HackerEarth Raises $500K To Help Startups Find Great Programmers

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HackerEarth, a Bangalore-based startup that helps other startups hire programmers through technical challenges, has raised $500,000 in seed funding from Angelprime incubator.

Launched in late 2012 by former Google engineer Sachin Gupta and his IIT batch mate Vivek Prakash, HackerEarth helps India’s growth-stage startups find technical talent they so desperately need. Unlike in the Silicon Valley, where many engineers still find it more lucrative to work for a hot startup than an IBM, or even a Microsoft, Indian startups have to fight perception battles and work harder to attract engineers who mostly prefer to work with more stable, bigger tech companies.

HackerEarth is like a GItHub, except that it’s not only about the Open Source projects.

“For developers, LinkedIn profiles does not matter as much as a platform where they can showcase their work, and GitHub is mostly about Open Source projects,” Gupta told TechCrunch.

Recently, one of the fastest growing Indian startups, InMobi, was looking to hire a Python and Ruby programmer urgently. HackerEarth helped it find one programmer in Taiwan. The startup now wants to tap into Eastern Europe and other Asian markets. 

“Back in 2008, Java was hot around here. But now, many newer startups are looking to hire programmers who know Ruby, Python and even HTML in Javascript for front-end applications,” said Gupta.

With almost three million engineers currently employed in India’s over $100 billion technology sector, around one million software coders and programmers are added every year. Clearly, the supply is not the challenge, at least not for the country’s biggest software outsourcing powerhouses such as Infosys and TCS who still hire thousands of engineers and non-engineers every year to perform commoditized application development.

And it’s not just the startups looking to hire programmers who are not just Java developers. Many bigger companies scrambling to get high-paying software projects from WalMart and Citi are beginning to hunt for such talent.

Startups such as Practo, which develops online clinic management software, find it even more tough to hire programmers they really want.

“Finding a good developer is like looking for a needle in a haystack”, Sri Karthik Sayana, talent acquisition at Practo said in a statement. “By using HackerEarth, we have experienced greater than 80% fit between the candidates identified by the platform and the ones we offered a role at our company”.

As we wrote in April last year, HackerEarth is able to help startups do real-time evaluation through its online engine.

HackerEarth competes with YC alum InterviewStreet, apart from several others in the recruitment space. But the startup says its obsessive focus on finding the right technical talent is a differentiator.

“We will be spending more on sales and big data matching engine,” said Gupta. HackerEarth was part of the GSF Accelerator’s first batch. GSF SuperAngels has also participated in the latest funding round.

Unlike traditional recruiters, the startup evaluates programmers on some of the very basic parameters including the computing memory footprint and quality of code. All this is achieved by holding programming challenges. In one such recent challenge, HackerEarth heaped InMobi hire around half a dozen programmers in one day, a process that could have taken at least a week.

With the latest seed round, HackerEarth joins a small, but growing alumni of startups incubated by Angelprime. Backed by Mayfield, Jerry Yang and Chamath Palihapitiya’s Social+Capital Partnership among several Silicon Valley investors, Angelprime was launched in June 2011.

As I wrote recently, India’s accelerator ecosystem is facing some harsh realities, and many of them are beginning to work with late-stage startups without Y Combinator-like batches. For its part, Angelprime has always been focused on investing in fewer, but focused startups that have the potential to scale and become $10 million companies in three years. Since it was launched three years ago, Angelprime has incubated four companies — ZipDial, Ezetap, SmartOwner, and now HackerEarth.