The startup founder, who didn’t get much sleep all week, woke up to his co-founder phone call last Sunday. A senior engineer felt himself burning and was about to leave. For the organization, which was scheduled to have multiple calls with many high-profile Silicon Valley investors day after day, this developer quickly became the top agenda item for the rest of the weekend, rather than talking about leaving the job. There is a joke among many startup founders in Bangalore that hiring two to three engineers is currently more time consuming and complicated than raising a new fundraiser.
Heavy-backed startups are increasingly offering large premiums to attract and retain talent, which is very challenging to scale for their younger siblings. And relying on employers is expensive and still takes a month to close a hire. A good engineer with two to three years of experience with any recognized startup expects $70,000 a year as salary, up from about $ 40,000 a year ago. A surprised startup founder recently asked another peer in the industry how much it costs to be a good QA engineer and then he himself answered the question: about $35,000, about $20,000.
The hardest to poach are those who work at Unicorn Fintex CRD and RazorPay, many startup founders said. Engineers at both companies expect as much as $150,000 a year, not more – often four to five times the amount they draw themselves at an early stage. Intense competition for talent was encouraged by newly transformed unicorns to increase the pool in their captables for employee stock options, an idea that was almost elusive almost three years ago. As soon as remote work began, several US and European startups were aggressively employed in India.
India has made a record 16 unicorns this year, cutting large checks for promising startups that Tiger Global, Falcon Edge and Softbank have never witnessed before in a South Asian country. Data insights platform Traxon told me that Indian startups grew a record $ 10.46 billion in the first half of 2021, up from $5 billion in the same period last year and $ 5.4 billion in the first half of 2019. (By 2020, Indian startups have increased $11.6 billion.)
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