Shine.com, the Job portal from HT Media’s Firefly eVentures, has announced that they’ve crossed the 1 million registered users mark. These are tough times in the job portal business – ClickJobs- is looking for a strategic partner, and was in talks with Reliance for an exit; Cybermedia sold its resume database to TimesJobs. MediaNama spoke to Amit Garg, Business Head of Firefly e-Ventures on a number of topics – the sales cycle, the impact of the downturn, advertising spends, and debated their pricing strategy:

What is your “Active” userbase, as opposed to a registered user base?
We have a different way of looking at the userbase. People don’t have to come back to search for a job. They will get an automatic alert in case of relevant jobs. Crossing 1 million is encouraging for us especially since our registration process is long and we’re capturing a lot of data. Our technology works on structured capturing of the data – work experience, skill sets, education, preferences etc, and the form is almost 5 pages long.

Userbase and Clients

How many jobs do you have on the site, and what is your client base?
We have over 5000 jobs on the site, and around 2000 plus customers. These are split across IT, Infrastructure and Retail, and it mirrors the market.
You made a claim that “Shine has a high proportion of qualified candidates who are not available on other job sites.” How do you know?
Comscore gives you certain data – that more than 20 percent of our users are not there on other sites. Those are users unique to our site
Comscore doesn’t have access to unique registered users on other job sites…
I’ll have to check up on that. But even in the demonstrations we’ve done, often we throw up candidates that are not there in other sites. One of the things that we offer is anonymity. People who choose to remain anonymous, are often those with at a very senior level. Update: Garg has confirmed that Comscore gives them unique visitors and not registrations.

Sales

Out of the over 5000 listings, how many are paid?
A substantial amount. We only offer 1-2 postings as a demo.
And how many people are there in your sales team?
We have over 100 people, spread across seven locations.
What is the sales cycle in this industry like?
It differs – corporates, at times, take a long time. It could take 15-20 days to 1-2 months to crack a corporate account. Recruitment consultants have 1-2 decision makers, so its much faster with them. Consultants can be closed within 1-2 visits.
Where do you see a gap in the market?
The gap is there in terms of the existing set of customers getting a differentiated product. The fact is that recruitment consultants form a huge bulk of the market, and we have to serve that segment very very well.
But they’re already using Monster or Naukri. How do you approach them? What’s the conversion rate?
We had given a free trial period, and now we’re reaching out to them to convert them to paid accounts. I can’t talk about the conversation rate. The ability to get relevant candidates is significantly higher with us, and that’s what we’ve pitched.
The other sites rely on giving access to resumes – that’s more information than you are giving access to…
We don’t allow access to resumes, but I wouldn’t agree with the notion that they’re giving access to more information. We have a system which scans the database, and gives all relevant candidates. Also, they are alerted about new registrants who match requirements.

More on Advertising, Acquisitions and Gargs thoughts on Pricing, particularly on a price war:

Pricing

What is the thought process behind how you’re pricing your offerings?
Pricing is determined both by how our organization thinks, and the market dynamics. Most of the recruiters are using Naukri and Monster. If I go to them and seek certain investment, then I should be able to give that return on investment. That’s the test. We’re not in the price cutting domain, but our product is also not comparable with others.
But the needs of the recruiters are the same, right? If he feels that his needs are being satisfied by your competitiors, how do you break that mindset? Are you pricing it higher, on par or lower?
That’s the challenge of sales. What I understand is that pricing varies for all players. We’re not tagging ourselves as a discount brand, and for the time being, we’re not pricing at a premium either.
Are you giving combo offers with the print property?
It’s not a combo offer, but the corporate sales team carries both product briefs. We’re trying to see if there is a need, especially at a corporate level. This is driven more by recruitment needs.
Right now the market has seen a downturn. Would this be the time to break the market open with a price war by reducing a companys cost of recruitment?
We’re in this for the long term. We’re not impacted by the downturn and the impact on the market leaders would be much higher. I have smaller numbers, and am not trying to protect a base. For me, everything that I get is a gain. About the price war, what a recruiter is interested in is doing an ROI on his recruitment. As long as I can promise and deliver on that, and demonstrate a differentiated product which helps the recruiter do his job more efficiently…Recruiters will not buy something that doesn’t deliver. You can only get a first time entry by reducing the price. The products have a fairly short cycle of reselling – 3 to 6 months, within which they have to be re-signed. Our pricing is not prohibitive enough for him not to try it. By reducing the pricing, I will only impact the industry.

Advertising Spends

How much have you spend on advertising? The average cost per acquisition?
I can’t comment on those numbers, but the cost per acquisition is within our plans. It’s also too early to talk about the advertising split between TV, Print and online – there can more inputs there by the end of the year. But the advertising has had an impact – June, July and August have been very heavy in terms of registrations – at one point in time it was three times numbers in May. Now it’s settled at double of that.
What are your daily acquisitions from the online marketing spends?
We can’t talk about those numbers. Shine is a very young brand and it needs salience and top-of-mind recollection both with recruiters and applicants. I need to get my promise across to people – they should know what Shine stands for. So TV spends were a combination of both – for acquisition and brand building.

Acquisitions

Are you looking at any acquisitions? Clickjobs was in talks with Reliance…
Our offering is different – the structure of our site is different, and picking up a ready database doesn’t help us. We’re trying to build a product on a differentiated platform. At this point in time, I don’t see any acquisitions. In a marketplace you have to win on your own strengths, and servicing to your own customers. That’s the basis on which we’ll have to fight it out in the market.

Disclosure: I own an inconsequential number of shares of Info Edge, which competes with Shine.com