QUEEN’S ROAD:One of the largest platforms in India for companies looking for developers and vice versa, HackerEarth has grown from an idea between two friends to a disruptive company that employs 27 people. They started out in 2012 as a developer community providing a recruitment platform, and have now launched a tool that automates the hackathon process, covering everything from creating teams to online collaboration. Called HackerSprint, the software program also helps showcase products and track progress on projects. It enables peer review and voting as well.
“The motivation to start HackerEarth dates back to our college days. We were sitting for our campus placement interviews and one of our friends, who was among the best students in the class, was not hired by any of the top companies. This came as a shock to us,” says Sachin Gupta, co-founder and CEO, HackerEarth.
They realised that the problem was with the evaluation, and not with the candidate. With a lack of objectivity, pedigree and work experience are mistaken for skills. "Motivated by this incident, we decided to build a system that is completely merit-based and democratises the process of technical hiring," Gupta told City Express.
Gupta and Vivek Prakash, the other co-founder, are both IIT-Roorkee graduates, and have interned and worked with the likes of Microsoft and Google. They consider themselves "hardcore programmers". When they decided to set up HackerEarth, Bengaluru was their first choice. “Our customers are tech companies and Bengaluru is, without a doubt, the technology hub of India. But it is not just limited to that. The city also has one of the most vibrant ecosystems in India and we just had to be here if we wanted to build a global company,” says Prakash.
Explaining the IT sector and the problems it faces with hiring, Sachin quotes a recent report from Monster.com. “IT and ITES have seen around 33 per cent and 31 per cent growth in 2014 as compared to last year. With this, the industry is also undergoing a paradigm shift in technical hiring methodologies. It is becoming more skill-based and objective rather than based on pedigree. One of the major instruments enabling this change is the increasing popularity of Hackathons as an effective recruitment tool,” he says.
Niche skill hiring is becoming one of the toughest challenges that these IT companies are facing and HackerEarth says it goes to the heart of the problem by providing exciting Hackathon challenges.
How HackerEarth works
When a developer signs up on HackerEarth, they have to create a profile. He or she then gets to participate in challenges to either win prizes or receive job offers from tech companies. Every developer on HackerEarth’s community is ranked and scored by its ranking system. The ranking system uses the following tools to identify a developer’s skill-sets:
Online Hackathons - Programmers from around the world participate in online Hackathons. They compete against each other and get ranked based on their coding abilities.
Developer profile - HackerEarth uses its proprietary algorithm to assess a programmer’s skill set by analysing their publicly available coding data from sources such as Github and Stack Overflow. Combined with a candidate’s work experience and education history, it provides a measure of candidate’s proficiency to the recruiter.
The HackerEarth duo list out some of their key learnings from running HackerEarth
1. Hiring right people is the key - From the very first day, the biggest challenge is to hire the right people. As the company starts scaling, you realise that more and more work starts to be delegated to people outside the core founding team, and you need to hire people who are as zealous about the work as you are. It’s fairly easy to create a good culture when there are only five people in the team, but the real challenge comes when you scale beyond.
2. Setting goals and being metrics-driven - Start-ups by their very definition are chaotic. Things are highly unpredictable and the course of the company changes on a daily basis. Amidst all this chaos and dynamic state of affairs, it’s highly imperative to have a set of short term and long terms goals, and to consistently measure the overall progress against the targets that are set.
3. Thinking big - The toughest challenge is to think big at every stage of the company. It’s very easy to become complacent after you raise your big round of funding, or you start hitting a steady monthly revenue but what’s important is to constantly break out of your comfort zone and do things that scales the organisation, even if it means doing things that are uncomfortable.