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Exclusive: Apna in talks to raise fresh round at over $1 Bn valuation


Professional networking platform for blue and grey collar workers Apna is in late-stage talks to raise a new round that is likely to push the company’s valuation at over $1 billion, according to two sources aware of the deal.

This is the third round of funding for the Bengaluru-based startup in 2021 which raised $12.5 million Series A in March and $70 million Series B in June. 

The Series B round was led by Tiger Global and Insight Partners at a valuation of around $570 million while its Series A was co-led by Sequoia and Greenoaks Capital.

“Tiger has been in conversation to lead over $100 million in Apna. Existing backers Lightspeed, Sequoia, Insight Partners will also double down thie stake in the company,” said one of the sources requesting anonymity. “The contours of the deal have been finalized and Apna may announce the potential round soon.”

With the fresh round, Apna will also become one of the fastest startups to gain the status of a unicorn. So far, the Indian startup ecosystem has seen 25 unicorns and at least half a dozen more startups are in the pipeline to join the coveted club by the end of this calendar year.

InMobi and Ola Electric attained unicorn status in two years of their launch. B2B e-commerce platform Udaan also took around two years to turn into a unicorn. Kunal Shah’s CRED joined the list within 29 months of its official launch.

“The new round could go up to $150 million as Apna is also in conversation with a couple of new investors who may join existing investors,” said the second source who also wished not to be named as talks are yet to be public.

Caveat: The terms of the deal may change.

Queries sent to Apna, Tiger Global and Sequoia Capital did not elicit an immediate response. We’ll update the story in case they do.

Apna’s biz model and traction

The Nirmit Parikh-led company provides better skilling and job opportunities to candidates by enabling vertical communities for painters, field sales agents, carpenters, among others on its platform. 

With a presence in about 15 cities, Apna claims to address the urgent and critical hiring needs of top companies in India. The list includes Zomato, Burger King, Bharti-AXA, Delhivery, Teamlease, G4S Global, Swiggy, Shadowfax and 1mg among others.

According to the company’s website, it has over 10 million users and has provided jobs to over 1.5 million candidates since its inception in early 2020.

Competition and past attempts at blue and grey collar hiring space

According to sources, the company would use fresh proceeds to expand its footprints in India and foray into new geographies such as Southeast Asia and the United States. It’s likely to get into upskilling and financial services as well, said sources.

The company competes with OLX and Quikr’s blue and grey collar verticals, WorkIndia, TeamLease and several others. Baba Jobs and Aasaan Jobs were two prominent early attempts in space. However, both companies didn’t scale as expected and eventually consolidated with Quikr and OLX respectively.

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