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Flush with funds, unicorn startups hire big

Unicorns are turning into hiring masters. With aggressive funding and expansion plans, unicorns such as Swiggy, Oyo Rooms and PolicyBazaar have been hiring at an average growth rate of 50% every year, according to data from talent search firm Xpheno.

Oyo Rooms and Udaan led the hiring with a 160% and 205% growth rate in the last three years, while Snapdeal and rival ShopClues have slowed down their recruitment. The data further noted that in 2018 alone, 4,680 new additions have been made solely by unicorns, and this year the projection is that they will recruit 9,200 more.

Among roles, sales, marketing and operations are seeing the highest growth of around 50%. Xpheno co-founder Kamal Karanth added that key talents can command a 50% premium in salaries in comparison to an IT firm while, on average, employees get a 30% premium. “With a lot of investments in the bank, unicorns can afford to be pay masters and some key roles may match the salaries offered by Google and Microsoft,” he said.

Grocery e-tailer BigBasket, which recently forayed into subscription business through their new vertical BB Daily and meat business, closed FY 2019 with 22,000 employees from 15,000 employees at the end of FY 18. “We are also looking to add 7,000-8,000 blue-collared employees to the payroll,” said BigBasket VP (HR) Tanuja Tewari.

Recruitment firms add that after raising mega funding rounds, they are either ramping up their sales, setting up new operation teams or spending big on marketing. “For instance, Oyo needs to expand their operations and has been hiring aggressively for that and business development. It has hired more than 2,300 white-collared workers in these two categories in last one year. Same story repeats for most other India-focused B2C unicorns, such as Zomato, Swiggy and Paytm,” said CutShort CEO Nikunj Verma.

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However, tech-based B2B unicorns such as Freshworks need more engineering and sales resources to grow their footprint. The Chennai-based firm is looking to add 1,000 to their head count. “We have also opened three new offices across Europe and Asia-Pacific and recently announced the opening of our third engineering centre at Hyderabad,” said Freshworks CHRO Suman Gopalan.

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