Suneil Shetty Schools Byju’s Amidst 2,500-employee Layoffs
‘Be like Rahul Dravid’ — Suneil Shetty Schools Byju’s Amidst 2,500-employee Layoffs

Shetty, who has been a successful entrepreneur in his own right, dropped a list of tips for
companies to follow for long-term growth

Bollywood icon and entrepreneur Suneil Shetty has just reacted to edu-tech startup Byju’s, which had just laid off 2,500 employees this Monday — prompting a serious discussion about the strategies adopted by India’s contemporary startup landscape.


Shetty’s career — which spanned close to thirty years in Bollywood, has now shifted into real estate and entrepreneurship, although he occasionally makes headlines for possible reappearances as an actor.


In a long post on the business social media platform LinkedIn, the 61-year-old actor-turned-businessman penned his thoughts on current trends in venture capitalism, the plight of Byju’s former workforce, and the need to slow down and focus on long-term growth instead of immediate results.


“A recent article about a company laying off 2500 of its employees, was a tough one to swallow. Times 4, that’s 10000 lives affected. I’d like to think that this wasn’t an easy decision to make. Praying that the impacted ones are able to get back on their feet at the earliest,” Suniel Shetty wrote, without directly naming Byju’s.


“While valuations and fundraising activity saw a sharp rise over the last few years, it is now clear that of late the global sentiment has turned somewhat conservative,” continued Shetty, before referring to a Y Combinator message shared in the recent past, which raised a few points to consider about the landscape of global business.


“I believe this note was made from a global perspective & that the severity of a global slowdown may or may not impact India to the same extent as some of the other major economies,” added Shetty. “I continue to believe in the India story. Among other factors, our population & its aspirations still present good businesses a huge opportunity to continue their growth, even if it’s at a slower rate than earlier.”


Shetty then presented his tips, suggesting that they were good operating principles regardless of the size of the company involved:


Stay Alive


‘Assuming no one can predict how bad the global slowdown will get, plan for the worst. If you’re not
seeing growth, switch to a survival mindset. Even if it means just hitting salaries & basic profits. The
opportunities will return, if you stay alive.’


Find Your Course


‘It’s easy to be pressured into a direction based on what we see around us. Because X company did it a certain way, raised money, grew at a certain rate, or hired 30 folks, doesn’t mean it needs to be your journey too. Identify a pace that suits your story. Don’t be in a rush to scale.’


Don’t Worry About The Uni/Sooni/Mini-Corn Status


‘It’s scary when every other startup you come across claims it’s going to be a unicorn in 3 years. Don’t let that be the goal. Apple, Google, Disney etc were focussed on doing what they did, really well. Just build a solid business, and valuations will follow.’


Shetty then explained his thoughts regarding the ‘bootstrapping’ mindset — elaborating on how a focus on intelligently using cash flow, long-term profitability, and customer prioritization were the keys to establishing a healthy business.


“Think long term. Think sprint vs marathon. Think Rahul Dravid. Stable & slow is just as great,” concluded Shetty, before spurring on hundreds of comments and opinions on his topics — ranging from high praise from Byju’s employees, to criticism of the company’s ‘unreliable’ services and business model.


Despite the negative fallout from having to cut off so many employees, Byju’s has retained serious clout amongst investors — raising $250 million from existing investors just as Shetty’s post went viral. Aiming for 2023 to become its biggest revenue-focused year, the company seems confident that their strategy will pay off in the long run, despite popular misgivings.


“To avoid redundancies and duplication of roles, and by leveraging technology better, around five percent of Byju’s 50,000-strong workforce is expected to be rationalized,” the company said in a statement last week. “Byju’s is now at that sweet spot of its growth story where the unit economics and the economies of scale both are in its favor. This means the capital that we now invest in our business will result in profitable growth and create sustainable social impact.”


Lead Image: @suneil.shetty/Instagram

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