About Yogesh Bansal – CEO & Founder, ApnaCircle.com:
An MBA from University of North Carolina, Yogesh Bansal moved to India 2006 and started ApnaCircle.com. He started the company with a vision to make it a truly mega brand. Before starting ApnaCircle.com, he spent significant time in finding market intelligence by market research on the domain. As a professional he has played a critical role with different organizations across the globe and has been part of many founding teams of various businesses. Before shifting to India, he had founded couple of start ups both in USA as well as in India. Before becoming an entrepreneur, he worked with McKesson Inc, USA. Yogesh has been lauded by many industry leaders and countless publications for his visionary strategy, his ability to drive an entrepreneurial culture, and his warm-hearted, straight-talking approach.
We had an email interview with Yogesh about his venture.
Q1. How you thought about starting this venture?
This idea struck me in 2006, when Social Networking was becoming a rage in US and I was a witness to this growing industry. When I moved to India, I saw this opportunity of huge youth population and the need for a property which allowed our youth to connect and at the same time derive value out of it for their individual growth. Based on my observation, I researched and interestingly found out that the youth were rating their friends and career high. At that point of time there was no such platform that would have catered both the aspects. So, I developed a unique platform, ApnaCircle.com, which was a relevant platform and catered to both the aspects. Now, based on further feedback from our users, we have converted into a complete business and career network. So, research and catering to what the consumer want is the key.
Q2. Who are your customers or targeted audience?
The site is for all those professionals who whether are looking for their very first job, switching careers, re-entering the job market after an extended absence or believe in creating a substantial Brand for themselves by maintaining an Online Professional Profile. ApnaCircle.com bridges the gap and connects employers with employees, professionals with professionals and networks with networks within India as well as across the globe.
Going by the latest trends, it is specially the career networking sites that are emerging to help you in your job hunt. Networking is everything these days. The viral power of career networking sites is helping out professionals across the globe as well as in India. Today, employers are looking at creative and cost effective ways to recruit the best of the talents. And it is the career networking sites like ApnaCircle.com that attract career seekers from Generation Y to executive level.
Q3. What is your business strategy?
Within a short span of its inception, ApnaCircle merged with Viadeo, the leading professional networking site in Europe and Tianji in China, to form this new leading global entity which is in align with our Glo-cal strategy .Thus, our strategy is Globalisation along with Localisation. By saying glocal- I mean Apnacircle plans to spread across the Globe but at the same time our roots still intact in and for India.
We have proper business plan, a blue print in place. And I believe that Mergers and Acquisitions is the way to look forward. We are already over 27 million strong and second largest in the world after LinkedIn.
Q4. How you beat the competition and what is unique in your brand?
ApnaCircle.com is India’s first and leading Business and Career networking site. You have Facebook, Orkut etc where you can network socially as they cater to your social needs. You have LinkedIn which is though a professional network but not like ApnaCircle, which is created keeping in mind the Career needs of Indian youth. It solves the local as well as global needs of professionals who whether are looking for their very first job, switching careers or re-entering the job market after an extended absence. It is not just for CEOs, CFOs or MNC openings; it is for every Indian who wants to locate opportunities within any local region as well.
ApnaCircle.com is one of the pioneers in the Business and career networking space, transforming professionals across the country and across the verticals. Users can actively network, micro-blog and participate in the Q and A sessions with experts from across the continents. The site is crafted to provide a perfect professional network to you. It will help you widen your circle of contacts and make you more visible to industry professionals and experts.
Besides updating Resumes and Posting on portals networking plays a pivotal role when tapping opportunities. That’s why it is important for candidates to build a strong network of contacts. It is one’s business and career network that can provide support, relevant information and job opening. In today’s digital age, this is one of the most effective ways of marketing yourself as a brand. Networking creates an image of yours and builds a substantial BRAND of yours.
Q5. What you feel is the value of innovation in your business?
Innovation is bringing changes for businesses, both profit and nonprofit, like never before. Numerous driving forces to this change include a rapidly expanding market place, increasing competition and diversity among consumers. Through Innovation, value is created and delivered to a community of users in the form of a new solution. Similarly, in the area of networking we believed that business and career networking would create a niche for our users through which they can find successful careers for themselves.
One of the biggest usages of professional networking site like ApnaCircle.com is for organizations in the area of recruitment. The reasons are twofold, on one hand we bring professional networking site as the only place where you have access to the professional bio-data of a potential candidate completely up to date. On the other hand, people who see a job opening would be able to recommend somebody from their network; that will create a reference for the recruiter about the quality of the candidate based on who is referring, which is a complete new concept.
Q6. What is the scope of expansion and what is your vision about it?
Today, ApnaCircle – Viadeo, is the second largest and leading global professional networking site in the world. ApnaCircle- Viadeo holds a global network of over 27 million users. The merger, acquisition and the integration has not only helped its members-both global and local to double their reach and widen their circle but also helped in increasing the growth rate of Apna Circle’s network to 150 thousand users per month.
Q7. Talking about your personal growth, how has been the journey as a serial entrepreneur?
The journey so far has been tough, but interesting at the same time. In all these years I have faced ups and downs in my career. But overcoming all this, every entrepreneur has to believe in himself and must have the courage to keep progressing in the path one wants to proceed in. One has to create a team which believes in the same passion and values as you do. So did I.
Also, I made sure that I differentiate myself, by means of innovating, creating and adding value for customers.
Q8. Any hard lesson that you learnt as an entrepreneur?
There were no as such hard lessons but a great challenge was to innovate, differentiate and most importantly to solve a problem and fulfill the need for masses in a simple manner. The most important element was to find the right niche- to find the gaps in the market and come up with a unique, relevant and useful concept for the consumers which could fulfill their needs.
This was tough, but getting more practical with the advancement of technology.
Q9. Any advice for future entrepreneurs from your personal and professional experience.
Firstly, focus on Increasing your Presence and Widening the Scope along with having a Business Plan in place. Secondly, create an Image for your Business. You should work hard on increasing your presence. One should also face the Bottlenecks and not sideline them. Every Entrepreneur has his own share of problems and bottlenecks. Further, when you start a business there could be many issues, Analyze these bottlenecks, face them and find ways to solve them. Strike the proper balance. And last key point, keep a lookout for Expansion plans for your Business, widen your reach and grab the right opportunity.
ApnaCircle.com, India’s first and leading Business and career networking site has always had the uncanny ability to read ahead and adapt itself to derive maximum advantage. The result is today’s ApnaCircle.com, one of the pioneers in the Business and career networking space, transforming professionals across the country and across the verticals. Users can actively network, micro-blog and participate in the Q and A sessions with experts. The site is crafted to provide a perfect professional network to you. It will help you widen your circle of contacts and make you more visible to industry professionals and experts.
A visit to the site provides a refreshing experience as it provides the opportunity for both business and career networking. The company was founded by Mr. Yogesh Bansal in December 2006. Later, Mr. Sabeer Bhatia joined as one of the Board of Directors in August 2007. This, free to join site helps professionals to tap the right kind of job options and also helps the employer to have the right kind of professional on board.
In 2009, ApnaCircle merged with Viadeo,the leading professional networking site in Europe and Tianji in China, to form the leading global entity which is in align with Glo-cal strategy of theirs. These mergers have enabled the Indian users to interact with more evolved consumers from Europe, China and other parts of the globe. Also, ApnaCircle-Viadeo-Tianji has acquired Unyk, a Canadian social networking site to grow Indian market organically. Unyk’s smart address book and synchronization technology will further act as value addition to ApnaCircle members.