Hotmail founder toys with TikTok model for job seekers, startups

Years after selling one of the world’s best-known email platforms to Microsoft for $400 million, Hotmail co-founder Sabeer Bhatia has announced a new venture, Showreel.

The new app seeks to use the short video format, popularized by TikTok to connect job seekers with employers, entrepreneurs with venture capitalists, and even patients with perhaps even grooms and brides. It urges users to create a video resume of sorts, and aims to create a community of users that can communicate with each other, react to their video profiles, and use these videos to reach out to users.

In a chat with Mint, Bhatia said the idea for such an app in India comes from the inability of a large section of the youth to properly market their ideas. “Even though the youth in India are smart and have great skills, they need a better structure to be able to sell their ideas. Showreel puts that into a structure – be it for a startup pitch or a matrimony offer.”

The app presently houses four categories – professional, startups, personal and leadership. Each section has a set number of questions that are asked to the user with a pre-recorded message from Bhatia — like ‘what is your name’, ‘what is your startup idea’ etc. Bhatia claimed that the present format covers most potential questions that a user may face during a job interview, or at a session with venture capitalists (VCs) listening to a startup pitch.

He added that recruiters from companies can post a video question on Showreel to get answers from potential candidates, or use the platform’s artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to view the right candidates. After candidates answer the questions, the entire package is shared as one video, which includes both the questions and answers.

Bhatia said he intended to add a new healthcare category to the app later, which will seek to answer commonly asked questions at doctor consultations. “Once we add it, users can see actual value addition in terms of not requiring to visit a doctor in person, compulsorily,” he adds.

According to Bhatia, the western nations are not a target area right now. He said that the company is starting in India and South Asia because “this is where the market is apt” for the product. “Given that users in a market such as the US are comparatively better prepared to pitch their ideas, we’re not particularly looking at it as a market for Showreel right now,” he said.

The project is presently self-funded or bootstrapped, and Bhatia does not have any monetisation plans right now. The focus right now is on data. “Once the usage scales up and we have all the labelled data from users, we will take a look at how we can monetise the platform,” he said.

Bhatia said he does not have any intention to incentivise creators to come to the platform, unlike entertainment-focused short video platforms. He added that he does not see Showreel as an app that rivals Linkedin or any other. Videos from Showreel can be shared on LinkedIn, and users can use these videos to approach VCs, recruiters and more. “This can be beneficial as Linkedin is too text-heavy, and videos are the way forward in the future,” he said.

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