Star Tech: Pupilar — Building a NextGen LinkedIn for youth

The platform seeks to bring a revolution in the way young individuals network and seek opportunities to advance in their careers


Joydeep Sengupta

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Supplied photo
Supplied photo

Published: Sat 28 May 2022, 11:11 PM

Last updated: Mon 30 May 2022, 10:59 PM

Pupilar is a youth-oriented, professional networking platform. Through a unique “challenge” and “network-on-the-go” model the platform seeks to bring a revolution in the way young individuals’ network and seek opportunities to advance in their careers, and recruiters find and fill positions.

“Data shows that around 80 per cent of the youth in the Middle East rely on social media. Using it as a tool, we aim to redirect their social networking habits into building their careers — a transformed LinkedIn for the youth,” said Maimuna Rashid, co-founder, Pupilar.

“Though the proof of concept was incubated in 2019, it was launched last year,” said Aqsa Khalifa, co-founder, and chief operating officer, (COO).

Maimuna explained Pupilar’s business model and how it is out of the box as compared to other headhunters.

Maimuna Rashid, co-founder, Pupilar
Maimuna Rashid, co-founder, Pupilar

“Our key differentiator is that we are a youth-centric platform that facilitates corporates and industry to hire through skills before social backgrounds for the next generation of intellects.

We use a user-based model and a freemium membership model, which allows both professionals and youth to use the platform with certain basic features for free. But to hire or avail additional features that increase their visibility and probability of acquiring qualified talent requires upgrading their accounts as members,” she said.

Aqsa said the startup is looking at tapping youth for job opportunities from the UAE and the wider region.

“Initially, we aim to address through our platform the 1.3 million youth population of the UAE and later another 1.2 billion youth in the Middle East and North Africa region. Eventually, we’d target the global youth population. It’s a $10 (36.73) billion-worth market monthly. Simultaneously, we’re targeting all small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and human resource (HR) managers to hire young talents, which is a $120B (Dh440.76) market monthly,” she said.

Maimuna elaborated how clients can advance their careers.

“We’ve developed our enterprise after a series of local and regional youth employment studies, grassroots research, and market testing for a period of 14 months. Pupilar serves as a one-stop hub for the youth looking to launch or advance in their careers while honing their skill-sets and simultaneously developing meaningful relationships with industry professionals,” she said.

A unique ‘challenge’ and ‘network-on-the-go’ model

Youth go through the following three stages before, during and after the challenge process:

Onboarding & mentorship (before challenge process)

With a dedicated team for Youth Development and growing reach of over 10+ universities in the UAE, Pupilar selects and onboards young individuals looking for job opportunities. The team also provides mentorship on their areas of improvement, particularly relevant hard & soft skill for the industry of choice; presentation of work and self, professional relationships and how to build a network

Pupilar challenges & hiring process (during the challenge process)

  • Pupilar Challenge is an industry-specific hiring process to discover the best talent
  • Hiring process:
  • Corporates post requirements via tests
  • Candidates enter submissions for tests
  • Candidates submit their work, not CVs or resumes
  • Those who send in the best submissions are selected as finalists
  • Finalists are selected based on their active skills, not social background or experience
  • Finalists network via a trial day
  • Finalists’ go for a trial day, not interviews
  • The best candidate bags the job

This process increases the visibility and hiring opportunities, prevents bias during selection and upskills the candidate during the course of job hunting. The process repeats for other challenges until the young candidate gets a job.

Recommendation & job placement (after the challenge process)

Pupilar challenges’ serve as a tool to recognise where the candidate stands in terms of required skills unlike other online platforms that provide feedback to candidates if they are rejected.

This feedback cycle helps candidates to continuously improve and gain industry experience.

What are the tangible benefits?

Benefits for youth:

  • 80 per cent higher visibility and chances of being hired
  • Real world tasks for industry exposure
  • Regularly exercising their skills and keeping them active
  • Identifying and upskilling during the challenges
  • Hiring for skills, avoids discrimination or bias while selection
  • Builds portfolio for creatives & tech-savvy youth
  • Encompasses talented individuals who may have timid personalities
  • Networking, not just an interview
  • Caters to multipotential youth
  • Fosters a meaningful position of give-and-take

Benefits for industry professionals:

  • Effective hiring process
  • Simple and fast screening
  • Access to only qualitative applicants
  • Complete control over hiring
  • Variety of talent from across the UAE/region
  • Industry-specific hiring
  • Channelled youth-focused community

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