Since its inception, Aspiring Minds, the employability assessment company, has grown pan-India and made significant inroads in markets such as the U.S. and China. By the next fiscal, it expects its business in China to grow at over 500 per cent and be on par with its India business.
Half a decade is the sort of time that makes or breaks a business and Aspiring Minds has definitely made its mark since we last spoke to the Bengaluru-based employability assessment service provider in March 2011. The company has gone pan-India and even made inroads in foreign markets including China, Philippines, the Middle-East and the U.S. It has made additions to its product portfolio and rolled out AUTOMATA, a software for machine learning assessment and SVAR, a software for voice recognition and assessment of spoken language skills. The company has also upgraded its flagship statistical measurement platform, AMCAT, to be more holistic and measure employability for numerous industries, including hospitality, nursing care and more.
“We have a core product platform but we don’t believe in a ‘one size fits all’ approach; in each market we customise our products to suit the requirement. For instance, language customisation and understanding local talent needs is huge in China and that was something we addressed early on.”
Going past the test phase
One of the most course altering events for Aspiring Minds was the seed investment of US$ 2.5 million it received from Omidyar Network, back in 2011. This allowed the company to upgrade its technology platform and identify newer areas of opportunity for assessment software. “One of the key things for us is that our flagship technology is highly differentiated and has proven itself in the Indian and international markets and made us invest in growing that,” says Himanshu Aggarwal, co-founder and CEO, Aspiring Minds. At present, it is seeing good acceptance and traction in mature markets such as the U.S. and is buoyed by the robust growth in China. One of the reasons Aspiring Minds has seen success in each of the markets it operates in has been its approach to market. “We have a core product platform but we don’t believe in a ‘one size fits all’ approach; in each market we customise our products to suit the requirement. For instance, language customisation and understanding local talent needs is huge in China and that was something we addressed early on,” says Aggarwal.
Interestingly, he also states that the company’s pace of growth in China is threatening to overtake its pace in India. However, Aggarwal is quick to assert that India will remain a focus market given its vast potential. As per industry data, the job matching market is estimated to be between US$ 3 billion to US$ 5 billion and the employment-related training market is pegged at US$ 8 billion to US$ 12 billion. To tap into this, Aspiring Minds plans on investing heavily in automated software based on applied research. “We intend to use applied research on the next state-of-the-art products and basically have machines emulate the way humans evaluate,” shares Aggarwal. The company is also reviewing prototypes on a software that evaluates motor agility. “We are looking at launching an automated platform to test basics such as hand-eye coordination and this will help in skilling and enhancing the Indian workforce,” adds Aggarwal.
Growing the inorganic route
Aspiring Minds is very clear on its strategy that where there is a business synergy to be leveraged, it will pursue the opportunity aggressively. In 2015 alone it acquired mobile software developer, Mizcoin and internship platform, LetsIntern.com. Mizcoin will enable Aspiring Minds to extend current mobile phone capabilities and reach more job seekers. “The Mizcoin team will help us create state of the art apps for talent matching on mobile phones,” says Aggarwal. This acquisition also allows the company to delve deep into touch interface related research that is an important area for any software developer. With LetsIntern.com, Aspiring Minds hopes to leverage the former’s large student base to further the reach of AMCAT. “Internships allow people to learn a lot on the job and also give corporates access to pre-job offer talent and on the whole, this is very synergetic to our business. We plan to run the platform independently and make it one of the foremost internship platforms globally,” shares Aggarwal.
|Then (Mar 2011)||Now (Feb 2016)|
|No. of countries||1||10|
|No. of offices||2||9 (5 in India and 4 international offices – U.S., China, Philippines and Middle East)|
|Investment||US$ 3 million||No additional investment|
Gauging the future
Aggarwal expresses a great deal of confidence in the future for Aspiring Minds. Within two years, he expects the business to double in volume. “In two years, I also expect international business to outgrow our business in India as we strengthen our presence in China and the U.S. while exploring new geographies in South-East Asia,” he adds. At present, India accounts for 90 per cent of the company’s revenues while the international business amounts to 10 per cent. Of this, China accounts for a third of international business revenues. To grow on a global scale, the company might look for a second round of investment in the future, but Aggarwal shares that it has no immediate plans of doing so.
When asked about what might stand in the way of the company realising its ambitions, Aggarwal laughs at the irony. “Finding the right people,” he quips. The senior management team prioritises finding the talent to handle the next phase of growth. “And this is the foremost challenge the company faces,” says Aggarwal. With a solid core team in place and the technology platform to give it an edge, Aspiring Minds is on its way to scaling great heights.