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Omidyar Network Leads Series A Funding In Aspiring Minds

Gurgaon-based Aspiring Minds, an employability assessment company, has raised an undisclosed amount in series A funding led by Omidyar Network, besides participation from former Ranbaxy Laboratories CEO DS Brar. Jayant Sinha of Omidyar Network India will join the board of Aspiring Minds.

Founded by IIT alumnus Himanshu Aggarwal and MIT passout Varun Aggarwal, the company counts Harvard Business School’s professor Tarun Khanna as an advisor and a founding investor. Aspiring Minds had also raised angel funding of $0.5 million in 2008.

The company will use the funding to extend its offerings to new verticals and expand to new geographies. Incidentally, AMCAT, Aspiring Minds’ computer adaptive test and its flagship product, provides standardised employability benchmarks to students and enables employers to evaluate students for effective job placements. Consequently, AMCAT is used by both students (for assessment) and corporate houses (for hiring).

Aspiring Minds’ co-founder Himanshu Aggarwal has told VCCircle that corporate customers access the company’s database for hiring and also make use of the test for their recruitment processes. So far, 750,000 students have appeared for AMCAT, which is retailed at Rs 400. While 400,000 students appeared for the test last fiscal, Aggarwal expects this number to double and reach 800,000 this year.

The company’s expansion plans include expanding its product across sectors and languages. The product is already in use in the IT sector and Aspiring Minds now plans to target other sectors like BFSI, retail, biotech and hospitality. It has already entered BFSI and hospitality space with clients like SBI Life, L&T Finance, SHCIL, Park Hotels and Accor, among others. Other key clients include HCL, Sapient, Ericsson, Nokia, Keane, Evalueserve, Genpact and iGate.

While AMCAT is used by some of the existing clients in overseas markets, Aspiring Minds is keen to gain direct entry to those markets by offering its products in other languages like Portuguese. It already offers its product in several regional languages such as Telugu and Gujarati.

According to Himanshu, AMCAT was earlier focused on engineers and MBAs, but it is now aggressively looking at the undergraduate market. For this initiative, the company has tied up with Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), Delhi University and Mumbai University, among others.

“There is clear, significant demand for Aspiring Minds’ services across India’s 20,000 colleges and amid 2-3 million annual graduates,” said Jayant Sinha of Omidyar Network. “Aspiring Minds is leading the way in creating a benchmark for employers to evaluate students, thus facilitating talent inclusion for middle-class and lower middle-class graduates from across the country.”

“AMCAT is already India’s largest employability assessment, taken by more than half-a-million graduates every year. This investment will help us scale to reach 40 million 10+2 and graduate job seekers, allowing them to quantify their employability and secure the right jobs,” said Himanshu Aggarwal, co-founder and director of Aspiring Minds.

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