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Mandeep Sodhi has been getting attention for Jobma, a multimedia site for job seekers and employers. Sodhi was named Entrepreneur of the Year by MEDA in 2012.

Bruce Bisping • bbisping@startribune.com,

Small business: Jobma website connects job seekers, employers

  • Article by: Todd Nelson
  • Special to the Star Tribune
  • January 5, 2014 - 9:41 AM

Mandeep Sodhi’s entrepreneurial success stems from his wide-ranging work history. He’s held corporate jobs, been a consultant and launched ventures including restaurants, a nightclub, a day-care center and commercial property management.

Sodhi believes that every job offers the chance to learn and no job is too big or too small.

He’s used his experience in building Select Source International into a global technology staffing and project services firm. Now he’s offering a new way for job seekers to connect with potential employers through an online job application platform called Jobma.

With Jobma, job seekers can post traditional résumés and short video pitches that showcase their personality and skills. Users can promote their Jobma posts through e-mail, job boards and social media.

Jobma enables employers to streamline their hiring process by viewing candidates’ résumés, video pitches and social media in one place, so they can get a first impression of the applicant’s soft and hard skills, said Sodhi, who has worked with Northwest Airlines, Accenture (then known as Andersen Consulting) and Deloitte and has an MBA in international management from the University of St. Thomas. Jobma can save employers time and money by helping them narrow the field of candidates they interview.

‘Holistic’ view of candidates

“We have a lot of experience in staffing,” said Sodhi, who founded Select Source International (SSI) in 2002 and now oversees a growing company that places tech consultants and full-time staff globally for companies in retail, health care and manufacturing. “Our approach was to strengthen the ability of a candidate to represent themselves holistically. That is our biggest differentiator.”

The primary challenge since Jobma’s 2012 launch, one start-ups typically face, is raising awareness.

Sodhi’s efforts to promote Jobma got a boost when Forbes.com included the platform on a list of what it declared were the top 100 career websites.

‘On the radar’

The Forbes mention also appeared to attract the attention of potential investors, said Sodhi. “We’re on the radar for venture capital in Silicon Valley,” he said. “That’s always an indicator that you might be onto something.’’

Sodhi isn’t rushing into any deals, saying he was unsure about bringing in investors now. Instead, Sodhi said he was more interested in finding a partner or company that could offer value to Jobma in terms of growth, strategy or business processes.

His focus now is on lining up large corporations to use Jobma, to help keep it affordable for job seekers. Users can create a 60-second video pitch for free or upgrade to a premium account for $5 a month, which allows them to make three videos.

Teicko Huber, president and founder of Focus2Grow, said his Minneapolis-based management consulting company has been using Jobma to recruit as it works with Sodhi on his market strategy for the platform.

“We think it’s a phenomenal tool to streamline the hiring process,’’ Huber said. “We do a lot of recruiting of sales and marketing people for our clients, and the challenge is, how do you get a sense of people’s hard and soft skills quickly with limited resources.’’

Mariana Scott, who has worked with Sodhi in her role as a business consultant at the Metropolitan Economic Development Association (MEDA), said she recalled him discussing developing a way to use video to help people find work in 2009 or 2010. MEDA, a Minneapolis nonprofit organization, offers consulting, training and financial assistance to help minority business owners. Sodhi, named MEDA’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2012, is a member of the organization’s board of directors.

“He started thinking about this way before anybody else,” Scott said.

 

The expert says: Dileep Rao, president of InterFinance Corp. in Golden Valley and clinical professor of entrepreneurship at Florida International University, said Sodhi fits the first requirement for a great entrepreneur in that he appears to have no fear.

Sodhi, Rao said, should take heed of the cautionary note on venture capital that Rao posted to his Forbes blog. Rao said that “99.997 percent of entrepreneurs should avoid (venture capital) and the rest should delay,” only taking it after they have determined their growth formula and then only if it is absolutely necessary.

“At that point, he gets to keep control,” Rao said. “More importantly, if he can find a way to grow without (venture capital), he gets to keep more of the wealth created.’’

 

Todd Nelson is a freelance writer in Woodbury. His e-mail address is todd_nelson@mac.com.

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