Interview With Vinoo Chacko From WhistleTalk, An App That Provides Referral Recruitment With Social Elements

Interview with Vinoo Chacko CEO of Hyderabad Startup WhistleTalk which is solving referral recruitment with social elements.


Today social is like a wrapper that is being embedded into every business; whether it is commerce, entertainment or hiring, the social capsule is being included too. Social Hiring is a space that has been attracting Indian startups and WhistleTalk - that we had reviewed earlier - has been working in the social hiring space for nearly a year and half now. The Hyderabad based startup that is backed by The Hyderabad angels, released an enterprise version recently.


Early days and story behind WhistleTalk

The app is the brainchild of Vinoo Chacko who has more than thirteen years of experience in the software industry. Vinoo, a startup man from the very beginning of his professional life had a setback from his first startup. Moving forward he joined NetScaler which was later acquired by Citirix in June, 2005.

During the con call, Vinoo said that joining NetScaler was a wise decision as it enhanced his learning curve. During his tenure at NetScaler, he got the know-how to build a product out of an idea and then take it to the market. Once NetScaler got acquired by Citrix, Vinoo went back to the classroom as he felt that marketing skills were very much required along with the technical know-hows.

“I went to The Indian School of Business to polish my business skills and later on I joined Citirix where I served as a product manager for close to 5 years, before I started WhistleTalk in early 2012,” added Vinoo, while sharing about his professional life before WhistleTalk.

Today, Vinoo is the CEO at WhistleTalk and is trying to strengthen its presence in the social hiring space. But interestingly, the startup man wanted to start a social media recommendation product for resort owners initially.

“Few of our friends would meet on the weekend and would discuss ideas and in one such discussion we came up with the idea of preparing a product that would collect all the perceptions of users related to resorts, accumulate it and provide it to the resort owners. During this research, we found out that the final decision depends on the recommendations of friends and families. From there we started looking into activities that were influenced by reference models and thus we discovered that referral recruitment is one area that has been neglected in India,” shared Vinoo, while revealing the story behind WhistleTalk.

The startup that is based on the core idea of referral recruitment recently launched an enterprise edition. With this version, employers can use the enterprise solution to leverage the social networks of their current employees, thus making the talent hunting process simple, faster and saving on costs too. As for employees, they can earn rewards while they share the job opportunities on social media without much of a hassle!

Elaborating further on the features, Vinoo added that the enterprise version would try to make the job posting viral by sharing on various networks, track the entire application process and even manage rewards for employees.

Challenges and the road ahead

But isn’t he feeling the heat from networks like LinkedIn, which recently announced that it had crossed a milestone of 20M users? Vinoo thinks that networks like LinkedIn and other job sites are looking for active candidates and not for passive ones.

“An employee of an organization knows who is a potential candidate for a respective job and we are tapping the market which is of passive candidates. Additionally from a cost perspective we are bringing down the cost for an organization which is being used to pay rewards to the employees,” adds Vinoo.

The idea of reaching more passive candidates makes WhistleTalk interesting and even hiring managers are happy with the way the app has been working since it does not pull the already existing resumes from job portals like Naukri, Monster, etc.

However, Vinoo considers that employee participation remains the success of WhistleTalk and also the present challenge. But with time the challenge is being overcome and he has seen that at organizations where 40-50% employees are participating, the quality of resumes have improved and end of day employees are happy along with organizations.

Richcore, a leading Bangalore based Biotech company has deployed the WhistleTalk referral hiring solution and seems to be one of the happy clients. The app’s sharing feature along with its simplicity of deployment and the ease of use have been the core features that were referred by Sunil Sundar, HR Manager at Richcore.

The startup that is looking for a second round of funding by this year end, plans to focus on the enterprise model and will be launching a mobile version of the app in the coming three to four months. Indeed WhistleTalk is cracking the social hiring market keeping the focus on referral model.