In 2011, Lant Pritchett of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government made a bitter but true statement on the state of skill education in India:
“Crude calculations are that India produce about 100,000 students a year in the global top 10 per cent. People are then reluctant to believe that the same economy is also churning out millions with zero skills.”
The situation becomes quite worse when we talk about technical graduates in the IT space. Every year, around 5 Mn fresh engineering graduates are added to India’s talent pool. However, according to Aspiring Minds National Employability Report, 80% of engineering graduates are unemployable, as corporates do not find the necessary skill and talent for the job.
In order to bridge this gap, the founders of DoSelect – a collaborative and technology independent hiring tool for companies to hire the right kind of talent – came up with the idea to launch ‘Doselect For Developers’. Launched recently in mid-August, it aims to make developers, students, and learners be industry ready.
Based in Bengaluru, this marks the foray of ex-InMobi and NIT Jamshedpur graduates – Iliyas Shirol, Rohit Tirkey, and Sanket Saurav’s startup – in the B2C segment.
What Is Different At DoSelect For Developers?
The platform provides existing and budding developers a place to solve interesting problems on over 25 programming languages and domains like APIs, data sciences, Machine Learning, etc.
The content recommendation engine and DoSelect developer profile are two unique features which add value to the users. As Rohit explains, content recommendation engine learns from the users’ activities on DoSelect and other platforms like Github and StackOverflow and recommends them problems that help them level up.
It also allows users to showcase their open-source and community activity on the DoSelect developer profiles. A user can show his/ her skills – backed by actual, empirical data in these profiles. The developer profile has two important parts – technology proficiency and activity.
When a user connects his Github and StackOverflow accounts with DoSelect, the portal gets his public activity data from both these sources, crunches it and shows meaningful, actionable information in terms of what the user is good at and what he’s been active at.
“This will be a huge value-add for students, who can not explore much knowledge other than the curriculum as well as for developers who are looking to upgrade their skills. The goal is to enable everyone in India to be industry-ready and find better jobs,” said Rohit.
When asked if this is another elearning platform, Rohit replies, “This is different from elearning as we are not giving any course material here. The learning card defined here is altogether different. In a lot of elearning platforms, there is just a step-by-step guide. So if you opt for a course you have to complete all modules, here you don’t have to pass through that long learning curve. You can just learn by doing, because when you are confident in any programming language at a point of growth, you don’t know what else can be done.”
Competition, Challenges And Near-Future Plans
DoSelect for developers competes directly with platforms like HackerRank and CodeChef.
HackerRank is a technical talent platform used by programmers to hone their coding skills and by companies to streamline their recruiting process. It has to date raised over $19 Mn from investors such as Khosla Ventures, Battery Ventures, Start Fund, SV Angel, ZenShin Capital, and HR Technology fund.
CodeChef, on the other hand, is a non-profit educational initiative of Directi. It is a global competitive programming platform which supports over 50 programming languages. It organises a programming competition SnackDown which pits programmers from schools colleges, and organisations against each other on a global platform.
Iliyas, however, believes that DoSelect’s platform is inherently different from the competition as they are not only focussed on algorithmic programming problems but on application-based skills. Unlike any other platform, the evaluation engine supports full network and superuser access, making interesting problems like API-based challenges possible. “Our strategy is to keep creating engaging and interesting content that helps developers practice and get better on skills that are closer to industry demands,” he added.
Also, according to Sanket, content generation has been a very big challenge since it requires quality problems on various domains to harness the full power of the platform.
As he says, “We have built a strong community of content creators that are helping us beat this. Our upcoming challenges are to penetrate Indian developer communities at scale, and get everyone who is learning to code on DoSelect.”
Currently, working with a team of 12, it is further targetting to reach a million developers on DoSelect in the next six months. Also, they are working on a few innovative marketing strategies to reach out to developers in engineering colleges in the country. On the B2B side, they are also working on a few interesting things to make the assessment experience even easier for teams, and support for Android assessments.
Statistically, product startups are expected to produce 300K jobs by 2020, with the software market being valued at $146 Bn, growing 12-14% YoY as per a Nasscom report. According to the India Mobile Talent 2016 Report, India’s tech boom has increased the demand for developers, especially in the mobile segment. Also, as Indian companies actively adopt Machine Learning and analytical data discovery solutions, Business Intelligence (BI) software revenue in India is expected to reach $213.8 Mn in 2016, as revealed by Gartner in a recent report.
With a predicted 4.6 Bn unique subscribers by 2020, the mobile economy is growing exponentially. On the other hand, the talent pool hasn’t really caught up to meet this demand. While platforms like Doselect, CodeChef, HackerRank are doing their bit, a complete transformation from the current theory-based curriculum to a practical one is definitely the need of hour.
As Priti Sawant, CEO of JoulesToWatts puts it,
“The industry is looking for people with an optimum blend of technical know-how and soft skills, has the ability to solve problems with a high level of efficiency and creativity. The candidate has to be a great team player. Yes, an engineer has to upgrade his skills from time to time. They have to work on improving their interpersonal skills, people management skills and above all, should have the zeal to learn new technologies.”