Amid Massive Layoffs and Paycuts, Indian Startups Headcount Increased By 35% During Pandemic!

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In the pandemic fuelled past year, while most big organisations scaled down their operations and announced massive layoffs and pay cuts, Indian startups recorded a growth of a whopping 35% in headcount instead.

What lead to this surge in hiring for startups? Let’s find out.

According to Xpheno, a specialist executive search firm, 240 startups which it studied showed a direct correlation between an influx of investment and accelerating hiring activities. These companies were those which received Series A-E funding and late-stage funding deals in the previous year.


Despite rising unemployment in the country due to COVID-19, the Indian startups added another 30,000 people during 2020, making the total headcount reach 145,000 now. This was a straight 35% YoY growth. Interestingly, the headcount growth clocked 105% when considered a two-year period.

Indian Startups: Accelerated Hiring Post Funding

Kaman Karanth, Co-founder of Xpheno, stated that Indian startups emerged as a force to reckon in the previous year as they registered a 35% headcount growth post attracting investments over $10 billion which is an eye-popping milestone in itself.

Currently, a major portion of top-notch quality jobs is being created in startups which have the ability to both attract and retain talent according to Pranav Pai, the Founder Partner and Chief Investment Officer at 3one4 Capital, a venture capital fund.

Pai holds the opinion that the surge in hiring in conjunction with the push received from the capital markets came along in order for startups to further increase their growth rates during the turbulent times of 2020.

Note here that the bulk-hiring by startups that received Series A-E and late-stage funding deals is also co-related to the fact that capital infusion from investors in 2020 saw sizeable growth in overall deal count (924 deals, 14% higher than 2019) in the previous year as well.


Hiring In Indian Startups: The Road Ahead

Industry experts believe that hiring in Indian startups is going to get further accelerated in 2021 and besides looking forward to the addition of headcount by startups who received series A to D funding, everyone has their eyes set on the 3000 startups which have received seed funding in 2020.

According to Karanth, it is the newly seed-funded startups which will lead to more white-collar jobs in 2021 and beyond. He also mentioned that the startups which survived the pandemic by trial by fire are now looking to aggressively absorb talent in order to build and scale their teams so they can resume operations and grow their businesses.

Resonating the same, Manmeet Sandhu, Chief People Officer of PhonePe said that there currently exists a variety of roles with the creation of increased opportunities by the digital payments sector. 

Similarly, Krishna Kumar, Chief Executive of ed-tech company Simplilearn said they currently have 500 openings across various categories such as technology, products, marketing, sales and operations, thus giving a slight glimpse of the ongoing hiring blitz in the Indian startup ecosystem.

Now, it remains to be seen for how long can will this positive uptick in hiring continue in the future. If you are a job seeker, wanting a change in role or trying to get a job, you can check out what roles are currently trending and are in demand highlighted in LinkedIn’s latest report. We will keep you updated on all future developments. Until then, stay tuned.



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