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techTribe Says Referral Job Site Not Working Out, Looking For A Buyer

21 January, 2009

The business model for online recruitment based on referrals is not “working out”, techTribe CEO and Founder Rohit Agarwal admitted in an interview to VCCircle. The company is now exploring options like a strategic partner or a buyer.

San Francisco and New Delhi-based techTribe was founded by serial entrepreneur Rohit Agarwal, in 2006. Before starting techTribes, Agarwal was co-founder and VP of marketing and business development at Webify Solutions, which got acquired by IBM in July 2006. 

The company hoped to make money by becoming a referral job portal. It had received an undisclosed amount of funding from Canaan Partners, US-based Miven Venture Partners and The Entrepreneur Funds in 2007.

“The model for referral recruitment as we had planned is not working out,” said Agarwal. A couple of months ago multiple sources had told VCCircle that the portal was in the market looking for a strategic partner or a buyer. When contacted then, Agarwal denied any such moves, although he admitted that certain strategic development was in the offing.

techTribe had expected online model to help in automating the referrals, which would help in scaling up the business. But referrals continue to be a manual process, and thus making it a less scalabale business. Now techTribe has stopped doing referrals, Agarwal said.

“We are thinking about alternatives and we will figure it out in the next couple of months,” said Agarwal. When asked about the options that techTribe has, Agarwal said they are the ones that any firms will have when faced with such challenges. “You look at a strategic buyer, a strategic partner or you basically say it didn’t work out,” said Agarwal.

techTribe has about half a million users. Its revenues come from companies posting their jobs which subsequently get referred by members on its network. Another revenue stream is from sponsorships of various ‘tribes’. Agarwal said that techTribe has 30-odd major communities, and hundreds of user generated ones. It’s not known how much revenues the company clocks currently.

techTribe is focused on IT/ITES segment with 60% of its members coming from that sector. The hiring in IT/ITES sector has been affected due to a global economic slowdown. Many firms have also started cutting jobs as their projects get shelved and delayed, affecting techTribe’s business.

However, the referral recruitment has advantages such as the quality of employees that firms get through this method is expected to be much higher. Also, referral method can help recruitment of mid- and senior-level positions. But techTribe has not been able to translate this into a scalable business.

The recruitment referral space has seen a number of players in the past couple of years, especially after techTribes was launched. Some of them are Yellojobs, Reffster and Technopax. The fate of these websites remains to be seen. Other such websites which depend on referral revenues are Linkedin and Brijj, while the latter is owned by Infoedge (Naukri).

Agarwal said that there are several lessons to be learned from this episode. He said only mass internet plays can work in India, not niche plays. “Unless it’s a service that is a must have, it doesn’t work in Indian web,” said Agarwal.

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anonymous . 6 years ago

I think we should clap for the company for the honest admission. This is refreshing compared to a lot of other companies with failed business models insisting that their business model is ‘robust’.

Mani . 6 years ago

I used to visit techtribe.com only for networking. yellojobs.com did appeal to me for referring and earning rewards. though my batchmate has made some money through them, i havent been so lucky. reffster.com??? I think they must have closed even before i started… or maybe i am missing something. Idea is brilliant but i think just a few will survive in this field.

Vijay Saxena . 6 years ago

I guess Reffster.com is still alive. Interesting to see their focus has changed from referrals. I have heard their new service is in the stealth mode.

abhishek . 6 years ago

STRONGLY DISAGREE – only mass internet plays can work in India, not niche plays. “Unless it’s a service that is a must have, it doesn’t work in Indian web

blootics . 6 years ago

This site was called the indian linked in. but unfortunately in the deadpool now. why are indian startups having very less success rate ?


Saurabh Bansal . 6 years ago

Well , I am not a pro at discussing these matters but as an IT industry professional, i would recommend techTribe to make its presence feel on ground if thats the case. What more shall i say, my company faces recruitment issues but i believe they have not heard about techtribe. The demand in today’s context is “trust”. It all depends whether techTribe can actually forge alliances and liaisons with companies on ground and live upto their expectations of providing the right talent. Not 100% though I must say. Even companies when going for recruitment themselves do end up having hiring defects.

jassim . 6 years ago

If the fundamentals of the co was based automating the ref process, and they failed to do it technically then that’s the issue they need to solve..the current eco downturn is an issue which will tide over eventually…

Guest . 6 years ago

TechTribe has been on the verge of shutdown since 4-5 months. This is not a new news but only an official acceptance by Mr. Rohit. He must be appreciated for being innovative – yes, some innovations fail some succeed – but all have a crucial learning at the end.

Ramesh . 6 years ago

Being honest is good, but how do they expect to get funding or a partner for a concept they themselves agree won’t work?

Bhushan Gowda . 6 years ago

I work a Manager Recruitments & Talent Aquisition for a Tier 1 product firm ,and also have a good exposure in services firm in the past.I see a huge potential for TECHTRIBE, provided it has to be strategically placed in the Market.

Who is the Contact ,so can provide the solution and look into the Optimistic areas of growing this business.The TECHTRIBE has to REDCARPETED in the Indian market and followed by the rest if this can be taken on priority and given A oppurtunity to Provide the solution and also with the addition integration of Niche areas to generate high level revenue ,also to be the Tier 1 player in the REFERAL recruitment area and others.

I am selfless & doing this for a value additon to support quality & innovation into the Talent Aquisition / Recruitment industry on the whole…

TECHTRIBE can contact me on my Email…

Yuvraj . 6 years ago

Techtribe was a vanilla me too social networking website they had nothing “niche” or unique….recruiting solutions niche is yet to arrive in Indian web-sphere

Yuvraj . 6 years ago

TechTribe was an vortal focussed on sick IT/ITES indstry where recruitments is so commditized. The underlying assumption that users will refer another user to look for job would not have worked. More so IT/ITES is miscule part of recruitment industry on the whole.

pankaj . 6 years ago

the concept is workable definitely but only when there is a strong execution team focussing on getting the right mix of employers and employees.

it doesnt work if u have IBMs on your network and users from medicine or any other unrelated field, and vice versa.

saurabh is right when he says right alliances is critical to the success of such ventures.

my best wishes to techtribe team and hope they have a new plan which can serve the community well.

Co-founder: http://www.clickindia.com/

Buyer Jobs . 6 years ago

Good article Madhav – agree with most of what you’ve said.

Blootics: am I right in thinking that Indian startups have ALWAYS struggled?

Shishir Jain . 6 years ago

Referral as a model for recruiting has been there for quite some time in the offline world and even today, it is most reliable means of sourcing new employees. Whether the model has a revenue earning potential or not is the question.

All the best to techtribe team.

Shishir Jain


techTribe Says Referral Job Site Not Working Out, Looking For A Buyer

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