HackerRankA Playground for Programmers Published On: Tuesday, January 06, 2015 Views 7116


The most successful businesses are those, which are aimed at solving the pain points of a particular genre or sector or for that matter in general. Zomato.com, flipkart.com, commonfloor.com, etc. are some of the top notch examples of the businesses which started with an idea to resolve a pain-point and ended up being successful in their own fields.

Such is the story of a start-up which took matters in their own hands to fix an on-going gap in the tech industry and ended up developing programme for the US government and the who’s-who of the IT industry.

As unique as their story is, it started-off as a mere germ named “IDEA” in the heads of its founders; Harishankaran Karunanidhi & Vivek Ravisankar.

It was the monsoon of 2009; they had completed their graduation from the National Institute of Technology, Tiruchirapalli and had just started working with Amazon and IBM respectively.  But things didn’t seem right or perfect to them and the idea of easing the recruitment process of programmers, kept coming back to them.

They finally decided to quit their jobs and started working on the idea. They joined the batch 3 of “The Morpheus” – a Chandigarh-based seed fund & start-up accelerator after which, they locked themselves up in a room for 10 days until they launched InterviewStreet in December 2010.

As much as all this was motivating for them but after months of hard work also there was not enough traction. This led them to go in search of more knowledge and to their surprise they managed to become the first Indian company to join the “YCombinator”, which was by far the best place for any start-up to nurture in.

They started the program in June 2011 but the whole process wasn’t as simple and easy as it sounded though! During the period when they tried for YCombinator, they found out that there was another applicant also who had an idea very similar to theirs but as they had clients and revenues to prove their worth, they managed to crack the interview and thus gave rise to a new successful journey.

Soon after they received their first ever funds of USD 150,000 from YCombinator (they offered that infusion to every start-up associated with them, which later used to get converted into equity after the first round of funding), they developed they product and got back in the market.

In just a matter of eight months, they managed to bag big clients like Flipkart, Facebook, Cleartrip, BankBazaar, etc. and so on.  The whole idea of InterviewStreet was to simplify the hiring process of Programmers for the IT companies. To cut it short, it was a place where programmers came, solved interesting challenges and also got introduced to tech companies. InterviewStreet charged companies USD 3,000-5,000, based on the number of recruiters who used the platform.

The good news came when the company broke-even and started making profits by the end of the year 2011. As much as exciting this news was, what came next changed the face of their business.

In the month of March 2012, they were hired by the US government to develop a technology platform on which to build the tools that would promote an important goal for President Obama and within no time they successfully developed the platform for them.

This was the ultimate boost for the company and literally gave the start-up a much deserved and desired global popularity. During this time the company also received their first ever VC funding worth USD 3 Million from Khosla Ventures – reported by Forbes.

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Along with this huge news came another huge announcement that they had now launched HackerRank in July 2012. HackerRank was a free-to-use platform for programmers to test and hone the coding skills on hundreds of computer science challenges across the domain although; it did charge the companies to hire a programmer through the platform.

And within a blink of an eye in 2013, the Bangalore- and California-based Interview Street & HackerRank, Inc.reached 1,000+ paying customers with a 70% retention ratio & a community of 150,000+ programmers respectively. They now had 95% of their client base just from the software product industry with more than 5,000 clients across the US, Russia, Australia, Germany and China. They were now in direct competition with the biggies like UK-based Codelity and US-based HireVue.

With the beginning of the new year, In January 2014 they decided and also declared that they shall be combining the two brands HackerRank (coding challenges) and InterviewStreet (hiring solution) and rebranding it to HackerRankX with exciting new improvements such as using the InterviewStreet platform to help the clients screen candidates and conduct phone interviews with analytics and insights on top of it, etc.

With this huge merger, they also required equivalent funds to maintain their stable growth and development. They then in the mid of 2014, raised enormous funds worth USD 9.2-Million from Khosla Ventures & Battery Ventures along with a participation from individual investors like Peeyush Ranjan, VP (engineering-Motorola Mobility) at Google; Greg Badros, former senior director (engineering) at Google and former VP (engineering & products) at Facebook; and Dan Rubinstein, director (product management) at Facebook. And since then, they have been growing at an unstoppable pace.


Currently, the revenues of the company is doubling every quarter and they have grown by 11x since last year, following that is the growth of the hackers on the community and more than 50,000 hackers being added each month into the site. It has some of the most prominent companies like Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Quora, Flipkart, Evernote, Bloomberg and Adobe, etc. as their clients. It holds a Global & Indian Alexa ranking of 17,422 and 1,434 respectively.


YoChef puts the spotlight on emerging businesses and reputed personalities to help young entrepreneurs learn from their experiences. Watch out for posts published under YoChef to discover entrepreneurial journeys and life lessons.

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