Ace product managers are wanted by almost every other founder in the Indian startup ecosystem, regardless of the industry they are in. After all, they largely determine whether a startup and its products stand out in the market.
After developing consumer tech products in Silicon Valley for over a decade, Mona Gandhi confirmed the problem with her former boss Nate Blecharcyzk (Co-founder and CTO of Airbnb) and high-growth startup founders in India like Kunal Shah (Founder of ) and Vijay Shekhar Sharma (Founder of ).
This universal problem has prompted Mona to found Upraised, an upskilling edtech platform that offers industry-relevant and practical training to become a product manager in 16 weeks. It claims to be the first startup to offer a job guarantee program and otherwise ensure refunds.
âWhen I shared the idea with Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Kunal Shah and Nate, they said they had definitely felt the challenge many times and were very much looking forward to helping as angel investors solve the hiring problem in India, especially for high growth Startups, âsays Mona Your history.
This is how upraised works
The flagship of the Skilling platform is the 16-week one Career Accelerator Program (CAP) which prepares learners for the transition to product management roles, regardless of their background.
You need to get one first Do You Know Yourself Test (KYS) which evaluates their skills, on the basis of which Upraised invites the user to sign up for CAP. If the student does not get a job in product management after completing the program, the startup will reimburse the fee amount of Rs 1.25,000 less a two percent payment gateway fee.
Price at Rs 20,000, Preppa is another fee-based service of the startup that supports professionals in preparing for interviews for product management roles and offers three sample interviews.
It also helps college students and college graduates make informed decisions about their internship opportunities Go this is a free program. More than 11,500 students from 50 universities have registered for the internship program this year.
As an edtech platform, Upraised is results driven and focuses on keeping the learners engaged in the end.
“We really can’t hide under the rug teaching them some content, we really have to teach them what they’re talking about, and that’s our unique selling proposition,” adds Mona.
Building from the candidate’s point of view
Before the official launch of home sharing company Airbnb in India in 2016, Mona moved to India in 2015 and began advising various startups on their growth plans.
Interactions with startup founders brought them close to a universal problem that all entrepreneurs face: attitude. âI’ve seen this firsthand and it didn’t matter if the person was a serial entrepreneur and had access to good investors and capital,â she recalls.
She ventured to the other side of this problem, interacted with around 127 candidates looking for a job in startups, and identified the employability gap.
âI’ve seen a similar pattern in all of the candidates; What they study at universities and what skills they acquire are very different from what high-growth startups need today. There was a huge gap in skills and employability, âshe shares her eureka moment, which resonated with founders like Nate, Kunal Shah and Vijay Shekhar Sharma, who have all successfully scaled their consumer tech startups.
(from left to right) Nate Blecharcyzk, co-founder and CTO of Airbnb; Kunal Shah, founder of CRED; Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder of Paytm
In June 2019, the startup received funding from $ 1.3 million from these founders, along with venture capitalists like Speed ââof Light and South Park Commons.
Mona found it the most efficient way to solve the problem from the candidate’s point of view by teaching them relevant skills from industry experts, matching 79 candidates and achieving a placement rate of 96 percent.
Additionally, the platform helps startups recruiting talent from suburban cities who may not have gone to leading institutions but have the necessary skills such as problem solving and agile thinking. Case study Kumari Geeta, who has an MBA in Economics from Patna and is now Associate Product Manager at Zeta.
Navigate the market
âIf you look at the market, there are three million graduates every year, 1.7 million of them engineers. While around 40 percent are still engineers, the remaining 60 percent are looking for a career change. This is the market we are focusing on, âshares Mona.
The full-stack platform not only provides users with information material and certificates, but also focuses on providing them with the jobs.
Despite the booming edtech market, Mona sees social media platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp and Twitter as its biggest competitors because most of them âwaste their time on social media instead of studyingâ.
Upraised is a team of 22 on a hiring and scaling course.
Look beyond IITs and IIMs
Mona was also Airbnb’s first female engineer when she joined the early stages of the company in 2011. She believes there is scope in India to develop many “pain reliever products” to solve real problems specific to India.
Her other firm belief is that a startup’s ultimate asset is its team. “Startups, especially those in the early stages, should know that what you will achieve in the end is directly proportional to the strength of your team.”
This is also why she pushes fellow entrepreneurs to look for talent beyond the IIT, IIM rÃ©sumÃ© and pedigree and focus on the skills.
âThere is talent everywhere, and great candidates from Tier II and III cities are doing phenomenally well,â she adds.