Ooshma Garg experienced the aha moment that led her to become an entrepreneur during her junior year of college when she served as co-president of a networking group called Stanford Women in Business. "Companies like Goldman and McKinsey would pay us $5,000 just to have dinner with my group," Garg recalls. Yet corporate types were still pretty abysmal when it came to recruiting from a diverse field of applicants. So Garg launched Anapata, and online platform to connect employers and qualified job candidates. The name comes from a Swahili word that means "to find, attain, and achieve."
During the company's Beta phase, Garg decided to focus on law firms and law students because, she says, the legal profession is notorious for its lack of diversity and has been slow to embrace online recruiting. "I was ready to revolutionize," she says. In the spring of 2008, she put $80,000 of her own money into developing the idea, then went to work at Morgan Stanley in Manhattan for the summer. "In the middle of the summer, I sold a handful of contracts to law firms, so I quit," she says. "I knew starting my own company was my dream and it was market validation."
Garg charges law firms an annual subscription fee of between $2,500 and $20,000 for access to her database of job seekers, which she collects by partnering with student organizations such as the Latino Pre-Law Society and the Black Law Students Association. "I hired friends form Stanford Women in Business and they made a list of all the student diversity groups at the top 25 law schools," says Garg. "We connected with 220 diversity groups."
Anapata actually serves as a free hosting site for the student groups and offers group management tools so that students at different law schools can network with one another, as well as post their resumes for law firms to peruse. "We now have between 600 and 800 employers in our national law firm database," says Garg, "and 80 percent of our paying clients are ranked in the top 100 law firms in the U.S." She says that 70 percent of clients have renewed their annual subscriptions and that the site has seen its user base double in the past year.
And now Garg is moving beyond recruiting: A feature called Anapta Analytics tracks student perception of over 600 legal employers through rankings from over 4,000 student's lists. Law firms can order customized reports that reveal their reputation among minority students. Garg says two-thirds of the law firms on Anapata are members largely to take advantage of the analytics.
With high profile mentors like Aaron Patzer, founder of Mint.com, and Penelope Trunk of Brazen Careerist, Garg has her sights set on raising a modest sum of capital this year so that she can expand Anapata's database to include business school students. "Right now, we're still under the radar," she says. Not for long, we're betting.