, Swiggy, Rapido, Grofer’s, Dunzo and Shadowfax.
Congratulating Vahan, Shravni Jain, Head of Supply Growth, India & South Asia, Uber said, “Vahan has been able to scale driver onboardings for Uber in key markets despite the challenging business environment. This has been made possible due to their unique understanding of both manpower and technology. I see them adding even more value to Uber’s operations with their expansion into end-to-end worker management.”
Also congratulating Vahan, Praharsh Chandra, Chief Operating Officer, Shadowfax, one of India’s leading third party logistics (3PL) companies, said, “We are expecting demand for delivery services to peak at 3-5x in the remaining months of the year. Vahan has played a significant role in Shadowfax’s growth thus far and we look forward to expanding upon the partnership over the coming months to meet and exceed our growth targets!”
Vahan currently places 7000+ blue-collar workers across 200 cities every month in gig-economy jobs and is on track to become India’s largest blue-collar recruitment platform in the next year. From starting off as a recruitment-only business, Vahan has now built capabilities around end-to-end workforce management or Staffing, thereby providing a comprehensive solution to employers. Through their machine learning based technology, Vahan is able to reduce worker attrition — a problem that plagues most employers that hire blue-collar workers — and increase overall worker productivity.
Madhav added, “In the words of Jeff Bezos, we’re still at day zero as helping people find jobs is but a starting point for us. We’re building the world’s largest and richest digital profile database of blue-collar workers and will leverage our data assets and deep understanding of our target audience to unlock massive value downstream. In the near future, we will help blue-collar workers get access to financial services and even their next upskilling opportunity, so that they can grow in their careers and their lives.”