Monish Karam of Jobsenz received $40,000 from Facebook; he talks to us about his startup journey

Last week, Facebook identified Jobsenz as the product to fund under its startup programme 'FbStart.' As a result, Jobsenz received $40,000 from Facebook in credit that could be used for business promotion on Facebook.

Last week, Facebook identified Jobsenz as the product to fund under its startup programme 'FbStart.' As a result, Jobsenz received $40,000 from Facebook in credit that could be used for business promotion on Facebook.

I spoke with Monish Karam, founder of Jobsenz, on his journey with the startup, his days in Manipur, his thoughts on the North East. Here are excerpts of the conversation.

tech2: You're currently based in Singapore. How long did you spend time in India, and what prompted you to set up base in Singapore?

Karam: Most of my working hours are spent for the Indian users. I was doing my MBA at the National University of Singapore and got my first encounter with entrepreneurship after receiving an Entrepreneurship Award from NUS Enterprise. (It supports the National University of Singapore’s drive for industry engagement and partnerships to transform university innovation into products and services). This became my seed fund. We were also the finalist in Startup Weekend, Singapore.

tech2: How was it growing up in Manipur? Where did you complete your education?

Karam: I was born in Imphal, Manipur, did my schooling in Don Bosco School, Imphal and KV, Langjing (Manipur). Growing up in Manipur was fun, but competitive, be it at school or home. Other than the textbooks, our society in North East inculcates in us many important life values as equality for all, respect for all especially women and to have fun and not to worry much.

I have a degree in Computer Science from MS University and an MBA from NUS, Singapore.

tech2: How did you start Jobsenz? Could you tell us a bit about it?

Karam: I initially started the company with a software product, recruitsenz, which was later sold to an engineering company in Singapore. While working on recruitsenz, we realised we missed adding an interface website for candidates to apply for jobs created in recruitsenz. We spun this missed feature into a new product, Jobsenz in 2015, now available in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India. The Jobsenz app in India has already crossed 115,000 app downloads in India as of September 2016.

Jobsenz provides a complete solution inside an app, where job seekers can search and find jobs with our job search engine. They can prepare and download their resume using our multi-lingual resume builder (available in English, Hindi and Bangla for now, expanding to others in near future). In addition, they can also recommend and let job seekers prepare mock exams or interview for those applied jobs.

It is also a marketplace where coaching centres or educators can directly sell their course materials (mock question papers) directly to job seekers. Not all coaching centre across India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh can have their own mobile app or web app to provide live coaching materials to their students. This is creating a level playing field across all educators and coaching centres across these 3 countries. This is also a new revenue stream for them.

tech2: How do you plan to use the credit by Facebook?

Karam: $40,000 credits are to be used for services from Facebook, Amazon, MailChimp and others. This is to help build, grow, and monetize the mobile app.

tech2: Do you plan to return to India?

Karam: Yes, this option is very much open. Also, the beauty of running a tech startup is that you can be anywhere. Jobsenz India is completely for Indian users. Moreover, from Day 1, our team was spread across Singapore, Colombo and Mumbai. We try to follow the “37 signals” model (37signals is the company behind the team collaboration app Basecamp) which has a small, but highly efficient team spread across continents and believe in software automation to do most of the manual work.

tech2: What do you think must be done, so that more entities could emerge from states such as Manipur?

Karam: I truly believe in talents Indians possess, and North Eastern Indians are no different. A little positivity and a little encouragement from everyone would be a first step.

With our myopic vision to get only government jobs, we are missing many opportunities while the whole world is marching ahead. Our basic mindset has to change. Startups or entrepreneurs are wealth and job creators. There are many industries where we can shine, be it tourism, healthcare, agriculture, or IT. For this, we do not need much resources to start with.

I firmly believe to have competitive advantage and also to reduce startup cost, technology has to be the great enabler. A platform for the North East to share information on existing technologies, finished / raw products, market to sell and how to contact those markets would reduce a lot of friction we are facing right now in North East. I hope to see North East India being able to contribute more and become a major growth force for India’s 21st century.

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