Instances of teachers molesting children in schools, delivery boys harassing customers in their homes, and impostors looting elderly have hit headlines in the recent past. At the heart of this increasingly disturbing development is a technologically advanced social security system in our country. Companies and institutions, big or small, care to run little to no background checks on most service employees they hire. Even landlords welcome tenants without verifying their records most of the time.
But Bengaluru-based startup, BetterPlace, is trying to change the current scenario in the country by putting our fragmented background verification industry in order.
On request of its clients — either on its portal vishwasofindia.com or recently-launched Android app, BetterPlace — the team verifies credentials of a person across three categories (strictly after his or her consent). These include personal (photo ID, Aadhar card, and education certificates), professional (feedback from employers) and social data (mapped from one’s digital presence and interaction with friends offline). The information is then processed by its innovative data analytics and application tools, which derives a ‘trust score’ for that person. These results are returned within three days, and they are updated from time to time.
BetterPlace rolled out its verification process in August this year. Since then, its services have been lapped up by firms and startups across the segment of logistics (Swiggy and Roadrunner), on-demand management (Housejoy and Timesaverz) and facility management (DTSS). They also run reference checks for firms engaged in delivery of cash to ATMs and those who provide private security guards. Last week, they joined hands with online real estate site, CommonFloor and housing society management portal, Apartment Adda.
It was Pravin Agarwala, a former SAP professional, who hit upon the idea of BetterPlace last year. Being a father of two young girls, lack of a stringent security system had always bothered him. He contacted his mentor and family friend Uday Singh and in no time, they set up a team to research the lacunae in our conventional security system.
The results were surprising, he begins, adding, “Thirty per cent of employees in blue-collar companies provide wrong addresses. And 15-20 per cent furnish fake or invalid IDs. In fact, many are not even aware that the ‘agents’ issued them fake IDs. And 10 per cent have some kind of a criminal record, history of theft or property dispute.”
The team also found that after absconding from one company, people furnish a different set of IDs in another company, so they can’t be tracked. “But we managed to track them through our duplicate logic. Once we find such anomalies, we report it to the company,” says Agarwala, who adds that they run 1,200 checks per day, pan-India.
Trying to explain the underlying philosophy behind the venture, Agarwala says, “Out of 100 people, usually five are wrong elements. We just want to reinstate the importance of safety. The idea is to bring people up from a lower to higher trust score.”
— Barkha Kumar