Twenty19 started out as a noble cause, an initiative called “Deepam” which provided students with lesser means, access to IT skills and English. In time, Karthikeyan Vijayakumar, the founder of Twenty19, expanded Deepam into a portal for students to obtain internships and for companies to scope out their future employees; which was Twenty19, started in 2009. This Chennai-based company is now responsible for many students’ internships and many companies’ time-saving as it has not only reduced the time and energy spent in internship-hunting on the students side, it has also reduced the time and energy put in by the companies into choosing the right interns. It has let many students from across India and not just the big cities bag internships.
Before starting Twenty19, Karthikeyan Vijayakumar started a business consulting firm along with his friend called Exedos in 2007. Within a short span of time but a lot of effort, they had clients comprising of Fortune 500 companies and were making revenue of USD 150, 000 in the first year itself. An alumnus of BITS-Pilani, his NGO “Deepam” that he co-founded is still going strong. The idea for Deepam came to him when he was passing a government school in 2008 and saw children playing and wondered if they could have the same opportunities as others if given the skill-set required.
Karthikeyan was definitely not new to the world of entrepreneurs and start-ups as we can see but one would expect a fall sometime, however Twenty19 has gone onto become quite successful as indicated by their stats of 2014, which show that their user base has more than doubled in the last four years with no external funding and is also supposed to be in profits!
The continuing rise of Twenty19
For most of 2008, Karthikeyan hung around the various college campuses talking to students about their needs and requirements. In 2009, after a lot of research and the savings worth INR 400, 000 that he had amassed from his previous business venture, he started Twenty19. The name’s reason was the age group of the students when they usually start looking out for internships.
The business and revenue model in place was very simple with students having to register online and list out their interests and the industry they wished to work in, as well as their preferences. There was a quiz tool they had to use to let companies find their best relevant match, which saved almost 80% of time.
In the first six months itself, 300 companies and more than 5000 students registered in Twenty19. As Twenty19’s business model was a SaaS model (Software as a Service) model there was a very low chance of failing and a high chance of success because they charged for their service.
This didn’t mean that students had to pay. It was absolutely free for students with them only requiring registering on the portal whereas companies had to pay for the quiz challenge tool they used. Companies were charged anywhere between INR 2000 to INR 9000 depending upon their requirements.
- Twenty19 continued to spell success with a capital ‘S’ when within two years their expected user base grew to 180% and included 3000 companies and more than 1.5 lakh students from all over India. Their revenues rose up to a whopping 150%.
- In the beginning only 10% of companies provided stipends to their interns but with the companies witnessing the growing quality of their interns more of them have come forth with stipends coming up to INR 5000. The opportunities for internships that got listed on the site usually came from the media companies, technology sector, content writing sector, ad companies, services, NGOs etc.
- Due to the rising demand and supply, especially for internships and interns, Twenty19 grew to a massive user base of 5400 companies and around 1.8 lakh students from all over India, including remote areas and small villages. It also expanded to overseas students who wanted to work in the emerging economy of India.
- By 2014, over 5900 companies were using Twenty19 to hire interns with a few of them being Flipkart, Biocon, InMobi etc. Every month nearly 300,000 to half-a-million students use Twenty19 to get internships and it is estimated to cross 1 million by 2015 with revenues reaching a whopping INR 60 crores.
Now students from over 8000 colleges use Twenty19 for finding internships and over 8000 companies use Twenty19 to provide these students with internships.
Internshala and LetsIntern are the only competition Twenty19 is facing. However when we look at the statisticss, we can see that 25-30% of students have registered with Twenty19, 10% with Internshala and 20% with LetsIntern which indicate the winner.
Joint venture and other investments:
FoodPanda joined hands with Twenty19 recently for a scholarship campaign.