CBREX, a startup founded by serial entrepreneur Gautam Sinha along with Sanjeev Punwani and Karunjay Anand in 2015 positions itself as 'an anonymous B2B peer-to-peer communication and online transaction platform'. What it essentially means is that its proprietary messaging platform 'C Talk' helps companies transact with each other even when they don't know each other, irrespective of what part of the world they are located in. As co-founder Sinha puts it, "Historically service firms have acquired business through either direct contacts or references and CBREX will be a third source of business opportunity for them. Access to a global marketplace ensure that the member firms on the platform are able to execute businesses across borders making them global players from the day they sign on the platform. The ‘anonymity’ ensures that the model is scalable at a global level."
Unraveling the story behind this exchange platform, which is currently functional for recruitment service providers, Sinha explains that if a recruting firm wants to scale its business beyond face to face meetings and references from previous users, the firm should be willing to open an office or travel to foreign cities or participate in trade shows or conferences. Both of which entail heavy investments. So, even if a recruiting firm is really good at what they do, they get restricted to the market in which they are physically located. "CBREX will change this. Anonymity ensures that the "rating" rather than the "name" of the firms drives the business to it. In effect CBREX will productise the offering of a service firm by giving it a universal rating that is based on hard data and not on perceptions. This will create one big marketplace where the top 10,000 firms will see an increase of their revenues without the need to make any investments."
The CBREX team is currently at eight full-time employees but the number should double in the near future. Talking about the business model, Sinha says they earn around 20 percent for each successful placement that goes through the exchange. "The average commission value on the exchange is between $5000 to $10,000 so we earn between $1000 to $2000 for each transaction," he shares.
The team is working on a mobile app to make communication faster and make it easier for recruitment firm employees talk to each other across geographies and time zones. They are also working on an analytics engine to sit on top of their database that they can use to rate recruiting firms. "As at the heart of the exchange, we have a messaging platform through which firms communicate (talk) and transact (send CVs) , This is what makes it easy for firms to do business with each other. Messaging ensures constant communication and exchange of CVs through the platform ensures that all data is one place and easily accessible. The CV feedback is also through the exchange and so the work flow for the recruiter is complete," explains Sinha. He adds that they have kept the job posting process hassle-free. "Post the release of our app, we expect the ease of use to increase even further as now the recruiters will be constantly connected to the exchange and can send and receive messages on each CV on a real time basis. This will shorten the cycle time for closure of a job on the exchange," he believes.
The company raised a seed of around $200,000 at its inception and aims to raise another $6 million to $8 million during the course of this year. CBREX also has its growth plan charted out and hopes to reach 3000 firms on the platform by end of the year and close 40 transactions each month. "Each of these transactions would be worth an aggregate commission of $5000-$10,000 so the GTV or gross trade value per month on CBREX would be close to $300,000 per month which would make us in GTV terms a $3.6 million company on a revenue run rate," adds Sinha. He says that their footprint should expand to a 100 countries from the 70 they are at currently.
The company is actively engaged in improving their visibility on recruiting-specific global platforms and is also running content based marketing campaigns globally to increase sign ups of firms on CBREX. "We have been successful in taking the number of sign ups close to 10 per day, from our earlier average of three or four per day," says Sinha.
A serial entrepreneur since 1996, Gautam Sinha has launched and funded several companies. TVA Infotech, an IT recruitment company that he started in 2001 was acquired by Allegis Group Inc, in March 2008. He started My First Cheque in early 2011, a seed fund which committed to writing the "first cheque" for startup companies in India, besides mentoring the first generation entrepreneurs. He authored his first book, Flying Business Class in 2013. An alumnus of XLRI Jamshedpur, Sinha had a two-year stint with Wipro before he embarked on his entrepreneurial journey.