After finishing a Masters in Management from Cambridge University (UK), a Law Degree (L.L.B.) from the University of London and a graduate degree in B.A. (Honors) Economics from Hindu College (Delhi University), Ms Divya Jain, the co-founder of Seekho, a neo career school, worked in investment banking at Citigroup and has been a business consultant with Ernst & Young. Being exposed to such a vast array of experiences in different fields and cultures gave her the fuel to become a successful entrepreneur.
“I envisioned and conceptualised Safeducate when skill development still existed only in dilapidated government polytechnics and new industries like logistics had yet not recognized the importance of trained manpower. I set up over 150 centres across states, in partnerships with governments and universities,” shares Ms Divya on her first entrepreneurial journey. Her startup, Safeducate was awarded government contracts worth over $30 million, in progress. But, due to the COVID-19 situation, the company had to temporarily shut down 150 of its training centres across India displacing thousands of students who had been enrolled across various skilling programs. Soon enough, after tying hands with her co-founders, Ajeet and Arihant, who have helped build multiple successful tech startups in the past decade including HealthKart, 1MG, Joe Hukum and Freshworks, decided to start Seekho. Launched in 2021, Seekho is India’s first career accelerator that combines learning, mentorship and employment, seed-funded by Sequoia’s surge fund. Seekho helps students upskill and get the right career opportunities to move ahead in life. Seekho is a neo career school that doesn’t just personalise learning journeys but creates real results. So far, 350 mentors have engaged 500K+ young professionals on the platform, and aim to enable 1 million users by the end of 2022.
Ms Divya was born into a business family, who nurtured her into becoming the entrepreneur she is today. Her grandfather received the Padma Shri for his work in setting up and promoting the Jaipur Foot, an artificial limb, especially for landmine victims. Giving back to the community has always been a strong part of Ms Divya’s upbringing. At a very young age, she was given the opportunity to join the family business – Safexpress, India’s largest logistics service provider, but decided to build and lead Safeducate, a logistics skilling platform. 11 years ago, skill development existed only in dilapidated government polytechnics, and new industries like logistics had yet not recognized the importance of trained manpower. Ms Divya spent the last decade travelling across the country and working with India and its students at the very grassroots level. Over the years, she was successful in setting up over 150 centres across the country, under different governments and various universities to help students upskill and get the right career opportunity to move ahead in life. “The post covid world allowed me to explore the new digitally connected world and then I joined Arihant and Ajeet to launch Seekho, India’s first career accelerator that combines learning, mentorship and employment, seed-funded by Sequoia’s surge fund,” says Ms Divya. The co-founders of Seekho have been disruptors and innovators with each venture and have made an impact in different spaces/ industries. The mix of multiple expertise and the experimentation the three of them have done has brought a deep understanding of their customers. “We are obsessed with our customers and have gone deep to understand their pain points and woes. We realised that for a country like India multiple format video content was key as was live instruction,” Ms Divya shares. As a video-first learning community, Seekho has multiple video format offerings including live classes, long format and short videos.
As she took on this company, she was driven to provide better opportunities for students in the country. “Despite having one of the largest youth populations in the world, a plethora of colleges and learning opportunities, most young people do not have the skills that businesses today need. Fewer than 17 per cent of our graduates are immediately employable. There is a massive gap between the CV of the candidate and the JD of the employers. Businesses on the other end are struggling as they have no measurable way of hiring the right people for the right jobs,” shares Ms Divya. She realised that there was a need for a centre like Seekho to help students to acquire skills that help them be job-ready. The company helps GenZ in taking the professional leap by providing mentorship, learning and earning opportunities, all on a single platform. The platform was launched keeping three stakeholders/pillars in mind, users, corporates and mentors. Seekho is the first and at this point, the only platform in the JobTech space that is bringing all three stakeholders together on a single platform.
Seekho uses technology to truly democratise and change the face of higher education, seeking to disrupt and innovate job-led education in an affordable, fun and gamified way. Seekho recognises that between graduating and starting work, there is a sizeable gap filled neither by the educational institutions who claim to prepare the seeker nor the employers who select. The Seekho App is the first step for a student to start their journey to supercharge their careers. The app is video first and students can access learning series which consist of short videos, long videos and cohort-based courses. Over 300 industry experts and mentors contribute to creating this incredibly relevant social learning platform. Seekho has 10 academies, which have been created and structured around the highest demand, high pull areas of our knowledge economy today. Users can subscribe to these academies with Seekho Select subscription.
Seekho gamifies learning journeys, leading to real career outcomes thus making it rewarding for the learner and the community. Every milestone completed on Seekho earns Karma Points. These points can be redeemed on live classes, and also move the learner up the talent board. The platform also has one-of-a-kind live community events, like SeekhoX, which is a series of live sessions that showcases thought leaders sharing their learnings in a fun way. The first session was headed by Mr Ankur Warikoo, the lineup of mentors includes Ranveer Allahbadia, Papa CJ, Raj Shamani, Prashant Tandon of Tata 1mg to name a few.
Seekho cuts across industry experts, learners and recruiters to create value for the world of work. Today, there is an obvious shift in how GenZ is preparing for their career dreams and also how recruiters wish to hire the right talent. The future of education is very dynamic and personal. The ‘One size fits all’ formula doesn’t work for the next generation and the current education system is not adequate enough to prepare you for the future of work. Seekho’s AI answers critical questions for users like picking the most fitting mentor, choosing an apt study buddy, the pace of learning, and the relevance of online sessions. The technology at Seekho provides learners with a curated learning path that is personalized to their learning needs and style.
The machine learning algorithm identifies ways to achieve career goals for a specific starting point which is defined by parameters as per current resume and assessment results. It also takes pointers from the user’s learning activity both inside and outside of a live classroom to understand their behaviour. At scale, Seekho’s AI will be able to take a user from one career goal to another through a curated learning journey consisting of live classes, assessments, reading material, recorded videos, competitions, workshops and mentorship. “We are very excited with the dynamic nature of this technology as it will automatically tailor for the new skills required in work and working towards a future where the AI will not only suggest a learning path but also a career path which will maximize one’s career satisfaction and earning potential,” shares Ms Divya.
Ms Divya says that five years from now, Seekho wants to disrupt the upskilling space with their innovative subscription model and truly democratise higher education. As a part of this vision, it is imperative to take Indian talent to the world and expose them to emerging and developed global markets. “Since we have attained our PMF, understand the speed and scale required to blitz scale, it is very essential for us to build an outcome-driven platform for millions of job seekers across the globe which not only helps them get a job but also partner with them as they grow in their careers,” she states. In turn, Seekho aims to become the only player in this category to establish a full-stack frictionless corporate hiring solution by connecting three key stakeholders i.e. learners, mentors and corporates on a single platform, a one-stop global brand that makes youth employable by constantly upskilling and staying relevant in this VUCA world.
Ms Divya surely has the spirit of leadership within her. She likes to believe that she is a champion of Seekho as she roots for her team and community. “I have always been a proponent of skilling and wanted to build a skilling-employment platform, which led to the launch of Seekho. The insights I’ve gained can surely bring a positive change at Seekho,” she shares. Ms Divya is an active contributor to policymaking across ministries and Niti Aayog and was also named among India Today’s 50 most powerful change-makers under 50. She has been a social entrepreneur, working relentlessly for the past few years on changing the upskilling landscape of India and democratising higher education.
Ms Divya says, “Being an entrepreneur in India is a challenge in itself. Being a startup entrepreneur is like trying to build a plane while it’s flying. Being a women startup entrepreneur is building this plane while it’s flying while one of its wings has probably caught fire. As a society, we are still struggling to give women their rightful place in the workplace.” She believes COVID-19 has been a great equalizer and normalized that home, as well as life, can co-exist. “My advice to fellow women entrepreneurs trying to make a hole in the sky is to look at both macro and micro-level problems revolving around education and create a sustainable business around them,” shares Ms Divya.