Friday, September 21, 2007


Sanjeev Bikchandani

With a bachelors in Economics from St Stephen's, Delhi and a diploma in management from IIM-A and a stint with advertising and GlaxoSmithkline (then HMM), Sanjeev Bikhchandani, co-founder and CEO, InfoEdge (India), better known by its Web site, is today sitting over a business worth Rs 45 crore (Rs 450 million) with 600 employees and 35 offices all over the country.

The GlaxoSmithkline days

It was during his stint with Glaxosmithkline (then HMM) that Sanjeev realised that employees love talking about jobs and career movement. He realised jobs are an extremely high interest information category for almost all people and headhunting had tremendous potential.

First taste of entrepreneurship

Sanjeev started out as a partnership firm in 1989, where he was a sleeping partner. By 1990 he had concluded that there was probably a large, highly fragmented database of jobs out there with HR managers and headhunters which, if someone were to aggregate and keep current, would be a very valuable resource. He set up office in the servant's quarter above the garage in his father's house, paying his father a rent of Rs 800. For the first few years his company did salary surveys and built and marketed a database of pharmaceutical trademarks.

Though the company was kept afloat, he was unable to draw a salary and Sanjeev ran the house on his wife's salary. To meet his personal expenses, he would teach at business schools as visiting faculty on weekends. It was in response to a Department of Telecom's (DoT) advertisement to launch a videotex service in Delhi that he prepared a database of jobs. It was a pay-to-view model, where initially the employer would be allowed to host his job free and they would earn from the revenue share the DoT would give us. But the project never took off.

Turning point

It was on his visit to IT Asia in 1996 that Sanjeev came to know of the World Wide Web. To register his website and get a domain name, he had to take help from his brother, who lived in the US and has a stake in the company. The site was set up in March 1997 as a division of InfoEdge.

What was interesting was that Sanjeev could not get any domain name he wanted (all such names which had the word job were already registered) and had to settle down with the Hindi term "naukri", which actually makes it different from other jobsites today. At this point he was joined by Anil Lall, the chief technical officer and V N Saroja, chief operating officer.

Dual responsibility

With the recession, Sanjeev had to take up a part-time job, but in the same domain area. Between 1996 and 2000, he also worked at The Pioneer. Initially, the consulting editor of Avenues -- the careers supplement of The Pioneer -- he was instrumental in working out an investment package with a consortium of four financial institutions -- ICICI, IDBI, IFCI and UTI. In the morning, he used to work for, go to The Pioneer during the day and then get back to in the evening.

Reaping fruits of success became profitable from the second year. Today, it has a profit after tax of Rs 8.5 crore (Rs 85 million). It was now time for expansion. InfoEdge aquired Jeevansathi in September 2004. Besides, it has an offline recruitment business through its venture Quadrangle.

The site had a revenue of just over Rs 200,000 in the first year of operations. In the second year, however, revenue quickly climbed to Rs 1.2 million. Sanjeev made do with his own finances till 2000, when he got funding from ICICI Venture Capital. So far, InfoEdge has taken only one round of venture capital of Rs 7.3 crore (Rs 73 million).

Today, gets over 100 million page views a month and has over 3.5 million registered users. It is estimated that over 700,000 people have found jobs through Over 15,000 organisations have used the site for recruitment. It has also launched a real estate portal in 2005.

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