When it comes to finding career opportunities, one of the biggest challenges is to know the right place to find them. In today’s world, personal connections and influences play a big role in getting the right role for career advancement. According to Linkedin’s global survey, 70% of participants claim to be hired at a company where they had a connection.
However, for many people, building a professional network is not an easy task and is often limited to various restraints. A solution to this problem has come in the form of digital professional networking platforms that enable users to build connections outside of their location and domain. In recent times, people’s reliance on such platforms to build connections is also increasing. According to the same Linkedin survey, almost 80% of people consider professional networking to be important to career success.
However, a new problem has surfaced with these platforms. Most of these platforms tend to be cluttered and have minimal moderation. As a result, the functionality of the platform gets diluted to social networking and the quality of interactions gets affected in the process.
Ragini Das and Anand Sinha sensed an opportunity in this space and founded leap.club, a social-professional network for women in May 2020. The Gururgram-based startup is a members-only platform that helps members discover, interact with new people and build a solid professional network through social and professional interactions.
The network’s onboarding process emphasises extensively on quality as the startup places multiple checks and balances in place to ensure that the members are vetted before joining the platform. At present, the subscription fee is INR 900 a month. The platform also has a waitlist of over 8,000 women waiting to join.
Currently, the network has 1,700 members from over 12 countries representing talent from companies such as Google, Amazon, Bain & Co, American Express, Zomato and Unilever. The startup’s member base comprises both young and experienced professionals across industries such as finance, social impact, law and FMCG. The network also has entrepreneurs, who currently account for 20% of the members.
“At leap.club we are building a platform to enable professional and social interactions without the clutter of existing networks. We believe that users are now moving towards trusted platforms to interact with new, relevant people and that’s exactly what we’re building at leap.club. We are now all set to amp up our member base and will build many product rails to enable these interactions,” said Das.
Redefining The Professional Network
As a relatively new platform, leap.club has to deal with typical challenges that come with the social media territory. Its success depends on three key metrics — a growing number of users, professional value-addition through quality content and user engagement.
At leap.club, women join the network in cohorts every month. In fact, anyone who is willing to invest her time on her own professional growth joins the waitlist, undergoes a screening call to check fit and fills out a detailed questionnaire to become a member.
leap.club started with a cohort size of 30 in May 2020, but within a year, it onboarded the biggest cohort of 302 members in April 2021. This measured approach has enabled it to onboard a steady and moderated stream of new users.
These measures have helped the platform achieve 81.3% monthly active users or MAU (calculated through the percentage of members coming online for a certain period every month). The startup also claims that the average time a member spends on the platform is 50 mins a day. In contrast, LinkedIn clocks 40.4% MAU.
Finally, the most crucial hurdle for building a strong community is engagement. Broadly speaking, such engagement evolves around providing relevant and useful features, tools or resources to users. Without innovative and engaging features, a platform quickly turns mundane, and members lose their motivation to participate. No one wants to develop another Google+ that had more than 200 Mn users, but shut shop in 2019 due to a lack of differentiation.
To avoid such a situation, leap.club offers one-on-one connections for business networking and partnership opportunities, social interaction tools like interest-based groups and micro-communities, upskilling tools like industry-specific masterclasses and professional coaching. Based on these activities, the startup claims to have a retention rate of 92%.
“Our focus has always been on quality engagement and high retention. By providing women with a space to learn, grow and communicate with other women who have similar experiences, we can definitely create an impact and are well on our way to doing that,” added Das.
A Leap Towards The Future
leap.club is just one year old, but the startup has ambitious plans to expand in terms of geographies and reach 100k members in the coming year. The startup boasts of the best talent and is now gearing up to launch a jobs platform. It plans to partner with companies to provide a platform for them to hire talent from the startup’s member base.
“We have a bold mission of building a tech-first social professional network that bridges the existing gender gap in the professional setting. We’re building in India, for the world with the aim of encouraging women to invest in their professional growth and providing them with the tools to make it happen,” said Sinha.
Intending to level the playing field in the professional sphere and provide more opportunities for women, Das believes there must be more players in this space. After all, more platforms like leap.club will help drive a change for women everywhere.