With more than 875 million users across more than 200 countries, LinkedIn is a household name in the world of professional networking. But as the platform grew, it shifted some focus to becoming another source of consuming and producing content. Now a young startup wants to disrupt that.
Peerlist aims to fill this gap by providing a space for professionals to find and connect with one another based on their expertise and qualifications.
It’s creating a one-stop destination for professionals to showcase their work experiences, education and connect with like-minded individuals in their domain. Users on the platform can integrate work-attribution sites such as GitHub, Dribbble, Substack and Gumroad. They also can get their work experience and education to add an additional layer of authenticity.
The platform uses an individual’s work email to verify their work experience. For verifying educational credentials, users upload their student badge or ID or use their institute’s assigned email ID to get their profiles verified. The startup has plans to verify users’ past work experiences and education by expanding its verification feature over time.
“Because many people have their work distributed on different platforms, and developers and designers and tech professionals often write articles on Substrack and share codes on GitHub, we wanted to allow them to build a profile where they can showcase all their work,” said Akash Bhadange, co-founder and CEO of Peerlist, in an interview.
Profiles with verified details are available for public viewing in resume and work portfolio formats. Users need to sign up if they want to message a user or get their contact information.
Bhadange, a former product and UX designer, founded Peerlist in August 2021 with his wife, Yogini Bende. Bende, who has experience as a front-end developer, oversees the startup’s engineering-related tasks.
Bhadange asserted that Peerlist grew its user base to more than 20,000 people — of which 60% are verified — without any marketing spends. The startup plans to spend some of its fresh funding on marketing. It also aims to expand its engineering team from the existing five-people team for product development — alongside a dedicated marketing and sales team.
Peerlist hopes to amass more than a million users by the end of the year, said Bhadange.
Peerlist’s current user base consists of individuals with experience ranging from early to mid-senior levels. The startup said it is working to make the platform appealing to senior-level professionals.
To appease more users, Peerlist plans to add a feature that will allow individuals to set up custom domains for their profiles.
At present, Peerlist does not have a model to generate revenues. The platform, though, does want to monetize the verified user base by charging companies looking to hire professionals on the basis of their work experience and education.
As it scales, Peerlist has attracted some investment from many industry insiders. The Delaware-registered startup, with an office in Pune, said it has raised $1.1 million in a seed funding round led by HubSpot co-founder and CTO Dharmesh Shah.
Other participating investors include Plotch.ai founder and chief executive Manoj Gupta, Moonfrog co-founder and CTO Kumar Puspesh, Dukaan co-founder and CEO Suumit Shah and entrepreneur and angel investor Mohan Rao.
The startup plans to deploy the funds to add scores of additional features. One will allow companies to showcase their branding and tech stack on the platform. According to Bhadange, professionals using those profiles will be able to find more details about a firm’s founders and other team members and also see their contributions, such as in writing on blogs or code contributions displayed on GitHub. This will give the professionals a deeper understanding of the company’s culture and technical capabilities and help them make more informed decisions about job opportunities, he said.
Additionally, Peerlist has plans to help angel investors get their investment history in startups verified on the platform, making it easier for professionals to connect with and secure funding from these investors. Bhadange said that this particular development was currently at an ideation stage but had the potential to add tremendous value.
“The world is ready for some innovation when it comes to online professional networks,” said HubSpot’s Shah, in a statement. “Peerlist is taking on this challenge with a product built for modern times that feels like a breath of fresh air. I invested because this is the need of the hour for this industry, and timing is perfect for such disruption.”
Before the all-equity seed funding, Peerlist had raised a small angel funding of $25,000 from ModernLoop engineer head Vishwesh Jirgale and Postman product engineering head Akshay Deo in October 2021.