Winter is coming. The phrase from Winterfell seems to hold very true for the startups today. After news of firing from biggies like TinyOwl, Housing, and Zomato, and news of unrest at the Bengaluru office of the B2B logistics player Roadrunnr, Grabhouse, the real estate startup, has allegedly mass fired its employees.
Sources claim that the news reached the employees today and the number of people to be fired is yet to be confirmed. (Update: Sources put the number at 177. YourStory could not independently verify this claim.) The Grabhouse team has confirmed the news of the firing but has refused to share the number of employees it has fired. A YourStory source claimed that it is a mass firing. However, we haven’t been able to touch base with the source again for more details.
It is a grim turn from what Yourstory covered a few months back. During Diwali, Grabhouse had kept the spirit of Diwali alive for its employees by giving their team a long and happy Diwali weekend from October 11th to 16th. The employees were also given Amazon gift vouchers as a gesture to thank them for their hard work and contribution towards the company’s success. Unfortunately, the company couldn’t keep the same spirit alive for Christmas and New Year.
Pankhuri Shrivastava, Co-founder and CMO Grabhouse, confirmed the firing by saying that they’ve been forced to lay off employees due to the restructuring process the company is undergoing.
She added that Grabhouse is increasingly focussed on creating better technology solutions to connecting home seekers and owners.
“As we continue to try and build stronger technology solutions, we are closing down the aspects of the business that's operationally intensive –- this restructuring has forced us to make some tough choices. During this period, we will take all measures to ensure our customers and services remain unaffected,” added Pankhuri
Launched in 2013, Grabhouse isa community-based online exchange for finding rented accommodation. It offers houses in Bengaluru, Pune, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Pune. The company has claimed to attract traffic of 1.5 million monthly visitors, and Pankhuri had said that they close about 85-90 deals on a daily basis.
In January this year, the company had closed a Series A funding of $2.5 million from Kalaari Capital and Sequoia Capital. The company had previously raised $500 K from India Quotient and independent investors.
The new investment was believed to be utilised to develop innovative products and improve the existing technology to enhance the end-user experience and to increase the company’s footprint across major cities in India.
While the more detailed aspects of the reasons for firing have not been shared by the Grabhouse team, Pankhuri added that they have organised a special recruitment team to help the fired employees find their next role soon.
In the past few months, the startup world has unfortunately been abuzz with news of firing, slower funding, operations shutting, and general unrest. Most of the reasons cited by the companies have been towards them restructuring their companies or closing of operations.
Grabhouse isn’t the first real estate player to hit a rough patch in these terms. Biggies with deeper pockets like Housing have seen a spurt of mass firing of its employees. Over the years, several questions have been raised on whether these real-estate online portals actually solve consumers’ need and requirements.
Over the past few months there also has been a stronger emphasis on following a leaner model and more robust business models. Many also believe that firing is a necessary evil in the overall ‘setting right’ of the ecosystem, and the founders in several cases need to take drastic steps to ensure that the balance and sustainability is restored.