Sequoia India leads $15 million round in HR-tech startup Darwinbox

Sequoia Capital India has led a $15-million round in Darwinbox, a human resources (HR)-tech start-up that focuses on the Asia market. The series B round also saw participation from the company's existing investors Lightspeed India Partners, Endiya Partners and 3one4 Capital.

The deal marks a growing interest in the HR-tech platforms that are replacing age-old systems from employee management to hiring and reimbursement management, a space that now has over a dozen players. Sequoia is also an investor in Belong, a recruitment platform.

“Recruiting, retaining and upskilling talent is a top priority of every company today,” said Harshjit Sethi, Principal, Sequoia. “Darwinbox is the clear emerging leader in the fast-growing cloud-based HR management software space in Asia,”  he said.

Darwinbox was started by former consultants Jayant Paleti, Rohit Chennamaneni and Chaitanya Peddi in 2015 and is headquartered in Hyderabad. The company exclusively focuses on enterprise clients, through offices in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Singapore and Indonesia. 

The new investment, which follows a $4-million series A deal in 2017, will be used for business development in South East Asia, investment in product and technology and hiring across all functions, said co-founder Paleti over a telephonic interview. 

What makes the company stand out is that the platform is deeply integrated with other core functions like finance and customer management allowing companies access to advanced analytics and granular information on workforce, expenses and organizational workflow. Darwinbox currently has 200 enterprise clients including Arvind, Adani, Mahindra, Kotak, GVK group companies, Bharti AXA, Swiggy, Paytm, and Times Internet.

SAP Success Factor and Oracle Fusion are competing platforms.

“Our product focus is on solving the challenges of people function in large and diverse organizations with complex structures using the best of technologies while providing stellar user experience through intuitive and interactive interfaces,” said Peddi, co-founder and head product development and engineering.

The advanced tech back-end allows companies many capabilities. For instance, the recruiting module ranks top applications from a pool of thousands and schedule interviews, saving a lot of time for HR representatives. For talent management, it is able to measure an employee’s performance continuously over the year. “Also, we are the only Indian company with a module for succession planning,” said Paleti.

“We will invest heavily in further strengthening our platform, especially our analytical layer with AI and ML capabilities to aid decision making.” said Peddi.

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