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From a Rock Band to India’s Largest On-Demand Gig Platform

Written by Capria Marketing
May 7, 2024

How many of us have had heartbreaks when our favorite music bands split up? But not every band breakup story has a sad ending.

Gurpreet ToneDeafWhat if we told you about a band that could not stay together for music, but went on to build a company that paved the path to solving unemployment problems? No, this is not a movie script. This is the story of Awign.

Awign was founded in 2016 by Annanya Sarthak, Gurpreet Singh, and Praveen Kumar Sah.

The company that today helps 175 enterprises run their businesses at scale, with 1.5 million gig workers on its platform, was started in 2016 by its two founders Sarthak and Gurpreet who met many years ago at IIT Ropar thanks to their love for rock music.

Their first venture ToneDeaf (their band) was born.

College ended and they started wondering what next.

Sarthak got rejected nine times before landing a corporate gig only to ditch it to chase his entrepreneurial dream. Gurpreet, with an envious GMAT score, chose to start a company over an MBA.

In the early days of Awign, Sarthak and Gurpreet convinced their initial clients to pay only for results, managed hundreds of freelancers manually and eventually built a solid tech platform. As demand grew, Praveen Sah, an ex-Flipkart tech expert, joined the rocketship. The company was birthed in a small room at a paying guest accommodation

Pg officeAfter solving a few teething troubles in the product, their fundraising journey began.

Sarthak used to send 30-odd emails to VCs every single day requesting a meeting. And the knock came on Capria’s door. 

“We are at war against unemployment, underemployment, and lack of skills.” This was the statement that the founders made when they approached Capria for their first seed funding in 2018. Their audacious vision to transform the future of work in India captured our attention, resonated with our investment thesis and they got a term sheet in 20 days. Capria was Awign’s first institutional backer.

The biggest challenge for the company was during Covid when the nation came to a halt due to the lockdown. Awign’s revenue crashed to near zero revenue in just two weeks of the lockdown. The runway of more than a year shrank to 60 days. 

No one was prepared for this. No B-school playbook had the answers. 

At that time, Capria was the first to come out with unconditional support, whether in terms of more capital or expertise in navigating that period,Gurpreet says. 

“While the colour of the money is green, it is actually important whom you raise the money from,” Sarthak adds.

If Awign stands tall today, it is because of the resilience and remarkable courage shown by the team during the lockdown. 

Awign's New office

Awign has seen 20x growth in revenue since Capria first led its Seed round investment in 2018. With its asset-light and easy-to-configure tech platform, Awign has also improved the lives of 1.5 million gig workers.

When we look back at the last few years, we understand better what founders are made of…what makes them ditch a comfortable corporate job to start a company…why do they choose uncertainty over certainty…what drives them?

And what Sarthak says rings so true. “A few years ago, while conducting anonymous feedback interviews with our gig workers, we had a worker who was moved to tears while narrating that he had lost all hopes of amounting to anything in life and supporting his family financially. He had been working with Awign as a gig worker for close to a year and had gotten his sister a seat in a college, which he earlier could not afford and got his mom to leave the job of working as a house help. That has to be the best memory when I evaluate all moments, including raising money or reaching 100 cr ARR for the first time. It made us realize that we have a greater responsibility here – it’s not just us and our families and our employees – if we don’t do what we do, then a lot of people who never had any hope in life would not be dreaming for larger things now, and we have to shoulder that responsibility for them.” 

Awign’s growth trajectory is an example of disruptive innovation in job creation and income generation for Bharat, which is core to Capria’s investment philosophy. 

Awign's Founder

“Awign’s founders are probably the most grounded entrepreneurs I have worked with … with a remarkable ability to take feedback without being pushovers. We would invest in them without a second thought if they were to start up again,” Surya Mantha, Managing Partner, Capria Ventures, says.

We couldn’t be happier for Awign. They have found a great home in Mynavi and this acquisition will open untapped markets and opportunities for them.

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