#Asia Behind the Startup: Helper4U helps blue collar workers help themselves


Despite challenges, Meenakshi Gupta Jain finds joy in helping others by streamlining the job-seeking process

Meenakshi Gupta Jain, Founder of Helper4U

Meenakshi Gupta Jain, Founder of Helper4U

Prior to working in the tech industry, Meenakshi Gupta Jain had more than 20 years of experience in project management and training.

“I began working in tech as a non-techie, so I am overseeing the tech [side of the] works that is outsourced by someone else,” she explains. “But I finally learnt how to manage a website … though not running it as a tech officer.”

Together with husband Punit Jain, she founded Helper4U, an online database for blue collar workers such as housemaids, cooks, driver, couriers and security guards.

The Mumbai-based startup aims to empower workers by streamlining the job-seeking process. By using Helper4U, not only can an employer easily find prospective hires, the workers can also have a free and reliable way to find jobs.

“Tech exists in every aspect of life, but when I look at people who are working for us in different cities, they are not using it as much as they should,” she says.

“Technology, especially mobile [technology], gives them more opportunity to be viral, and finally to get more revenue.”

We learn how she discovered the joy of helping others by working in the tech industry – and why a non-techie should not hesitate to ask for help.

Here are the edited excerpts:

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What draws you into working in tech?

As a trainer, I have been making online courses for corporates, for students. I realised that just by using the Internet … you can go to all these classes without having to physically be there.

I am inspired to use technology for people who are not on the Internet though they have the capacity to do so.

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What are the most memorable experiences since you started out Helper4U?

Ever since I started Helper4U, I have had wonderful experiences.

One of them is enabling workers to secure a job before moving to a city. Right when I started, I was distributing pamphlets about Helper4U to small towns around Mumbai. We [had only been] running for two months back then, and then these two ladies called, asking us to help them get a job.

I said, “Yes, why don’t you come here, and show us your documents?” Then, these two ladies, who came from a poor family, show up in Mumbai to show us their documents. Within a day, they landed a job.

In previous circumstances, they would have to beg for a relative for a place to say, they would have to wait for days … but now, with just their mobile phones, they could have a job and start working.

I also had a young boy who had given up his studies to work. The kind of work that he had been doing hah been lowly and he was not happy. So he registered with us and got a job as an office boy.

It changed his life in such a dramatic way because he now enjoys his work, the people he works with and he’s even beginning to do study part-time again.

This is how technology can make it happen – without any travelling, without spending any money, you can get a job.

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What is the best thing about working in tech, apart from the opportunity to help people?

The past years have been challenging me to explore lots of new ways.

Second, I have also been able to keep my cost very low. I have not needed a big marketing team, also my team members work flexibly from their home.

I have an office but I don’t need to have offices in the different cities we operate in, I can just sit in Mumbai and [do the] work for Pune.

You can enable people to work as a team from any place.

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Any advice for anyone trying to transition from corporate jobs to startups?

I burnt my fingers quite a lot when I started and worked with different partners.

Working in the tech industry, you have to constantly check for things on your own without depending too much on a vendor. You also need to be prepared for small disturbances that might hamper the business in general.

It’s also helpful to have someone who is available 24/7 to check. Before [I learnt all this] this, I had clients telling me that [our site was down] and when I checked with the tech team, they came out with different reasons why it happened. But now I have a reliable partner that does a great job for me.

Image Credit: Meenakshi Gupta Jain

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