Recently, the state of Uttar Pradesh in northern India called for applications to fill 368 low-level job openings with the government. To the utter dismay of officials in charge of the hiring, 2.3 million people applied. These were peon jobs that involve making tea and passing files between government offices with a monthly paycheck of INR 16,000 (US$243). The eligibility criteria were primary school education and being able to ride a bike. Yet the applicants included at least 255 people with doctorates and 150,000 graduates.
That’s India for you. Here, the safest job you could have is still with the government. The pay is steady if not great, benefits are many – free or subsidized housing, insurance, and so on, and you’re covered for life. For the government servants in mid-to-senior-level positions, the remuneration package is as good or even better than in the private sector. And above all, society looks up to them – after all, they are the cogs that run the wheel of day-to-day life in India. So every year, millions of Indians fight for the few thousand job openings with the central and state governments of the country.
That’s the rink of MockBank. This Bangalore-based startup will help you prepare for the tests for various government job positions, from stenographers to IT officers. Jobs in the public sector, banking, and insurance are also part of the roster. That’s a market with 20 million to 40 million job aspirants a year, according to MockBank, where the most popular offerings are online mock tests for banking exams. (Banks in India are mostly in the public sector.)
Mock tests are popular
MockBank was started in 2013 by Konark Singhal, an IIM (Indian Institute of Management) Bangalore grad who worked with Bain. His co-founders are former IBM exec Manesh Jain and Ramesh Narayanan, who earlier worked for Sify and other tech companies.
It raised US$400,000 in seed funding from Blume Ventures in September this year. Today it announced acquisition of Litoro, a custom web and mobile product development startup in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, which had developed the initial version of MockBank. The entire Litoro team has moved to Bangalore to be absorbed in MockBank.
Acqui-hiring is a growing trend
“We have acquired Litoro primarily for its experienced tech team. That they already knew so much about our product made the decision easy,” says Konark Singhal, MockBank MD.
VCs and startups in India are finding that a good team buildup is of paramount importance for growth. It is also one of their biggest challenges. Although India pumps out 1.5 million engineering grads annually, many don’t have the right skills for employment.
Acqui-hiring is therefore becoming a path that startups are taking to overcome this hurdle. Arpit Agarwal, Principal at Blume Ventures, says:
In the current environment, it is becoming increasingly expensive to hire a good team, especially on the tech side. Traditionally, acquisitions were primarily used to bolster revenue or for filling product portfolio gaps. We are increasingly seeing acquisition being used as a tool to bolster the team.”
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