When Harish Rawat joined Jabong, an e-commerce start-up in April 2012, it was a tough decision. The 31-year-old alumni from IIT Kanpur and IIM Ahemdabad was in a comfortable position at Nokia, one of the world’s largest telecom manufacturers. While, Jabong was in operations for only three months.
“I wanted to work in an environment where I could implement my ideas and could do new experiments,” said Rawat, associate director, offline marketing and brand management, Jabong. “In a large company there are hierarchies and one does not get this kind of liberty.”
He is not alone.
“There are 80-100 people from institutes like IITs, IIMs, Harvard Business School Wharton, Oxford and ISB,” said Mukul Bafna, co-founder and CEO, Jabong.
“Some of them are lateral entrants from top firms like McKinsey, BCG, and AT Kearney.”
Flipkart has about 50 employees from IIMs and close to 250 from IITs. Snapdeal.com, another leading e-commerce company has more than 100 IIT and IIM alumni.
Most e-tailers have not yet started making profits. Does it mean the return of the Dotcom culture when people joined start-ups for employee stock option schemes (Esops) in the hope of making good fortune when the company goes public or is sold out?
“We do not offer Esops,” said Bafna. “We are very competitive in terms of salary and provide a healthy environment. We have a flat structure.”
Young graduates from premier institutes are joining the start-ups for bigger responsibilities, wide experience and good growth prospects not possible in big companies.
“I joined the company at a package of Rs.10 lakh in the product development team. Within six months I shifted to marketing,” said a employees who was recruited from IIT through campus interview last year.
“Even if the company does not do well in the long term, I will get good opportunity outside with the kind of experience I am getting here,” he said.
“There is a big difference between Dotcom and e-commerce companies,” said Aditya Narayan Mishra, president, staffing business at Randstad, an HR firm.
“Dotcom was based on optimism. E-commerce is a reality and is set to grow in view of increasing Internet penetration and consumerism.”
While these firms have strong business models, some may not survive long.
“E-tailing is going through churn. In next three to four years many of them will not survive,” said Ankur Bisen, vice-president, Technopak Advisors, a management consultancy firm.
“However those with strong business models will survive.”
Though the future of some of these firms may be doubtful, young employees are, however, getting good exposures.