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Startups On Hiring Spree!

February 05, 2024 11:43 IST

In 2024 so far, 20 startups have already visited the campus with 80 placements.

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Job seekers scan a QR code to register themselves at a Micron Technology kiosk at SemiconIndia 2023, India's annual semiconductor conference, in Gandhinagar. Photograph: Amit Dave/Reuters

After a prolonged period of layoffs and muted hiring, Indian startups are expected to ramp up talent acquisition this year by as much as 7 per cent compared to last year, according to human resources firm TeamLease.

Take the case of Zepto, which was the first unicorn of 2023.

Aadit Palicha, co-founder and CEO of quick-commerce unicorn Zepto, said the company has been ramping up hiring in engineering roles. He has also been interacting on professional networking platforms like Grapevine to share how the firm hires.

"We are hiring more people. We have hired 200 engineers over the past 29 months. We are scaling up the engineering team, hiring around one engineer every alternate day," Palicha told Business Standard.

During the Grapevine session on December 10, 2023, Palicha also said users on the platform can reach out to the firm's HR team for technology roles.

Startups are also starting to venture back to campuses to meet the demand for entry-level roles.

E-commerce unicorn Meesho recently announced that it hired more than 150 candidates in 2023 across roles like product, analytics, business, finance, and HR, among others from campuses, including IITs Bombay, Kharagpur, Kanpur, Madras, and Roorkee, Indian Institute of Science and IIM Lucknow and Kozhikode, among others.

"Startups were not hiring much in 2022, while in 2023 the number of students hired by startups has gone up. Startups hiring on our campus have gone up by at least 30 per cent this year," said Rohit Pandey, placement cell head at Greater Noida Institute of Technology (GNIOT).

During 2022's recruitment cycle, around 28 startups visited GNIOT. This number increased to more than 35 in 2023.

"This year, the multinational hiring numbers have gone down, which is filled up by product-based startups offering decent packages," Pandey added.

Amity University in Noida has witnessed a similar uptick in startups visiting its campus.

As many as 100 startups visited the university during 2023's hiring cycle, and 225 students secured placements. This is up from 46 startups and 121 placements for the 2022 batch.

In 2024 so far, 20 startups have already visited the campus with 80 placements.

According to experts, large startups operating in well-funded sectors like financial tech (fintech), e-commerce, direct-to-consumer, and emerging tech are likely to lead recruitment this year.

Hiring demand, largely fuelled by entry- and junior-level roles, has also led several startups to venture back to campuses.

This is a much-required respite for students who have been impacted by the slump in hiring. This is also coming after layoffs, where as many as 15,000 employees were laid off from about 100 startups -- including unicorns (companies valued at over $1 billion) -- in 2023.

More than 65 per cent of tech startup founders claimed they were hiring in 2023, according to a recent report by the National Association of Software and Service Companies-Zinnov.

Hiring among these startups increased by 20 per cent during the year compared to 2022. Moreover, they reported that the reduction in their workforce decreased by 7 per cent in 2023 compared to the previous year.

This talent acquisition is, however, primarily taking place among large, well-funded startups.

Tech and e-commerce startups are expected to increase hiring by over 7 per cent between January and June 2024, compared to the corresponding period last year, according to data from employability solutions firm TeamLease EdTech.

"Startups who have obtained Series A and B funding are the ones who are actively hiring. Firms in sectors like healthtech, fintech, and emerging tech (artificial intelligence, or AI, generative AI, blockchain, Cloud computing, etc) are said to hire in the next six months," said Neeti Sharma, co-founder and president, TeamLease EdTech.

Meanwhile, companies operating in sectors that have notably not been able to generate much investor interest, such as edtech, enterprisetech, and mediatech, are staring at low to zero hiring.

Currently, hiring among unicorns and soonicorns (soon-to-be-unicorns) has increased between 2 per cent and 4 per cent, largely to maintain their headcount since 2023, according to Xpheno -- a specialist staffing company. Meanwhile, small- to mid-range startups have refrained from expansion and even replacement hiring in most cases.

"As many as 40 per cent of 200 small to mid-sized startups we monitor show a net reduction in count due to attrition that has not been refilled," said Kamal Karanth, co-founder, Xpheno.

Karanth, however, added that talent growth among unicorns and soonicorns is primarily taking place across engineering, sales, and support roles.

"Talent attracted by these companies is primarily spread across entry to mid-level skill sets," Karanth said. "Product and tech roles in engineering and development functions remain the largest part of the active talent demand, with a 60 per cent contribution."

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Aryaman Gupta & Ashutosh Mishra
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