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ApnaCircle May Introduce Premium Paid Services; Just One Out Of Five Users In Target Area Of Tier II Cities

Five-year-old ApnaCircle, a networking site for Indian professionals (despite its many transformations, it remains a LinkedIn clone in India), is looking to start its premium paid services in the country, taking a cue from its French parent Viadeo (LinkedIn already has a paid service in the market).

The firm is yet to get a fix on its revenue model but according to Yogesh Bansal, founder & CEO of ApnaCircle, it is eyeing a few options besides ad revenue. "We are looking at introducing premium membership as well as premium recruitment solutions soon," Bansal told Techcircle.in.

The Sabeer Bhatia (yups, still the Hotmail guy)-backed startup  was acquired three years ago by the French firm Viadeo, which had been building a professional network in the non-English speaking part of the world. The group has premium memberships and paid job postings, but these are not yet launched in India. Viadeo, as a group, claims to have around 45 million members globally of which around 8 per cent are in India through ApnaCircle.

ApnaCircle has been looking to differentiate itself by targeting tier II cities. "We have a bottom-up approach and targeting the youth in colleges and people who have started their career. Our focus is mainly tier II cities," said Bansal.

But it doesn't show up in the numbers. ApnaCircle says that it has a user base of 3.6 million in India (as opposed to a whopping 14 million users of LinkedIn India) but just 18 per cent of the users are from tier II cities like Bhopal, Kanpur, Lucknow, Bhubaneshwar, etc.

According to Bansal, multiple platforms can exist since people don't mind having multiple circles for professional networking. "Of course, LinkedIn has a first-mover advantage, but we have to understand the space we are in. It's not social networking site and thus, having multiple accounts is possible and preferable."

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