From their experience as students of IIT-Roorkee, then Computer Science students Sachin Gupta and Vivek Prakash, saw that campus placements at IIT-Roorkee always threw up a lot of surprises. Batch toppers who were expected to land great jobs would find it difficult to get placed, because of the skewed evaluation process that many companies followed. The interviews would mostly be subjective and theory based, using outdated assessment tools that did not look at candidates objectively. Companies were clearly losing out on talented candidates this way. It was this situation that spurred the duo to build a system that is completely merit based and democratises the process of technical hiring.
By October 2012, Gupta quit Google, a job he had taken up right after college and started HackerEarth with Prakash, who was in the final-year of his dual degree programme then. The company was virtually born in their college dorm. Sachin explains, “Being developers ourselves, we saw a disconnect between the skill sets of a person and the job they ended up with. We felt the recruitment process of IT companies was fundamentally wrong, where the selection process was based on non-quantifiable parameters like pedigree, and where years of experience mattered. We strongly believe that the most accurate method of assessment should be skill-based instead. Finding and on-boarding top talent in a fragmented community is tough and time consuming. HackerEarth is a catalysing agent and vastly improves the quality and speed with which developer hires are made.” On-boarding refers to induction training and getting into billing roles in the company — this takes up to six months in India. In countries like Sri Lanka, freshers are put on to projects in a few weeks time.
HackerEarth’s community of developers solve problems, learn programming concepts, and compete in coding challenges, thus building their ‘hacker’ profiles on the platform. Recruiters can quickly identify candidates and assess them using skill-based tests. Prices range from `125 to `175 per test, based on the modules selected, which include plagiarism detection, access to question banks, code player, detailed candidate reports and email support. HackerEarth works with over 1,000 companies in India, including Adobe, Amazon, Commonfloor, Flipkart, FreshDesk, Inmobi, Lenskart, McAfee, Pearson, Practo, Symantec, Target and Thoughtworks. They plan to go international very soon.
Sachin says, “I chose to focus on technical hiring because it is one of the biggest challenges faced by the tech industry today. My short stint at Google taught me the importance of thinking big right from the beginning. I learnt to build systems that could be scaled, collaborate in teams and look at different aspects of product development. People naturally have an entrepreneurial flair and are always looking for the right problem to solve.”
HackerEarth represented India in the finals of the Seedstars World 2014 event (a global startup competition) held at Switzerland. They have also been selected as part of the first batch of GSF Accelerator, and have won the IIT Bombay business plan competition in the past. Accelerators take in companies and work with the management to provide resources required for them to scale up — seed funding, office space, mentors, software licenses and other resources.
Born and brought up in Saharanpur, Gupta is a fitness freak. He keeps at least an hour every day for physical activity, either at the gym or by playing some game. IIT Roorkee provided him a very motivating peer group, where students had played sports up to the national level. Sports contribute significantly to his personality, making him sharper and more productive, he says. Gupta believes there is no substitute for persistence and hard work to be successful in life.
More details about the company at www.hackerearth.com.