We are publishing an interview of Mr. Ujwal Surampalli, Founder of InterviewBuddy. He is a student entrepreneur pursuing his masters in Germany. He took a sabbatical from his studies and founded this startup.
How this idea struck you?
I graduated from Andhra University College of Engineering. The idea of InterviewBuddy struck me when I first attended my campus recruitment interview with Wipro. My interviewer was pretty impressed with my profile and the way I performed in all the previous rounds. He made me sit beside him and he interviewed my fellow batch mates. It was when I first realized that not everyone is confident about facing interviews and I saw my batch mates falter at answering even the basic questions. Till then, I was of the opinion that all my batch mates were superior in almost everything given that all of my batchmates were the top rankers of the statewide engineering test (EAMCET conducted by the Government of Andhra Pradesh). This first hand encounter laid the foundation for InterviewBuddy. Later, I realised that this is the case globally during my M.Sc. in Germany which pushed me to start up..
What is the problem you are trying to solve? Can you share with us any insights that led you to believe that this is a big enough problem?
The term – ‘Mock Interview’ is overused & undervalued by students & job changers without realising the importance it plays in achieving one’s dream job.
Without preparation or getting to know first-hand what to expect in an interview room, the candidate is destined to failure. If a candidate cannot showcase his skills to his potential employer, possessing all those scores/grades & knowledge is futile.
InterviewBuddy simplifies the process of mock interviewing with credible & highly experienced industry resources to practice with. To ensure the quality of the sessions, InterviewBuddy rigorously screens experts and only allows the best of the best to join up.
What is the uniqueness about your Startup?
InterviewBuddy™ offers virtual face-to-face mock interviews with industry experts. Students & job seekers can connect with industry experts anytime, on-demand to prepare and practice interviewing in an environment that simulates a real-life job interview but without the pressure of a job on the line, right from their browsers without any additional plugins/downloads.
The candidate has the option to choose the type of interview (HR or Technical). The expert does an in-depth analysis of the candidate’s profile before the start of the session to tailor the session. Apart from the resume and online profile, we’ve introduced a feature called ‘Video Introduction’ which is an async video where the candidate responds to simple questions displayed on the screen. These responses better help in analysing the candidate’s overall outlook and then tailoring the interview accordingly.
The mock interview session is followed by the expert giving his feedback on the candidate’s performance. Later, the candidate is sent an Interview Scorecard with the metrics of his performance and tips on how to work upon his weaker areas. The entire session gets auto-recorded which is made available post the session so that the candidate can playback his/her entire interview and further work on their body language, language skills, etc. Finally, we’ve a huge resource of curated & handcrafted articles on interview etiquette and of sorts for the candidates to prime up with their preparation.
What is the revenue model? What is the logic behind it? What is the model you are following – Free / Freemium / Premium etc. ? Explain your thought process.
We’ve three pricing options:
UNO – ₹1099 for one interview session
DUO – ₹1899 for two interview sessions
TRIO – ₹2399 for three interview sessions
This pricing is valid for both HR & Technical interviews for students and job seekers/changers with 0-2 years of experience. We’ve a custom offering for Specialized interviews wherein the customer posts his request for specific domains (bigdata, SAP, pharma, hadoop, RBI economic policies, machine learning, etc).
We run monthly contests where we giveaway about 20 expert driven practice interviews for free. We also offer free sessions to students from poor economic background. We recently have offered free sessions to about 40 students from IIIT Nuzvid.
Who are the consumers that you are targeting? How is this going to affect them?
Students, recent grads – helps them be better prepared for their first job. Starting your first job at your preferred company and preferred role helps take-off your career to new heights. It’s best to invest in yourself now rather than spending months together trying to get a job.
Job changers – Professionals with some years of experience who are aiming for higher roles and better companies. These roles have a lot to with behavioural based situations that determine the suitability of the candidate for the role & the company culture. These niche interviews guide them to be better prepared for their new senior roles.
What is the big picture of your startup? Will it lead to something bigger? If so, how?
Apart from the current B2C offering, we’re working on an intelligent video recruitment software for corporates that incorporates artificial intelligence to determine the suitability of the candidate. The bot based setup would automate scheduling and the communication that need to shared with the candidate and within the hiring team.
We recently have been shortlisted by the Government of Andhra Pradesh for their massive skill development initiatives.
With our solution, we aim to become a trusted source for pre-screening domain specific candidates for companies and also help candidates be better prepared for interviews.
What is the success story of your startup in your own words?
Being a student, getting taken seriously was the first big hurdle. First, setting up a stellar team was an issue. Next, getting top-notch industry experts was a big deal. Worked really hard setting up appointments and asking for references from known and unknown contacts. LinkedIn happens to be great source to overcome the first barrier. Next, it is up to us an individuals to be able to communicate your idea and thoughts and convince the listener. It might take at least 2-3 meetings and several emails and phone calls to get the right person onboard. Rejection is most prevalent but I guess we shouldn’t stop. Assume that out of 10 meetings, only 2 or 3 would be fruitful and being an entrepreneur I’ve accepted this fact early as It’d help better focus on the things around rather than the failures.
Any other information about your startup that you would like to share with us.
Sure. Here are some interesting facts:
– Featured in the top 10 on Product Hunt (Oct 30, 2017)
– We were one of the Top 66 startups to pitch & present at the RISE Conf in Hong Kong out of 18K+ global applications
– We’re incubated in the NASSCOM 10K Startup Warehouse, Vizag.
– We are selected by the government of Andhra Pradesh for their massive skill development initiatives.
– We’re the only South Indian startup to get selected to present at the TNW Conference in Amsterdam.
– We’re a recognised startup by DIPP under Startup India initiative
– Awarded Bronze at the International Innovation Fair
– Featured in the top 10 things disrupting the industry by Recruiter, UK
Visit our website interviewbuddy.in to know more.
Thanks Ujwal. Best of luck!