Salaries in Indian Startups 2016-17

Published • By Nikunj from Cutshort

What is my market worth?

One question that even the most satisfied of us can’t ignore at times. Whether you are negotiating your annual appraisal or interviewing for a new job or simply attending a family dinner, this question keeps popping up.

For those of us who are recruiting or running their startups, this question becomes even more important. Offer too little and you will lose the target candidates silently. Offer too much and you start bleeding money, or worse attract wrong kind of people to your company.

Introducing CutShort Salary Report 2016–17

Given the importance of this question, we at CutShort turned to the salary data from a sample of ~50,000 users who signed up between January 2016 to June 2017.

Since our userbase is primarily experienced professionals working (or interested in working at startups) and share their salary information in a very specific context of their job search, we believe this report is the only one that the growing Indian startup ecosystem could actually use. Other surveys by websites or agencies are either too “casual” or lack the startup focus this report has.

The average experience of our population was 4.4 years. The split looked like this:

population experience

These users had worked in 11,000+ companies, some of them are shown below:

population experience

Executive Summary

The 18 month period covered in this report (Jan 2016 to June 2017) was pretty unique. The salaries were definitely stronger, given the previous years of easy funding situation and overall healthy growth rate.

In the end of 2016, we saw funding crunch and in 2017 there are widespread news of overall maturity in the compensation area. The impact of this is to be ascertained next year.

Although Bengaluru (unsurprisingly) ruled the roost in the salaries, we were surprised that Mumbai beath Delhi NCR quite convincingly. We were indeed surprised to to find that the lesser known companies paying more than the assumed leaders.

We summarize the key insights below.

Comparing job functions: Techies get paid more

There has been an intense competition for good tech talent by both startups and other product companies, it’s no wonder that techies get paid about 20% more an average than the non techies.

tech vs non tech

If you are a marketer, don’t lose heart — we found that business roles such as marketing start paying just as more with more experience.

marketers vs techies

Which makes sense given that these job functions require one to gain field experience unlike the tech programming jobs that value young talent.

Comparing Sectors: Ecommerce and Fin-tech paid more

Ecommerce companies bagged the lion’s share of startup funding in last 5 years and that’s why paid about 20% higher salaries than other sectors.

On the other hand, Fintech has been an interesting story. It has not been a funding guzzler, but has paid more for professionals with more experience. This suggests that when it comes Fintech, domain expertise clearly matters.

sector wise salaries
Salaries across different sectors

There seems to be something interesting about the Edtech sector. It raised less funding and paid lesser, even at high experience level — suggesting that domain expertise here is less important than other sectors such as Ecommerce of Fintech or even Healthcare.

There has been another side effect of the talent hoarding by E-commerce companies — they became favorite poaching ground for the recruiters:

recruiters preference

Comparing cities — Bengaluru, Mumbai and NCR Delhi bag top slots

To compare apples with apples, we did this comparison separately for tech jobs and non tech jobs.

For techies, Bengaluru is the clear winner

In programming roles, Bengaluru clearly emerged as the top paymaster. What makes Bengaluru an incredible destination for techies is the career growth. While other cities can match it at a lower experience range shown below:


Figure: Tech salaries at lower experience — Bengaluru gets competition
no other city, can quite match it at a higher experience level:


Figure: Tech salaries at higher experience — Bengaluru leaves other cities behind

For non-tech roles, Mumbai and Bengaluru are good options

When it comes to non-tech functions, Mumbai manages to beats Bengaluru at lower experience bracket.


Figure: Salaries in non-tech (below 5 year experiece)
But at higher experience, Bengaluru took back the top slot from Mumbai, while NCR Delhi came a clear 3rd.


Salaries in non-tech (greater than 5 year experience)

Running a startup? Don’t ignore Pune and Chennai 

While it pays for professionals to move to Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi NCR — startups might want to think differently. Two locations that look very attractive from the cost perspective:

pune and chennai - tech

Cost of tech talent in Pune and Chennai Vs Bengalurupune and chennai - nontech

Cost of non-tech talent in Pune and Chennai Vs Bengaluru

Yes, there is less availability of top talent in these two cities, but the costs are 30% lower with lower rates of attrition.

If you’re bootstrapping or running a services startup, perhaps you should be looking at these two cities?

Comparing companies — who pays how much?

If you expected well publicized companies such as Flipkart and Ola to top the list of paymasters, you’re in a for a surprise. Yes these companies pay really well, but many other lesser known companies pay much more for talent.

Overall Paymasters

Mumbai based healthcare startup PSTakeCare topped the list overall — indicating that it pays the most on an average across different roles in tech, business, management, operations and so on.

Overall paymasters
Overall paymasters

Tech Paymasters

For tech roles, there are hardly any surprises. The usual suspects such as Practo, Paytm and Flipkart topped this list along with Directi and PayU. Do note that ecommerce and fin-tech companies really dominated this list.

Tech paymasters

Non-Tech Paymasters

For non-tech, there were some key surprises. The focus seems to have shifted from ecommerce and fintech to Enterprise companies such as Freshdesk and Vizury.

Nontech paymasters

So how much are you worth?

There is an intersting metric in the talent industry. Called “Salary/Experience Ratio” (S/E ratio), it is the ratio of Annual Salary divided by years of experience. For instance, if someone is earning a package of 6 Lakh per annum at an experience level of 3 years, the S/E ratio will be 2. If a company is paying higher S/E ratio for a job role, it indicates higher compensation being paid out vis-a-vis the other companies in the market.

We plotted this S/E ratio in different cities over a range of experience.

Salary/Experience Ratio

Just for comparison, a decade ago this ratio used to be cross 2.5 only for the most deserving candidates. It now hovers around 3.5 to 4 in cities such as Bengaluru at younger experience level and close to 2.5 at high experience level.

To compare salaries specific to your profile, you can use this brand new calculator we are releasing today.

live salary calculator

Unlike this report which is a snapshot, this calculator will always show results based on real, live salaries based on the updated data from CutShort.

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By Nikunj from Cutshort

Nikunj is the Cofounder & CEO at Cutshort.