Stability not exciting: Young professionals chucking jobs at big companies to join startups

More and more young professionals, even those with a fair bit of experience, are willing to pass up the job security of a large, established company in favour of the thrill of innovation, sense of ownership, meaty roles and flat structures young startups have on offer.

This explains why Bangalore-based startup Wooqer, with a turnover of only Rs 20 crore, already has a bunch of senior corporate executives, some with Ivy League backgrounds, on its payrolls. Its business head (financial services) Harmendra Gandhi (45) was earlier a V-P at Nomura Securities. Sarika Pandey (38), director (customer advocacy), was an assistant V-P with Kotak Wealth Management. Business head (retail) Nishant Malhotra (35), a graduate from University of Pennsylvania-The Wharton School, has been an investment banker. And Karthik Kumar (35), the sales head, who is from Duke University-The Fuqua School of Business, was earlier the head of India client solutions at Corporate Executive Board.

“Each one of them was at a stage in their careers where they wanted to do something more exciting, aligned with their goals of making a difference in the way we live and work,” says Vishal Purohit, the 40-year-old CEO of Wooqer.

Startups say experienced professionals aged 30-40 are prime poaching targets since they are willing to take risks and have not become too used to the perks of an established employer.

EXCITEMENT AROUND STARTUPS

Thirty-one-year-old Prashant Parmar took a 25% pay cut and became the first employee of online training and professional certification courses provider Simplilearn. The IIM-Kozhikode graduate had worked with HP before his MBA, and L&T after passing out. Parmar wanted to be a part of the decision-making process and knew that as a marketing manager he could not take any such calls.

“I got ESOPs and knew that they will get me more income than salary from the larger firms. Also, the IIM tag helped because I knew that if I failed after one year, getting a job would not be that difficult,” says Parmar.

Simplilearn today has 400 employees; 300 are lateral hires from the industry. The startup gives 0.25-0.5% of company stocks. About 0.25% of company stock is now worth Rs 60 lakh, its CEO Krishna Kumar hints.

“The future of India is in its startups, and there is an excitement around them,” says Sharad Sharma, an angel investor and the former head of Yahoo India R&D. “Many professionals around 45 years of age have climbed the peak of their careers in an MNC and now want to be part of another ‘S’ curve in a startup,” he adds. Sharma helped launch iSpirt, a think tank for software product firms.More venture capital money flowing into startups and rising valuations are helping these companies offer both better cash compensation and more lucrative stock options to woo young professionals.

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