Hack your way to a job

This Hot 100: Race To Grace 2015 winner helps companies hire talented developers through hackathons held online. By Shweta Gandhi

Founded in October 2014 by Rajat Shahi, Prashanth Vishwanatha and Sunil Shetty, is a product development company that helps companies and startups hire the best tech and non-tech talent through its intelligent products. is their flagship product that holds online hackathons for competitive coding challenges, through which companies can pick the crème de la crème of skilled developers.

Creating opportunities for all
Rajat, who has completed his BTech in CSE from JNTU, Hyderabad, says their focus is on giving opportunities to those at the grassroots. “We want to give equal chances to developers from the majority of colleges, not just IIT and IIM. We also provide online learning courses and help students train for hackathons to increase their chances of being hired,” he says. At the moment, there are five hackathons conducted every month, and Rajat aims to increase it to 15 by May. All the hackathons are free of cost, with no participating fee, and people from all over India can participate.

Making hiring a breeze
The idea took root when Rajat got placed with a renowned MNC that took more than three weeks to just source candidates and filter resumes. This was followed by nine rounds of interviews that lasted over two days. “We saw how difficult it was for companies to find the right person and we formulated an approach that reduced the cost to company and saved time,” says Rajat. Their innovative approach has successfully reduced the hiring time by almost 80 per cent and the average time to hire a candidate is now less than 10 days. “We cut down the time not only for the companies but for the candidates too. Candidates can check the site to know which companies are hiring, participate in the challenge test on our platform, which takes hardly five hours, and the company spends less than five minutes to see the sorted leader board and decide who it wishes to hire,” he explains. “There’s no human intervention in judgement,” he quips, as an algorithm Rajat has designed does the evaluation. If it’s a college hackathon, then Rajat and his team call in jury members from various industries for evaluation.

Cutting down costs
Rajat says their initiative has also cut down (50-60 per cent) the cost a company would spend on hiring. “If you go out hiring now, you pay at least Rs 1 lakh to hire one person, which is divided into various costs like sourcing, filtering, tests, etc. We cut down on the cost drastically as the companies pay us a specific charge when they hire successfully from our platform,” says Rajat.
PurpleTalk Inc. and MeraEvents are two companies that have hired developers through hackathons conducted on HackerBay. “And there are more than 20 companies lined up for the next two months,” says Rajat.

Finding the sweet spot
Today, HackerBay has around 3,000 users with 900 verified users. Since February 2015, they have generated revenue of Rs 10 lakh. “Our revenue model is very simple—a company pays us when they hire successfully from us, and they also pay us for conducting the hackathon on our platform. These are the two main streams of revenue. We also receive sponsorships for college hackathons, which help us cover our basic costs.” NASSCOM 10,000 Startups, Tech In Asia and Exotel act as their annual sponsors and they’ve also partnered together to conduct hackathons. “We market our product through direct selling, word of mouth and reverse channelling,” Rajat says. “Having a perfect team, a great set of mentors and advisors, the right product and being at the right place at the right time is what we got us where we are today.”

Looking to the future
HackerBay has seen a growth of 67 per cent every month, and they’re expecting 100 per cent growth in the next two to three weeks. Their future plans include the NASA Space Apps Challenge 2016, for which they are helping the Hyderabad chapter in outreach as well as providing a platform to conduct the hackathon.

The company has come a long way in a short time and recently won a Hot 100: Race to Grace Award 2015. “We feel great winning this award as it is a motivation for startups to work harder and achieve more. Many people congratulated us on winning it,” says Rajat. HackerBay was incubated by Progress Software in Hyderabad, India’s first corporate incubator. “They provide us with an office space, mentorship sessions, free softwares and a lot of investor connections,” Rajat says. The most challenging aspect, he says, is explaining what a hackathon is. “People think it’s for hackers, but a hackathon has nothing to do with hacking. It’s a platform for skilled developers to build something.” 

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