SPOTLIGHT-Building for Scale: The Value of Purpose-Led Startup 0

Sankar-Bora,-Founder-and-COO,-DealShare

In an exclusive interview with All Things Talent, Sankar Bora, Founder and COO, DealShare.in, talks about DealShare’s journey, the key challenges in terms of talent availability, the value of ESOP, the company’s future plans, and more.

Q. What’s the ideal procedure of hiring in the early days of an e-commerce startup? 

A. While for an early-stage start-up, it is very important to add high quality, passionate talent to the team, typically when there’s a shortage of funds to be able to afford the premium talent. At this stage, it is important to focus on quality over quantity and identify individuals that would be a good culture fit, and most importantly, the ones who believe in the mission and goals of the company. It is imperative to not rush through the process, as building the right team is the key that can make or break the company. The hiring depends on the business-specific requirements, but at the same time, there are some core values or attributes that they should exhibit, like passion towards the common goal, flexibility to achieve objectives, being nimble and trustworthy. While interviewing prospective hires, one should ask probing questions to understand if they fit the culture of the organisation and the job role.

Q. How important is D&I in the initial hiring process and how did DealShare navigate it?

A. D&I is very important and very close to DealShare’s value system. We believe that having a diverse and inclusive workforce will help us better understand our customers and, therefore, empathize and serve them better. As we grow our team, we want to be purposeful about fostering diversity, inclusion, and belonging at DealShare. We have individuals from various cultural backgrounds, educational backgrounds, and each person has an equal voice in decision making. We are committed to improving our gender ratio as well, especially in the middle and senior management roles.

Q.What is an ideal number of employees to begin with, if there are any?

A. There is no right answer to this question, it depends on the organization’s growth plan.

Q.What’s the best time to look for senior roles and turn a function into a department? What was DealShare’s first function that turned into a bonafide department and with how many employees?

A. Every organization has its own unique journey. Some organizations tend to hire senior folks and build teams under them. There is another set of organizations that apply the bottom-up approach. DealShare took up a hybrid model approach which worked successfully, and we take pride in stating that our hiring process has been very robust.

As we grow our team, we want to be purposeful about fostering diversity, inclusion, and belonging at DealShare. We have individuals from various cultural backgrounds, educational backgrounds, and each person has an equal voice in decision making.

Q. How has DealShare’s journey from the start to now being one of the e-commerce brands been like? 

A. Backed by great leadership and a passionate workforce, DealShare has been able to weather various ups and downs. Most recently, in the wake of Covid-19, we have taken the pandemic in our stride and eventually turned online shopping into a habit for our target audience in the 2nd and 3rd tier cities of India.

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Q. What role ESOP played in early hiring; what other benefits convinced early employees to travel the unexplored startup journey? What has been DealShare’s way of wooing the first few talents? We understand startups are actively considering SARs and RSUs.

A. Equity has been on the table since we boarded our earliest employees. Also, we’ve observed that people in their mid and senior level, since they have a better understanding of the value of ESOP, tend to opt for it more. We also bring in benefits and incentives packages from time to time wherein employees get well incentivized for their performance. We’ve moved the yearly increment process to 6 months.

Q. DealShare is looking to scale up operations rapidly and is aiming to hire 5000 people. How is this being done? Which are the roles or departments that the organization wants to have more people on and why?

A. DealShare is at a rapid growth stage. We are aiming to strengthen all teams and departments across the board, with a strong focus on strengthening the Tech and Product teams. We are actively hiring Engineers, Product Managers, Operations enthusiasts, Human Resources to name a few.

Q. Headquartered at Jaipur, what have been DealShare’s key challenges in terms of talent available in the market initially? Please elaborate a bit on the salary trends, skills available, talent source that the firm noticed and worked on?

We have a huge focus on on-the-job learning and giving diverse, stretch opportunities to individuals to learn and grow. Standard training modules related to technical skills, introduction to various systems and processes as well as leadership/managerial training are included as part of the induction and on-the-job training.

A. At the initial stage, we did face challenges around the availability of quality candidates. While we were new in the market, we tried expanding our reach through online and offline networks to widen our talent pool. The trends around salaries have been encouraging and over the years we’ve observed steady growth as one of the employers of choice.

Q. What kind of training modules or programs were set up for people recruited from nonmetro or Tier-II or Tier-III cities to upskill them initially and how has it evolved now?

A. We have a huge focus on on-the-job learning and giving diverse, stretch opportunities to individuals to learn and grow. Standard training modules related to technical skills, introduction to various systems and processes as well as leadership/managerial training are included as part of the induction and on-the-job training.

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Q. DealShare has huge expansion plans of reaching 100 cities by the end of 2021. How has the recruitment strategy transformed keeping in mind such a vast expansion? Which are the departments that you are looking to hire the most for this?

A. We are currently at the best phase of our growth journey so far. We are equipped with a robust plan that would help us navigate the growth path at a pace that we aim to achieve. The key milestones and checkpoints are in place for us to review our progress from time to time. We have put in a strong impetus around Tech and Product hiring, and we need to augment all departments to ensure that we reach the next level.

Q. What is the division of employees in the organization? Which functions have the majority of your workforce and how do you look to increase it further?

A. As an e-commerce company, the majority of our workforce is aligned towards Supply Chain and Support roles. We have a strong Talent Acquisition team that has consistently enabled us to secure skilled talent across departments.

DealShare has grown over the past year and with the current growth trajectory and our expansion plans, we will be aggressively hiring across functions, majorly on the operations front.

Q. Did the existing talent pool from other e-commerce organizations help DealShare in their recruitment process? Did they act as a market maker for talent availability or did DealShare invest heavily in training early on?

A. We have a large team of market experts who bring in the right people with the required expertise for the key domains. Our hiring strategy entails not only hiring people from similar backgrounds but also hiring promising talent from diverse industries and backgrounds. While hiring from other portfolios, we ensure that the candidate is given adequate support to ease into the organization and onboard on to the new role. DealShare has a diverse and inclusive working environment, democratizing opportunities for all.

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Sankar Bora is the Founder and Chief Operating Officer at DealShare.in. An industry veteran with 19+ years of multi-functional experience in scaling-up businesses profitably from inception, he has been founding management team member at various startups like Myntra. com, aeonlearning.net(avagmah.com, acadgild.com) and Miraistore.com.

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