BridgeLabz Founding Member Shares How His Startup is Solving the Tech Employability Challenge in India

Employability crisis is real. Engineering graduates not been able to get job in the companies where they are supposed to be in is real. Millions of engineers taking up unwanted jobs in various industries is real. But why? In most cases, it's mainly due to lack of employability skill among the graduates. Well, here’s one company that aims to change that.

In an interaction with Manoj Barot, Founding Member of BridgeLabz, we learned about how the startup aims to solve the problem of low employability of engineers in India and across the world. Below is the account of the company based on the interaction.

All about BridgeLabz

BridgeLabz is AWS recognized incubator focused on solving the tech employability challenge. It aims to solve the problem of low employability of engineers in India, by expanding the employability pool with its ‘Maker Program’. It is the first organization to claim 100% guaranteed job placement to engineers on emerging technologies and charge nothing from engineers.

How BridgeLabz solves the problem of low employability of engineers

BridgeLabz is solving the tech employability challenge by giving hands-on experience to fresh engineers. With co-learning spaces in Mumbai and Bangalore, the startup provides live environment where fresh engineers learn coding from scratch.

BridgeLabz provides custom-trained talent to tech companies based on their specific tech landscape requirements. It takes the risk of bad hire; but the company said its engineers are productive from day one. The tech talent is paid for by the mandating organizations; so it is a client-paid model. Once the mandate is received, the client makes a down payment as a commitment to the model. Post this, the talent is recruited using a hackathon process and is groomed in the mandated tech stack for 16 weeks. After 16 weeks of being trained, engineers are deployed to tech company.

BridgeLabz model engages both the talent and the client (tech companies) throughout the value chain.

How BridgeLabz reaches out to engineers

Training Institutes: BridgeLabz has partnership with about a dozen institutes across the country. The startup conducts hiring drives through a hackathon process based on a mandate from the training institutes. This process was widely used in the past, but the founder said dependence on this channel is reduced now.

Referrals: Through the word-of-mouth action of the engineers and students who have come in contact with BL.

In-bound digital marketing: Channel which includes Facebook, Instagram, Job sites (all paid and unpaid).

Bridgelabz has developed its own IP in the form of a platform to do the initial screening and identify the talent for the hackathon.

How BridgeLabz reaches out to tech companies

Inside sales: By inside sales team through email and networking marketing.

Social media and events: Through various events and conference. Social media and LinkedIn too are a source for the company.

Referral: Existing partners, too, refer BridgeLabz to companies. Word of mouth is strong source for the company.

Inbound organic channel through search and its website.

Some biggest achievements of BridgeLabz till date

  1. Part of Maharashtra Top 100 Startups for 2019  
  2. FY 2019-20 estimate revenue 20CR+
  3. 200+ tech companies working with till now.
  4. 1000+ engineers successfully placed.
  5. Economic Times - Employability partner for 2019-20 
  6. Secured 2nd position at Global Edtech Awards 2019, India
  7. Won BW Disrupt Techtor 2020 Award

Journey of BridgeLabz and its team members

Narayan Mahadevan is the founder of IP-driven Incubation Lab, BridgeLabz, an AWS recognised company. Having completed his B.E. in Mechanical Engineering from Maharashtra Institute of Technology, Narayan went on to pursue his graduate studies in Mechanical Engineering and Software Engineering from Kansas State University. Through his career, Narayan has been able to explore his passion for technology in various spheres and has utilized his skills to develop robust and diversified technology-based products and solutions.

Narayan founded BridgeLabz in 2015 with eight-member team who has strong experience in product, business, operations and marketing. The BridgeLabz team now has 50 members, including CTO, Product Managers, experienced Engineers and Designers - “Pro-Makers”, who share a common vision to solve employability at scale. Know more about the founding team members at www.bridgelabz.com.

bridgelabz-team

BridgeLabz’s plans for the coming years

In FY19-20:

  1. 1100+ learners placed
  2. Revenue of Rs. 20 crores +
  3. 500+ partner companies
  4. Opened a Bootcamp set up in Pune, planned a full-fledged incubation lab in coming months in Pune and another in Hyderabad

By 2025:

  1. Impact one million jobs through ecosystem
  2. 250K+ jobs created by BridgeLabz directly

BridgeLabz’s competitors and the difference between them

BridgeLabz business model is based on talent success (talent gets a productive job) hence its competitors include success-based models like Lambda School (Global) and other Income Sharing Models in India.

The main difference derives from the vision - employability delivered means tech jobs to everybody. This means the following –

  1. Acquire practical skill required for the job.
  2. Be gainfully employed and
  3. Be productive from day one.

To achieve this, BridgeLabz has created a co-learning lab with physical space, systems and innovators with following main differences:

Content: BridgeLabz is Real World, Problem Statement Based vs Batch, Curriculum Based

Experience Quotient: Lab Based, Do It Yourself vs Content and Project Based

Outcome Orientation: Job Focused, Broadens Employability Pool vs Generic and Broad

Live Mentoring: Mentoring done by Practising Engineers in 1:5 ratio

Business model: Mandating Client Pays vs Learner pay

What BridgeLabz says on tech employability problem and how it aims to solve through technology

According to BridgeLabz, there is an acute tech employability challenge worldwide and in India as well where companies struggle to fill their tech positions. It says that out of 1.5 million engineers graduating every year in India, 1 million opt for job in software industry. Of this 20% find job with IT services industry. Of the remaining, only 0.4% is readily employable in emerging tech, 50% in BPO, 55% in ITeS, around 30% in QA and around 20% in KPO. So, engineers take up such odd jobs knowing very well such jobs are going to be obsolete in the next five years, according to World Bank report.

Studies show good 45% can be made employable to emerging tech. BridgeLabz's own internal study also shows 99% want a development job in tech companies and startups. Since employment for most is of utmost important, they eventually end up taking unwanted jobs. Such problems exist in even among experienced engineers where in 50% of the four million engineers are needed to be reskilled to emerging tech. So, a platform like BridgeLabz is needed to groom engineers into emerging tech with a job guarantee.

Further, startups and product companies have no bandwidth to take in-experienced engineers and groom them. They rely on hiring experienced engineers from market where the availability pool is very less. According to the McKinsey, since technology is penetrating every other industry, emerging tech will produce 25-50 million jobs worldwide, and India alone will produce 6-12 million jobs in the next decade.

“Technology is disrupting all sectors and verticals. Hence the need for tech talent for development will arise in all organizations. Today every organization is fishing in an empty pond - There is not enough tech talent in the ecosystem to recruit. There is a need to add new fish (New Talent) to the pool. BridgeLabz is attempting to add new fish to the pool through it unique model, said the co-founder.”

How BridgeLabz employs technology in its solution

Hands-on knowledge on emerging technology (experiential learning) is how technology plays a role in BridgeLabz solution. The co-founder said, "You can’t accept a fresher who had never coded in his college life be ready for industry expectations." Through BridgeLabz's program, engineers acquire new focused skills in product development that make them job-ready, and companies get the best talent to work for them on a made-to-order basis.

The entire value chain at BridgeLabz - from recruitment, upskilling to placement - is done through tech and product platforms created by the company. Being an AWS recognised incubator, all the BridgeLabz's products and IPs are created in house to support the upskilling process.

BridgeLabz uses technologies such as Coding cafe - an online learn-test-prepare tool to identify the right talent for the program, V-Lab - the virtual environment where the talent learns how to code, and LMS - the handholding of the learners journey throughout the 16 weeks learning journey till they join the organization.

About the Author
Author: Stephen Soulunii
Stephen Soulunii No more a student, but love to learn. Not a teacher, but care about how students are taught. Not an educator, but want everyone to be educated. Not a social worker, but desire to see change. Not a reformer, but always want to see a better world. The author believes that only sound education can bring a better future, better world and technology can help achieve a lot in this field.

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