NEW DELHI: Hike Messenger, the new member of India’s billion-dollar startup club, doesn’t have a head for human resources. Instead, Kavin Bharti Mittal, 28-year-old founder of the instant messaging platform, manages HR functions.
Mittal is among several startup founders who double up as HR heads because that allows them to better convey their vision to the staff while driving all parts of organisational development — from hiring and evaluating performance to setting work culture and groomingleaders. The kind of work environment they create is critical for their success and some of these startups say they don’t find the people who fit into their specific requirements.
“HR is run by me right now. We don’t have an HR head,” said Mittal, whose startup last week announced a $175-million funding from Chinese Internet giant Tencent and Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn, at a valuation of $1.4 billion.
“It’s not that people are not smart or they don’t want to do it; I think they don’t know how. Talent in the country is built for the services industry. It’s good and works for InfosysBSE 1.81 % and TCSBSE 1.82 %, but not for us,” Mittal said. Mittal said he decided to take over the HR function because talent was difficult to find.
Human resource leads need to play the role of business partners to the founders. The traditional paradigm of HR does not work in technology startups, said Ashish Kashyap, founder of the ibibo Group, an online travel services provider.
Getting brilliant people to join a startup and then to get them to perform based on an ambiguous plan is a daunting task,” Kashyap said. “It is akin to selling a dream in the air. This is something which only founders can do well.”
At an early stage, it is the founder who can deliver the pitch and at the same time, in an emergent manner, create company culture. Getting professional managers to deliver the message with the samepassion as that of founders is always hard.
In my experience, 70% of the job of a founder is to acquire, manage and groom talent. Even the performance appraisal system needs to be tightly managed by founders,” Kashyap said.
Psychometric assessments startup Jombay, which raised funds in a Series A round from VentureWorks and Nirvana Ventures, does not have an HR head. It encourages managers to handle HR for their teams.
“The first few years are the foundation of a company — there’s lot of turbulence, changes and and craziness. Hence, the founders need to be hands-on in translating the vision to the team. Early team members are critical in carrying the vision of the company to the next set of people joining the team and the founders are typically the best people to coach and inspire their people. This holds true for both hiring and developing existing people,” said Jombay cofounder Mohit Gundecha.
In the starting up phase, the founder-CEO plays the role of the HR head, said Sanjeev Aggarwal, cofounder of venture fund Helion Venture Partners. It is only in the scaling up phase, when the business and product market is established, that you introduce the heads for HR and other functions, he added. “HR head can take his thinking and institutionalise it; but the belief has to come from the founders,” said Aggarwal.
Helion, which has more than 60 companies in itsportfolio, plays a key role in hiring key people in these startups. The venture fund though has experimented with something unique — a serial HR head for a few portfolio companies. Institutionalisation of culture for multiple portfolio companies has been driven by one HR head, TN Hari.
Hari’s first stint with Aggarwal was at Daksh, an outsourcing firm. Since 2009, Hari worked with Amba Research, Taxiforsure and now BigBasket, all portfolio companies of Helion.
“In startups, you cannot have an HR head from a large organisation. HR needs to be a key function that understands the busiThat’s why you have founders doing pretty much everything in the beginning,” said Hari.
The startups that do have HR heads usually have founders driving the HR and organisational culture proactively.
At Urban Ladder, to ensure every team member is a right culture fit, founders spend time during interview process, testing candidates on culture and values. “For example, during induction, Ashish (Goel, the founder-CEO) and I spend time to share our story, the vision andvalues to new team members,” said cofounder Rajiv Srivatsa.
“We also spend time coaching and mentoring and work towards keeping our one-on-one connect intact with the team.” A strong culture sets the tone not only for the team members, but also shapes the way consumers interact with and perceive the brand, he said.
Date – 23rd August , 2016.
Source – The Economic Times