1) When did you start helper4u and what motivated you to start?
We started Helper4u in July 2014 from Raheja Vihar; We now have more than 3000 prospective employees registered with us. The motivation to start Helper4u was basically to circumvent the security guards on the buildings who act as doorkeepers between you and the maid from direct access.
We observed that some of the security guards exploited these girls for money and “favours”. The girls are helpless and also have to keep themselves in these security guards right books to get referrals for jobs.
It dawned on us, that though the maids and other helpers don’t use the computer, everyone has a mobile phone. So through Helper4U.in, we have enabled the maids and other helpers to interact directly with the employer. Unlike agencies or other service providers we don’t interfere with the hiring process at all.
2) What is your professional background?
I have spent 25 years of my working as a Research Assistant, Teacher, Project Manager with NIIT, e-learning professional with Tata Interactive Systems, Soft skills trainer, and an English coach.
I plan to use the training background to conduct training for ergonomics, hygiene and nutrition and similar soft skills training for drivers, maids and other helpers. Simple things like not adjusting the mirror as a driver when there is a lady in the back seat or consequences of being late if you are a cook or patient care professional, are part of the soft skills training. My eLearning and instructional designer’s experience help me immensely. We have interactive training where we create scenarios to help the participants understand the perspective of their prospective employers like not to take a leave without informing them. These little things make them more employable and reap rewards regarding salaries.
3) What kind of recognition have you received in the media?
Numerous media outlets and bloggers have covered us. We have been chosen as the one of the top 20 women social entrepreneurs in the Technoserve Blackstone Business Accelerator program, where we have even got a mentor. We have also been recognized as the top 100 startup businesses in India using technology to scale up, by HOT100. The biggest recognition has come from Internet.org, which chose us as the winner for its Innovation Challenge Award for the use of Internet to help migrants find jobs.
4) Who are the team members in your startup?
My husband Punit Jain supports us as a mentor. We have outsourced our technology and digital marketing to a firm called Gdata; We are exploring the possibility of having them on board with us a part of our team.
5) What is the process of registration and verification on Helper4u?
We have a call centre number; the Job Seeker has to give a missed call to our number, and we give them a callback to collect all their details: this is how we verify their phone number. After that, the prospect has to upload an aadhar card if he can get access to a computer or he can WhatsApp the same to our data centre or message us the Aadhar Card number, and we do the needful. We do a quality check on the details collected to re-verify them. Only then we make the profile public.
6) What is the Differentiation between Helper4u and other sites like babajobs or bookmybai?
First of all, we are focusing only on Blue Collared Workers and are continuously adding categories in that sector to help job Seekers across categories. Also, most of these sites act as an agency converted into an online platform, where the hiring still primarily happens through some intervention from the service provider. On the other hand, we are an aggregator: You can hire for one day or one year, as per your need. As a result, we allow faster, and much cheaper hiring.
7) Can you tell us about an interesting case?
Once a lady from Akola uploaded her profile on our site for a live-in maid’s job. She came to us with bag and baggage for submitting her documents. She had no place to stay in Mumbai and might have had to stay on the road till she had made some arrangements. Fortunately, she got a placement on the same day through our site and got relocated to her employer’s house. That is the power of using technology.
8) What are resources you lack and what do you have underutilized?
I thought it would be easy to access slums by hiring people from there, and get the database of the prospects. But most of the slum dwellers don’t want to go back into slums for work. People from outside too are not eager to go into slums to work. So, yes access to the Job Seekers is a bit of an issue.
9) What plans do you have in future?
We don’t want to be an online agency; the business model will largely remain the same. But, we will focus more on soft skills training to make the Job Seekers better hireable, and also work on helping them with other life skills. We also have some other related services that we are working on, to make life easier for the Employers.