Here are excerpts from the session(- in case you are at work and cannot hear the audio)
1. Why does SHEROES exist?
2. What’s the larger purpose of SHEROES?
3. How does an organisation achieve operational excellence?
community platform, a career destination, a guide in all spheres of life, SHEROES aims to be a one-stop shop for women for all their personal and professional needs. It currently has a one million strong community of women, who come together to share experiences, use resources for self-development, and find opportunities to improve their work and life prospects.
Run by Applied Life Pvt Ltd, the platform raised $1.8 million from private equity firm Lumis Partners; country’s first human resource-focused investment platform HR Fund; entrepreneurs Rajul Garg and Raghav Bahl in August and followed it up with two acquisitions.
In an exclusive conversation with Techcircle, SHEROES’ founder Sairee Chahal says she is looking for more acquisition opportunities especially in content and career development segments. In the short-term, she is open to acqui-hiring, too. Maintaining that SHEROES is well-funded for the next six months, Chahal says a consumer-centric company that is in scale-up mode will need consistent funding.
How do you see SHEROES shaping up in future? Any new segments you aim to enter in the near future?
We see SHEROES as an ecosystem of women and their career and aspirations. Within this ecosystem, we are lining up elements such as opportunities, support, network, content, learning and growth. Within these elements, wherever we find relevance, we will acquire.
The challenge in our category is that there aren’t many people. The women and career space is a new one. We hope to find some new synergies. Acqui-hires are always welcome, but not as a long-term strategy. We are looking for acquisition in content and career development.
SHEROES has recently made two acquisitions – LoveDoctor and Gharkamai. What led you to the decision?
In the case of LoveDoctor, we run a career helpline and mentorship network, but we weren’t equipped to handle emotional or non-career related queries. We needed competence in that. Its trained counsellors are now integrated with us.
Gharkamai had a lot of women looking for work from home, a common use case with SHEROES, and a lot of companies we were working for were looking for work from home candidates, so it made sense to match them.
What is SHEROES’ target market?
We are targeting urban educated women. All women who can read/write and can use a phone are our target market. Careers are not linear, and an average woman makes four to five transitions throughout her career. SHEROES is your partner through all those phases, so we are not just a job site. We have jobs as one of the enabling function to the community. A Naukri or Monster would monetise job listings, SHEROES runs them for free. We work with about 300 companies for our paid product.
Women get various things from SHEROES, such as support, advice, information or resources, and not just jobs. Somebody who took a career break uses SHEROES differently from somebody who is just starting out.
What is your revenue model?
We are like any other community platform, like Facebook or LinkedIn. They build a user-base and engagement, and then monetise. We also have two B2B service lines. We help companies manage remote work force, and the other is hiring on demand service. Our monetisation is from companies only, we don’t charge the users.
We have long-term relationships with companies, but we have an on-demand model, where companies can give us a call with their requirements and they will get the person in the next 24-48 hours. So, we help them from spotting people to managing people.
How much traction does the community see?
SHEROES has almost a million women using it, and 15,000-18,000 companies use it actively at any given point of time. The way it works is that some companies use our services while others use the do-it-yourself platform. Our estimate is that there are a lakh women who have found value here, whether it is job, startup help, fellowships or being a part of managed workforce.
Moreover, tier 2 is about 40% of our user-base. Bangalore, Bombay, Delhi top the list in terms of absolute usage. We are also the largest database of remote and work from home jobs anywhere in Asia. The average profile is 29 years of age, with seven years of work experience.
Would you be looking to add skill-building resources to the community as well?
Currently, we do share career resources and advice on the platform. At some point of time, we will do more experiments in this space and add more use cases.
How gender-oriented is the hiring process in India?
There are two kinds of companies. A lot of these companies come to us because they find good hires here and authentic users. It’s not that they hire women, it is just that women get hired. They also find value in the manage remote work process, they are doing it for their business. There is a small diversity in the hiring process, which we do end up catering to. Hiring is not a gendered process, but most companies realise they don’t have enough women, and they realise they can’t ignore this workforce.
I don’t think it is about gender, it is about serving underserved markets. You don’t serve saturated markets. Women of India haven’t got representation in the professional network. LinkedIn, for instance, is 75% men; Naukri is 80% men.
For women, it’s hard to make a comeback, especially in India. There are hardly any opportunities. Jobs, as a category, is shrinking. In that scenario, we help women manage their transitions, when coming back from a break. The companies are not there yet when it comes to gender parity consciousness.
Would you be looking at another fund raise?
I think when you are a consumer-centric company, you have to raise funds. As the platform scales, we would need more funds. I would give it at least another six months. We have adequate support from Lumis, and strategic support from HR fund and Raghav Bahl. So, we are not worried about funds right now.
Everyday SHEROES is everyone who pops up in our lives and teaches us something that we live by. After all women are heroes or here, they are SHEROES.
Yesterday, a post popped up on my Facebook wall with our CEO Sairee Chahal with two other ladies. I was intrigued and I read further…
“Perks of my job. Getting to know stories everyday of SHEROES sisterhood.
Babita and Gita – two young women from a tiny hamlet in Haryana. Got trained and certified and now work at JSL factory. On their way to become supervisors.
Work found us respect, identity and purpose they said. Love their phones and selfies.
Don’t we all! We are all the same. 🙂
And it struck me to share with the entire community, SHEROES aren’t people whose articles you read or who you see in the newspaper, it’s the person you see when you look into the mirror.
Some of you attended the Bangalore edition of the SHEROES Summit earlier this week. SHEROES Summit is an annual tri-city – Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore conference that brings women from the SHEROES Community and business leaders of diverse range together for a conversation around opportunities, innovation, leadership and entrepreneurship.
This year we host the 4th edition of the SHEROES Summit and of all the editions we have hosted (over a dozen by now) we have always had a few young mums call in to regret last moment, because their baby sitting arrangements fell through.
One year, we had a young mum Nivedita, fly in all the way from Hyderabad to Bangalore leaving her 3 month old baby behind for the first time. She had to spend tons of time prepping up for the trip and finding baby sitting back up, which included husband, nanny, mum-in-law and more.
At the same time, there are also some #MumsWithoutBabysitters who just leap ahead and bring the babies to the conference. Though the event is meant for women and other attendees from SHEROES Community – we have an unsaid, let the babies be policy. There are always a couple of kids in the room and it works for us. There is an occassional cry in the room or a few unsettled looking mums but overall it does not disturb the event.
In an ideal world, we would love to have a baby sitter’s corner and a play area for kids along with the conference but we haven’t yet found a partner so strong to be able to pull this off – either in hotels or organizations offering this service.
Yesterday also we had Susmita bring her adorable daughter ….. who stayed through the course of the event while her mum took notes, networked, enjoyed the conference. Another mum with a not so young child, Jagriti, tagged along her daughter since there was no one at home and she was really keen to attend to the Summit.
I think this is awesome. Baby sitter or no babysitter – it is Can do, Will do attitude – that is the spirit of SHEROES. Women who #takecharge everyday – many times a day and aset the tone for things for themselves, other women, their families and their workplaces.
- Which makes you jump up in middle of the night to make scribble notes in your bed side diary.
- That makes you wish, you had an idea pad in the shower, because you can’t stop dreaming about that one thing in your head.
- Which makes you look forward to Monday morning like it was Friday evening.
- Which says, we can do it, irrespective how hard the problem is.
- That knows how to bounce back after every failed project.
- Which knows the odds are odd but so what!
- Which makes your voice heard, even if it is not the popular one
- Which makes you go the extra mile, every step of the way.
- Which makes being in your garden or in your salsa class or baking those choco chip cookies the best thing ever.
- Where you are in seventh heaven behind your steer wheel or your bike.
- Where that long walk with a friend is better than most evenings in your life.
- When it hits that pillow, it is a moment of peace and gratitude
Hope that crazy fun spirit in you continues to help you experience life as if it was a miracle. So it is. Happy Holi to you!