Akshay Kothari, Country Manager and Head of Product, LinkedIn India tells Entrepreneur about the company’s vision to create economic opportunities for all professionals of the global workforce.
LinkedIn moved into their plush, new office space in Bangalore’s Global Technology Park in June. The bigger office space in the city has stirred conversations about the California-based professional networking site’s new, big ambitions in India.
“This new chapter focuses on building products that are locally relevant for our members in India. So far, we’ve been building products globally and because they are built in English language and we are primarily focussed on English speaking members in India that ended up being a pretty good start for us. We ended up growing from three million members to almost 35 million members here, without necessarily investing locally in customizing the product,” says Kothari. Kothari further adds, “The company sees numerous opportunities in India in terms of investments.
The one that I would highlight, which keeps me going is the talent and energy of the youth in this county. In India, more than eight million students graduate every year. According to most of the studies conducted, more than half of these graduates are unemployable. They don’t even have the right skills and I think that’s a big issue LinkedIn can help solve.”
Partnering for Growth
As a product person what excites Kothari the most is the kind of product companies that are being built in India. And so his team is always actively scouting for right businesses to partner with.
“At the very high-level we are trying to do everything that we can to achieve our vision, which is to create economic opportunities. There are a lot of things that we do really well in terms of job matching or supplying right content to each member. I believe if we find other companies where we feel they can add value, such associations can help us accelerate our ability to achieve our vision,” claims Kothari.
An Entrepreneur at Heart
Kothari joined LinkedIn in 2013, after it acquired Pulse - a company that he had co-founded and where he was responsible for several content and product related initiatives.
Recalling his journey as a “dream,” Kothari says that Pulse was never meant to be a company. It was made as a class project at Stanford University. “It went from being an idea to launching it at the app store in about six weeks. It was a simple product which attempted to get all your favourite publishers in one place,” remembers Kothari.
He recalls working with the U.S. edition of Entrepreneur Media and other international publishers back in 2010, when it was very difficult to read content on mobile phones. When Kothari and his co-founder were about to hit their growth benchmark for Series-B round of funding, a phone call from LinkedIn helped them close the deal with the company in four days.
Kothari and his team in India are trying to customize the social media platform’s content to reach out to more Indians and help them make the most of the website – from making copy changes to building more products. The company also plans to share valuable insights from their data to help impact certain policy changes. The first set of LinkedIn City Insights has already been published on their SlideShare channel hoping to be of great use for government bodies and other organizations.
This article first appeared in the Indian edition of Entrepreneur magazine (August 2016 Issue).