Hiring by Startups – Challenges & Opportunities 2373


When it comes to hiring the best talent for a startup, compared to a corporate, it comes with a few extra challenges. Hence, it becomes crucial for startups to define those challenges and tackle them effectively by offering talent what it desires.

When I read the news item of the offers by BharatPe for new hires, I had to rub my eyes in disbelief. Wanting to build a strong tech team for growth, BharatPe is offering all new joinees an option to choose between a “Bike Package” or “Gadget Package”. The Bike Package has 5 bikes as options – BMW G310R, Jawa Perak, KTM Duke 390, KTM RC 390, and Royal Enfield Himalayan. The Gadget Package includes – Apple iPad Pro (with Pencil), Bose Headphone, Harman Kardon Speaker, Samsung Galaxy Watch, WFH desk and chair, and Firefox Typhoon 27.5 D bicycle. Further, BharatPe will host its entire Tech Team in Dubai for ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. Members will get a chance to watch the matches of their favourite team for the matches to be held from October 17 – November 14, 2021.

What is happening? Is this the beginning of a mad rush for “top gun” talent by startups? Will startups attract the very best talent and become an oasis of innovation and excellence?

BharatPe is an exception and at the same time what they are offering is probably a harbinger of the times to come. Startups come in various shades – early stage to mature startups; early revenues to robust revenues; and seed-funded to well-funded by VCs. At each stage the challenges of recruiting are different. Most startups are built on a technology platform and by far, the biggest challenge for startups is to recruit and retain the top technology talent. So, here are some of the important considerations for hiring by startups:

Sharing the Vision 

Why would a young graduate join a startup and not take a cushy job in an MNC or a large Indian company? The Founders need to be able to articulate the vision of the company and any potential hire will have to identify with this vision. Often, Founders have a broad vision of disrupting an industry or changing the world. To attract good talent, this vision needs to be properly communicated and shared. If a new hire does not identify with this vision, it is bound to create challenges for the company and the individual.

Often, Founders have a broad vision of disrupting an industry or changing the world. To attract good talent, this vision needs to be properly communicated and shared. If a new hire does not identify with this vision, it is bound to create challenges for the company and the individual.


“Take-home” cash is an important tool to attract good talent by startups, but that cannot be the only tool. Most startups and more particularly early-stage startups, will not be able to match the “take-home cash offered by large companies. ESOPs are a potent way to attract good talent. However, any ESOP plan needs to be strategically designed and implemented. Good talent can be attracted with the long term prospect of rewards. After all, anyone joining a startup is prepared for a financial journey which is likely to be arduous, but ultimately rewarding.

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Challenging Work

Attracting good talent for startups may be difficult, but it is probably more challenging to retain good talent. If the startup is unable to constantly throw challenging work at its employees, it will witness a flight of talent. Not only good work but the workspace also needs to be innovative and contemporary, allowing collaboration and conviviality. In the present environment of “work from anywhere”, allowing work and time flexibility is also important. There is nothing more critical to a startup than losing good talent and founders need to do everything possible to constantly engage with their employees and keep them motivated.

Many young graduates from Indian universities may no longer hanker for stable government jobs or jobs with large companies and may be willing to join startups. However, the challenge for any startup is to ensure that they are able to attract the very best talent by offering what they desire – a good work environment, challenging work, and financial rewards (which could be structured for the medium or long-term). A bigger challenge is to fight brand perception. Working with a big brand has an easier societal acceptance, as opposed to working with an unknown startup brand. Conceiving an idea, building an MVP, getting early revenues, and raising funds is a difficult journey for a startup founder. However, it may sometimes be more difficult to hire good talent.

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On the other hand, founders need to tap the opportunities to get the very best talent. India is witnessing a huge surge in the number of startups and funding available to them. As more startups gather momentum and become mainstream, joining a startup will not become an exception but will be conceived as a good career decision. By their very nature, startups offer a work environment which most large companies will not be able to replicate. They are unique in many ways and founders need to highlight their innovation and uniqueness in attracting good talent.

India is on the cusp of an exciting journey for startups as they grow and disrupt the existing large players. Both will co-exist, but good talent will invariably flow to those who are able to offer a wholesome career – challenging work with good rewards. And for this, startups have a head start!

Ninad Karpe 2


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Ninad Karpe is a Partner at 100X.vc – a VC firm, which invests in early-stage start-ups. Prior to this, he was the MD & CEO of Aptech Ltd. for more than seven years. He is also a published author and has written a book on business strategies, titled “BOND to BABA”. 

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