If your LinkedIn feed shows up posts from job-seekers who were recently handed the pink slip, do not be surprised. Data shows that 2023 is probably not the one for the Indian start-up ecosystem and that the firing season is far from over. Data that we collected from layoff tracker layoffs.fyi shows that in 2023, until June 23, at least 10,774 employees were laid off.

This is just 3,480 lesser than the number of people laid off in the entire 2022. In fact, in the first half of 2022, the number of start-up employees laid off in India was 6,380. However, in 2023, until June 26, the numbers are 40 per cent more than the 2022 numbers.

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But on the bright side, India accounts for just less than 5 per cent of global start-up layoffs. A whopping 2.1 lakh people were laid off across start-ups around the world. This year, nearly 70 Indian start-ups laid off their employees. The list also includes three start-ups that shut shop and laid off all their employees - Bluepad, Dux and WeTrade.

A sector-wise break-up of the data shows that the ed-tech sector accounted for more than a third of the total layoffs this year. A whopping 3610 people who worked in ed-tech start-ups lost their jobs. This is led by 2500 lay-offs that happened in one start-up alone - BYJU’s. Recently, ed-tech giant Byju’s laid off 1,000 people. This was their second layoff event in the year. Previously, in February, they had laid off 1,500 employees. Twelve separate layoff events occurred in the ed-tech sector in 2023.

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The ed-tech sector is followed by the food sector, which laid off 1,910 people. This is because Reliance Jio Mart laid off 1,000 employees in May. Next comes the retail sector, which laid off 1,272 people.

Ardous task

Bouncing back after a layoff event is quite a strenuous task, according to people who were shown the door. For instance, Rohit*, an engineer from Bengaluru says that the layoff came as a shocker to him, considering that he was one of the top performers in his company. Even though he was laid off in February 2023, he is yet to find a new job. “Clearing interviews is ridiculously difficult because of all the laid-off engineers competing in the market,” he said. However, he said that he wouldn’t mind working for a start-up again, amid funding winter and layoffs. “I definitely would work for a startup again, knowing all the risks. But this time, I’d join a startup that is well-run,” he said.

*Name changed on request