How Trina Das Went From Being A Tutor To Building A Multi Crore Workforce Management Business

Trina Das

What drew you to the workforce management field?

Our parent company Talent Labs Pvt Ltd was formed in 2017 and we started our operations in early 2018 as a hiring agency. Having our extensive Harvard, IIT Delhi and XLRI network, we started by helping companies hire for senior technical roles. Over the next two years, we started hiring for all kinds of roles. In 2020, after the covid outbreak, hundreds of blue-collar workers who were hired through us got fired almost overnight.

During those days, we started getting hundred plus calls a day from workers begging for help as they had no way to earn or survive through months of unemployment someone would have their family dependent on them and someone’s family was in the hospital and needed money for treatment. That was when we felt heartbroken as founders and wanted to find a solution for our blue-collar workforce. We made special packages for our blue-collar hiring and focussed only on this segment. That was a pretty strong product market fit and 50+ companies waiting in the pipeline wanting to avail of our services. But, we as founders wanted to get the managing of blue/ grey collar workforce within our company as we were feeling depressed by how workforces are managed by even the larger companies and how the ground level manager treats a worker at the last mile. We wanted to solve that and set new benchmarks for workforce management and that is how we got into this model.

How did GigChain happen?

When we reached annual revenues of over 100 crores (FY 2021-22), by that time we had reached a pretty strong product market fit as we were working with over 25 client companies and we were having many companies waiting in the pipeline (This was around March 2022), but, in April 2022, during our financial accounting, we realised how the workers were surviving at minimal wages as allowed by different state governments and we as founders did not feel good about it. That is when we decided to create a model where we can control the salary and management and salaries of the workers and we specifically wanted to ensure that workers are respected and they should experience an equitable opportunity for career growth and recognition for their contribution. That is how after months of brainstorming and trying out established models we ideated GigChain in July 2022. In the very first month, we did a revenue of 3.5 lacs from one client and we have never looked back ever since then and growing over 100 percent MoM. We had an internal restructuring and transition period planned out and we finally pivoted to GigChain fully in December 2022.

What were the challenges you initially faced when carving your path in such an integral space and what are the current challenges?

In our earlier years, we started this as a side business to make some extra money. We never started with any expectations and we planned to start with our close networks so we thought this will be easy. But even then, at every step there were challenges. The earliest challenge I remember was forming an official structure in stealth mode when all three of us co-founders, Arun and Neeraj were not full-time. We faced many challenges, it was not easy at all but it became fun. And as we have grown over the years, the level and magnitude of challenges have also grown with us. But the journey has also built us into capable problem solvers too and we are continuously and humbly evolving as leaders at every step of the way.

How do you plan to revolutionise the Indian market with growth plans digitally?

We plan to build the world’s most efficient workforce management system at scale for every company with workforce-intensive last-mile processes. We have built IP around it and developing our suite of tools for the same. There are hundreds of thousands of companies in India with workforce-intensive last-mile processes yet hiring, training and management of blue-collar workers are painful. On top of that, most companies are unable to justify the amount of work done versus the salaries of these workers which results in poorer pay, inhumane working conditions, mental stress and disrespectful treatment for the blue-collar workers. India is the biggest source of workforce with 100 million of its youth having declared themselves as NLET (Not in Learning, Employment or Training) can fulfil the workforce needs of global companies at scale. We solve the problem on both ends of the value chain by providing affordable, high quality and assured last mile work at scale for companies while allowing every one of its jiggers (blue-collar workers enrolled on GigChain) 3-4X higher income per month along with a respectful work environment and continuous support.

With its disruptive workforce management technology, we are also helping companies to manage their existing location-based field workforce or outsource their operations management and payroll processes completely, all in one place.

We are 3 founders and a team of 22 people operating out of Gurgaon. Our expertise is HR, operations, Saas technology and machine learning.

Drawing from your experience, how crucial is mentorship, especially at the grassroots level for aspiring women leaders? 

Extremely crucial. Being a founder is a lonely and tough journey and mentors are needed for sure. I cannot express how grateful I am to my mentors for guiding me every time I felt stuck or got distracted from what I should be doing. Having the opportunity to learn from mentors who have been on the same journey and who can let you leverage their expertise and pure wisdom, is by far the biggest contribution towards my success and evolution as a leader. Do get a set of mentors you can trust if you are building a startup. I have also started angel investing and mentoring a few startup founders who have reached out to me as my tiny way of giving back.

But you need to be cautious as wrong and fake mentors have wasted years of my time and energy so we need to be mindful and be matured about finding mentors who will add to our growth. Our market, team and customers are our mentors too so we need to take the final decision based on which advice applies best to our situation at every point.

From when you started tutoring to now, what kind of change in impacts have you witnessed when it comes to building a business doing over 100 crores annually?

I feel tremendous gratitude to the universe for letting me do my bit in this field. I have always been thrilled about building global businesses that can solve either access to education or poverty alleviation thus elevating a segment of our deprived society. I started as a simple math and physics tutor from a tiny town in West Bengal which ended up becoming 86 learning centres across 8 countries impacting more than 150000 students before founding GigChain. It got me invited to the White House to be recognised by the then-American president Barrack Obama and got me into the Forbes 30U30 for our impact.

When I look back, it feels surreal that a girl like me could even start an office in the US, let alone be recognised or reach more than 100 crores in revenues.

What I realised, is that we need to dream of a better solution and be committed to it in every way. Even our tiny consistent efforts can have a huge impact on this world if we can dream and do our bit to build upon that dream and create a whole new world. It happens faster than we realise, we just need to keep at it and trust our manifestation process.

What more do you suggest enterprises can adopt when it comes to taking care of their labour workforce and ensuring their work environment health and safety at the last mile?

Companies should outsource their entire workforce hiring and management model to save cost and enable efficiency in their last-mile workforce-intensive processes. This is important as most companies aren’t able to justify labour pay with the outcome generated which results in a disrespectful working environment, poor treatment, mental torture and unfair pay which becomes difficult for companies to correct. This results in worker churn costing companies even more money and pain in managing their workforce. It kind of becomes a vicious cycle even in some of the largest companies.

Outsourcing employee health and safety and workforce management not only frees companies of cost, and operational bandwidth and makes the processes efficient, but it can also let the workforce have a fair environment and pay to work.

Our clients feel proud of their workforce managed by GigChain as we take care of the respect and growth of our gigger workforce like never before. We will love to welcome collaboration opportunities.

As someone who holds decades of experience in business development, have you witnessed a gender gap concerning investments, with women being less involved in their own financial decisions? 

Yes, a lot. And it’s sad how capable women founders take way more effort to get considered for investments than men do. However, we do have a long way to go and embrace our true strengths as women and not trying to compete with men before we can manifest that change in the outside world.

I have also seen that a woman’s mistakes are not forgiven. For example, men get to have multiple failures and mishaps and still get funded but if a woman is close to a single small mistake, her credibility is deleted for years – which is kind of not in our favour. It’s sort of unfair but it’s subtle and is mostly ignored.

As a leader in business, how do you suggest the Indian market can empower more women in leadership positions?

I think more than the market we women need to come out of our comfort zone and embrace leadership positions. Indian market should celebrate exemplary women’s leadership more. But honestly, it’s less about any market and more about our internal manifesting to feel empowered and take the leadership positions we deserve.

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