The Gray Hair Speaketh

Advice that is largely Unsolicited.. – a destination for Internships

Abhishek Sharma, co-founder, requested for a review of his startup,

Category: B2C -> Recruitment -> Interns

What does it do? offers prospective interns a one-stop destination to find good internships. Recruiters looking to recruit interns are asked to register and post their requirements of interns.

What more?

  • Compact little site with few links that get everything done.
  • All services offered free at this time.
  • The revenue earners that I see, are the Google AdSense links on many of the pages.

My quick two cents:
Interesting niche identified. But is the niche too small to make for a sizeable business?
HelloIntern may need to either significantly invest in popularizing the internship culture in India (create a larger market) or go global (assuming there are no established leaders globally) to generate scale in the business.

Wisdom Nuggets in more detail:
1.”Where is the money?”. If it takes time to earn it, that is fine. But is there a large enough pie out there, to cut a slice out of? Otherwise, all the hard work will not pay rich dividends.
2. Abhishek conveyed an ambition to reach 10,000 companies and 1 million students in 2-3 years. Is there a market at least 4-5 times that number? On the face of it, if restricted to India alone, the numbers do appear to be large. But there needs to be validation of the numbers through some research on the subject.
3. Internships happen via college placement cells too. Is there a room for a strong alliance of HelloInterns with college placement cells? That must be explored. Especially for tier II, tier III towns where many recruiting companies may not be visiting for internship recruitments.
4. Can HelloIntern show a real difference to students and companies, as compared to established recruitment portals like Naukri, Monster, etc.? If the niche is interesting enough, it is easy for them to spin it within their portals. After all, they already have the recruitment relationships with organizations. This may be one of the toughest hurdles. On the other hand, if HelloIntern can attract independently, the niche Interns segment, and become a destination with volumes, then they also become an attractive acquisition target for a larger recruitment portal.
5. How does HelloIntern seriously scale up?
a. By increasing the market size. This may be most challenging, but done well, it can also be the most rewarding, in terms of an added benefit of brand building. By creating collaterals on how internship can be offered, what kind of jobs can be interned, why should they be interned, etc., they need to create the pipe from the recruiter’s end.
b. By launching globally: There is nothing to prevent HelloIntern to be a global play. Where there are established market leaders, HelloIntern can leave the space. But there may be ample number of countries where the opportunity may be present, but no one has tapped it well so far.
c. By going beyond pure interns and looking at all kind of short term / temporary positions: of course, the domain name may restrict such a foray, and I would also recommend this only as a last option.

One or the other way, attaining size will be the critical key!

From this review onwards, I am also including a Gray Scale rating. This is an indication, based on current business and potential, about the likely success of the startup. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the one most likely to succeed.


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March 17, 2009 Posted by | Recruitment, Startup | 1 Comment – useful company research for job seekers

Vishwas Mudgal, CEO and Founder, requested me to review his website,

What is it about? is a value added service in the online recruitment sector. Specifically, the value that it provides is in the form of company reviews and salary reports, which would be of interest to any person looking for a job.

What more?
The company reviews and salary reports are largely user content. In other words, the site depends on users to come and give the feedback, and which is organized suitably, company wise, with graphs and charts, giving a good visual feel to the data present. One can view companies sectorally and also directly using search. There is a clear community participation angle and a Web 2.0 business here.

Other Observations:
The key to a site of this nature is volume. If I can depend on relative ratings of companies or even a stand-alone review summary for a company, it would need to be based on a large enough quantity of reviews and responses. With few reviews, one cannot base a conclusion about the company. Since the few reviews can just be isolated opinions, or worse, these could be manipulated ones. For JobeeHive to be taken seriously, volumes become the absolute necessity, then.

Having said that, the core components that have been incorporated for the project, are quite good. It would indeed be valuable, if we can get at one place, the employer’s views and data, and employee as well as ex-employee feedback, besides having a shared professional network and salary data, in the same place.

Wisdom Nuggets:
1. The most critical thought that I can give is to find ways to increase the usage. In other words, to get more data for reviews of companies. If money needs to be spent and budgets are available, so be it. Incentivize people to participate in the feedback mechanism. Otherwise, find ways to partner other sites, or social networks and ensure that numbers pick up, and larger number of reviews are present on the site. I mean, for IT companies employing 30-40,000 employees, if I see only 15-30 reviews, it does not help me much.
2. There are a lot of business models that make perfect sense, but which may just have a long gestation period before they start making money. And in this interim, for the business to attract users and grow, it does not have a choice, but to keep investing and improving the service. I am afraid that JobeeHive might fall in that space. Ultimately, when there is a lot of data, and when it can be integrated in individual transactions itself, then it will make money. At least serious money. The management needs to be prepared for that long haul.

3. In the few verticals where online businesses have taken off in India, the recruitment vertical has been the most interesting one. Matrimonial, recruitment, real estate, etc. are all about match making. But it is in recruitment that one side of the match, viz. the employers, are willing to spend good money, they are willing to spend it continuously, and due to which reason, that vertical is most profitable. But if that revenue option is taken off, then what remains is a tough call on business viability.

4. JobeeHive will need to grow usage. Can that be done creatively? Why should an employee take the effort to put a survey in? Is there an incentive? If JobeeHive cannot part with money, can it find non-conflict partner sites, who may value the user, and give them some “in-kind” incentives, e.g. filling in a review on JobeeHive could get a user, a free registration on BharatMatrimony, say. Or similar other services / sites.

5. Once usage has grown, JobeeHive has to explore out-of-the-box opportunities to generate revenues. Can it become the ultimate annual HR survey of best companies in India? There are other media houses that already do these. But if JobeeHive can improve the process significantly, and in so doing, claim to have the most relevant survey, that could give huge branding and stature.

6. JobeeHive could create a concept of a JobeeHive rank of a company. Which is partly based on the facts and figures, and partly on user feedback. There could be an overall rank, and an industry / sector rank. And these numbers can be dynamic as user feedback keeps coming. Can this number become a prestigious number that companies will strive to work towards? Like an Alexa rank or a Quantcast rank, can companies work to improve their JobeeHive rank?

7. If that is done, in lines akin to Alexa in fact, can JobeeHive create content that can be put on affiliate sites or create widgets to show company ranks, and which can be made popular, for users to put on their own sites / blogs??

8. Advertising is the main revenue channel at this time. Is JobeeHive creating enough data and IP to convert its information into HR publications that can be sold?

In conclusion, JobeeHive is a very interesting business proposition. In order to keep making money, till they make the big pot of gold (they could be acquired), they will need to keep reinventing themselves in different ways, to earn money. And in doing so, the question that they need to ask of themselves is simply about what they are? Are they an online job related value added service, or do they perceive themselves as an HR research company, who happen to have an online presence? Clarity on this will decide how their business pans out!!

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March 6, 2009 Posted by | Recruitment, Social Networking, Startup | , , | 5 Comments – Support System for Laid off workers

Javed Ikbal has founded this support site for laid off employees,

What is it about? is a not-for-profit support group website, for people who have been laid off. The cause is very noble and very timely, considering such support will be a big need at this point in time.

What more?

The site uses a combination of subject matter experts (about 10% content) and user generated content (balance 90% content) for the information presented on the site. Key areas of interest including concerns on money, living (changes in lifestyle), health and of course, job resources to enable reemployment at earliest, are separately addressed.

There is a donate button of significant size on home page, but Javed informs that the button does not generate serious donations, and the amount collected does not even cover the hosting costs for the site. Any other means of collecting revenues, such as advertising etc. are not visible at this time.

Other Observations:

It does appear to be a new site that has come up soon, and is likely to undergo more changes over time. The design is minimalistic and will probably go through some changes. The membership numbers so far, are quite small. Even from the content point of view, the design will suddenly become unmanageable, if the articles and users increase.

Wisdom Nuggets:

1. There is an urgent need to raise the membership. Given the benefit of doubt that it is a new site, the focus has to be on growing the numbers rapidly. Social networks, especially online ones of this type, need numbers to be useful and productive. Also in times like these when we read about tens of thousands of people on laid off list, it should be possible to get into far higher numbers quickly.

2. Of course, in order to raise the numbers, the key value proposition for the members must come out clean and strong. I would suggest highlighting that on the home page, rather than the big space taken by members’ photos, login area and the donate button. The login and donate areas must shrink to small size, and space must be given to clearly zero in on the benefits offered to members. And a few pictures of new members could still be accommodated to show the increasing acceptance of the model.

3. During layoffs and times of economic recession, there are many government bodies which offer some assistance to people. Javed confirms the same to me. It should be possible to integrate that help with the site strongly, as that could become one key advantage offered here.

4. Inter-member interactions are not very apparently visible here. A support group of this kind needs to enable this and promote this. Support group members look to each other to provide the necessary first shoulder to lean on. This should be enabled and shared link for the same.

5. Besides a few SME articles, what is the key differentiator for people to use this site? It may be worthwhile to analyze deeper and figure out what could be 1 or 2 biggest concerns of this demography. And if those are addressed quickly, clearly and proactively, then the user acceptance will be faster.

6. If sponsorship is to be solicited online, then a good pitch for the same, may be made and kept ready.

All in all, if there is a genuine value addition offered to the users, and which is apparent, then the concept and the need is strong enough, to make it a big success. If, due to the lack of revenues and being non-profit, Javed finds it challenging to devote time and work on this, he must enlist more volunteers from his early group, and ensure growth – with the design, content, layout etc. to be perfect.

Rest of course, this is a niche segment, and how fast and how far this business goes ahead, will need to be seen in future.

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February 23, 2009 Posted by | Recruitment, Social Networking, Startup | , , , | 2 Comments