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Edtech, fintech, consumer services drive hiring for Indian startups, shows survey


MUMBAI: Start-ups in fintech, consumer services and e-learning led the hiring among Indian unicorns and soonicorns despite the unprecedented disruption caused by the pandemic over the last few months, according to a survey by executive search firm Xpheno.

Startups in fintech and consumer services are emerging as high net addition sectors with 39% and 33% headcount growth, showed the survey on the talent roadmap of 80 Indian start-ups. The overall headcount addition in the edtech sector so far in 2020 was the highest at around 78% compared to last year.

Over the last two years this batch of start-ups recorded a headcount addition of 39%.

“With further unlocking and economic stimulants expected, the unicorns will exhibit an even sharper recovery while soonicorns are making strategically and tactically correct moves to achieve unicorn status by the end of the current fiscal,” said Kamal Karanth, co-founder, Xpheno.

The fintech space, which added 16 soonicorns during the year, has witnessed an exponential growth amid rise in digital payments and acceleration in online transactions, especially in tier 2, 3 towns and cities as well as rural areas.

“With increased value creation in the sector and the increased opportunities, there is a need for people in a variety of roles across engineering and non-engineering functions such as business development, product management, merchant acquisition, marketing, finance, legal etc,” said PhonePe’s Chief People Officer Manmeet Sandhu. The company hired 500 people across roles since the end of February taking its total employee strength to 2200. “We still have over 700 open positions currently which we aim to fill this year,” said Sandhu.

The highest growth in hiring is in the edtech space as the Covid 19 pandemic and the resultant lockdown have provided an unexpected boost to education-technology companies. Many of them – such as Byju’s, Vedantu, Unacademy – are on a hiring spree to manage their fast-growing businesses.

Investors such as Omidyar Network and Blume Ventures said edtech businesses would remain a highly attractive segment and with top dollars chasing these companies, a lot of senior-level talent would gravitate to edtech firms backed by venture capital and private equity firms, ET had earlier reported.

“Due to the increased demand for live online learning, we are focusing on ramping up our backend and technology and we have plans to hire around 1500 employees across all levels and domain expertise in technology, sales, product, marketing, finance, strategy,” said Arvind Singhal, COO, Vedantu.

The pandemic was also a shot in the arm for some online commerce companies. “Online grocery was a big beneficiary. We witnessed rapid growth and hired to fulfill this demand,” said TN Hari, head of HR at Bigbasket. “With physical stores slowly opening up, the growth in demand is now modest and back at pre-Covid levels. We will continue to hire keeping with the demand and revenue growth,” he added.

Others such as Urban Company, a platform that connects skilled professionals to users looking for specific services, restarted its hiring process since August – after a pause during April-June. The company is looking to fill key leadership positions across technology, business, and marketing and training functions and is also hiring in their international geographies like UAE, Australia and Singapore, said Suhail Vadgaokar, Director People Excellence.

The survey also showed that nearly 60% of the companies registered a two-digit headcount growth in 2020, while one-fifth of the companies showed a stagnation or negative headcount movement, as a knee jerk response to the lockdown. The e-commerce and marketplace sector witnessed the highest negative impact of the lockdown, accounting for 47% of the companies that showed a stagnation or reduction in headcounts in 2020.

Sales and marketing was the business function that saw the highest headcount growth of 36% in 2020, followed by operations, IT and engineering at 30%, 29% and 27%, respectively.





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