The HR Fund Makes Maiden Investment In People Matters


People Matters will use funding to launch a social networking site for the HR community.

India’s first fund solely for HR ventures announced its first investment in People Matters on May 8, 2012 at a launch event in Mumbai. The Gurgaon-based investee, a media and knowledge platform in the HR space, has secured Rs. 4 crore in funding from The HR Fund, to launch a social network for the human resource community, increase its subscriber base and strengthen the firm’s organizational structure.

Founded in 2009 by Ester Martinez, as part of Tetra Media and with a funding of Rs. 1 crore, today the company has print, online and event platforms, which aims to provide stakeholders of the industry with information on best practices, trends, insights, and more importantly a channel to bring the community together.

Speaking exclusively to Entrepreneur on the investment Varun Talwar, CEO, The HR Fund said, “We looked at People Matters because of Ester first. We liked her focus, skills, value-system and then the idea. We weren’t too excited with the idea as just a magazine, which is a content aggregator in HR space, as it would be difficult to scale. However adding a digital aspect to it, through a social media engine makes it a highly scalable model.” Talwar also mentioned that the venture will receive subsequent rounds of funding in the future from them.

The magazine, an 80-page monthly publication with a print run of 22,000 copies has a current subscriber base of 8,200 and over 3,000 copies sold in news-stand as well as bought for special events. It is priced at Rs. 75 and balance copies are distributed by controlled circulation among CEOs and heads of HR, nationally. “The opportunity was to launch a media platform for the HR community to give professionals access to industry trends, share learnings, and document happenings at various organizations, since nobody in India had access to a niche magazine on the industry,” said Martinez, CEO and Managing Editor, People Matters Media, referring to reasons behind starting the venture.

Commenting on the investment she said, “It’s a good opportunity for us to think larger. The domain knowledge of the fund’s anchor investors is valuable to us as well as their entrepreneurial expertise.”

The firm’s revenue model works via advertisements, subscription, commissions for research, plus event and webinar sponsorships. The magazine’s content is currently, published free for readers on its website. However, in the future Martinez will work on distinguishing between content for paid and free users, as web-traffic grows.

Alongside, in the near future, People Matters will have two clear lines of business: brick and mortar – the magazine and a strong online presence with high-quality video and audio content, as well as events, through this social networking site.

Talwar will be on the company’s board and the second position, yet to be filled, will have someone who understands social media well. “We should have someone by the next quarter,” he said. Talwar’s role will involve building processes at People Matters. “We look at the skin (sales, marketing and business development), skeleton (HR, finance, and operations) and soul (strategy, leadership development and innovation) of the company we join,” he said in context to The HR Fund’s role as inventor cum mentor. Increasing its subscription base and developing technology for new social network site, will also be part of the plan. “Execution is yet to start,” he affirmed.

Also, the company will use this funding to hire heads for its content, technology and operations departments. As of now the investors are actively talking to people who understand social media first. Currently, it has 16 employees and it aims to have a work-force of close to 40 people by year-end.

With more people moving towards internet and digital media, Talwar feels building a site like this, is a natural extension of content aggregation. At this point, the exact business model for the social networking site has not been worked out and will evolve over the next few months as will their decision to brand it separately or not. “Our plan is to capture 100 leaders in the HR space to give us high-quality content for the site which will become a magnet for their followers,” Talwar adds referring to features of the site still under-development. He believes there are 2 lakh people in India focused only on HR.

Having been incubated out of Tetra Media, People Matters has now been carved out as a separate company. Tetra Media’s other brand is an e-commerce and CRM platform for loans and insurance distribution. The company was originally founded by Tejasvi Mohanram (alumnus of IIT Bombay, ISB and now CEO of and Ester Martinez (ISB alumnus – Managing Editor and now CEO of People Matters Media Pvt Ltd).

The HR Fund, will announce its second investment in three months. However, Talwar was tight-lipped on the details.

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